Gold Cup Roster + Analysis; Watching China

I'll start with the last bit of the title first: by selecting China for this friendly, U.S. Soccer has left me totally uninterested in a U.S. Mens game; I can only call this impressive and move on.

Bob Bradley announced the roster for the Gold Cup today and here's what we're looking at:

"Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach).

Defenders: Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege).

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg SV), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution).

Forwards: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)

So, I'm seeing this and the first question that comes to me is this: Why the hell do we always play this damn tournament (the Gold Cup, that is) in the States? C'mon, CONCACAF, let's dish this thing around. It'll help us - that is the Yanquis - in the end and, seeing as no one shows up, I'm thinking the Central American stadiums that are good enough for World Cup qualifying are good enough for this. Sorry, early digression....

As, I believe, every last person who blogs on soccer has pointed out by now, the names above are about as surprising as the continued rotation of the earth. Put another way, any tuned in at this point knows most of these players down, perhaps, to their shoe size and breakfast preferences. Since I'll be picking at these below, I think I'll just dump out the key source material and reference it as needed. Here goes:

ESPN Jeff Carlisle
Soccer by Ives Ives Galarcep Marc Connolly Kyle McCarthy

That's the good, general stuff and, as you'll find in reading, it's not accurate to say the roster met with total silence. Two, um, "older gents" made the cut - Frankie Hejduk and Steve Ralston - as did one (and I think he's the only one) uncapped player: Michael Parkhurst. Most the sticking up that needed doing surrounded the inclusion of Hejduk and Ralston - more on that below - but Galarcep lauds Parkhurst's inclusion, while Carlisle implies his inclusion might be a manuever to fend off Irish interest. The only doubter I've seen on Parkhurst's inclusion came from Mike H of My Soccer Blog, who thinks the Revs' defender hasn't had the best of seasons so far. I'll only say I disagree - he stuffed Landon to bursting like a Thanksgiving turkey - and leave it at that.

To praise another bit of Mike H's post, though, he's the only person I've seen who broke down players missing time with their MLS clubs by team. Who hurts the most? As Dan Loney points out, the Revolution. And I don't have to tell anyone it's not just a numbers thing, but it's positional as well. For instance, Chivas may be missing two guys - Jonathan Bornstein and Brad Guzan - but that's not gonna hurt nearly as bad as Houston missing Brian Ching (wait...he has played this season?) and (in all sincerity) Ricardo Clark; chuck a missing Dwayne DeRosario in the fire (regardless of form) and you get to thinking Houston actually might never score again.

Turning to the seemingly weightier debate, I tilt toward the "Why Ralston, Why Hejduk?" column - and for the obvious reason: they're old, Ralston especially, and they won't be around much longer. The most comprehensive rebuttal to that appears in Connolly's piece and, I'd say his point - basically, that Bradley's priorities run through the Confederations Cup when both players can certainly still contribute - holds so long as you're talking Gold Cup and not Copa. Come Copa time, we really need to get younger players in those positions. For me, however, I think we can win the Gold Cup without them, so....well, I just don't get their inclusion. Ralston's doing great and this year I'm thrilled, both personally and as a Revs fan, but I'd rather see Bradley really scouting alternatives....though, to be honest, as I look over the list of all current MLS players no one is really jumping out. But here are a few: Arturo Alvarez (I owe Ian Plenderleith for that one), Kyle Martino or Eddie Gaven (I know, I know), or even the more obvious choices like Brian Mullan. Maybe he's holding out for the Copa on that bunch...anyway, I'm just sayin' the Yanquis wold probably do just fine with someone like Alvarez and Bradley would be be blooding someone for the future.

Speaking of the Copa America, Sideline Views' Andrea Canales picked up something I hadn't seen elsewhere: a stray comment from Bradley about 8-12 players being in the mix for both the Gold Cup and Copa. While I had seen a musing or two about Landon signing on for both, Canales' post is the only place a figure of that sort came out. As noted there, that figure includes both MLS and Euro-based players - I have to think between-projects guys like Oguchi Onyewu and DaMarcus Beasley are shoo-ins for two spots, maybe even Kasey Keller.

Anyway, that's plenty on this I should think. There's plenty of good stuff in the things I've linked to that I haven't mentioned. For instance, Marc Connolly takes an engaging look back at U.S. rosters past; he makes a good point using them, but I found the look interesting by itself. The article has the best stuff on reporting dates - which impacts MLS, of course - as well as mention of Pablo Mastroeni's two-game suspension (surprise, surprise).

Whoops, almost forgot this: Marc Connolly and Ian Plenderleith, in a roundtable for two, revive the great debate about combining the Gold Cup with the Copa America to, y'know, make our tournament worth a damn...that should tell you where I fall on that debate (if not, get on the phone to Brazil, Jack Warner...earn your friggin' bought seat).


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