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Six changes towards a better, deeper US Gold Cup Squad

Another National Team tournament, another confusing set of roster decisions from Bob Bradley.

Here is a look at six moves that could have been made to add depth and quality to the US team. Bradley’s lineup features a number of his classic favorites who are either completely off of pace in their domestic leagues or serve no foreseeable purpose with this team. With the ever increasing size of the American player pool, any coach of the Nats MUST display more shrewd decision making and rely less on players he either coached or has favored over the years.

Loyd—Worth a shot

1. Jonathan Spector

The final straw for anyone still making the argument that Bradley selects his lineups based on form. Under Avram Grant, Spector lost his fullback job at West Ham and had to resign himself to the occasional appearance in a holding midfield capacity. And while he looked reasonably accomplished in that role, he would still be fourth on the depth chart. Ultimately, this unit is in need of more cover on the left and Spector’s selection simply serves no purpose.

Spector’s replacement: Zach Loyd
The combative Dallas fullback showed well in his first action with the National Team and it is simply time to give other players a shot at left back on the big stage. His combination of pace and physicality suggests that he could grow into the role and his attacking mindset and confidence on the ball make him a marked improvement from Jonathan Bornstein. Speaking of whom…

Shea—Future National Team stalwart?

2. Jonathan Bornstein

Since Bornstein took the journey south of the border, his playing time has tanked. He has appeared only seven times for UANL Tigres, yet, as one of Bradley’s all time favorites, he is projected as a starter at left back. While he did not make any horrifying errors in the World Cup, Bornstein still offered very little in terms of possession or attack and recent friendlies have seen him return to his calamitous worst. Even on his best form, his time with the Nats should be done, and now that he is riding the pine consistently, a replacement is required.

Bornstein’s replacement: Brek Shea
Shea is a unique specimen playing in MLS. Tall and lanky, he still possesses great speed and skill on the ball. While some question whether his skill set will allow him to break down defenses at the highest level, the option of converting him to a fullback is intriguing. With the size to physically intimidate and own the air, the quickness to contain speedy wingers and the attacking prowess to aid in the attack, Shea is a player who should be in the national team, as he can fill multiple gaps and needs experience internationally to grow.

Bedoya—Wondering what else he could have done...

3. Robbie Rogers

The craziest of all the selections, Robbie Rogers has already failed too many times for the National Team to be given another opportunity. Built in the Robbie Findley mold, Rogers is fast. But with no ability or interest in setting the table for his teammates, his forays to the byline are generally squandered. With thirteen caps to his name, and only two goals and one assist this season for Columbus, Rogers’ name should not even be in the discussion.

Rogers replacement: Alejandro Bedoya
Bedoya’s rampant early season form in Sweden had most pundits penciling him into their projected lineups. With four goals as an early return and the likelihood that Clint Dempsey will spend some time as a second forward, it seemed more likely that Bedoya would make a start for the National Team, rather than be left off the list.

Mixx—Get out of Norway, make the team..

4. Freddy Adu

As nice as it is to see Freddy Adu finding his feet as a professional, he is doing so against second division Turkish opposition. Thus, it seems a bit premature to hurdle him back into the national team set up.

We all remember how Adu was thrust into the limelight way too soon and subsequently struggled to live up to expectations. How is it beneficial to throw him right back into the mix the second he shows any signs of living up to his vast potential? Had he been passed over for the Gold Cup and forced to put together a solid 12+ months of work before receiving consideration for World Cup qualifiers, Bradley could have pushed the young player to see if he has developed the mettle of a true professional.

Adu’s replacement: Mikkel (Mixx) Diskerud
Possessing creativity that few Americans can match, Mixx could have slotted into the US roster as a late game substitute who could act as the attacking catalyst should the team an injection of energy. With a bag of tricks and awareness usually reserved for more seasoned players, Diskerud will be around the National Team for years to come and this summer’s Gold Cup could have been an excellent opportunity for him to learn and grow under the tutelage of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and the other veterans in the lineup.

Bunbury—Chances hurt by playing for a bad team.

5. Sacha Kljestan

Another Bob Bradley homer pick from his days with Chivas USA, Klestjan is seeing minutes for Belgium’s top team, Anderlecht but has consistently disappointed on international duty. Probably battling Robbie Rogers for low man on the totem pole, the US would have been better off selecting a fourth striker in an effort to develop some younger talent into a bona fide international goal-scoring threat.

Kljestan’s replacement: Teal Bunbury
Pried from the grips of our neighbor’s to the north, Bunbury’s strength and holdup play have featured well beside Juan Agudelo in limited minutes. With Jozy Altidore struggling for minutes, goals and confidence, Bradley needed to pick a second, big striker. Between Edson Buddle and Bunbury, Teal has the bigger upside and, at only 21-years of age, he will be around for the foreseeable future.

