Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Places, Everyone

I think these are the players whose position in the US starting line-up are solid: Kasey Keller, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope, Eddie Lewis, Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni, and Brian McBride. That makes 8, and it includes the entire backline, 1 forward and 2 midfielders. The remaining 3 will come from a group that includes: Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff, Claudio Reyna, DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Dempsey and Bobby Convey. Kinda hard to imagine a starting lineup without Reyna, but his health is a concern. Ditto O'Brien. Beasley isn't injured, but his play has lacked a little bit. Convey has looked great, but lacks some of Beas's defensive tenacity. GAM looked dangerous on Sunday; had he converted one of his chances, his inclusion into the starting lineup would have been more solid.

Much of it depends on the opponent's size, speed and offensive strengths. Injecting Beasley and/or Convey gives more speed and flank play, while using Reyna and O'Brien gives better ball control. Dempsey is always a threat, and we do need a right-sided mid.

As we saw from the friendlies, players like Lewis and Cherundolo were able to get into the offense and make some crisp crosses. Inserting Eddie Johnson would give us 2 guys with aerial skills to receive, and you do get the sense from the Latvia game that GAM has a little fire in his play.