Bradley Has Some Forward Thinking To Do

By Ryan Fleming

The United States Men’s National team had a good thing going for a while. Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore were set to be the starting forwards while Brian Ching was expected to provide some relief on the bench. If USMNT manager, Bob Bradley, didn’t know how fast things could change, he does now.

The roller coaster, which could describe Bradley’s tenure as manager of the national team, took a steep dive downhill when Davies was severely injured in a fatal car accident on Oct. 13th. The accident left Davies almost crippled, one of the passengers, Ashley J. Roberta, was killed and another passenger was taken to the hospital for treatment after their car struck guardrail.

Lately, there have been rumors about Davies losing his race for fitness with the World Cup just a little more than a month away. Recently, on his twitter, he has been acknowledging words of encouragement, which he is receiving hourly. Davies is now practicing with his club, French side, Sochaux, almost limitless.

Just yesterday the USNMT and Sochaux denied reports that the 23-year old won’t be fit in time for the tournament that starts on June 11.

Another problem Bradley’s side is facing is the injury to Ching. Ching injured his left hamstring back on April 1 when the Houston Dynamo took on Chivas USA. Sources state that Ching could return to club competition in Houston’s next match, today against FC Dallas.

If Ching returns to form and proves useful with the Dynamo, his return could provide a boost to Bradley’s most worrisome position.

Fortunately, though, for the manager, there are other options out there. Herculez Gomes, who has dominated the Mexican league this year, is one option for a call-up. Another possible fit would be MLS goal scoring leader, Edson Buddle. For the LA Galaxy Buddle has scored nine goals leading his team to a 5-0-1 record, sitting on top of the Western Conference by six points.

Let’s keep in mind, Buddle is being fed the ball from Landon Donovan, the US’s best player. Despite that, Buddle is on a tear and Bradley will probably invite both, Buddle and Gomez, to the pre-World Cup camp that starts on May 17.

For the USMNT the concerns do not stop at the injuries, though. Altidore, who just finished his year-long loan spell at Hull City was forced to sit out Hull’s last game of the year because he was suspended after being shown a straight red card in the match vs Sunderland on April 24. Altidore head-butted, Black Cats defender, Alan Hutton, after Hutton threw the ball at the young forward. Both were fighting for the ball and went down.

This was the second time Altidore’s maturity was in question. Earlier in the year Altidore was removed from the starting lineup because he came late to practice earlier in the week. Throughout his loan spell from Villarreal, the 20-year old has shown both signs of promise and inexperience. With all the questions Bradley faces, Altidore might be the least of his worries.

Ryan Fleming is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at fleming.ryanr@gmail.com.

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