The United States Men’s National Soccer team will play its second pre-World Cup friendly in Philly today, against Turkey, and I’ll be glued to the TV set. I wish.
Instead I’ll be working and constantly picking up my phone for Twitter updates, mostly because I’m intrigued to see how the final 23-man roster for the US looks as they get ready for the 2010 World Cup, kicking off June 11 in South Africa.
I didn’t get to see the squad’s announcement (curse you, work!), but I’ve had a chance to look at it. Here are my thoughts:
Goalies – Tim Howard. That’s pretty much all you need to know. He’s a solid, world class keeper. I’m not worried about him.
Defenders – This one’s a mixed bag in my eyes…which, unfortunately, didn’t get to see the match against the Czechs, a 4-2 defeat in Hartford. My understanding is Oguchi Onyewu didn’t look fit, yet there he is on the 23-man squad. Gooch is a US soccer folk hero, so I’m not anti-Gooch, I just hope his healing ankle doesn’t come back to haunt us. Jonathan Bornstein, too, was said to be shaky and allowing four goals doesn’t make me feel very secure. Howard’s great in net, but he needs just a little support out front.
Midfielders – I love this group. Seriously. Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, DaMarcus Beasley, some of my favorites.
Forwards – USMNT coach Bob Bradley took some risks here to be sure. No Brian Ching, but Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez are in, as is Robbie Findley. Gomez made a great case for himself with his performance against the Czechs. He’s also a former Kansas City Wizard, so he’s automatically cool. We know what we’re getting in Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, but the other three? Bradley will be a genius or a fool depending on how they play.
All-in-all I think it’s a solid group and, after Algeria fell to non-qualifier Ireland 3-0 in a friendly Friday, I’m feeling even better about the Yanks’ chances of advancing out of group play.
The Yanks kick off with Turkey at 1 p.m. in Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field. If you’re in the 417 this weekend and want to watch, you’ve got two options. SGFsoccer.com guru Ole Olson is convening a watch party at Farmer’s Gastropub downtown, in the Wilhoit Center. I totally dig the Gastropub. Great decor, great concept and phenomenal beer selection. There was a Champion’s League finals watch party there last week, so props to them for being a soccer hotspot.
Your other option is Quincy Magoo’s, on the southside, in the Battlefield Marketplace. That’s where they budding Springfield Chapter of the American Outlaws is meeting. They’re trying to become a national chapter and find a great spot to watch the World Cup. I’ve been to Magoo’s just once, with the fam, and wasn’t necessarily blown away by it. But they’ve shown a willingness to support the soccer crowd, too, so they’re worth another shot.