30 Days Until the World Cup

11 05 2010

The countdown continues folks. Deadline for this week’s column was yesterday so I didn’t get a chance to weigh in on Bradley’s picks for training camp at Princeton University. As of 11:00 a.m. the rosters were announced and there were a few surprises. Some rather big ones (I’m looking at your Findley). Here is the 30-man roster which will be cut to 23 by June 1.

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan • Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Chad Marshall, Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce, Jonathan Spector • Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Stuart Holden, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, Jose Francisco Torres • Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle, Brian Ching, Robbie Findley, Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson

We’ll discuss some of the surprises later — there were some eye-catching names left off other squads as well. We’ll just have to wait a week for that. This is why this is so exciting though, we’re finally getting close enough to taste it. Let the ball roll already! –> Link to the story online here as always.

Who will be going to the Cup?
By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
There are only 30 days left until the ball rolls in South Africa and, honestly, I wish I were writing this with 29.The big news today on the World Cup front is the announcement of the preliminary rosters. By the time you get around to reading today’s column, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley will have announced his 30-man provisional roster and with the recent weeks of activity leading up to today, there might be a couple of surprises.

Unfortunately, we won’t get around to talking about Bradley’s choices until next week’s version of the countdown.

For those who pick up their copy of the Daily Journal early, you should make your way over to a television set and tune into ESPN2. They’ll be announcing the training camp roster at 11 a.m.

Expect your locks, of course (Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, etc.), but the most interesting choices will come up front for the United States. With the defense pretty much set for a while now and the midfield (especially in the center) already really crowded, the real competition to make the USMNT has come at the forward position.

A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned Charlie Davies’ remarkable recovery in this space and I think his hard work has earned him at least a spot in Princeton. Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle have been too hot for Bradley to ignore — they’ve all but locked down spots on the training camp roster. The same week we talked about Davies, we also mentioned Eddie Johnson and his disappearing act, but he’s been playing well as of late, finding his scoring touch for Aris Thessaloniki in the Greek playoffs — I believe he’s in as well.

A couple of teams (Denmark, Japan, Germany) have already announced their rosters and others are waiting to see how recent injuries will affect their selections (see: England and Wayne Rooney). After a grueling European schedule it’s definitely something to look for. Obviously, Rooney stands out, but recently players like Rene Alder (Germany), Rafael van der Vaart (Netherlands) and Xavi (Spain) have been in the news with their injuries.

Speaking of Spain, they announced their preliminary roster on Monday and man, are they loaded. The aforementioned Xavi is in but he, along with a couple of other giant names, (Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas) will be up against the clock as they try to shake injuries and be in top form for their June 16 debut against Switzerland.

The scary thing is, they have so much depth and skill on the roster they can probably rest their superstars and still have plenty to make it through the group stage and into the second round.

Group B predictions

Speaking of the second round, we caught a some flack from the Mexican fans for picking South Africa and Uruguay to advance out of Group A. We plan on not upsetting as many people with this week’s selections.

Group B teams: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

The smart choices: Argentina, Nigeria

The Countdown chooses: Argentina, Nigeria

We’ll get the obvious out of the way and anoint Argentina as the winner of the group. Their road to South Africa was rather shaky, but what will make them so dangerous at the World Cup will be the amount of talent that oozes out of the Albicelestes. Obviously there is Lionel Messi, who everyone (including us) has drooled over with his play for Barcelona. But players like Diego Milito, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain will have a big say in how far Argentina goes at the World Cup. I’m thinking they advance with seven points.

And that’s where Nigeria fits in. Their success in group B will hinge on how well they play against Argentina June 12. If they can manage a draw against Messi and his crew, I can see them getting through with four points. That said, Nigeria’s road to South Africa has been just as shaky as Argentina’s. A victory against Greece or South Korea is not a given. While there isn’t much that separates Nigeria, Greece and South Korea, I think “home-field advantage” for the Super Eagles will be good enough to send them through.





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