27 May 2010

US Men's National Team Announces World Cup Roster

Fresh off a disappointing 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Czechs last night, the US Men's National Team gathered at ESPN headquarters to make the final roster cut down to 23 players from 30. More on the game later.

The announcement itself looked as if they were attempting to tap into America's obsession with reality television. They lined up the roster in front of a soccer goal as they introduced who made the team in a manor that was reminiscent of the rose ceremony from The Bachelorette. They stopped just short of saying: Landon Donovan, will you accept this jersey? The roster was mostly determined prior to the defeat, with the game providing a few players one last opportunity to state their case; Edson Buddle's strong performance boosted himself onto the final roster as a surprise selection over veteran Brian Ching.

The enigmatic DaMarcus Beasley found himself on the bubble after going from breakout star of the 2002 World Cup, to disappointing scapegoat in the 2006 World and 2009 Confederations Cups. He made the roster, as his recent performances have been more reflective of his '02 success.

One surprise was the inclusion of Oguchi Onyewu. A key starter in the 2006 World Cup, Onyewu is known for his physical defensive presence and his ability use his height to dominate the air. However, seven months ago he suffered a patellar tendon rupture. While he has made it back to the pitch last night, it was clear he had lost something. He gave up a header goal, looked a step slow, and did not show confidence in his knee at moments throughout the game. With two more friendlies before the World Cup, it looks like Coach Bob Bradley is hoping Onyewu plays himself back to form.

The game last night was ugly--the Americans found themselves outplayed throughout. Onyewu struggled along with the rest of the defense. They took bad penalties in the defensive third, while the team as a whole could not maintain consistent possession of the ball. When they did attempt possession they had poor spacing, finding themselves bunched in a small area. As a result, they were easily defended.

The good news: since the final cuts were last night, the Czech Republic's victory came against players who were on the bubble, not the regulars. With the roster now finalized and two more tune ups remaining, expect to see a better level of play as the regulars return to the field.

Check back next week for the official Rational Pastime World Cup Preview, including a tournament breakdown and explain why you should care if you're not a soccer fan.

(Photo Credit: ESPN)

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