Time To Get Friendly

Time To Get Friendly

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 25, 2010
  • Czech Republic, US National Team

Who stays and who goes...tonight will tell us. (Andrew Pearson)

This is a week we’ve been debating all year long about. Two international friendlies on our soil to help send our national side to South Africa with hopes of World Cup glory. The U.S. faces a pretty tough task when they host the Czech Republic tonight in East Hartford (ESPN, 7 p.m.).

The age old question who will start will loudly be sung by many over the next few hours. Does manager Bob Bradley start the usual suspects or does he go for a less traditional lineup to help answer some roster questions? Either way there are lots of different ways he could go tonight.

One thing we can count on is Bradley trimming his roster from 30 to the final 23 after tonight’s contest. Based on quotes we’ve seen over the last week or so it seems he will do just that. He has stated that he knows 17-19 guys are safe, so that leaves room for only a few more. He also doesn’t want to complicate things for players who won’t go and he wants to help build his team chemistry more by setting the roster up for this weekend’s match against Turkey.

So let’s talk fringe players for a moment. In some ways due to injuries we can probably already rule out one or two guys from the 30-man roster. Another six to eight will be playing for their World Cup dreams tonight.

Shaking off injuries in the back

I have a feeling we’ll see a full 90 from a couple key guys in the back who are needing some playing time to get back into full game speed. Oguchi Onyewu, Jay Demerit and Carlos Bocanegra are all shaking off injuries and I’d be shocked if all three didn’t go at least 70 minutes or more. I think Onyewu will likely go a full 90, and if possible so will Bocanegra.

I do wonder exactly how much of Clarence Goodson, Chad Marshall and Heath Pearce we will see tonight. Out of those three I see Goodson as the only one that has a real shot of making it to South Africa, though Pearce wouldn’t be a bad idea for the left back.

Fun in the middle

To me the midfield seems a little more clearer. We can pretty much bet on about seven or eight of the 12 that were called into camp to be safe here. Its Robbie Rogers, Demarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, and maybe Benny Feilhaber and Jose Francisco  Torres that are going to get a little more attention tonight. Some may put Alejandro Bedoya in that group but I honestly believe he is going to South Africa with this team.

Where to go up top

Here’s the biggest question for everyone, what is Bradley going to do with his strikers? Jozy Alitdore is safe we know that. I’m willing to bet so is Brian Ching. So that leaves the other four in Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez, Robbie Findley and Eddie Johnson.

The fun really comes down to this group though. You have a couple speed guys in Findley and Johnson (you could probably toss Buddle in there too). Then you have a guy that works well with Landon Donovan (Buddle) and then you have someone who just got absolutely hot at the right time in Gomez.