Monday, October 11, 2010

USMNT: A look back and ahead

Saturday night's match against Poland gave a bit of insight into the mind of Bob Bradley, at least in terms of his approach with European based players.  With the exception of Brek Shea and Heath Pearce from FC Dallas, the entire roster called in for the two October friendlies play in European leagues that observe the FIFA calendar dates.   And since Carlos Bocanegra has returned to his club as pre-arranged after Saturday's game, the call-up of Heath Pearce as an option at left back makes a lot more sense.

On Saturday, Bradley switched from his traditional 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 formation.  Stuart Holden played remarkably well and with the confidence of an English Premiere League starter.  Jermaine Jones also was stellar in the midfield and should play a key role in the next cycle for the US.  Jozy Altidore finished a great opportunity for his first goal for the national team in 2010.  While his inability to finish other chances has come under fire among US fans and commentators, the fact is he created good opportunities  and it's encouraging that he could have finished with an additional goal or two.

It's a ways out, but my projected starting midfield/forwrads for the USA for next summer's gold cup based on Bradley's willingness to switch to a better formation for the United States:



-------------------Bradley------- Jones-----------------

The defense is a bit more open, but it's safe to assume that Onyewu, Cherundolo, and Bocanegra will be top candidates to start based on experience.  Maurice Edu played fine at centerback, but going with a younger MLS based player like Tim Ream, Ike Opara, or Omar Gonzalez might be a better direction, with the versatile Edu available off the bench.

On Tuesday night we'll hope to see some of the other players Bradley has called up for the friendlies such as Eric Lichaj and Eddie Johnson who has been getting time at Fulham under their new manager.  EJ is still relatively young and without other options up top the competition to backup Jozy Altidore is wide open.

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