Davies–So close, yet no dice.

6. Chris Wondolowski

In Wondo’s only cap for the National Team, he flopped horribly. It wasn’t really his fault, as Bob Bradley played him as a solitary back-to-goal-style striker, virtually eliminating all of the positive work Wondo does to run out to goal from a wide position.

While he does have five goals on the season, Wondo is on the wrong end of his 20s and if Bradley had really desired a speedy attacker to provide the offense with a jolt, there is only one name he should have picked.

Wondolowski’s replacement: Charlie Davies
Bradley stated that regardless of the hamstring knock Davies is recovering from, he would not have selected the DC United man.

That’s a load of crap.

The buzz within the team, the fanbase and the country would have been immense with Davies back wearing the red, white and blue and it is not as if he is struggling to find the target. Davies has tallied six times thus far for Ben Olsen’s squad and at a time when Bradley could have invigorated all of US soccer with the feel good story of Davies return, his decision making falls flat.

Chandler—We love you Timmy, don't leave us!

The elephant in the room

As we debate the selections on the team sheet, there is a great dark cloud hanging over this team that is hard to avoid: whatever is going on behind closed doors with Tim Chandler and his desire to play for the US, it needs to get sorted out quickly.

First reports suggest that Chandler asked for the time off to rest and recover following a grueling first professional season, but later reports have surfaced that Chandler may be questioning his decision to suit up for the USA.

Whether Bradley had plans to play him or not (and there’s no reason he should not have), the Gold Cup represented a PERFECT time to bring Chandler in, if only for a few minutes, and lock up his international future. Doing that alone would have been worth a roster spot and the fact that Bob Bradley has managed to make a mess of it is a sad, telling fact about the state of this program.

So there a six names (seven really) that should have made the cut. Who else should be taking part in this summer’s Gold Cup? Does the US have the firepower to win this tournament? The creativity? The defensive quality?

9 Comments

  1. Maybe it is the Union fan in me, but Williams is getting awfully close to deserving a call up to a USA friendly.

    • Soon… Problem is, right back has become a relative strength for the Nats with Cherundolo, Chandler and Lichaj. When Europe is in season and Bradley is looking for an MLS guy though, SHEANON IS THE MAN!!!!

  2. This expanded pretty nicely on the things we talked about on the Philly Soccer Show. I’ll say this again. Not replacing Bob Bradley is a failure of imagination on the part of Soccer House.

  3. Adam Cann says:

    The Rogers/Bedoya part just boils my blood.

  4. Rogers/Bedoya is a head scratcher…..though I doubt picking a relatively unproven MLS player (Loyd) over Spector makes a lot of sense. Spector would likely be an elite defender if he was in MLS.

    Wondo has also earned his call, and is in better form than many previous US call ups, and probably more so than Gomez. Davies would have been a nice pick, but not at the expense of Wondo for me.

    I’m also not into the idea of converting players to new positions for competitive tournaments, it’s not the time nor place. And while I agree Shea has potential as a LB, he should have been in the squad on merit as a LM. Never mind Bedoya, Shea is miles ahead of Rogers.

    I dont think Bunbury has done enough his entire career to be in a squad for a Gold Cup, same with Agudelo. Both those kids need to prove themselves at MLS level before they should be in the US MNT picture. It’s far too soon for either. Wondo has more goals this year than Agudelo has in his entire career. I’m not saying Agudelo isn’t the bigger talent/prospect but it’s just far too soon.

    • I have concerns about Wondo’s style of playing translating to the international stage. The US is forced to rely on a lot of young talent because many of the veteran players simply aren’t cutting, but in Wondolowski’s case I just don’t see him making the leap to the next level.

      As for Loyd, I agree that he is unproven, but he is playing which is more than we can say for Spector and Bornstein. Also, Spector has been given many opportunities to win the job for the US and has failed on each occasion. We have reached rock bottom on the left side and really need to try throwing a couple things at the wall to see what sticks.

      Given Bornstein’s speed, he may be able to have a decent tournament, slowing down the speedy CONCACAF wingers, but as usual he is a black hole in possession and will offer little in the attack.

      I still haven’t seen a single member of the media, blogger or commenter who backs the Rogers selection. Just crazy.

  5. I would like to see Timmy Chandler continue as part of the US team, but it seems a little sneaky to get him in and cap him to lock him to the US. He is a young kid and I would rather seem him make the choice to play with us then get stuck with the US on a technicality.

    • Honestly, I’m ok with it. He knows how these things work and he’s an elite player. Either way, he’d play a heck of a lot more minutes for the US than he would for Germany.

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