Has the Freddy Adu comeback tour begun?
Hardly, but he was the topic of conversation Monday after head coach Bob Bradley announced his 23-man Gold Cup roster, which included Adu and a few more surprise selections.
Bradley spoke at length about many of the players that will take on the USA's CONCACAF foes starting June 7 against Canada -- and the same 23 players who will host No. 1-ranked Spain in a tune-up match June 4 in Foxborough, Mass.
The roster, in full was posted earlier. On Friday, I had dropped some names of players whom I thought had the best chance of making Bradley's team. I had 11 "locks," but only 10 of them made the team (Timmy Chandler didn't make the cut). I also listed 16 guys "in the running," and nine of them made the squad. That left four spots, none of which came from my 7-man "long shots" list. I guess my crystal ball was about as clear as crud-covered screen.
Below is a breakdown of some of Bradley's shockers, and what the coach had to say about his decisions. More complete quotes can be found at USsoccer.com.
The four longer than long-shots:
Freddy Adu, midfielder
Adu has been scoring some nice goals overseas, but he's been doing it in Turkey's second division.
“We have followed Freddy since he transferred to Rizespor. We’ve watched him a number of different times on the computer. We’ve not managed to get there. We watched one of his playoff games this morning, but we still feel that there are good signs from him as a player that have shown us soccer qualities that we think help our team. It hasn’t always added up enough yet with the full national team but this seems like it’s a good opportunity to get him back in with us where we have a good month together and can challenge him. We hope that he has continued to grow and mature and can play a bigger role with the national team.”
Robbie Rogers, midfielder
Rogers has looked good -- not great -- in a few appearances for the USMNT in the last couple years, but I figured a player like Alejandro Bedoya would be way ahead of him in the pecking order.
“Robbie is a player that everyone knows has ability to run at people, get behind people, and he’s capable of playing on both flanks. Thus far in MLS this year he started the season having missed the January camp because he had knee surgery following last year. I think his mobility and his energy in the team have been good. We felt it was a good time to get him back with us and build on some of the things that we’ve seen over the years. We all know that Robbie has a lot of talent and in different moments with the national team it has come out in a very good way and now we think this is a good time to see if we can push it a little further.”
Nick Rimando, goalkeeper
Rimando wasn't necessarily a long shot, but he just wasn't in my top 4 at the goalkeeper position. Bradley's explanation confuses me. Is he on the team or isn't he?
“The way we have always handled this in the past is the one spot on this roster that has a different situation is if it’s the third goalkeeper. If the third goalkeeper is an MLS goalkeeper then primarily he is staying with his club team, he will continue playing in the league and we would bring him in when needed. We have some decisions to make when we get into camp to reassess exactly how we’re doing with Timmy Howard and Marcus Hahnemann but one possibility for sure is at least to begin with that Nick will be with Salt Lake and I’ve discussed that with him and I’ve also discussed it with Jason Kreis.”
Chris Wondolowski, forward
I know very little about Wondolowski, who led the MLS in goals scored last year (18). Of course, Jeff Cunningham and Robbie Findley have lit up the scoreboard in the MLS, and we've seen them struggle in international play. But, I'll reserve judgment on Wondolowski until I see him this summer.
"He has scored some good goals, some very different goals and Chris seems to be a player that gets a couple of chances every game."
Some interesting omissions:
Timmy Chandler, defender
Chandler had a stellar two games for the USMNT in March. It's a shame we won't see him again until World Cup qualifying begins ... I hope.
“We were pleased with what it was like to bring him into the camp in March and get him on the field. We continued to follow his play at Nürnberg and we’ve had a number of different discussions with Timmy and with the club and when we added them all up at the end of the season, his first real season playing at this level, we felt that it didn’t make sense at this time for him. He’s carried a few little injuries of late. He has told us that physically and mentally this season has been a hard one. We feel strongly that we’ve worked hard to build a good relationship with him and felt that when you added everything up that the time wasn’t right for this Gold Cup.”
On whether Chandler would consider playing for Germany:
“The simple matter is that in the way things work in soccer these days, until a player plays in an official match, you don’t know for sure. In all of our conversations with Timmy he’s always expressed how excited he is to have played for the U.S. and we feel that there’s been a very good level of discussion and follow-up with him and it’s all been with the idea that he’s going to continue to play a role for us.”
Alejandro Bedoya, midfielder
Bedoya has been playing well in Sweden for Orebro SK. In fact, he had one of his best games Sunday ... check out these highlights.
“He’s a player we’ve seen some good things from when he’s come on into games. He has energy and willingness to be involved in the game in a good way, but nonetheless we looked at some of the other players and now in some cases you have to make some tough decisions where certain guys are almost in the same category. In this particular case, some decisions went in the favor of some other players.”
Teal Bunbury, forward
I kept wondering who, out of Bunbury, Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle, would make the squad. The answer, apparently, was zero.
“Teal is a young striker that we certainly see a lot of potential in. I think we’ve had a good opportunity to work with him in some camps. I spoke with him and just felt that this time, in terms of our whole roster; I didn’t think it was the right time for him. I don’t think he’s been as sharp as we would like so far in the season. I think that’s a sign of him continuing to mature and grow. Quite honestly, another part of it is the fact that as we watched different games we felt strongly that Chris Wondolowski was in good form."
Jay DeMerit, defender
I figured DeMerit's absence would be due to his recent injury troubles. I love DeMerit's grit, but I'm glad this gives players like Tim Ream and Clarence Goodson more opportunity.
“Jay [DeMerit] continues to be somebody that we think can play a big role for our national team. He took a lot of time off after the World Cup and so the number of games that he’s played in the last year, I think, if you were to consider the range of what Jay is all about on the field, he’s working his way back to the high end of what Jay’s all about and that was thrown off a little bit by some injuries thus far this year. He now has 90 minutes under his belt in the cup game last Wednesday and so, we’re hopeful that Jay is going to now consistently be on the field and pick his game back up to the level that it’s been at the last two summers for us. Those are things that we’ll continue to monitor, for sure.”