[USA] The U.S. men's national team coach Bob Bradley has named a 20-player roster to face the Netherlands at Amsterdam ArenA Wednesday (TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and Galavision). The squad includes several surprises ...
Recalled for the first time since the Confederations Cup is DaMarcus Beasley. Also back is Rangers teammate Maurice Edu after a long injury layoff. In as well are World Cup longshots Frank Simek and Alejandro Bedoya.
Of the players who played against El Salvador in Tampa only Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas) and Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake) were selected.
From Greek club Aris Eddie Johnson is headed to Amsterdam but there's no ticket for Freddy Adu.
The safe thing to assume when Bradley names a roster for a friendly is not to assume anything, yet surely there are clues embedded in the 20-man squad chosen for the clash against the Dutch.
Neither Brian Ching or Conor Casey is in the squad, and because Ching scored one goal and set up the other in a 2-1 victory over El Salvador on Wednesday after replacing Casey at halftime, and the popular perception is that only one of them, at most, would go to South Africa anyway. The selection of Jozy Altidore (a cinch) probably means a slot could come down to either Robbie Findley or Eddie Johnson.
The pleas of fans who have been clamoring for Simek, out of the picture since the 2007 Gold Cup, have been answered. Not among the four players who faced El Salvador that Bradley named is midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who redeemed a good-and-bad game by scoring the winner in stoppage time. Bradley has filled out his midfield corps with players in myriad situations.
Beasley, a veteran of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and 2008 Olympian Edu are both having their troubles getting regular time for Glasgow Rangers, but if fit and in form will be hard to deny a place.
Bedoya turned in some impressive minutes as a sub in the 3-1 loss to Honduras in January and though a longshot for South Africa is worth another look, as is Jose Francisco Torres, who has seen limited time against Concacaf foes but gets a great opportunity against a top-class opponent.
The same is true for Stuart Holden, sidelined by injury until Wednesday when he played the full 90 minutes for Bolton in a 4-0 thrashing by Tottenham in an English Premier League game. Though he played 11 games for the USA last year, he didn’t debut until July, and his only non-Concacaf appearance was in the finale, a 3-1 loss to Denmark in Aarhus Nov. 14.
Missing because of injuries are Charlie Davies, Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onweyu, as well as Ricardo Clark, who has yet to take the field for Eintracht Frankfurt because of a calf injury.
As usual, Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley will run the show no matter who they team up with and Coach Bradley could let them play most of the match and still get long looks at the others.
The back line, too, will be a fascinating study, as Bornstein, Simek, Pearce and Goodson are joined by Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Spector and Jay DeMerit. There’s a vast array of possible combinations in that group, as several can play more than one position, yet too much tinkering with the back line can produce mistakes and miscommunication, which isn’t the ideal condition to take on a European power in its home stadium. The idea is still to play well, no matter who plays.
Two-time Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, who made the game-day roster for the El Salvador game but didn’t play, wasn’t selected for the trip to Amsterdam. Either way, it’s likely Bradley has made up his mind about Marshall. The same can be said for Adu, who's really been off the radar screen for a while and played only three U.S. games last year.
Could the three goalies picked – Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann and Brad Guzan – also be the trio for South Africa? Could be.
“This is a great opportunity for us to bring many of our European-based players together as we continue to finalize our plans for the World Cup roster,” Bradley said in a U.S. Soccer press release. “This is the final match before we bring the team together for the World Cup, so to have a match against one of the top teams in the world like the Netherlands is a big benefit and a good challenge for our group. They are expecting a large crowd to turn out for the game, and we are looking forward to an exciting atmosphere in Amsterdam.”
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolves), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (7): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Landon Donovan (Everton), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), José Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Eddie Johnson (Aris)