USA 3:2 Japan
In between playing the new Winning Eleven game online, I did manage to catch this game. This result just goes to show everyone what we've known for a while now, which is that we should be able to beat everyone outside the top tier. So teams like Japan, Paraguay, and Poland shouldn't be a problem. They may surprise us once in a while, but we seem to be settling in nicely above them in the soccer hierarchy. The tough thing is that we have 1.5 top tier teams in our group. I would say two, but I'm not convinced on the Czech Republic.
Also, the foursome of Conrad, Dunivant, Dempsey, and Twellman continue to push for World Cup places. That's the most interesting thing.
Twellman really should make it no matter what, because he's always had the talent. He's just now finally showing it at this level. I hope that he can go over to Germany and play against Poland on March 1, because all our best players will be available and I'd like to see how he plays with them. I don't think he's ever started a game when all of our top guys have been there. Meanwhile, his competition Brian Ching continues to suck.
Bruce will likely take eight defenders. The central defenders are Pope, Bocanegra, Gibbs, Onyewu, Conrad, and Berhalter. I don't know if you need that many, though. With the way Conrad has been playing, he seems like a good bet to make it. Gibbs' injury might open up a spot, but if not then Berhalter could be the odd man out.
The other guys I have on my probable roster are Cherundolo and Hejduk. Seems like if Dunivant makes it, then Hejduk could miss out. Although, he is a guy who could play on either side in a pinch. Hmm. Spector is another guy like that, so maybe he and Hejduk are competing for a reserve spot. So you have Bocanegra, Hejduk, Spector, Albright, Lewis, Convey; all those guys can play LB if needed, in addition to their regular positions. You don't need one (a LB) there just to be a backup. My thinking is that if Dunivant isn't going to be starting in Germany, then he shouldn't be there.
Dempsey is a young, versatile, talented guy who can play in a couple different spots. Seems like a perfect reserve player for the World Cup. If eight midfielders go, they should be O'Brien, Mastroeni, Donovan, Lewis, Beasley, Reyna, Convey, and Dempsey. Like I just mentioned, Dempsey should be there over a guy like Ralston because he can bring more options to the table. That's probably who he bumps out. Also, if O'Brien doesn't go, you would think Bruce brings another central guy to replace him. So Ralston probably isn't going regardless.