It's time for the next round of World Cup Qualification, a pair of matches against the bottom two countries in the Hex, El Salvador (at home) and Trinidad & Tobago (on the road). While six points here isn't a necessity, it would go a long way towards easing the nerves for the final pair of matches (away to Honduras and home to Costa Rica). Bob's selection is mostly predictable, but there are a few surprises as well, so let's take a look...
* GK: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton).
Big duh that Timmy will start, but I do wonder about Guzan. True, he has been seeing some Euro-time for Villa, but can he possibly be match-sharp if we need to call on him?
* D: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hanover), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (Start), Chad Marshall (Columbus), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Jonathan Spector (West Ham).
With Gooch suspended for the first match, we do need bodies in central defense, but do we really need Goodson and Marshall as cover? Surely we'll be looking to control possession in that first match, necessitating an attacking fullback (ie. not Bocanegra), thus allowing Boca to slot in next to DeMerit or Marshall in the center, with the odd man out as cover?
* M: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Moenchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Houston), Robbie Rogers (Columbus), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca).
Thank goodness! Torres is back in the fold, and Kljestan is nowhere to be found. StuHo has played himself into a spot and deserves to be here as well. Rogers? He's one for the future, for sure, but I think he proved at the Gold Cup that he's not quite ready for prime time. Still, not a bad idea to get him into camp. Beckerman? He also had a good Gold Cup, but I'm not sure he really has a place when Edu (and Jones!) are healthy. Still, can't fault his inclusion here for cover and to toss a bone to the RSL fans.
* F: Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Conor Casey (Colorado), Brian Ching (Houston), Charlie Davies (Sochaux), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake).
Hmmm. Jozy, Davies, and Donovan are no-brainers. Ching always gives his all as well, and can be useful against mid- to lower-tier CONCACAF sides. But what has Casey done in a US shirt besides jog about and scowl? I was all for his inclusion after he started the MLS season on fire, but he never brought that same energy and commitment to the national team, so I do wonder if this is one of those times that Bob gets it in his head that a guy is a good fit, and needs to have it pummeled into his brain through multiple poor showings that the guy just isn't up to it (see: Beasley, Kljestan, etc.). The other big question here is: why Findley? Is he being brought in as (1) Davies' understudy for the quick striker role or (2) as some sort of "reward" for the RSL fans? Or was it a knee-jerk reaction when Bob saw him hang a couple on his old Chivas boys?