wherein DF travels to Deutschland for the 2006 world cup to follow the US men's national soccer team

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Notes on roster for Germany friendly

Today US Soccer released 19 names for the Germany friendly. They are:
  • Berhalter, Gregg
  • Cherundolo, Steve
  • Ching, Brian
  • Conrad, Jimmy
  • Convey, Bobby
  • Donovan, Landon
  • Gibbs, Cory
  • Hahnemann, Marcus
  • Hejduk, Frankie
  • Johnson, Eddie
  • Keller, Kasey
  • Klein, Chris
  • Mastroeni, Pablo
  • Olsen, Ben
  • Pearce, Heath
  • Pope, Eddie
  • Twellman, Taylor
  • Wolff, Josh
  • Zavagnin, Kerry

Reading the tea leaves of these rosters is always hard. There are a lot of different reasons you might be on the list:

  • You're a lock for the WC but you're needed in the roster to be able to mount a credible threat to Germany and allow other players to fit in (Donovan, Keller, Mastroeni, Dolo, Pope)
  • You're going to the WC but Bruce isn't sure what you bring and wants to see more of you (Twellman, Johnson, Convey)
  • You're on the bubble and Bruce wants to see if you can impress him enough to make the team (Ching, Zavagnin, Conrad, Berhalter, Hejduk, Gibbs, probably Hahnemann)
  • You wouldn't even be on the bubble based on past performance but you can play a position that's weak for us so Bruce wants to see if you'll do (Olsen, Pearce, Wolff, Klein)

    There are also various reasons you may have been left off the roster:
  • You're a mortal lock for the WC but Bruce sees no reason to rock the club boat by calling you in (McBride, Beasely, Bocanegra, Reyna, Onyewu)
  • You were in the picture but now you're not, so Bruce has no need to see anything further (Casey, Rolfe--which kind of surprises me)
  • You punched out a teammate and are serving a two-week suspension for it (Dempsey)

The players with the most possible upside have to include Convey (great club form, exciting late sub in Poland friendly) and Johnson/Twellman (with a torrid run-in to the cup a spot in the starting XI will likely be yours).

How do I feel about this friendly? Cautiously pessimistic. Germany has a lot to prove in this game after their 4-1 drubbing by Italy, so they're looking to get some pre-Cup pride back, not just test out players. Given that we're on their home turf as well, I think there could be rough going if we're not sharp. But more on this as the game approaches.

3 Comments:

Blogger DF said...

An addendum on one of the more interesting omissions, and one I forgot to discuss: Spector. Here's a good BS thread addressing that issue:

http://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showthread.php?p=7828015&posted=1#post7828015

1:47 AM, March 16, 2006

 
Blogger mirarchi said...

Yeah, I'm disappointed Spector didn't get an invitation to camp. But I guess his playing time at Charlton has been sporadic at best. And fullback really does seem to be a position that requires experience (just compare the number of effective 18-year-old midfielders or strikers you see with the number of effective 18-year-old defenders). I suppose it's also possible that Bruce just didn't want to rock the club boat.

Assuming Gibbs gets into his club's starting lineup soon and stays healthy, I think he's a lock to make our Germany roster. He's got all the physical tools, and has shown well in his appearances for the nats (I still remember how effective he was shutting down RvN in the Netherlands friendly a couple of years ago).

We are quite deep at center-back, though -- Gooch, Boca, Pope, Berhalter, Gibbs, and Conrad are all vying for spots. I expect Bruce to only name four to the final roster, so it will be interesting to see which two get cut. My prediction is that Berhalter and Conrad are left off the final roster, with Gibbs, Gooch, Boca and Pope making the team. Conrad has been impressive, though, and Berhalter is steady. So it will be interesting.

Like you, I'm surprised Casey didn't get a call. I realize that he's just started getting minutes with his club again after his injury, and that he hasn't taken advantages of the caps that he has been given. But I'm surprised Bruce didn't at least want to get a look at him. I wouldn't think that Ching has a better shot at making the final roster than Casey. Ultimately, though, probably neither one will make the team (my guess is that the four forwards Bruce will end up taking are McBride, Wolff, Johnson, and Twellman).

It's too bad that Dempsey punched out Franchino. Given how think our midfield looks with this roster, I think Dempsey probably would have gotten the start at right mid. And it would have been a great chance for him to prove that he can play against top-flight competition and solidify his claim to a roster spot. I think Dempsey's got a lot of talent, and just needs more seasoning at the international level. This friendly would have been a good chance to give him that. :-/

I think it's interesting that Bruce wants another look at Pearce. I thought that he didn't impress enough in recent friendlies to warrant any further consideration for the '06 WC. I think Spector would be a stronger candidate than Pearce at this point.

This friendly will be a great test for us -- probably our strongest pre-WC opponent. And, like you said, Germany will come out playing to win, after their drubbing to the Italians. I remember thinking that the Germans beat us like a rented mule in our pre-WC friendly with them back in '02, and I think we really learned a lot from that match (as seen by our solid performance against them in the quarterfinals). I hope that this friendly will prove as fruitful a learning experience.

12:05 PM, March 16, 2006

 
Blogger mirarchi said...

Well, it looks like Donovan is out:

http://www.ussoccer.com/articles/viewArticle.jsp_280820.html

So our midfield pool for the friendly is limited to Convey, Mastro, Zavagnin, Olsen, and Klein. This begs the question of who will replace Donovan as our attacking central midfielder. I have to think Convey is the best player on the roster to replace him. But then we don't really have anyone to play left mid.

Bruce could also go with twin d-mids, but in my mind Mastro, Zavagnin, and Olsen fall far short of Donovan's creativity and our attack will suffer horribly if those are the guys we rely on to provide an attacking threat up the middle...

It's really a shame that we're left with such a weak roster for this friendly, since it looks like it will be our only opportunity to play an elite team before the WC. :-/

11:13 AM, March 17, 2006

 

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