Not only is there a DC United game on tomorrow afternoon, there is a US Men’s National Team match as well. It is the first time we are going to see the first team players and, since the Egypt friendly was canceled, it is yet to be seen how much Bob Bradley is going to experiment and how much he is going to get his team ready for the Gold Cup.
The defense for the game is a little up in the air. Everyone knows that Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra will be starting; it remains to be seen what Bradley will do with the other two positions. He could go chalk and start Jay DeMerit, who had a very good World Cup and is settling into his position as the captain of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Or he could see what he has in Tim Ream, considered by many to be the top young central defender in the pipeline currently. Everyone seems to think/hope that Bradley will go with Ream in this match, to see how he handles the firepower of Argentina, and I hope so too. Jay DeMerit is still an international-starting quality player, but we need to know soon after the Gold Cup who his replacement will eventually be (although that could be said about every position on the back line except Gooch’s).
The other choice to make is who takes Steve Cherudolo’s place at right back. The choices here are Eric Lichaj, Timothy Chandler, and Jonathan Spector. Lichaj currently plies his trade with Leeds United, on loan from Gerrard Houllier’s doghouse; Timothy Chandler plays for FC Nuremburg in the 2. Bundesliga; and Spector currently plays central midfield for West Ham United. I think that Lichaj will get the starting nod, since he is currently playing at that position in the Championship, but I would not be surprised to see Spector get the start either. Timothy Chandler will not make the field in this game.
The midfield is pretty set, especially with the unfortunate injury to Stu Holden. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey will be out on the wings, and Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones will be in the middle. I keep hearing all of these complaints about Bob Bradley’s nepotism with regards to Michael Bradley; but he has been a starter at his club for, basically, his entire international career. It’s not like Bob has thrown him in there for no reason. So until he does, I give Bob the benefit of the doubt.
Strikers? Well, who knows. Jozy Altidore is basically a lock to start and I guess you play Edson Buddle off of him, with Juan Agudelo coming in for the second half. If Stu Holden weren’t injured, you could see more of a 4-2-3-1, with Altidore as the lone striker. Will Charlie Davies be ready for the Gold Cup? I doubt it, but I am sure Bradley would appreciate it if he was.
Anyways, enough bloviating. Against Argentina, I think we are going to see the patented Bob Bradley empty bucket, especially with Stu Holden out. So, that means:
Lichaj Ream Onyewu Bocanegra
Donovan Edu Jones Dempsey
Predictions? Argentina is Argentina, but they are bringing a team that is light on caps for the most part and the United States will not be scared. I am going to go with a 2-2 draw, with Messi scoring a brace but Dempsey and Altidore leveling. I expect to see a slightly more experimental roster for the Paraguay game, but we will talk about that Sunday or Monday.
UPDATE: Apparently it will be a three man midfield of Jones, Bradley, and Edu, with Edu in the more advanced role. Ergo, I see the 4-2-3-1 of:
Lichaj Ream Oneywu Bocanegra
Donovan Edu Dempsey