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Bradley sticks with Azteca gang
by Paul Kennedy, by Ridge Mahoney, August 28th, 2009 11AM

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[USA]
U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley called up 24 players who will train in advance of the World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador Sept. 5 in Sandy, Utah, and and Trinidad & Tobago Sept. 9 at Trinidad & Tobago. All 20 players who traveled to Mexico City for the recent qualifier against Mexico were called up. The most notable omission is Kenny Cooper, who is off to a tremendous start at German club 1860 Munich.

Two of the four extra players are Real Salt Lake players -- Kyle Beckerman and Robbie Findley, the least capped player with only one appearance for the national team.

Of the two dozen players, only two have yet to play in a qualifier.

Otherwise, most of the usual suspects have been named, including Pachuca midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, who hasn't played since being substituted at halftime of a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica June 3. He sat out the Gold Cup as well as the 2-1 loss to Mexico at Azteca and joins two other young players, Stuart Holden of Houston and Benny Feilhaber of Danish club AGF Aarhus, in a midfield well-dosed with experience by Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark and Clint Dempsey.

Not since 1989 has the USA failed to beat El Salvador in a home qualifier, yet when the teams met in San Salvador March 28 only two late goals -- one created and the other scored by Frankie Hejduk -- earned a 2-2 tie.

The USA beat Trinidad & Tobago, 1-0, in Port of Spain for its most famous qualifying victory ever in 1989 and kicked off the last Hexagonal (2005) by beating the Soca Warriors, 2-1, in Port of Spain. T&T did win, 2-1, at home last year to earn three points that were critical in their bid to reach the Hexagonal.

Both games are winnable, and two victories would push the USA, which is tied for second with a 3-2-1 record (10 points), to the brink of qualification with 16 points heading into its final two games: at Honduras Oct. 10 and at home against Costa Rica in RFK Stadium four days later. Anything less than six points against El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago makes qualification a bit more dicey.

In addition to Holden, two other players who came out of the Gold Cup with their reputations enhanced -- Beckerman and IK Start defender Clarence Goodson -- were named to the 24-man roster. Both add cover in the middle, and Goodson also gives Bradley another big body to fill in for Oguchi Onyewu, who is suspended for the first game.

Recurring injury problems have plagued Hejduk, whose exclusion is mitigated by the recent performances of Jonathan Spector at right back. As was the case for the Azteca match, both Spector and Steve Cherundolo have been selected. Cherundolo played the full 90 minutes against Mexico, and Spector remains an option at left back, where's lined up already this season for West Ham.

In recent games, Bradley has moved Carlos Bocanegra out of the middle to the left-back slot and paired Onyewu with Jay DeMerit inside. He has plenty of choices in lieu of Onyewu for the El Salvador game, with Columbus defender Chad Marshall also in the squad.

Chivas USA's Jonathan Bornstein returns; he wasn't named to the Gold Cup roster and was called up but didn't play against Mexico. His speed and ability to get up and down the flank can be utilized in the right situation.

Bradley has opted for a mix of speed and size up front. Both Brian Ching and Conor Casey are in the squad, and in addition to the pace provided by Landon Donovan and Charlie Davies, Bradley has added the sprinter's acceleration of Findley, who has just one cap.

Jozy Altidore nailed a hat trick when the USA beat Trinidad & Tobago, 3-0, in Nashville on April 1, scored a great goal against Spain in the Confederations Cup, earned an assist with his first touch in a 1-0 Hull City Premier League victory, and hammered a low 30-yard blast into the net against Sunderland in a Carling Cup match.

Excluded from the list of forwards are Cooper, who has scored two goals on three games after being transferred this summer from FC Dallas to German club 1860 Munich, and Eddie Johnson, who played for Fulham in its Europa League matches.

Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are the goalkeepers. When the teams played in San Salvador, Guzan replaced the suspended Howard, and the Aston Villa keeper could get another starting assignment if Howard is released after the El Salvador game.

Bradley can name only 18 players to the game-day rosters and will likely juggle his squad after it plays El Salvador. The team leaves Sept. 7 for Port of Spain.

Bradley can name only 18 players to the game-day rosters and will likely juggle his squad after it plays El Salvador. The team leaves Sept. 7 for Port of Spain.
 
U.S. ROSTER:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 12/7 SO)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 22/3), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA, 2/0), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover: 19/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford: 3/0), Clarence Goodson (IK Start: 1/0), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew: 2/0), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan: 17/1), Jonathan Spector (West Ham: 2/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake: 0/0), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach: 11/4), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo: 6/0), Clint Dempsey (Fulham: 18/4), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus: 2/0), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo: 1/0), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 5/0)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Hull City: 9/5), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids: 5/0), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 16/6), Charlie Davies (FC Sochaux: 3/2), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 31/11), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake: 0/0)

In parentheses are qualifying games and goals.



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