World Cup Roster 2006
There were only two surprises, Conrad/Ching for Berhalter/Twellman. Bruce Arena is a pretty predictable guy. Last time, the only surprise was Mastroeni instead of Cherundolo (who ended up going anyway thanks to Armas getting hurt). Neither of those guys will likely end up playing a big role, so it's not really a big story.
Looking back to when we qualified, 21 of 23 guys that I had on the roster back then ended up going (Berhalter and Ralston the exceptions). Going back a couple of months to right after the Gold Cup (late June 2005), I had 20 of the 23 correct (Berhalter/Spector/Noonan). I'm not pointing that out to show off my predicting skills; it just shows that Bruce doesn't rock the boat much.
As a whole, we look like a better team than in 2002. The most striking difference to me is no bench warmers. Last time, you had Berhalter/Hejduk/Lewis/Moore who all barely played in 2001/2. This time, a couple of guys haven't played much due to injury (like Gibbs), but the YA's are all decent contributors to their clubs. Howard sits the bench, but he's not going to play anyway.
We're not dramatically better, though. But I also don't see that many guys that couldn't at least play decently against a top level team. So no Jeff Agooses. The guys who did seem to fail against better teams didn't make it (Berhalter, Klein). Now, a lot of the guys are untested. Have Ching/Johnson/Wolff ever scored against a decent team? Have they even scored a decent goal on the international level? Like Planet World Cup mentions, the forwards are our weakest link (they have nice pages for every team, btw).
I'm pretty confident though. I still maintain that the Czech Republic is overrated, and we should get a point at the very least against them. In qualifying, they only scored 3 goals in 6 games vs Netherlands/Norway/Romania. We should be able to hold them to 0 or 1.
And finally, for fun I made this Google Earth image of the USA roster's hometowns. As you can see, a lot of guys in California and the Northeast. I believe 7 in California; the names of Cherundolo/Lewis/O'Brien don't show up because it's so crowded. Likewise for Howard in NJ. Of course, Ching is in Hawaii off the map. I'll have to do versions for the previous rosters.