U.S. Head Coach Bob Bradley made his final roster announcement today after last night’s lethargic display against the Czech Republic and the biggest shocker was the inclusion of Real Salt Lake striker Robbie Findley at the expense of Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching. I had Findley second to the bottom of the pecking order (Eddie Johnson has that honor), so I was floored with this announcement. But here’s a quick look at the roster and who we’ll be cheering for in the coming weeks:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England).
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England).
Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus, Denmark), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla, Mexico).
The omission of Ching comes as a shocker but gives insight that Bob Bradley is valuing speed and pace, which Findley has tons of and is willing to gamble here on a high risk, high reward type of player. I don’t think that Findley is a poor choice to go to South Africa. In fact, when the Yanks were searching for a striker two years ago, I was clamoring for Robbie Findley to get a look. His pace and willingness to take on defenders made him an intriguing look but his 2010 campaign had been well short of World Cup material. His two appearances this year for the Red, White and Blue were forgettable and while I certainly didn’t think he was bad, he wasn’t good either. With Bradley opting to take four pure forwards with him, I don’t think Findley is going to get any minutes in this World Cup which makes me also think that his selection is for experience and Bradley is looking ahead at 2014.
Edson Buddle is also a bit of a surprise, given his largely anonymous performance last night and that Brian Ching was very sharp. But clearly Bradley is valuing in form players at the forward position. Buddle had been tearing apart the MLS and Gomez tied the Mexican League for most goals, despite the fact that the duo has 3 caps between them. And to be honest, when forwards are finding the back of the net on a very regular basis it is impossible to ignore.
One interesting note is that because Bradley selected four forwards, it most likely means Clint Dempsey will play in the midfield as opposed to forward as many suspected when Charlie Davies was not invited into the camp. So it’s anyone’s guess who Bradley will pair with Jozy Altidore. My guess is that Buddle gets the nod, and Gomez will come come on as a second half sub or Bradley goes with a 4-5-1 formation and uses Dempsey or Donovan as an attacking midfielder.
Now all eyes will look towards Saturday’s showdown against Turkey where we’re more likely to see the U.S. field a stronger team. This coming game will be the match that will allow both fans the coaches to really gauge how the team is doing and whether we have a fighting chance to get into the Second Round.