After a squad of mainly MLS players trained in California for Wednesday's friendly against Mexico, Coach Bob Bradley called in 10 European-based players for the 22-man roster than convenes in Houston. Soccer America's Mike Woitalla looks at the form of Bradley's foreign legion.
With the exception of injuredSteve Cherundolo (Hannover 96) and DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), the USA has close to a full-strength squad for the Mexico game. But not all the European-based players brought in by Coach Bradley have been enjoying good runs with their clubs.
Benny Feilhaber, who scored the Gold Cup final gamewinner against Mexico last summer with a brilliant volley, made his last start for Derby County in October.
Heath Pearce is on the outs at his German First Division club Hansa Rostock. The German media reported that Coach Frank Pagelsdorf said the 23-year-old defender would not play again for Rostock because of a confrontation after Pearce was fined for returning late to the club from the winter holidays, according to German media reports.
Pearce last played a Bundesliga game when he saw six minutes of action on Dec. 16.
Freddy Adu, who played against South Africa and Switzerland last year to earn his first two U.S. caps, has yet to earn a league start for Benfica this season.
Bobby Convey, who has been in and out of Reading's lineup, was out during Saturday's 2-0 home loss to Bolton. But he started in the 1-0 loss against Chelsea Jan. 30 and has had several standout performances this season.
The Fulham duo of Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey are two key veterans for the USA, and things may be looking up.
On Sunday, second-to-last place Fulham finally won a game, 2-1, against Aston Villa, and ended a 14-game winless streak in all competitions. Dempsey played the first 79 minutes against Aston Villa, and came close to scoring on a header. Bocanegra made his 18th start of the season. Dempsey has six goals for Fulham in 25 appearances.
The hottest member of the foreign legion is midfielder Michael Bradley, who scored his 12th goal of the season last weekend for Heerenveen and is tied for fourth leading scorer of the Dutch Eredivisie.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard is also in fine form. On Saturday he helped Everton get a scoreless tie at Blackburn and has been hailed as a key to the Toffees' fourth-place EPL spot.
Central defender Oguchi Onyewu has helped Standard Liege remain undefeated after 20 games in the Belgian Jupiler League. Standard is in second place, one point behind Club Brugge. On Sunday, Onyewu went the full 90 in a 0-0 tie at Cercle Brugge.
The most experienced player on the squad is the Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan, who scored in both U.S. wins over Mexico last year. Donovan also scored against Mexico in the USA's round of 16 of the 2002 World Cup, and in his national team debut, a 2-0 friendly win in 2000.
Bradley called in one uncapped player, midfielder Stuart Holden, who is one of three players from two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo.
"With the match falling on an international fixture date, this is an excellent opportunity to get the nucleus of our team together as we continue to prepare for World Cup qualifying," said Bradley. "The special nature of a USA-Mexico match provides a great test for our players, and it is something that as players and coaches we all look forward to."
The USA-Mexico game on Wednesday airs live on ESPN2 and Univision at 9 pm ET. More than 53,000 tickets have been sold as of Saturday.
U.S. ROSTER (by position)
Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton/ENG).
Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham/ENG), Ramiro Corrales (SK Brann/NOR), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege/BEL), Michael Parkhurst (New England), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock/GER), Eddie Robinson (Houston).
Freddy Adu (Benfica), Michael Bradley (Heerenveen/NED), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Bobby Convey (Reading/ENG), Brad Davis (Houston), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby/ENG), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Eddie Lewis (Derby County/ENG).
Jozy Altidore (New York), Clint Dempsey (Fulham/ENG), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Pat Noonan (Aalesund FK/NOR)
U.S. ROSTER (alphabetical with caps & goals)
Adu, Freddy 2 caps/0 goals
Altidore, Josmer 2/0
Bocanegra, Carlos 53/8
Bradley, Michael 14/
Clark, Ricardo 11/1
Convey, Bobby 45/1
Corrales, Ramiro 5/0
Davis, Brad 3/0
Dempsey, Clint 36/9
Donovan, Landon 97/35
Edu, Maurice 2/0
Feilhaber, Benny 14/2
Guzan, Brad 5/0
Holden, Stuart 0/0
Howard, Tim 26/0
Lewis, Eddie 73/8
Moor, Drew 3/0
Noonan, Pat 14/1
Onyewu, Oguchi 28/2
Parkhurst, Michael 3/0
Pearce, Heath 10/0
Robinson, Eddie 1/1
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
Assistant Coach: Peter Nowak
Assistant Coach: Mike Sorber
Assistant Coach: John Hackworth
Goalkeeper Coach: Zak Abdel
Fitness Coach: Pierre Barrieu