Who's going to Germany?
Head coach Bruce Arena is set to announce the U.S. national team World Cup roster for Germany live on SportsCenter (6 p.m. ET) on May 2. With the competition for roster spots tighter than ever, Arena will be forced to choose between several players on the bubble. We asked the experts at ESPNsoccernet to project the U.S. roster and they came up with the following squad: Goalkeepers - (3) Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard. Defenders - (8) Chris Albright, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Cory Gibbs, Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope. Midfielders - (8) DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni, John O'Brien, Ben Olsen, Claudio Reyna. Forwards - (4) Eddie Johnson, Brian McBride, Taylor Twellman, Josh Wolff. We also asked ESPN analysts Eric Wynalda and Marcelo Balbao who they would pick for the U.S. roster if the choice were up to them.
Wynalda is the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. national team. He also scored the first goal ever in Major League Soccer in 1996 and was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.
There are some obvious omissions in my selections for this World Cup. Frankie Hejduk, for example, who I believe will be on the team, but I wouldn't take him this time around. Our team has become a better playing team, which can move the ball quicker and can't afford to give the ball away. Hejduk's tenacity is something to be admired; however he loses out on strength and speed to players such as Chris Albright and Chris Klein. Albright and Klein offer something in the air whereas Frankie does not. But Bruce will still pick him -- no surprise really. Set pieces and possession are huge in World Cups. With these two additions things look good in the back for the United States. Oguchi Onyewu and Eddie Pope are two players who are forces in the middle. Nobody wants to play against a back line where all four can finish a corner kick or free kick. It's too much for anybody, including the likes of the Czech Republic. The midfield is pretty standard. I would choose the same group as the last World Cup, with the newcomers being Dempsey and Kerry Zavagnin. Again, the focus is on possession and strength. Dempsey is young and brash, but talented and an upgrade on set pieces which will be a huge advantage for the United States in this World Cup. The forwards are all about complement. The forwards that Arena selects have to offset each other. Johnson has speed, McBride is good in the air, Twellman is a great sub to get the late goals and preserve wins and ties. Wolff is experienced in a backup role and won't complain about being on the bench. Don't forget that Landon is listed as a midfielder but will split time upfront with McBride. Arena has a reputation as a terrific manager and has built a team that is as good off the field as they are on it. It will be hard to cut Berhalter, but he's out of form. Ben Olsen and Pat Noonan were on the verge of my team. The hottest player in MLS Brian Ching didn't do enough when he needed to impress, thus dashing the hopes of being the first Hawaiian to play in a world cup. These are very hard decisions but that's where the U.S. is at now in soccer. Clint Dempsey is your breakout player and Kasey Keller will finally get his opportunity to show the world just how good he is. Onyewu will be the solid rock in the back and our versatility in the back will impress everybody. First stage prediction: The U.S. beats the Czechs 1-0 (on a set piece), ties Italy 1-1 and destroys Ghana 3-0 to earn a birth into the next round. Several players will sign fat contracts in Europe when its all over. Goalkeepers: Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard Defenders: Chris Albright, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Cory Gibbs, Chris Klein, Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope. Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Kerry Zavagnin, Pablo Mastroeni, John O'Brien, Claudio Reyna, Forwards: Eddie Johnson, Brian McBride, Taylor Twellman, Josh Wolff
With 130 international appearances, Balboa was the heart of the U.S. national team's defense through most of the 1990s. He was elected to The National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.
The choice of goalkeepers is easy. These are the best three keepers right now. Keller has been playing great the last year and a half and is the best the United States has. Howard is an up-and-comer and will one day take over for Keller. Hahnemann has been consistent day in and day out. For defenders, Fulham's Bocanegra is in my squad. He hasn't played much this season in the English Premiership, but can play the left side and center back and has overseas experience. Pope has been the United States' best defender for the last four years. Onyewu and Gibbs will give the team strength and speed in the back, while Cherundolo is the best right back the U.S. has. Lewis has made a successful conversion to left back on the international level, is good with the ball and will work well with Beasley down the left-hand side. Jimmy Conrad would also be a good guy to take. He could use the valuable experience and lead the charge for the next World Cup qualifying round. Albright played well against Jamaica, and if anyone goes down with injury he will be on the cusp of making this team. For midfielders, O'Brien is an obvious choice if he's healthy. Reyna can control the middle of the field and the pace of the game. He will be the key link between offense and defense. We all know what Landon Donovan brings to the table and his ability to run at goal. Convey will be one to watch off bench on the left side because he is playing with a ton of confidence right now. Steve Ralston would have been on the team if he had been healthy all year. Ralston would give the team more depth on the right-hand side. If anyone gets hurt, then look for Zavagnin or Noonan to make the team. The forwards are obvious picks. McBride has been very consistent over the last two years and his overseas experience is a plus. McBride is good in the air, can hold the ball and gets into the box well. If McBride gets hurt, that's where you'll see Twellman. Johnson can run by people. Conor Casey could make the roster if someone gets hurt. Goalkeepers: Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Jimmy Conrad, Cory Gibbs, Chris Klein, Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope. Midfielders: Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, John O'Brien, Clint Dempsey, Pablo Mastroeni, Claudio Reyna, Bobby Convey, Ben Olsen Forwards: Eddie Johnson, Brian McBride, Taylor Twellman, Josh Wolff