Tough Luck Chuck: Davies Denied Provisional Roster Spot

Citing the fact that he was not medically cleared to play by Sochaux team doctors, U.S. coach Bob Bradley did not name Charlie Davies to the 30-man provisional World Cup roster, ending the player’s quest to reach South Africa 2010 just eight months after being gravely injured in a car wreck that killed another passenger.

We have to think that if there was any chance that Davies would be ready to play in a World Cup game in four weeks time, Bradley would have selected him. The U.S. needs at forward are that dire.

Davies only rose to prominence with the team last summer, yet he quickly established himself as the No. 1 striker—and the only forward in the national-team pool with a world-class combination of speed, skill, and finishing ability.

It’s a big dropoff from him to, say, Eddie Johnson or Robbie Findley, and neither of those guys has the capacity to trouble the backline of an England (or another WC power) the way Davies could have.

So as disappointing as this must be to the player (and fans and irate bloggers), it’s an equal blow to the U.S. team’s ability to compete next month—and we don’t think Bradley would have made the decision to leave Davies off if it was avoidable.

Let’s take a look at the roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan

No surprises here, and the above listing is probably the pecking order, too, since Guzan got so few games this year.

Defenders (9): Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Chad Marshall, Jonathan Spector, Steve Cherundolo

There was talk of Frankie Hejduk getting a look, and maybe Jimmy Conrad, but in the end, nothing too unexpected in this group. Onyewu’s match fitness (and sharpness) is a massive question mark.

Midfielders (12): DaMarcus Beasley, Alejandro Bedoya, Jose Francisco Torres, Robbie Rogers, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Stuart Holden, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan

This is the strongest group in the team, with the majority of the players fit and getting meaningful games recently. We were surprised Rogers made the cut.

Strikers (6): Jozy Altidore, Brian Ching, Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez

Robbie Findley is the biggest surprise of the entire roster for us. Bradley has seen something we’ve missed in each of Findley’s U.S. appearances. Whatever you think of Conor Casey, you’ve got to feel for the guy: He scored two huge goals in the game that clinched qualification (vs Honduras in an October 2009 qualifier in San Pedro Sula), and now he’s not going to the World Cup.

This group will convene in Princeton, N.J., on Saturday, for a two-week camp, and will play friendlies against the Czech Republic and Turkey before Bradley submits his final 23-man roster to FIFA on June 1.

Our picks for the seven who won’t be on that final 23:

Pearce

Marshall

Rogers

Kljestan

Findley

Gomez

Johnson

Next post: The ‘What Could Have Been’ U.S. Roster….

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