Let’s get right to it, beginning with the coach and the starting XI against Ghana this past Saturday:
Bob Bradley: Bradley stumbled in the Ghana game with lineup selection and substitutions (he had none left as the team tired in extra time), but mostly he did an admirable job, getting his team to fight for 90 minutes every game and achieving the goal of getting out of group play with a squad hit hard by injuries to key players. But it may be time for someone else to take the reins—and that may come about by mutual consent.
Verdict: Out. In view of the comments coming from USSF prez Sunil Gulati,we would bet that Bradley is done.
Gulati said that he and Bradley “will sit down and talk. If we were carrying a trophy home it would be easy but it is not that situation.”
He further mentioned “mixed results,” “an opportunity missed,” and his desire to “hear [Bradley’s] thoughts about how things went. I have got some questions … about decisions that he made along the way.”
Potential replacements: Jürgen Klinsmann, Sigi Schmid, Dominic Kinnear, Peter Nowak, Guus Hiddink.
Tim Howard: Howard will be 35 by the time Brazil 2014 rolls around, but he’s an exceptional athlete, has no significant injury history, and it’s often said that goalkeepers peak later than outfield players.
Verdict: In for the short term, and a decent bet for 2014.
Potential Replacements: Brad Guzan, Troy Perkins, Dominic Cervi
Steve Cherundolo: He was one of the most solid and consistent performers on the team in South Africa, but he’s 31, and his position puts a premium on speed and a lively body.
Verdict: In for the short term, out for 2014.
Potential Replacements: Jonathan Spector, Sean Franklin, Kevin Alston, Marvell Wynne
Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra: They’re 30 and 31, respectively; we’d imagine the U.S. would want to get younger here come 2014—and it can; see below.
Verdict: In for the short term, out for 2014 (both).
Potential Replacements: Jonathan Spector, Chad Marshall, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Ike Opara, Gale Agbossoumonde, Tim Ream, Geoff Cameron
Jonathan Bornstein: We, like many others, did not have a lot of faith in Bornstein at South Africa 2010, but he turned in two decent performances and should gain a lot of confidence from the experience.
Potential Replacements: Jonathan Spector, Heath Pearce … ??
Clint Dempsey: Dempsey had a solid World Cup and he’s a crucial player for the team. But he’ll be 31 in 2014, and he suffered a knee injury last winter.
Verdict: In for the short term; health and form will tell for 2014.
Potential Replacements: Sacha Kljestan, Stuart Holden, Benny Feilhaber, Sal Zizzo
Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark: Bradley was arguably the best player in the tournament for the U.S. Clark is a fine player who had a terrible Cup.
Verdict: Bradley—In. Clark—In for now, likely to be supplanted before 2014.
Potential Replacements: Maurice Edu, Jose Torres, Benny Feilhaber, Mikkel Diskerud, Sebastien Lletget, Jared Jeffrey, Geoff Cameron
Landon Donovan: He scored three goals, all of them big, and he emerged from the Cup as the most high-profile U.S. player ever. But he’ll be 32 in 2014, and speed is a huge part of his game.
Verdict: In for as long as he holds up.
Potential Replacements: Jose Torres, Benny Feilhaber, Robbie Rogers, Alejandro Bedoya, Andy Najar, Freddy Adu
Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley: Think the U.S. missed the injured Charlie Davies at this tournament? Its forwards failed to score a single goal (for the second straight World Cup).
Verdict: Altidore—In. Findley—Out. Altidore is only 20 and he has a bright future. He didn’t score, but he made things happen for the U.S. and was a real handful for defenders for much of the tourney, drawing five yellow cards from opposing backs.
Findley is only 24, and his World Cup experience should boost his game, but unless he greatly improves his finishing ability, he won’t be part of the program for much longer.
Potential Replacements: Charlie Davies, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson?, Stefan Jerome?, Joseph Gyau? ….?
Yep, the forward position is a real problem area for the U.S. at the moment. Altidore is in limbo with his club side, Villarreal, and it remains to be seen whether Davies can return to his pre-car crash level. The other options are either very young or simply not good enough.
SUBS and Bench:
Maurice Edu: Played very well in South Africa, and at only 24 now, will be in his prime in 2014. Verdict: In.
Benny Feilhaber: Creative and solid on the ball at the Cup. Verdict: In
Herculez Gomez: Had a good game against Slovenia, but little impact against Ghana. Good nose for goal but lacking physical qualities for elite level; also: 28 years old. Verdict: Out.
We’ve touched on the likes of Goodson, Spector, Holden, and Torres, all of whom we think will be part of the team going forward.
What about Oguchi Onyewu? The hulking centerback will be 32 at the next World Cup, he’s coming off a serious knee injury, and he’s struggling to fit in with club side AC Milan. Verdict: In for the short-term, out for 2014.
Winger DaMarcus Beasley made a good charge just to make this team. But he too is in limbo at the club level and will be 32 come Brazil 2014. Verdict: Out.
Over all, the future looks reasonably bright for the U.S. The talent pool is deep in defense (with the exception of left back) and midfield, but dangerously shallow at forward. Finding or developing a dangerous striker will be priority No. 1 going forward.
What do you think of the USMNT’s future? Did we miss any future candidates? Let us know in the comments.