USA men's soccer is showing real depth
Take a close look at the starting lineup that U.S. Coach Bob Bradley put on the field for Saturday's 6-1 rout of Cuba in a World Cup qualifying match.
Chances are, that could be the American lineup if or when it plays its first Cup match in South Africa in 2010. Here's how it looked, because it won't be seen again until the final round of qualifying begins next year:
Goalkeeper: Tim Howard.
Defenders: Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra and Heath Pearce.
Midfielders: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan and DaMarcus Beasley.
Forwards: Brian Ching and Landon Donovan.
That is as strong and as experienced a team as the U.S. can field (feel free to disagree). Barring injury, it is difficult to conceive of anyone displacing a player in that lineup between now and the World Cup. Not that they won't be trying.
On Sunday, having clinched a place in the final round with Saturday's victory, Coach Bradley juggled his roster for Wednesday's game at Trinidad and Tobago.
Gone are Howard, Cherundolo, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan and Ching -- eight of Saturday's 11 starters.
Called in Sunday were Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein, along with defender Marvell Wynne of Toronto FC, midfielder Pablo Mastroeni of the Colorado Rapids and forward Robbie Rogers of the Columbus Crew.
With players such as Brad Guzan, Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu and Jose Francisco Torres all competing for spots on the World Cup roster -- not to mention a trip to the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa next summer -- the U.S. finally has some true depth at almost every position.
It bodes well for the future.
After the Trinidad game in Port of Spain (5 p.m. Pacific, ESPN and Galavision), the unbeaten U.S. has one more match in this round -- against Guatemala in Denver on Nov. 19.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: DaMarcus Beasley (1) celebrates his goal Saturday against Cuba with teammates (from left) Heath Pearce (15), Brian Ching (11) and Landon Donovan (10). Credit: Nick Wass / Associated Press