ROSTER BREAKDOWN
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Bob Bradley today announced his Gold Cup roster and while most of the obvious picks were made, the surprising omissions and inclusions will be talked about a lot in the days and weeks ahead.

The most obvious omission on the roster is that of FC Nurnberg's Timothy Chandler who, according to most reports, was initially invited by Bob Bradley to be on the team but was either dropped or withdrew after discussions with his club.

This decision has a lot of people concerned over Chandler's international future but it more closely resembles a conflict between Nurnberg and the US as opposed to the German national team and the US. The facts strongly suggest that the club is trying to protect a key player that it will rely on heavily next year. Nurnberg is generally a small club that overachieved this year but normally fights in the bottom half of the Bundesliga.

Chandler is one of the team's most promising young players and they want to assure that he is well rested heading into his first full season as a first team professional. A key fact in all this is that Nurnberg's preseason begins on June 26 and if Chandler played in the Gold Cup, he would have no break from the game during the offseason.

While clubs cannot refuse to release a player for the Gold Cup, the decision clearly fell on Chandler who likely went along with the wishes of his club.

As for a potential switch with to Germany, it remains most unlikely Chandler will all of a sudden leave the US setup. It is very rare for a player who is playing for one national team to switch to another national team without some sort of falling out of favor with the coach. By all accounts Bradley wanted Chandler and Chandler initially wanted to go.

Should US fans be worried about losing Chandler? Perhaps they should a little because during the last five months he was one of the top fullbacks in the Bundesliga. But the odds still greatly favor that he will play the US. Chandler has gone on record saying how much he liked playing for the US in March and that he did not like his experiences with Germany at the U15 level.

Germany has yet to show any interest in Chandler since the U-15 level and making the German national team is extremely difficult. It is unlikely he will want to leave the US national team where he can play in perhaps three World Cups and be a key player for the next ten years. For Germany, it is still a long shot he will make the team with only 15 Bundesliga appearances under his belt.

The inclusion of Freddy Adu is also very surprising pick as he has struggled for most of the past four years since making the move to Europe. However now he is on his fifth team during that span and he has begun to see some success with Rizespor of the Turkish second division.

The real issue is whether he will still be able to help the US team but, unfortunately, the low level of play of the Turkish second division does not offer any real glimpse as to whether or not he will be effective on the international front.

Adu clearly has a good friend in Bob Bradley because his performance in recent years does not make him deserving of this callup. The fact is that very few coaches in recent years who have seen Adu every day have felt he could help their team.

Adu is unlikely to start at the Gold Cup but he will likely be asked to be an offensive sub off the bench. Bradley has a lot at stake in Adu's callup. If Adu plays well, Bradley looks like a genius for believing in a player that has had a lot of hype but has produced few results. If Adu struggles, fans will wonder why Bradley felt the need to call in a player playing at a level far below the standards of the US national team.

The exclusion of Alejandro Bedoya is perhaps the most controversial decision because he has been playing very well this season for Orebro in Sweden. While Bedoya has struggled at times for the USMNT, it must be noted that under Bradley he has been playing wider in the midfield but for his club he has been playing centrally. It is for his club while playing in the middle of the field that has seen Bedoya become a consistent top performer in Sweden's top league.

When looking at the reasons for Bedoya's omission, it was likely the selection of Adu that probably kept Bedoya off the team. Both play similar positions for their clubs in attacking positions in the center of the field. Based on current form and consistency, the decision doesn't add up. Bedoya has four goals in nine games and he is regularly involved in Orebro's attack. He is playing for a better team in Orebro and in a better league in the Allsvenskan. This summer, Bedoya is likely to attract interest from teams in higher leagues while next year Adu will likely still be in the second division of Turkey.

The decision to go with Adu over Bedoya is a gamble by Bradley. He is hoping that Adu will be able to provide a spark late in the game but by not having Bedoya, he will lose out on the far more complete player.

The exclusion of Mix Diskerud was a decision that was likely after the young midfielder was selected to the roster for the March friendlies but did not get off the bench in either game. Diskerud is still only 20 years old and will be a important player for the Olympic team next year.

The exclusion of Teal Bunbury was also a surprise after he impressed in his first two caps the past year. His potential to be a good player is obvious but he has been struggling in the early goings of the MLS season. It is unclear though how much his ineffective play is the fault of Bunbury or how much it is because of a very weak supporting cast at Sporting Kansas City. It should be noted that after playing with Canada, Bunbury's change of affiliation with FIFA was completed in March and he is now permanently tied to the US team.

The decision to go with Wondolowski over Bunbury is justifiable. For most of Wondolowski's career, he was not worthy of a USMNT cap. The truth, however, is that he has been playing very well for over a year. It's also not that he has been scoring goals but rather it's that he's been scoring a wide variety of different types of goals. He should be able to dominate CONCACAF competition with the way he has played the past year.

