Where does Torres stand?
Tomorrow will mark exactly six months until the U.S. meets England in its 2010 World Cup opener in Rustenberg. Which Yanks will be suited up for the historic game against the Motherland? Needless to say, a lot can change between now and then, but here’s what the U.S. depth chart looks like to us right now, with comments and a potential late-blooming candidate for each position:
1. Tim Howard—Mortal lock if healthy.
2. Brad Guzan—Has shown poise and ability every time he’s been called upon by club and country.
3. Marcus Hahnemann—About to get his third straight start for Wolves.
11th-hour candidate—If one of the above picks up an injury, Troy Perkins.
1. Steve Cherundolo—He’s rounding into form, and his experience gives him a slight edge for the top spot here.
2. Jonathan Spector—Athletic, calm on the ball, and swings in a decent cross. (Can also play centerback.)
3. Frank Simek—He’s healthy again and starting for Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship. Good signs for his chances.
4. Frankie Hejduk— Hejduk looked horrendous in the November friendlies, but he’s a good bet to bounce back, and he’s a good locker-room guy, with plenty of experience. Could rise on this chart.
11th-hour candidate—It’s difficult to imagine him going to South Africa, but Marvell Wynne is an astounding athlete with a freakish ability to recover when beaten.
1. Carlos Bocanegra—Injuries to Onyewu and DeMerit have put him at the top.
2. Jay DeMerit—He’s back to fitness and will get his first start of the season with Watford tomorrow.
3. Jonathan Spector—Looked comfortable in this spot in the November friendlies. Edges Chad Marshall due to his versatility.
4. Oguchi Onyewu—With a bullet. If his torn patella mends in time for him to reach match fitness, he goes straight to the top. (And Bocanegra becomes a left back, in our view.)
11th-hour candidate(s)—There are a number of guys waiting in the wings, including Chad Marshall, Clarence Goodson, Jimmy Conrad and potential darkhorse Geoff Cameron.
1. Jonathan Bornstein—Sigh. Nothing against Bornstein, but he is not quite a finished-product, ready-to-start-against-England left back yet. But he’ll do until someone better comes along.
2. Carlos Bocanegra—Moves to the top of the list if Onyewu recovers, and Bradley can start the backline that played against Spain in the Confed Cup last summer.
3. Heath Pearce—We almost put a question mark next to his name—that’s how thin the U.S. is at left back.
4. Edgar Castillo—Let’s see him play here; maybe he’ll move up the chart.
11th-hour candidate—Jonathan Spector. He’s played LB at West Ham. We might prefer him over Heath Pearce, even if he’s not naturally left-footed.
1. Clint Dempsey—Unless Bradley decides to play him up top, this spot is his.
2. Stuart Holden—Not out of the question that he would start, in above scenario.
3. Robbie Rogers—His speed and versatility (he can play on the left, too) give him the nod here. Big year coming up for Rogers.
4. Sacha Kljestan—Was in the mix as a potential starter not too long ago.
11th-hour candidate—Jose Torres (if he ever gets a clear chance to show what he can do).
1. Michael Bradley—He’s won back his spot at Moenchengladbach, and he’s a box-to-box guy.
2. Ricardo Clark—Coach Bradley chose the Bradley-Clark pairing most often in 2009.
3. Benny Feilhaber—Had a good summer; poised and skilled on the ball.
4. Maurice Edu—Recently started training with Rangers after months on the shelf. Set to rise here.
11th-hour candidate—Jermain Jones has had yet another injury setback, but if he can get healthy in time for Bradley to bring him in to a camp, many observers swear he’s a lock for the team. We’ll see.
1. Landon Donovan—He can play on the right as well, or as a withdrawn forward. One thing is certain: he’ll be on the field if he’s healthy.
2. Jose Torres—He’s shown flashes of skill in his U.S. cameos. We’d love to see more.
3. Robbie Rogers—As we said, can play on both sides, though he’s a natural lefty.
4. DaMarcus Beasley—Don’t count him out. He’s battling to get back into the first team at Rangers.
11th=hour candidate—Edgar Castillo. He played here in his one brief U.S. appearance thus far.
1. Jozy Altidore—He’s starting regularly at Hull, and is such a handful for defenders that he has to be out there.
2. Brian Ching—Strikes us as more dynamic than Conor Casey. Best target forward we have at the moment.
3. Conor Casey—Came up huge in Honduras, but can he do it Rustenberg?
4. Robbie Findley—His raw speed would trouble any defender, but he’s inexperienced at the international level.
11th-hour candidate—He recently vowed that he’d be healthy in time, and if so, Charlie Davies would probably make the trip, even if he was a little rusty. It would certainly be inspiring for team morale. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey can also both play up top.
So there you have it. Did we miss anybody? Do you disagree with our rankings? Let us know in the comments.