Tomorrow at 3:30 EST the U.S. MNT will take on Poland in a friendly in Krakow. Bob Bradley recently released the U.S. roster for the affair:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Marcus Hahnemann (Reading FC), Tim Howard (Everton FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Cory Gibbs (Charlton Athletic), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Eddie Lewis (Derby County)
FORWARDS (4): Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich)
Because the match is being played in Europe, the squad is chock full of our most talented European exports. In fact, only three MLS players have made the trip to Poland: Donovan, Clark and Ching. I wonder if Kinnear laments the fact that two of his best players could be a wee bit tired at their first game on Saturday after the long flight back to the U.S.
Here is my obligatory guess @ Bradley’s starting 11:
—————–Eddie Johnson—-Clint Dempsey—————–
Eddie Lewis-Ricardo Clark-Michael Bradley-Landon Donovan
Heath Pearce-Oguchi Onyewu-Jon Spector-Steve Cherundolo
Strange that only five midfielders made the trip. That certainly makes this a tough decision for Bradley. Picking who to start in the back could be tough too. Bocanegra would usually be starting, but Spector has played so well lately I am not sure Bradley won’t want to see if he can do 90 minutes against a European national team.
Now for my obligatory second-guessing of Bradley (aka: what I would do):
Eddie Lewis–Ricardo Clark-Michael Bradley–Clint Dempsey
Heath Pearce–Oguchi Onyewu-Bocanegra–Steve Cherundolo
I think its time to get Marcus some PT. Howard is clearly our #1, but #2 is up for grabs with some fine keepers who could end up on the 2010 World Cup Squad (Hahnemann, Guzan & Freidel, just to name a few). Bradley needs to see these guys in game situations to determine who should start, so why not let Hahnemann play against the Poles and then insert Howard back in against England in a couple months.
As you can tell, I don’t think much of Dempsey up top or Donovan out on the right. Dempsey belongs on the right crossing the ball into the middle. He plays his best soccer there. Meanwhile, if Donovan is outside, he is too easily isolated. We need him in the middle to control the pace and create space for EJ to make runs.
Speaking of Eddie, if he comes out looking like he normally does on international duty (lazy), we should insert Wolff pronto. Wolff is pretty underrated and has been playing well as of late. EJ, though our best athlete, still looks like he just thinks he’s better than everyone else and does not have to play hard. That may have worked (from time to time) in MLS, but it won’t at this level. Ching should get in as well. Making him fly to Poland wouldn’t be fair unless he at least gets some PT.
I predict the U.S. wins against Poland 1-0. Though to be honest, I don’t know alot about Poland’s team other than the fact that, like the U.S., the country is known for producing good keepers, and not much else. I also know that I don’t envy the FSC commentator who will call the match for the American audience…
Can you say Jakub Błaszczykowski? Me neither…