Monday, June 25, 2007

The Copa America roster: There's no beating around the bush here. Coach Bob Bradley wants to use these games to give some high-level international experience to a lot of players who aren't accustomed to it. He's obviously not afraid of an early exit -- in fact, he might be thinking he's avoiding embarrassing the top U.S. players by not taking them to Venezuela. Tim Howard is obviously being brought along slowly, as Kasey Keller will lead the U.S.A. in goal, backed up by Brad Guzan.

There are some talented players to be sure -- but they're almost all very young and very inexperienced. Some of these players gained notoriety playing for an earlier incarnation of the U-20 team, and are now being given their first big chance with the senior squad. Included in that number is Lee Nguyen, whom I believe is one of the most promising young American players. Nguyen has struggled to get time with PSV Eindhoven in Holland, but he'll probably be on the pitch against Argentina. He's joined by the Gold Cup hero, Benny Feilhaber, as well as a slew of young Americans from the MLS -- none of whom are especially impressive right now, at that level. There's Marvell Wynne, Sacha Kljestan, Eddie Gaven and Kyle Beckerman.

Bradley has chosen a few players with experience. From the Gold Cup winning squad, Bradley has Jonathan Bornstein (when I say experienced, I'm being a bit sarcastic, since Bornstein's first cap came this year). Bradley will be relying on some players who had bit parts in the Gold Cup, including, Jay DeMerit, Ricardo Clark, Eddie Johnson, Taylor Twellman and Justin Mapp. There are a few players who are playing in less-familiar European leagues, with Heath Pearce, Danny Califf, and Charlie Davies.

Also in the club are some really raw players, such as Bobby Boswell, and two MLSers who could earn their first caps: Herculez Gomez and Drew Moore. Finally, for real experience, Bradley has brought in Ben Olsen, and Jimmy Conrad, who is coming off a fractured jaw. I am surprised that Conrad is there only because I did not expect him back so soon. His presence on the defense would be a great addition, as he is probably the steadiest American defender.

It's an intriguing roster, but it would be unfair to expect much in terms of good results in Venezuela. Still, it will be interesting to see if any of the second-teamers, like Twellman, Mapp and Johnson, or any of the youngsters like Gomez and Nguyen can make names for themselves on the international stage. Perhaps, one could look on this squad, as well as the current U-20 team which will be playing at the same time in the U-20 World Cup, as the national team of the future. We will get a glimpse of what they might be capable of doing down the road. Stay tuned.

No comments: