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Wednesday, April 12, 2006 

Deutschland Bound (Part I)


Right now we sit less than 2 months away from the opening game of the World Cup 2006, and we couldn't be more excited. It's far and away the biggest sporting event when it comes around every four years, and there is nothing even close. Last World Cup final drew an estimated audience of 2.5 BILLION people around the world; approximately a third of the worlds population was watching one sporting event. With the advancement of technology and easier access to television in a lot of third world countries, this year should have an even bigger audience.

Team Noob Sports are big supporters of our US National Team (despite their two recent lousy results), and we feel this is the best team we've ever put on the pitch. In honor of our boys, we've decided to put together a two-part preview of our team.

I (SEL) am co-authoring this article with Jim Hile, a friend and avid reader of Noob Sports. Why are we qualified you might ask? Well, I played 4 years of soccer in college and 1 season in the PDL, and am hoping to make coaching soccer a career... and Hile is far and away the biggest soccer "fan" I know, and super-knowledgeable about the game.

Part I will air today, and will include our thoughts on the top 35-ish players who have a chance of making the final roster of 23. It will conclude with our thoughts on the 23 each of us think should make the trip to Germany. Part II will air later this week, and will include what formation we both think the US should play, and who our starting XI will be. Without further Adu (pun intended)....

[players appear by position, in alphabetical order]


GOALKEEPERS

Marcus Hahnemann - One of the key pieces to Reading's promotion to the premiership this year, first time in 135 years. (SEL)
Has had an astonishing season and will be seen in the Premiership next year for Reading. Probably the favorite for the 3rd spot, Hahnemann is a giant and phenomenal at controlling his penalty area. (HILE)

Kevin Hartman - The top keeper in the MLS, Hartman has looked strong the past couple of years. (SEL)
I don't trust anyone with bleached blond hair. (HILE)

Tim Howard - Playing for one of the most famous clubs in the world (Manchester United), Howard recently got into the second half of a USMNT game. Timmy Tourette should be the backup. (SEL)
Howard will make the team based on his talent alone, but THE BRUCE can not be happy with his lack of regular playing time at Man U. Experience is of the utmost importance at the World Cup especially in goal. (HILE)

Kasey Keller - Unequivocally the best goalie in American history. Keller is one of the top 3 goalkeepers in the world, voted top keeper in the Bundesliga last year... plus he lives in a castle. (SEL)
A castle is a fitting place for Keller to live because he is absolutely a stone wall. I can't think of one awful goal that he has let in. Has world cup experience and will absolutely be the starter for the United States this summer. (HILE)

Tim Howard - Playing for one of the most famous clubs in the world (Manchester United), Howard recently got into the second half of a USMNT game. Timmy Tourette should be the backup. (SEL)
Howard will make the team based on his talent alone, but THE BRUCE can not be happy with his lack of regular playing time at Man U. Experience is of the utmost importance at the World Cup, especially in goal. (HILE)

Marcus Hahnemann - One of the key pieces to Reading's promotion to the premiership this year, first time in 135 years. (SEL)
Has had an astonishing season and will be seen in the Premiership next year for Reading. Probably the favorite for the 3rd spot, Hahnemann is a giant and phenomenal at controlling his penalty area. (HILE)

Tony "Gotta Be Me" Meola - Got the start against Jamaica last night and THE BRUCE could want Meola to simply bring experience to the 3rd goalkeeping spot. If brought to the World Cup, it would be Meola's 5th, tying the world record. (HILE)
No fucking way. (SEL)


DEFENDERS

Greg Berhalter - Dog, dog, dog. Embarassing against Germany. (SEL)
Not as bad as people think. (HILE)

Carlos Bocanegra - Normally solid defender has looked shaky in recent weeks, both with his club, and with the USMNT. (SEL)
I feel very confident that if he tucks his shirt in, Black Mouth will become the player that he has the potential to be. Lack of regular time for Fulham will likely keep him from starting. (HILE)

Steve Cherundolo - The Hannover '96 man should be very comfortable in Germany, and is strong in the back. (SEL)
Evolved into a solid defender. Little stevie (5'6") has proved to be much more efficient at getting forward recently and timing his runs appropriately. Can find trouble if sucked into the middle due to his lack of height. (HILE)

Jimmy Conrad - Good guy, good writer for ESPN, not so good against Germany. (SEL)
Probably cost himself a spot at the World Cup in the games this spring. (HILE)

Todd Dunivant - Looked GREAT against Japan, pretty much the catalyst for the first 2 goals. Unfortunately, the injury bug has bitten him. (SEL)
Solid player who lacks that something extra to elevate himself in huge games. Needs national team experience. (HILE)

Cory Gibbs - A badass performance against Germany, Cory showed that he's over his injuries and back to form. Big clubs have already started talking to him, and it's about time to leave ADO Den Haag. (SEL)
Gibbs will compete with Pope and Berhalter for the starting CB spot beside Gooch. Another strong and fast player who is good in the air, will be a good fit for the quick teams that we play in June. (HILE)

Frankie Hejduk - Frank the Tank is a favorite of Das Bruce, and is the "Charlie Hustle" of our national team. (SEL)
As Hejduk's crosses have started landing within 100yds of where they are aimed, he has grown on me. A great 'energy' guy to have coming off the bench. Can provide cover on both wings and the outside back spots. He'll play in Germany. (HILE)

Eddie Lewis - UCLA grad has looked very good as of late at left back. (SEL)
Once again The Bruce has taken an inspired gamble and had it pay off. Lewis looks very comfortable at the back and his consistency and lack of a position at left mid (behind Beasley) mean that he is a lock for Germany. Surprisingly strong tackler. (HILE)

Oguchi Onyewu - The gooch is a tank, and I am currently ordering my new USA jersey with "Onyewu, 22" on the back. (SEL)
Gooch is an absolute stud and perfect for today's game. Tall, fast, and extremely strong... he will be vital to slowing down the Czech Republics 6'6" forward Koller in the first game. His tendency for getting red cards for his club team has not translated to his US appearances. (HILE)

Heath Pearce - Like Spector, young and a high ceiling, but this may not be his time. (SEL)

Eddie Pope - I think Eddie Pope sucks, and I feel very strongly that I am a better player than he is right now. Sure he's a veteran, but he's shockingly bad. (SEL)
Pope has lost a step in recent years but his positioning and intelligence has improved. As always, a terrible passer and dribbler, but has a knack for coming up and scoring clutch goals. (HILE)

Johnathon Spector - He's young, and has awesome potential, and I'd love to see him go... but I don't think that's crappening. (SEL)
Having a very solid season for Middlesborough in the Premier League. Could make the squad to gain experience, but this occasion is likely too big to risk a young player like Spector. Look for him to be a starter in 2010.


MIDFIELDERS

DeMarcus Beasley - Fast, mad ball-skills, and has been on point in Europe the last couple of years. DMB is a no-brainer at left-mid. (SEL)
Beasley will be terrorizing the Czech defense on June 12th. Seems to have an excellent connection with Donovan and plays far better when hes on the field. (HILE)

Bobby Convey - Obviously playing in Europe has helped him, he looks very dangerous on the ball, and isn't afraid to take people on. Another Arena favorite. (SEL)
Convey has played his way onto the squad by playing a regular role for an excellent club team and giving powerful, attacking performances for the national team. Doesn't disappear from games like he used to. (HILE)

Clint Dempsey - Deuce has great footskills and a knack of finishing, a bit of a space-cadet at times though. Don't tread on this. (SEL)
My favorite freestyle rapper on the team. I love Dempsey because he has no fear, tries sweet moves during games, and keeps it real. Unfortunately, keeping it real sometimes goes wrong as a few weeks ago when he punched out his New England Revolution teammate. (HILE)

Landon Donovan - His power-alleys will definitely be on display in Germany. This is a great chance to show he can perform on the world's biggest stage. (SEL)
Without a doubt the most important player for the United States. Played brilliantly in the last world cup at 20 and should be entering his prime. Needs to demonstrate the finishing he shows with the Galaxy for the National Team. Along with Zidane, an inspiration for prematurely balding soccer players everywhere. (HILE)

Chris Klein - I saw him hit a bomb when the Wizards came to play the Rapids last year, but I'm not convinced he's good enought o be on the team. (SEL)
As soon as I think Klein has finally played his way off the team he scores a goal for the US. A guy who can run and tackle, but can't provide any sort of spark against quality opposition. (HILE)

Pablo Mastroeni - A hoss in the middle of the field, Mastroeni has helped himself make the team by making the +10 commercials with Adidas. (SEL)
Excels at breaking up opponents attacks before they develop. Has proven to be a much better passer than most of this competitors at this position. Almost entirely uninvolved in the offense and needs to find some way to contribute. (HILE)

