Bob Bradley announced the final 23-man roster for the World Cup this morning, whittled down from the preliminary 30. The group of men shouldering the hopes and dreams of a nation (no pressure, guys!) is:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Spector
Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Stuart Holden, Jose Francisco Torres
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle, Clint Dempsey, Robbie Findley, Herculez Gomez
After watching the disappointing-but-not-all-that-meaningful 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic last night, there are a couple of inclusions I'm happy to see and a couple that have me confused, though not wholly surprised. (I say not meaningful because, of course, many of our main starters were not on the pitch but rather in a sky box looking down and, in the case of Bocanegra at least, eating. Like, the whole time.)
Gomez made a strong case for himself, coming in as a second-half substitute, scoring a goal and looking sharp overall. Buddle didn't look overly dangerous but did show his speed and quick-thinking at times. Beasley was a pleasant surprise - he had a lot of energy and focus, and looked much more confident than the last few times I'd seen him with the national team. I'm happy to see all three of these guys get the call and am hoping this will only increase their determination to prove their worth.
I'm at a loss to explain Findley's inclusion, mainly because he didn't even play last night (though he was on the subs bench). I can only assume he's done well in camp - well enough to knock Ching out of the final squad. (I'm back and forth on my opinions of Ching, but I didn't expect him to be left out.) Bornstein really showed no reason at all last night why he deserves to be a mainstay on the team, except for the fact that our defense pool is about as deep as a petri dish and beggars can't be choosers.
But there's not much to be said now, and overall it's not like we didn't know what 90% of the roster was going to look like, so now the focus is on making this group work together and getting everyone comfortable in their roles. Seeing Dempsey noted as a forward is promising, as he's seemed to be much happier and to play better up top rather than on the wing where he has to think about defense in addition to scoring. Now that we've seen Donovan play on the right with Everton and knowing Torres can move around the midfield, including to the left wing, we have the option of letting each man settle in where they feel most able and dangerous.
But at the moment, I'm awaiting the game against Turkey on Saturday and hoping for a good result. What we saw last night was not a precursor to what we'll see in South Africa; what goes down on Saturday very well may be.