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Wednesday, May 03, 2006 

US World Cup Roster Thoughts

Yesterday, Das Bruce went on Sportscenter and announced the 23 players that will be representing the 4th ranked soccer team in the world at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Here's our roster:

Goalkeepers

Hahnemann, Marcus Reading (England)
Howard, Tim Manchester United (England)
Keller, Kasey Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)

Defenders

Bocanegra, Carlos Fulham (England)
Cherundolo. Steve Hannover 96 (Germany)
Conrad, Jimmy Kansas City Wizards (USA)
Gibbs, Cory ADO Den Haag (Holland)
Hejduk, Frankie Columbus Crew (USA)
Onyewu, Oguchi Standard Liege (Belgium)
Pope, Eddie Real Salt Lake (USA)

Midfielders

Beasley, DaMarcus PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
Convey, Bobby Reading (England)
Dempsey, Clint New England Revolution (USA)
Donovan, Landon Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
Lewis, Eddie Leeds United (England)
Mastroeni, Pablo Colorado Rapids (USA)
O'Brien, John Chivas USA (USA)
Olsen, Ben DC United (USA)
Reyna, Claudio Manchester City (England)

Forwards

Ching, Brian Houston Dynamo (USA)
Johnson, Eddie Kansas City Wizards (USA)
McBride, Brian Fulham (England)
Wolff, Josh Kansas City Wizards (USA)

Eleven of these players apply their trade in the MLS, while 12 players are based in Europe. Not a bad mix, and it speaks very highly of the 10 year old soccer league in the United States. While it hasn't gotten a ton of publicity, and isn't near the forefront of the minds of the American sports fan, the MLS has more than done its job of helping to deepen the National Team Pool. It's not a top tier league like the Engligh Premier League, the German Bundesliga (Nate's favorite word in the world), or the Italian Serie A, but the MLS has served it's purpose well for American Soccer, and continues to grow and be profitable every year.

Looking at this roster there are some surprising additions, and some notable players left off. It's relatively shocking to see Brian "cha" Ching on the roster, as most experts (myself included) didn't give him much of a chance of making the team. Ching is a big body who eats up space up front, and although his MLS season has started off strong, he is very unproven on the international stage. Almost everybody predicted that Taylor Twellman would get the nod over him (more on that later).

Another surprising addition is Jimmy Conrad. He was named MLS defender of the year last year, but has looked very unsteady wearing the National Team jersey, capped off by his shocker against Germany. I like Conrad, and he writes for ESPN.com, so I'm fine with the pick.

A lot of people were surprised to see that Greg Berhalter wasn't on the 23 man squad, but not this guy. Berhalter sucks. Badly. He does have experience, he plays in Germany and is captain of his team... but if you've ever seen him play, you will know that he has no place being on any World Cup roster.

I was really surprised to see Taylor Twellman left off the team. Twellman was the best player in MLS last year, and plays with passion. Although I wouldn't see him starting, he is exactly the kind of guy I want coming off the bench if we're down a goal and desperately need to score in the last 15 minutes. Looking at the roster, is there any player who can provide that to us? Josh Wolff? Let's get serious. I think this is a glaring omission by Bruce, but I trust his judgment anyway.

Other thoughts:

- It's always dissapointing to see Eddie Pope named to the U.S. squad. I'm convinced that I'm a better defender than he is right now, and anybody that has seen either of us play in the last 2 years will agree with me.

- Outstanding to see my man Johnny O'Brien on the team. Yeah he's only played 8 games in the last 3 years because of injury, and yeah he's injured again... but he's the most talented and most creative player with an American passport. If JOB is healthy, he should be starting and controlling the midfield for us.

- I've heard that Das Bruce is thinking about using a 4-5-1 formation for the World Cup. That sounds like a total disaster, remember when we tried using the 3-6-1 in the '98 World Cup? That turned out well.

Absolutely shocked to see Ching make the team over Twellman. Ching hasn't proven anything for the national team. That being said, THE BRUCE hasn't led us wrong yet and he must have a plan. My trust of THE BRUCE rivals only that of my trust of Joe D, who has never lead me astray.

Not too suprised to see Berhalter left off after his disasterous display against Germany. Glad to see Olsen and Dempsey make the team over Ralston and Klein.

Yes indeed...Twellmen gets screwed because Arena did not like his game. That high energy, kick butt soccer is not what Big Bruce likes. So instead we are left with Ching and Wolfe both who were invisible in Qualifying.

Twellman got screwed..simple as that...

apparently Hejduk tore his ACL on Saturday... and will now be replaced by Albright.

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