World Cup roster thoughts
The Gold Cup roster has sparked discussion about who will make it to the World Cup in Germany, which is now less than a year away. What I thought I would do, is determine what the roster would look like based on the current situation.
Keller is the obvious starter, and likely will be next year as well. Right now, it appears that Reading's Marcus Hahnemann is the backup. There are a lot of talented MLS guys in the mix, like Joe Cannon, Jon Busch, and Kevin Hartman. But, I think Tim Howard would be the third guy. Even if he doesn't start for Man Utd, he's still got a ton of talent, and he's played in some big games.
Picks: Hahnemann, Howard, Keller
Locks: Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Gibbs, Onyewu, Pope
Those are the guys who have been the heart of the US back line for the past year. Onyewu is young and only has a few caps, but Bruce had the confidence to start him in Mexico, and I think he's pretty much assured of making it. The other guys who've seen a lot of time recently are Gregg Berhalter and Frankie Hejduk. They've been suspect at times, so I don't think that they're locks. It's just a question of whether or not the younger guys can improve enough in a year to displace them. Guys like Chad Marshall and Jonathan Spector are the future, but Bruce tends to favor veterans (he didn't take Bocanegra in 2002). I think Hejduk will probably make it (due to the lack of quality competition: Chris Albright, etc.) , but I'm not as confident for Berhalter's chances. Greg Vanney and Tony Sanneh are playing in the Gold Cup, but they're long shots.
Picks: Berhalter, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Gibbs, Hejduk, Onyewu, Pope, Spector
Locks: Beasley, Donovan, Lewis, Mastroeni, O'Brien, Reyna
The key phrase here is "if healthy." O'Brien and Reyna are probably starters, but what are the odds of both being fit next year? Steve Ralston and Bobby Convey are guys who are very good against CONCACAF competition, but probably don't have the ability for the World Cup level. For defensive midfielder, Mastroeni has that locked. Chris Armas or Kerry Zavagnin make it as a backup, but I think one of O'Brien or Reyna could handle that spot. The two young Revolution players, Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan, seem to have earned Bruce's respect with their great play in MLS. Noonan seems to be a midfielder for Bruce. And there are others like a Brad Davis or Eddie Gaven (or Brian Mullan, Justin Mapp, etc.) who could come on at the last minute and impress, much like Beasley did last time. Clint Mathis, in the middle of a nightmare season for RSL, looks like the odd man out.
Picks: Beasley, Dempsey, Donovan, Lewis, Mastroeni, Noonan, O'Brien, Reyna
Locks: Johnson, McBride
There isn't a lot of quality competition here. Donovan and Mathis have moved to the midfield, Taylor Twellman and Jeff Cunningham haven't cut it, and there isn't much uncapped talent in MLS (Quaranta has been called in to replace Johnson for the Gold Cup...hmmm). Bruce loves the target forward in McBride, and the backup to him will probably be either Brian Ching or Conor Casey. Ching has played better for club and country, so I'll give the nod to him as of now. Josh Wolff doesn't score a ton, but he's very quick and creates plenty of opportunities, so he seems likely to make it as well.
Picks: Ching, Johnson, McBride, Wolff