The World Cup 2010 is fast approaching and the world’s attention will turn to South Africa for a month. The six months leading up to the World Cup can sometimes be just as exciting for fans. This is the key time where players have to prove to the coach that they are ready both mentally and physically. During this time players have to make sure they are getting playing time on their club teams and are contributing. In the last five months several key players to the USA’s hopes in South Africa have been taken down by injuries. While most are expected to recover in time to participate during the Cup how many will be full strength? Can you imagine if there were no injuries? The USA would have a very strong starting 11. Below would be my ideal starting 11 if all were healthy and assuming a 4-4-2. I look forward to your opinions and who would be your starting 11?
Goalkeeper: Tim Howard (Everton) – Has been one of the top keepers in the EPL this season. Especially, of late Everton has only dropped one match in the last six.
Left Back – Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes) – Carlos normally plays center back for club and country. With the personnel that the USA has at its disposal and not really having a solid option at the left back Bocanegra is the best suited for a move out to the left.
Center Back – Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan) – Tall and very athletic. Has problems with smaller and faster forward. Gooch can control the back line and knows where to be in the right situations. He should be back from a knee injury in the next few weeks and his main concern should be if he can get some much needed playing time with AC Milan. There is a rumored move to MLS prior to the World Cup that could get him some valuable field time.
Center Back - Jay DeMerit (Watford) – Unknown outside of the hard-core soccer circles. This Wisconsin native story is a Disney movie waiting to be made. Going to England on his own he began playing for a local pub team and made it all the way to the EPL and now the United States national team. Smart player and has experience playing against some of the top strikers in the world.
Right Back – Steve Cherundolo (Hanover) – One of the top defenders in the Bundesliga. Has been a mainstay on the US back line for the last 6 years. Steve provides an attacking option out of the back line. Has very few rivals on the United States squad in terms of crossing ability.
Left Mid – Clint Dempsey (Fulham) – Can also play up top and is a key contributor for Fulham. Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has talked about how Fulham is not as good a team without Clint on the field. Clint Dempsey was the 2nd rated midfielder in the EPL prior to his injury.
Center Mid – Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca) – Just hope Bob Bradley gives him a chance. He made two mistakes in a WC qualifier, but is one of the few Americans that is not afraid to be creative and attack with the ball.
Center Mid – John O’Brien – Retired – Could have been the best American player ever, but injuries ended his career way too early. He was a vital part of the US run in the World Cup 2002 and was a shell of his self in 2006.
Right Mid – Landon Donovan - Club Team: Everton/LA Galaxy – Has been on fire since his loan to Everton was made official. Everton is 5-1-1 in the EPL since he joined with big wins over the top two teams: Manchester United and Chelsea. Landon is most well-known player on the US squad. He was voted Everton player of the month by the fans.
Forward – Brian McBride – Chicago Fire – Has retired from international soccer, but can still play at the highest level. Fulham made a move to try to bring McBride back to Craven Cottage. At this point looks highly unlikely that he will be part of WC 2010, but I feel that the USA would benefit from having on the field.
Forward – Charlie Davies – Sochaux – No US forward has the attacking mentality that Charlie possesses. His goal at Azteca Stadium to give the United States its first ever lead in Mexico City was what the US will need in the World Cup. I worry that if he does not recover from his injuries in time the United States will have very little goal scoring opportunities.