By Ryan Fleming
Even with the surprises Bradley’s Yanks should be able to heave up their third trophy in four years, but if that’s the case, this teams going to have to play as a full unit and put all the second-guessing behind them.
Goalkeepers – Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Nick Rimando
No real surprises here when it is all said and done. Brad Guzan’s marriage this summer has certainly opened the door for Real Salt Lake’s Rimando to step up. Long considered one of the MLS’ elite keepers, Rimando has earned this spot, but should be sending a gift to Guzan anyway.
Defenders – Jonathan Spector, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Eric Lichaj, Tim Ream, Jonathan Bornstein, Clarence Goodson
The most glaring absentee is the young and exciting Timmy Chandler. The Nuremberg left back, who just recently agreed to an extension with the club, impressed more than most in the team’s friendly’s in March. Unfortunately for Bradley and Chandler, the club decided that it would be best if Chandler would be left out of the squad.
That being said, Lichaj certainly got the call up in order to replace the 21-year-old. Lichaj, who was on loan to Leeds United from Aston Villa, will get his share of playing time and a chance to further grow into a mature player in a position that Bradley needs someone to step up.
The inclusion of Ream is certainly a shoe-in. Ream looked to be one of Bradley’s best passers out of the back and wasn’t scared to join in on the attack. The Red Bull defender, given any major blow ups, has solidified his spot on the team.
Bornstein, though, is of a totally different nature. Despite the being a veteran with 37 caps under his belt, Bornstein has been beat over and over again and apparently Bradley just doesn’t notice. If he’s starting in my MLS squad, sure, he can get it done, but against international opponents? I’d take my chances elsewhere.
Midfielders – Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, Freddy Adu, Benny Feilhaber, Jermaine Jones
Oddly enough, when first looking at this list, Kljestan jumped out at me. Belgium’s Anderlecht midfielder enjoyed a good season and when healthy Bradley rarely leaves out.
Newcomers, Adu and Rogers are certainly something to note here. Adu, who is playing for Turkish side Caykur Rizespor, enjoyed a rather productive loan spell there. The ever-inconsistent Adu tallied four goals in 11 appearances for Rizespor and in doing so has earned the attention of Bradley. With only 15 caps for the USMNT, Adu could prove a mainstay on this team if he has a real quality Gold Cup.
Rogers, on the other hand, is a big question for me. Now, don’t get confused, when he’s on the Columbus Crew midfielder can provide some tasty crosses, but to overshadow Alejandro Bedoya, who is in the form of his life is a shame.
Forwards – Juan Agudelo, Chris Wondolowski, Jozy Altidore
The absence of Charlie Davies is the most noticeable aspect of the list. Davies, despite his recent hamstring injury, has been one of the most productive forwards in the MLS. When it is all said and done, Davies injury did cost him his place. Wondolowski is included on the list because he can finish like the best of them and if Bradley needs a finisher, he could choose from Agudelo or Wondo.
Despite not starting for the Red Bulls, Agudelo provides speed and size to a USMNT that desperate needs a healthy mixture of both. If Bradley goes with a formation with two forwards up front like a 4-4-2, the Agudelo/Altidore combo could be a fixture on the team.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.