Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Roster...

GK - Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann

D - Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Cor Gibbs, Eddie Lewis, Carlos Bocanegra, Jimmy Conrad, Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Pope

M - John O'Brien, Claudio Reyna, Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Clint Dempsey, Ben Olsen

F - Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson, Brian Ching, Josh Wolff

So what are the surprises from my list of predictions put up earlier? First, Jimmy Conrad makes the squad instead of Gregg Berhalter (who was named alternate). Conrad is a stead MLS defender for the KC Wizards...but Berhalter has had years of playing in the first team - in Germany, in both the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga for Energie Cottbus. I thought that German experience would put him over the top - guess Bruce didn't think so.

In the midfield, Arena chose Ben Olsen over Pat Noonan (who was chosen as an alternate). Olsen is a centeral DM...the only true DM on the roster other than Mastroeni. Noonan is a AM - generally on the left side. I knew that Arena was much more likely to take two DMs, but I was never overly impressed with Olsen...and every time I saw Noonan in a US kit he impressed me more. This is a kid that was one of the college players in American when he was at Indiana several years ago - but MLS clubs thought he was already as good as he'd ever be - so he wasn't one of the more coveted players coming out. He's been steady for the NE Revolution since then, and I thought that he took full advantage of his US chances the past two years. He's aggressive - always willing to make runs into the defense, and he rarely makes that big mistake. But Arena wanted that second DM.

And finally - in probably the biggest surprise of the bunch - Arena chose hometown Houston Dynamo Brian Ching over MLS MVP Taylor Twellman (who was included as an alternate). Until 2006, Twellman had always been a huge disappointment playing for the US. This year, however, he seemed to have stepped his game up, and most observers felt he had locked up a place on the World Cup roster...and that it was Josh Wolff, whose place was at risk. Not so. Ching has been on a terrific scoring spree at the beginning of the 2006 MLS season - and Twellman has been cold. In addition, Twellman did not capitalize on his last couple of chances to impress the US coaching staff in the last two friendlies. So Ching makes it. CONGRATS to the hometown hero!!! - although selfishly, I have to admit that the Dynamo are really going to miss him upfront for possibly two months.

Just as a reminder - the US drew the hardest Group of the World Cup - the Group of Death. Czech Republic (who I have made my early pick to win the Cup), Italy, Ghana, and USA. Terrible draw. My prediction is we go 0-2-1 with a draw v. Ghana and go home after the first round.

That should not be seen as a backward step for US Soccer - it's just we got stuck with about the worst possible draw in 2006. In 2010 we'll be back, and better than ever!

[In addition, Arena named the following as alternates:
GK - Tony Meola, Matt Reis
D - Chris Albright, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant
M - Chris Armas, Chris Klein, Pat Noonan, Steve Ralston, Kerry Zavagnin
F - Conor Casey, Chris Rolfe, Taylor Twellman]

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