The 30-man provisional World Cup roster for the US was announced today:
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall
Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Brian Ching, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez
Really, there is nothing there that I see as a "surprise." The big story of course is Charlie Davies failing to make even the preliminary roster, while most people were hoping for him to make the final 23. Not being able to make the 30 allowed the only half-surprise to me, which was Robbie Findley getting called in. I thought Davies would at least get a look in camp in that spot, but it became clear in recent days that Bob Bradley was downplaying expectations for Davies and ultimately Sochaux never cleared Davies as medically fit to be released.
Not having Davies is a blow to team morale, as he was a favorite among teammates and proved to be a strong motivator for Jozy Altidore to raise his game, to say nothing of his on-the-field abilities when healthy.
So the question now becomes who will be the final seven players dropped for the final roster.
Marshall is out, and everyone assumes only one of Pearce and Bornstein will make it. Only seven defensemen are going since Edu can cover in the back and there's a lot of versatility between Spector and Bocanegra.
In midfield, I can't see Sacha Kljestan making it, and Beasley is also probably off due to a lack of playing time. Because Dempsey may play up top some, there's an extra spot in the midfield, and maybe that goes to Robbie Rogers, who's picking it up lately, though by no means great, in MLS, and showed well in the close of qualifying. Keep in mind that Bradley played Rogers on the right wing where Dempsey usually plays. The spot would go to Stuart Holden if Dempsey is up top, leaving options thin on the wing with Donovan on one side, and the other choices being Bedoya and central midfielders Torres and Feilhaber. But if Rogers is taken, ten midfielders would be an awful lot. I would do it because...
...Look at the forward options. With poor play in MLS and in recent friendlies, I don't think Findley should make it, even if he is the "speed replacement" for Davies. Altidore is the only lock, though Ching is the next closest thing if healthy. Do you trust anyone other than those two? Also, given Ching's injury problems, you'd probably need two more forwards, even with Donovan and Dempsey on the roster. So, that means saying bye to Rogers, and hello to two of Buddle, Gomez, and Johnson. Now that's what Bill Simmons would call the poo poo platter of forwards.
Can't we borrow someone from Brazil? Dunga left home Pato, Adriano, and Ronaldinho, not to mention Diego and Neymar. France left home Karim Benzema, the Dutch have no place for Ruud van Nistelroy, the Azzuri didn't include Francisco Totti (granted he's retired from the international football), Luca Toni, or Alessandro Del Piero (Italians everywhere are outraged!), and the Germans said no to Kevin Kuranyi. Furthermore, all these countries, Brazil aside, will be trimming further fat from their rosters by June 1. Meanwhile, the US has to see Giuseppe Rossi and Neven Subotic on the Italian and Serbian rosters respectively, while the aforementioned poo poo platter will be playing for a spot at camp in Princeton .
Now, maybe I'm being too harsh on Gomez in particular, but does anyone think Buddle is up to playing against Rio Ferdinand and John Terry? I long ago lost patience in Eddie Johnson, only to watch in horror as he scored a few times in the Greek playoffs, forcing his way back into the discussion. Honestly, I'm not sure if I'd rather have EJ or Buddle, so maybe Findley is a legit choice after all? Ahh. In this case I do think it should come down to whoever shows the best form and on-field chemistry during the pre-World Cup exhibitions. I hope someone can stake a firm claim to the spot. Until then, 30 days until the party in South Africa kicks off...