World Cup: Could these be the 23 players the U.S. takes to South Africa?
Assume, for a moment, that this is the starting 11 the United States will use at the World Cup:
Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and Edson Buddle.
Assume, next, that this is the second 11, the backups by position, for each of the starters:
Marcus Hahnemann, Jonathan Spector, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson.
Assume, finally, that Brad Guzan is the No. 3 goalkeeper.
That's 23 players, meaning that seven from Coach Bob Bradley's squad of 30 that began training at Princeton University in New Jersey on Monday will have to be cut.
If the assumptions are correct, those seven will be Chad Marshall, Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez.
Bradley has two weeks to make up his mind before the June 1 FIFA deadline for rosters to be submitted, and much can change. For instance, Johnson came to camp nursing a hamstring strain suffered last week in Greece. He is expected to be sidelined for several more days.
Then, too, there were the abdominal strains being experienced by DeMerit and Bocanegra, the quadriceps strain Howard has and the slight hamstring strain Marshall has. None of the injuries are serious, but any injury at this point could potentially ruin a player's World Cup dream. Just ask Germany's Michael Ballack (see earlier post).
The way Bradley is leaning will be better known once the U.S. plays its final two home warmup matches, against the Czech Republic on May 25 in Hartford, Conn., and against Turkey on May 29 in Philadelphia. Until then, the players, especially the seven on the bubble, just have to live in hope.
--Grahame L. Jones