GOALKEEPERS (3): Dominic Cervi (out of contract), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (out of contract), Dan Califf (FC Midtjylland), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Eddie Lewis (Derby County), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)
FORWARDS (4): Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC)
So, it looks as if we plan to roll into the HDC Sunday afternoon with pretty much the same squad that played to a draw with Argentina last weekend. Ching and Bocanegra are the only new additions. Hmm, methinks Bradley must have been impressed with Ching’s two goal-one assist performance last Sunday.
As far as snubs, I think only Cooper and Clark could claim they should have been invited. Only Kenny Cooper could have hated Ching’s great performance last weekend because it means he will be with the ever-worsening Burn instead of the MNT this weekend. Clark failed to impress and it looks like Edu is Bradley’s new man-crush in the middle.
Here’s what I would employ with those who are making the trip to Cali:
Donovan and EJ up top is a no-brainer. While Donovan is the offensive spark, EJ is (despite his flaws against top competition) a World Cup qualifying superstar. Seven qualifier appearances, seven goals for EJ. It’s easier to run by Barbados than ENG, SPN and ARG apparently.
In the midfield, I would go with Beasley and Dempsey out wide. Let them roam up closer to the top if you like, as I doubt Barbados will be making much headway against the defense. In the center of the midfield, I think Bradley has no other choice than to play his son and Maurice Edu. These two have looked good together so far, and hopefully Young Bradley can show that nose for the net he exhibited in Europe all season.
In the back, I would go with Pearce, Boca, Gooch and Dolo. Wow, I just realized Pearce is going to need some sort of last name shortening nickname. I guess it would have to be either Pear, Ear, or Arce. He might have a problem with that last one.
In goal, there can be no debate, Howard’s “the Man”. He’s two for three shutting out teams in qualifiers, and if he plays like he did against ARG, he will be three for four.
If we got up more than a goal (or down one or more late), I would insert Adu and Kljestan.
Sadly, I bet Bradley will play Mastroeni in the middle instead of Edu. Experience is nice and all, but it doesn’t actually score any goals for you. Especially if we are talking about Pablo. But hey, if you need someone to be tackled violently…
I bet Bradley also employs Lewis at some point. Lewis has been playing great recently, but he’s still not up to snuff in my opinion. Dempsey and Beasley belong out wide all game. They are probably two of our most competitive talents.
The U.S. has played Barbados only twice before, and collectively, they have beaten them 11-0, so if there’s a game for experimenting, this might be it.
On that note, I would say I would love to see Adu play the whole 90, but I doubt it will happen. With the Barbados squad so unlikely to score or truly even pressure the defense, why not play a 3-5-2 and employ Adu as an attacking center mid?
Seriously, why not?