USA manager Bob Bradley will be hoping to progress past the group stages with his squad of youthful talent. Although there is not a great deal of pressure on the Americans, they will be looking to prove themselves on the world stage and show there is footballing spirit in the States.
In goal Bradley has a selection of good goalkeepers, all of which are based in the Premier League. Everton’s Tim Howard, Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan and Wolves’ Marcus Hahnemann are all capable goalkeepers and should have no problem on the biggest stage. Tim Howard will be the starting goalkeeper as he is the most experienced and the best keeper of the three and with his experience in England with Everton the pressure of a major tournament should have little effect on him.
The Americans have a few options in the defence too. Carlos Bocanegra will definitely be in the line-up as he skippers the side and will either play at the heart of the defence or at left-back. He is a capable defender and has experience in the Premier League with Fulham proving he can mix it with the best. Partnering him at centre-back will be Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu who also has experience in England in the Premier League while at Newcastle. Filling the full-back positions will be Hannover right-back Steve Cherundolo and Chivas USA left-back Jonathan Bornstein, both have international experience and played a key role in qualifying for the tournament. Other options available to Bradley are West Ham’s Jonathan Spector who can play anywhere across the back four, Watford’s Jay Demerit, Heath Pearce and Clarence Goodson.
Much will be expected of Landon Donovan who proved himself a quality player in his short time at Everton recently. From midfield he will provide a goal threat and will look to threaten from either wing. Clint Dempsey played an integral part of Fulham’s run to the Europa League final – he can produce moments of sheer class and the USA will hoping he shows this in South Africa. He can play anywhere in the middle or can play off a lone front-man depending on the system played. Operating on the opposite flank to Donovan will be DaMarcus Beasley who has shown in his time at Rangers he is valuable asset with the ball and can produce dangerous set-pieces when needed. Michael Bradley will operate in the centre of midfield with either Dempsey or Bolton’s Stuart Holden. Bradley applies his trade in Germany and has caught the attention of many Premier League clubs. Bob Bradley can also call on former Derby player Benny Feilhaber, Ricardo Clark, Rangers’ Maurice Edu and Sacha Kljestan for further midfield creativity if needed.
Up front the USA don’t have many options. They will have to rely on Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching to get them the goals to fire them through the group stages. Altidore is a handful to any defence with his size and strength, and has undoubted quality but can go missing in games. Johnson again is hit-and-miss, his speed will trouble lesser defences but better defenders will work him out. Ching is the most experienced striker so will have to lead the line – he has a decent record in the MLS but may struggle in the World Cup. If these options aren’t enough, Dempsey and Donovan can also operate as strikers, but expect the starting two to be Altidore and Johnson.