Posted by: mdegeorge | May 26, 2010

Red, white, and boo: Not quite the best 23

Is it weird that I was more optimistic about Team USA’s prospects for World Cup success last night, after a sloppy performance and a loss, than I am today after a gushing and contrived SportsCenter special?

Well I am, and as much as I have thought Bob Bradley has done a wonderful job so far in his stint as Team USA’s manager, today included a few missteps.

The selection started smoothly enough, with Bradley not erring on the side of caution and taking just seven defenders, much to my surprise.

But things hit the skids in the midfield. The usual suspects are all there, as is Stuart Holden after passing a fitness test. But DaMarcus Beasley has somehow worked his way back into the squad, a move that has all the makings of a colossal mistake. I had hoped this team progressed to the point where they could select players based on what they can do, not what they did five years ago. Beasley is passed his best and is hardly effective on the international stage anymore; the fact that he is included at the expense of Robbie Rogers is a travesty.

Also included is Jose Francisco Torres, who Bradley has an affinity for that I can’t explain. He’s the fifth central midfielder in the pecking order, and he’s not the kind of player I would look to as a starter (unless there are several injuries/suspensions) and he’s not a guy who I think provides a big spark off the bench late in games.

Then there are the forwards. Bradley opted for Robbie Findley, Herculez Gomez, Jozy Altidore, and Edson Buddle.

Where to begin?

The exclusion of Brian Ching, I can only assume, has something to do with his injury situation behind the scenes. Apparently the Eddie Johnson snub means that the Beasley rule doesn’t apply to everybody. Instead, Bradley opted for Buddle—since success in MLS always translates into success in the World Cup for players who aren’t Landon Donovan. And he went with Findley for reasons I’m still unclear of.

The big problem is that the squad doesn’t have a striker who can play efficiently with his back to goal. Altidore tried to fill that role for Hull over large stretches of the season and was less than convincing. Gomez is a versatile guy who would rather run at you in a style befitting his Mexican club roots.

It wasn’t Bradley’s best effort today, and let’s just hope this team can gel to fix some of the holes left in the squad.


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