[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] FIFA's deadline for World Cup finalists to submit their short list of 30 players is May 11, and the deadline to cut that list down to 23 is June 1. That's good news for U.S. coach Bob Bradley. While 20 spots on the U.S. World Cup team seem to be set, no one has stepped up to claim one of the three remaining years.
Assuming they're healthy -- Maurice Edu went off injured (calf) at the end of Rangers' 0-0 tie at Dundee United on Wednesday but is not expected to miss any action, according to his manager, Walter Smith -- 20 players would seem to be safe bets to go to the World Cup.
Goalies (3): Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann.
Defenders (8): Jonathan Spector, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce.
Midfielders (7): Stuart Holden, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Landon Donovan.
Forwards (2): Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore.
A spot would surely go to Charlie Davies -- if he was ready. While he has made a remarkable recovery from the injuries suffered in a car accident six months ago, time is running short on his goal to return to action for French club Sochaux before the end of the Ligue 1 season.
That leaves three spots up for grabs.
21. A third forward is a must. Brian Ching looked to have played his way back on the team but he is again injured. If he doesn't recover, Conor Casey is the logical replacement.
22. Another outside midfielder is also needed. DaMarcus Beasley helped his cause with a good showing in an albeit cameo role against the Netherlands. He provides depth on the left side and has played in two World Cups. But he has hardly played for Rangers in the last month -- he wasn't even on the bench on Wednesday -- so his fitness remains a question mark. Other options? Robbie Rogers doesn't look ready -- and is now now injured. Alejandro Bedoya came out of nowhere to earn a look-see against the Netherlands and a visit by Bob Bradley last month to his Swedish league opener with Orebro, but he plays on the right side of way -- where the USA has more options.
23. The final choice ... a safe choice would be Sacha Kljestan. His form certainly isn't what it was 12-15 months ago but he can play a variety of midfield positions and goes back with Bob Bradley to the start of his MLS career at Chivas USA.
The two most prolific goal scorers this spring have been Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle. Bob Bradley has not picked Gomez since the 2007 Copa America. Buddle's only cap came in 2003. Just as Bradley never seemed to favor Kenny Cooper when he was scoring, they would not seem to figure in his plans for the World Cup.
(But if Dempsey or Altidore was lost? That might be a different story.)