US MNT Player Power Rankings (10/15/09): The US Men’s Soccer Team has qualified for the 2010 World Cup, which kicks off a mere 8 months from now. Now that we’re in, the big question is who will represent the Red, White, & Blue at the world’s biggest sports spectacle.
Those of you who follow this site know that I am fond of second-guessing our head coach, Bob “Skeletor” Bradley. I am actually very pleased with Bob and his managerial style, but I do enjoy picking some nits when it comes to his roster selections. Lately though, I have liked his choices.
In fact, I recently sat down and analyzed every call up Bradley the Elder has ever made, and I couldn’t find fault with many of them. After dissecting his roster decisions, I have concocted a list of 50 players with which I believe one can predict who will book their ticket to S. Africa.
I have attempted to answer the question that is on everyone’s mind: “Which 23 men will secure spots on the US MNT’s World Cup final roster?” My predictions are below, along with a list of 12 more guys who appear to be currently trying to prove they are more than just alternates.
I didn’t stop there though. I also have produced a list of fifteen players who look like they will miss the Big Dance, but who could still a seize a spot by impressing Skeletor with their skills. Finally, I have also set out what I think Bob Bradley’s WC Starting XI looks like as of today.
Keep in mind that these lists will be updated every few months or so, and you should expect to see some players’ fortunes rise while other players’ dreams of World Cup glory are dashed. Moreover, I expect at least one guy who isn’t mentioned anywhere here to make the roster.
After all, it is quite difficult to correctly call Bob’s call ups. In fact, he loves the “hot hand” so much that it is almost impossible. But, I’m going to foolishly try to do it anyways. Please enjoy the lists below and provide me with your feedback as the 2010 World Cup approaches.
Before we get to the list, let me clarify how I crafted my ranks. First of all, I noted that most teams use their 23 spots to take 3 GKs, 8 DEFs, 8 MFs, and 4 FWs. So, you will notice that my Top 23 below matches up with the typical roster strategy.
So, don’t yell at me if you think Special K should be ahead of T. Perkins. Remember, FIFA mandates each team to bring 3 GKs, so I don’t want to hear any whining. But, if you do take issue with my ranks, remember this: they are not mine. They are based on Bradley’s call ups.
My Power Rankings would probably look a ton different, but that is not the purpose of this project. I would probably bump a few guys from the back into the Top 23, but who cares what I would do? The purpose of this post (and its follow ups) is to predict who Skeletor will select.
So, with that in mind, I also included guys who are currently on the “bubble.” Of course, every team takes 12 alternates with them, and I noticed they usually take the following: 1 GK, 4 DEFs, 5 MFs, and 2 FWs. Thus, I ranked the potential alternates below using the same position guide.
When it came to individual rankings, I looked at EVERYTHING. By that, I mean I looked not only at Bob’s call up patterns, starting lineups, and players’ recent and historic performances, but I also examined each player’s club situation, injury status, and intangibles, like leadership skills.
So without further ado (and, yes, perhaps without further Adu), here is my first list of US MNT Player Power Rankings leading up to the World Cup. The higher you are on the list, the better chance you have of hearing your name called as one of the men who will represent the US.
Projected Starting Lineup (4-4-2):
The Best XI (aka the “Suspected Starters”):
1) Landon Donovan (M): He’s the greatest player in US history. I’m dead serious.
2) Tim Howard (G): Timmy possesses the leadership that we will need in the net.
3) Michael Bradley (M): He’s the straw that stirs the drink & best two-way player.
4) Carlos Bocanegra (D): Cap looks secure in his spot (despite his recent efforts).
5) Jozy Altidore (F): He’s our most electric striker (6G in ’09), and we will need him.
6) Oguchi Onyewu (D): Gooch was sadly just injured, but he should be back by the Cup.
7) Clint Dempsey (M): The Deuce surely will be loose in Africa due to his huge 2009.
8) Brian Ching (F): Chingy sadly benefits from Davies’ absence, but he can hold well.
9) Jonathan Bornstein (D): Jonny is one of Bob’s pets, and I am taking a shine to him.
10) Ricardo Clark (M): I think RC Pro-Am currently leads the battle to pair with MB.
11) Jonathan Spector (D): His 9 caps (and 2 assists) in 2009 have pushed him past Dolo.
