When the 2006 World Cup kicks off, what will the USA roster look like? I'm going to try and get inside Bruce Arena's mind and figure it out, basec on the current situation (and not what I personally would do). I previously did this on June 28. Now that we've qualified, I think it's time to take another look and see how things have (or have not) changed.
Locks: Howard, Keller
Others: Busch, Cannon, Hahnemann, Hartman, Reis, Walker
Howard was supposed to be in camp this past week, but had to decline because of his child being born. Otherwise, he probably would've started against Guatemala. That's from Bruce himself. So I've upgraded him to a lock (which I probably should've had him at before). The third spot is Hahnemann's to lose. I really don't think Reis can unseat him. Cannon is the one MLS guy who could beat him out, but he hasn't been given much of a shot. It's not really a big decision, because the third keeper won't play and all of them are pretty good.
Picks: Hahnemann, Howard, Keller
Locks: Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Gibbs, Onyewu, Pope.
Others: Albright, Berhalter, Conrad, Hejduk, Marshall, Pope, Spector, Vanney
I still consider Pope a lock. He has had an awful year though. RSL has not been kind to our internationals. Despite all of Bigsoccer calling him "Agoos 2006," I still believe he'll make the roster. That could be, but let's see how he does in the start of next year. One of the biggest stories this year has to be the resurgance of Berhalter. He was definitely one of the last guys you would expect to return from the 2002 team, but he's in a good position to do that now. With Lewis at LB, that could take away a spot from a defender. That's something to think about. I think Hejduk will make it over Albright, due to his experience and also because he can fill that LB spot if needed. Conrad has been impressive, and has put himself into the picture in almost no time. But Bocanegra did the same thing four years ago and wasn't selected. If Bruce goes with only 7 defenders, I think he's competing with Berhalter for a spot (Conrad, that is). Spector still has a good shot depending on how much playing time he gets this season. It would be hard to leave a Premiership player out of the squad. Marshall probably has too many guys in front of him barring injury.
Picks: Bocanegra, Berhalter, Cherundolo, Gibbs, Hejduk, Onyewu, Pope
Locks: Beasley, Donovan, Lewis, Mastroeni, O'Brien, Reyna
Others: Armas, Convey, Davis, Dempsey, Mathis, Noonan, Olsen, Quaranta, Ralston, Zavagnin
Despite the Gold Cup and a bunch of qualifiers, nothing much has changed here. Those six guys will be there no matter what. The big news is Convey's great start to the season. If he keeps it up, he'll be a lock. That probably leaves only one open spot. Previously I had Dempsey and Noonan making it. Ralston could change that. He's a solid guy, although not good enough for World Cup level. But he wouldn't be starting, because Donovan/Reyna/Beasley could fill that right midfield slot. Maybe he's like Zavagnin, a guy who helps in qualifying but has little chance of making it? Right now though, he's in good position after being a starter this year.
Picks: Beasley, Convey, Dempsey, Donovan, Lewis, Mastroeni, O'Brien, Ralston, Reyna
Locks: Johnson, McBride
Others: Casey, Ching, Cunningham, Twellman, Wolff
We could really use somebody else here. Bruce likes Wolff, and Ching has played the best out of the others. So those are the two guys I'll go with. Ching needs to have a strong finish to the MLS season, coming back from injury. Donovan can play up top as well.
Picks: Ching, Johnson, McBride, Wolff
From last time, the only changes I made were Convey and Ralston in for Spector and Noonan. I don't really think the Gold Cup changed much at all. It was good for giving the young guys experience, but for little else. Hopefully the remaining qualifiers and friendlies will see some talented players step forward and claim their spots, like Johnson did last year.
Also, a lot of it comes down to loyalty. In retrospect, David Regis and Joe-Max Moore should not have been on the roster (I would say Agoos, but he was great up until the World Cup). So if somebody's play drops off in the next eight months, then they probably shouldn't make the trip. Especially if they aren't going to start anyway.
Grant Wahl just did this same exercise, and we have 19 of the same picks. He has Albright/Armas/Quaranta/Twellman making it, while I have Ching/Hejduk/Ralston/Wolff instead. If JOB is healthy, no need for Armas. And probably even if he's not. And, I did get to see Twellman's preformance Wednesday before making my picks though. :)