U.S. lineup beginning to take shape
The U.S. squad landed in South Africa after its 17-hour flight and now can focus on the task at hand with less media responsibilities that surrounded them during their whirlwind send-off tour.
We learned a few new things from the U.S.-Turkey match over the weekend, but I -- for one -- am eager to see which players head coach Bob Bradley starts this Saturday against the Aussies in the team's final friendly before its June 12 showdown with England.
The U.S. doesn't have the luxury of fielding a world-class player at every position. Not many teams do. But if I were in charge, I'd like to see this lineup Saturday. If it works, I'd like to see it again a week later.
FORWARDS: Altidore - Dempsey
Jozy Altidore is a lock, but the other forward position is still a mystery. Clint Dempsey had a frustrating first half Saturday against Turkey when he was positioned up front, but that's not reason to abandon the idea. Robbie Findley had a great second half in that game, but he's not starter material.
MIDFIELDERS: Donovan - Bradley - Edu - Holden
This one is tricky - with Michael Bradley being the lone lock in the middle. Donovan's speed on the left allows him to penetrate the opposing defense with a running start and gives the U.S. a defensive option against England's speedy right wing. I still like Maurice Edu (ahead of Ricardo Clark) in the middle for his defensive capabilities with Jose Torres coming off the pine. On the right wing, Holden is too effective to start on the bench. Bold prediction: He'll score a goal in this tournament.
DEFENDERS: Bocanegra - Onyewu - DeMerit - Cherundolo
The back four was seemingly solidified during Saturday's win over Turkey, with Carlos Bocanegra becoming the only legit choice for Bradley on the left. Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit are healthy enough to start, but both need to communicate and recover better. Still, that's an imposing and gritty middle pairing. Steve Cherundolo has jumped in front of Jonathan Spector in the race to fill the right back position.
No surprise there.