FC Dallas’s 20-year-old winger Brek Shea and Aston Villa’ 18-year-old defender Eric Lichaj received their first call-ups to the U.S. national team as Bob Bradley tapped 20 Yanks yesterday for upcoming friendlies against Poland (Oct 9) and Colombia (Oct 12).
Schalke 04 midfielder Jermaine Jones, 28—who withdrew from the August friendly against Brazil to remain in preseason with his Bundesliga club—was also called, and has a chance to make his first appearance in a U.S. shirt.
Bradley noted that this is a critical stretch for MLS teams as they push toward the playoffs, so the roster is almost entirely composed of European-based players, the only exceptions being Shea and his Dallas teammate, Heath Pearce, both of whom are only on board for the Colombia game at PPL Park in Chester, PA.
An all-European group will face Poland at Soldier Field in Chicago (where there is a significant Polish population, led by Bob and Bill Swerski, and Carl Wollarski).
Here’s the entire roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (St. Etienne), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia M’Gladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Eddie Johnson (Fulham)
Three quick hits:
Any Surprises? Lichaj getting the nod, at 18, is a slight surprise, and a pleasant one. But why no other young defenders? The backline veterans—Cherundolo, Boca, etc—are not going to be around for Brazil 2014. The inclusion of the 6-3 Shea is also a nice surprise, and should give him a boost after his straight red against New York two weeks ago and subsequent two-game suspension.
Players to watch: Tops on the list is the much-ballyhooed Jones, the hard-nosed Bundesliga vet who couldn’t quite get healthy in time for SA 2010. Let’s see if the hype was true. Next up, for us, is Holden, who’s off to a terrific start with Bolton in the Premier League. Then there’s Bedoya, who scored, and got ejected, for his club team this week.
Where are all the U.S. strikers? With the absence of Bobby Zamora from Fulham’s lineup, Dempsey has been playing up top this season, but he’s not a pure forward. That leaves Altidore and Johnson, (who’s also been affected by the Zamora injury: he’s getting PT as a result).
Is that really all there is? As Jamie Carragher would say, “Shaw-keh.”