John O'Brien - Personally, I think he's the best American soccer player alive, and was one of the top midfielders in the '02 worldcup. The only question is his health and conditioning. He was by far the classiest player on the field for the 20 minutes he played against Jamaica. (SEL)
Hopefully Johnny will maintain his streak of only being healthy for one month out of 4 years during the World Cup. (HILE)

Ben Olsen - Can play many different positions in the midfield, but hasn't been overwhelming at any point. (SEL)
Played well last night against Jamaica and with Donovan was the only player willing to attack. Plenty of energy and seems to be more under control than in years past. (HILE)

Claudio Reyna - Obivously, if Captain America is healthy he's there. (SEL)
Has proven to be very injury prone. Still a solid and controlling presence in the midfield but will need to get healthy quickly to retain his starting spot. (HILE)

Kerry Zavagnin - Has looked pretty shocking lately, doesn't deserve to go to Europe. (SEL)
Zavagnin is probably the most boring player in the national team pool. Even when he plays well I don't notice him at all. Even when solid, provides nothing special. (HILE)


FORWARDS

Freddy Adu - Sorry Freddy, you're a nice story at the age of 17, but four more years will be your time. (SEL)
Remember when Freddy Adu was supposed to be Messi before Messi was Messi? That was awesome. Best player in the world. 2014. (HILE)

Conor Casey - Been scoring goals by the bunches in the Bundesliga... still only 24, maybe somebody familiar with Germany should be on our roster. (SEL)
One of the great enigmas of US Soccer. Famously started over Donovan during the US's semifinal run at the 2000 Olympics, Casey seems to play well when he wants to. Inconsistent, but has the potential to play well. (HILE)

Brian Ching - One of the best players in the MLS, Ching should be on the bubble. (SEL)
Opened the MLS season with a hat trick but like others, hasn't been able to get seperation or convert his chances on the international level. (HILE)

Eddie Johnson - A red hot start to his national team campaign, EJ has slowed down his scoring pace due in large part to a toe injury. Still, he's extremely fast and not afraid to take people on 1 on 1, and can obviously finish. (SEL)
Eddie is lightning fast but I have one concern. His speed is enough to make the difference against MLS opponents and teams like Guatamala and Trinidad, but does he have the technique yet to be effective against fast and organized defenses like Czech Republic and Italy? (HILE)

Brian McBride - McHead should absolutely be the target man up front for the USA. (SEL)
Probably my soccer hero. A leading scorer for Fulham but hasn't gotten much time for the US recently. He finds ways to score in any situation and does a lot of unseen stuff to set up other players. Excellent header of the ball and plays well with his back to goal. (HILE)

Pat Noonan - The IU graduate is lethal at finishing, but an injyry has come at the most inopportune time. (SEL)
A poor showing last night against Jamaica may have cost Noonan his last shot. Simply not enough international experience to warrant a selection. (HILE)

Taylor Twellman - A poor man's Brian McBride, his work rate and ability to make something out of nothing make him a lock for Germany. (SEL)
Questions about his inability to score in international competition were answered in a big way this spring. Twellman is a similar player to McBride and will provide depth at that position. (HILE)

Josh Wolff - Consistently inconsistant, Wolffie is right on the fringe. (SEL)
Wolff has had his moments but never seems to make any sort of difference on the field. Prone to blowing good chances when he gets them. (HILE)


SEL's list of 23 that should make the trip to Germany:

GK - Keller, Howard, Hahnemann.

DEF - Onyewu, Gibbs, Lewis, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Hejduk, Spector, Pearce

MID - O'Brien, Reyna, Mastroeni, Donovan, Beasley, Dempsey, Convey

FOR - McBride, Johnson, Twellman, Wolff, Casey


Hile's list of 23 that should make the trip to Germany:

GK - Keller, Howard, Hahnemann

DEF - Onyewu, Gibbs, Lewis, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Hejduk, Pope, Berhalter

MID - O'Brien, Reyna, Mastroeni, Donovan, Beasley, Dempsey, Convey, Olsen

FOR - McBride, Johnson, Twellman, Casey

[Part II will be posted later this week]

I can't waite to see our american squad and watch the hype come to fruition. We should take our group easily and then hopefully be there late to contend for the title with the big guns of Brazil, Argentina, England, etc.

Nice entry, it was good to get an analysis on out team instead of just watching them in the friendlies.

Testing to see if comments work

Spector played for Charlton this year, FYI...good entry. I agree that Keller and Onyewu will be key if we're to make it out of the group.

I cannot believe Tony Meola is actually being considered. Is Alexi Lalas busy? Maybe he could play.

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