Finally, the decision to go with Robbie Rogers was a surprise and one that will draw a lot of criticism. Rogers has been an interesting player during his past appearances with the USMNT. He has struggled quite a bit but every so often he plays well and reminds everyone there is a great deal talent in his game. In his last cap against the Czech Republic before the 2010 World Cup, he was very dangerous late in the game.

Rogers' inclusion makes sense in that there really aren't many natural wing players in the US player pool. Most of the time, Bradley is forced to play central midfielders out on the wing and away from their natural position. This is the case with how Stuart Holden and Alejandro Bedoya have been used. Rogers gives Bradley a pure winger on both the left and right sides.

All in all, it's a strong roster. The decision to bring in Adu at the expense of Bedoya was the most questionable but it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the team.

The absences of Chandler and the injured Stuart Holden deprive the American team of two of its best players in Europe this past season. Still, if the American team can compete well without a few of its best players, it will only speak volumes about the ability of the team in the future.
eurofan
Sunday May 29, 2011 7:56 pm
Im purposely going to go to one of these games and boo Bradley...his squad lacks a lot of creativity, and aggresion...Dempsy, and Howard will be the highlights of the team as always..
nick
Sunday May 29, 2011 7:15 pm
I too am starting to worry about nepotism from Coach Bradley. Michael has not been a consistent player since making the switch to Villa. Meanwhile, both Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones have been key contributors at their respective clubs. If Bradley continues to favor his son over either of these two, there is a serious problem. As far as Freddy Adu's inclusion for the Gold Cup roster, I've always been a fan but at this point Bedoya is more valuable to the squad. To say that moving to a second division Turkish team shows "maturity" is laughable as well. A mature Adu that was willing to put aside his ego would have swallowed his pride and made the transition back to MLS if he was serious about working his way back into the national team.
T.C.
Saturday May 28, 2011 3:53 pm
Coach Bradley has always cited a player's current form with their club as a primary reason for their inclusion in the side. Thus, the inclusion of his son, whose only made a handful of appearances for Villa since his transfer from Germany, appears to be the epitome of nepotism and frankly, smacks of hypocrisy on the coach's part. I, for one, am tired of Michael's seemingly guaranteed spot on the roster despite his lack of football recently, and the apparent double-standard when it comes to selection criteria. I understand many may disagree, but I don't feel Michael's quite earned his spot in the side for the Gold Cup. Where's Paco Torres?!
pete
Friday May 27, 2011 2:52 pm
I still can't believe how many positive Adu posts i'm coming across around the blogosphere. It's like people have completely forgotten that his guy hasn't done anything in years except score a few goals in Turkey's second league. How can he be expected to make an imprint on the gold cup? He's shown nothing to make me believe he will turn the tide for the US. Where is this coming from?
mario
Friday May 27, 2011 1:43 pm
Hmm, if Chandler decided not to come because his club asked him to stay home and get some rest I totally understand that. Nuernberg pay his checks after all and they understandably don't want him to waste his much needed holiday to play a meaningless competition like the Gold Cup. On the other hand - reconsidering his commitment to the USMNT would be a big mistake. He simply won't make the German squad for any tournament in the future as they have way too much talent. Of course he doesn't have good memories regarding the German U-teams - he never managed to get another invitation because he flat out wasn't good enough...
John Jacobson
Thursday May 26, 2011 11:05 pm
I like that you have done your homework with bedoya and realized that he is a CM and not a winger for his club.
luckyjackaubrey
Thursday May 26, 2011 4:35 pm
One of the reasons you will see older, veterans instead of the young talent that may eventually make up the next world cup roster is that winning the gold cup will put the team in the confederations cup down the road. That would provide great experience for the eventual world cup team. While the young guns may be the ones who go the the next WC they wouldnt neccesarily win the gold cup and thus miss out on the experience of playing against that level of competition while preparing. Its a strategy, a long term strategy.
Billy Bob
Thursday May 26, 2011 1:34 pm
Braden,
Freddy didn't put aside his ego for the Turkish second division. He just didn't have any other options. And scoring 4 goals for a second division outfit is hardly the mark of an offensive threat. If Freddy does this in the Turkish first division or for benfica, then its a different discussion. The only verifiable fact is that he has not played well enough for the last few years to merit a place on the UMNT.
anon
Thursday May 26, 2011 12:45 pm
what about Cooper, Pearce and Whitbread? All should have made the roster. Cooper over Wondowlowski, Pearce over Bornstein, and Whitbread over Ream.
Matthew
Thursday May 26, 2011 9:48 am
I don't get why Bradley continues to invite mediocre late-20s players to play in these mediocre competitions. Wondolowski will be 31 in 2014. Why aren't we playing younger players with potential instead of someone who has little to offer and will likely be past their prime by the time the next World Cup comes??? And really... how many chances will Robbie Rogers get? And how can we have a decent team when you only have 1 wide player on the entire team. Fire Bob Bradley.
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