Clark makes official U.S. World Cup roster
The inclusion of Atlanta’s own Ricardo Clark to the 23-man U.S. World Cup roster was no surprise, but some of the other picks by coach Bob Bradley that were unveiled Wednesday did send some shock waves through the American soccer Tweetosphere.
No Brian Ching or Eddie Johnson up front, but Edson Buddle and Robbie Findley are in. So is Herculez Gomez, who scored in Tuesday’s 4-2 friendly loss to the Czech Republic.
No Chad Marshall or Heath Pearce in the back, but Clarence Goodson. And Oguchi Onyewu, injured most of the season for A.C. Milan (remember his formal introduction at the Georgia Dome last summer?) and who saw his first action in seven months last night.
In midfield, DaMarcus Beasley is in after nearly falling completely out of favor several months ago. Out are Sacha Kljestan, who was a borderline case for making the team, and Robbie Rogers, whom many pundits thought would be included.
In reality, Bradley didn’t have many options with injuries, including Clark, who got in a few games at the end of Eintracht Frankfurt’s season in the German Bundesliga. Speedy forward Charlie Davies was ruled out of the World Cup because of a long recovery following a near-fatal auto accident.
Before he got hurt, Clark was featuring plenty as the U.S. starting midfielder (along with Michael Bradley, the coach’s son). But the return of Maurice Edu adds to the decisions the elder Bradley will have to make about his regulars, and especially his lineup in the June 12 opener against England.
Defensively is where the U.S. looks particularly vulnerable, Onyewu’s fitness aside. The mistakes in the back against the Czechs can’t give Bradley much confidence at all. Tim Howard will have to be nothing short of amazing in the nets.
Up front, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are absolutely essential for the U.S., and big striker Jozy Altidore, who has shown some promise, needs to start living up to it. He and Davies were starting to click before that terrible accident, and Bradley has tried to compensate for the loss of Davies’ speed with Findley and Gomez.
On paper, this team may not be any better or worse than the 2006 team that crashed out of Germany in the group stage. The group in South Africa doesn’t appear to be as difficult, but the Americans can’t afford to assume anything about anybody they play.
In this segment that introduced the players ESPN’s Bob Ley didn’t ask Bradley any questions about whom he left out of the roster, but here are some later explanations from the coach about his final decisions.