The Rest of the Roster (aka the “Supposed Subs”):
12) Brad Guzan (G): El Guz is a sure thing to back up Howard in South Africa. He’s a stud.
13) Steve Cherundolo (D): Like I said, I think Bob favors Spector. At least for now.
14) Stuart Holden (M): He had a fantastic year with 2 goals and 3 assists over 10 matches.
15) Jay DeMerit (D): He has proved that he can be a reliable option over the last few years.
16) Benny Feilhaber (M): Benny has bounced back, but he still needs to step it up.
17) Heath Pearce (D): Heath makes me nervous, but Bob loves to have him around.
18) Conor Casey (F): I think he’s lazy, but Bob loves the hot hand, and he has it.
19) Robbie Rogers (M): In 7 caps, he has 3 assists. He’s one of our fastest players too.
20) Chad Marshall (D): In case of emergency, Marshall could fill the center for Bob.
21) Kenny Cooper (F): He’s had the “hot hand” & Bob will go with whoever will score.
22) Jose Francisco Torres (M): His speed off the bench could pay huge dividends.
23) Troy Perkins (G): You have to take 3 keepers, and he seems to be Bob’s #3.
The Alternates (aka the “Bubble Boys”):
24) Sacha Kljestan (M): Special K not even on the sidelines? He’s in the doghouse.
25) Frankie Hejduk (D): He’s got 84 caps, great fitness and missed ’06 due to injury.
26) Freddy Adu (F): I can’t believe he is down here. It is time for Freddy to step up.
27) Danny Califf (D): Bob loves him, and I must admit he is growing on me. Gross.
28) DaMarcus Beasley (M): DMB has 17 career goals, but his 2009 effort was flat.
29) Clarence Goodson (D): The Good Son had a decent ’09, and Bob thinks he’s dandy.
30) Maurice Edu (M): Mo must prove himself again after losing the year to injury.
31) Michael Parkhurst (D): Sure, he isn’t the most talented, but he hustles like no other.
32) Davy Arnaud (F): He made use of his limited opportunities and is still contending.
33) Kyle Beckerman (M): I like what he brings defensively, but it looks like a long shot.
34) Jon Busch (G): It would cap off a great career just to get to sit on the bench in ’10.
35) Logan Pause (M): I think Bob obviously likes him, but he may not be ready yet.
The Sleepers (aka the “Likely Longshots”):
36) Marvell Wynne (D): He went from frontrunner to afterthought due to injury.
37) Pablo Mastroeni (M): He’s past his prime, but he’s a leader who can break legs.
38) Marcus Hahnemann (G): He was in the ’09 player pool, but never picked.
39) Santino Quaranta (M): His injury doesn’t bode well for a run at a roster spot.
40) Jay Heaps (D): He’s done OK in his recent efforts, but not good enough for 2010.
41) Chris Rolfe (F): I think CR has been vastly underrated by both Bob & Bruce.
42) Luis Robles (G): Hey, just in case we need yet another keeper, Robles is it.
43) John Thorrington (M): To make the team, he will need to marry a Bradley.
44) Jimmy Conrad (D): JC is dreamy, but he is also up there in years. Sorry.
45) Sam Cronin (M): He’s a very talented kid, but I would wager 2014 is his debut.
46) Frankie Simek (D): What the hell ever happened to him? Huh Bob? He was good.
47) Will Hesmer (G): I guess if even Robles went down, someone would need to play GK.
48) Eddie Johnson (F): This is the longest of longshots. Bradley despises his attitude.
49) Micheal Orozco (D): Like with Cronin, I think Bob will wait until 2014 to use Orozco.
50) Charlie Davies (F): I promised you I would write more about Davies today. Here goes. He’s not done yet. The title of an article about Davies should be “World Cup Dreams Deferred for Davies”, not “World Cup Dreams Dashed for Davies.” He can return. It will be 2014 at the earliest. 8 months is just too little time. His leg has been shattered, but his dreams of one day playing in a World Cup should not be.
Yes, it will be hard. In fact, it will unfortunately be basically impossible. But, if he can somehow figure out how to return to his previous form, he will be a legend. If he does make it back, that will be more impressive in itself than just about any athletic feat I can imagine. I think this young man is a warrior, and I hope one day I can see him on the pitch in a World Cup match.
Good luck Mr. Davies.
You will always have a spot on these rankings until you return to climb them yet again.