United States National Soccer Team coach Bob Bradley just announced his final 23-man roster in anticipation of the upcoming World Cup. The tournament will be held in South Africa from June 11-July 11, 2010, and this marks the very first time that the World Cup will be held on the African continent. Bradley’s final roster features few surprises, except for the fact that the only experienced National Team forward he has on the roster is 20-year old Jozy Altidore. The other forwards are Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez and Robbie Findley. Brian Ching was the odd man out in this scenario, so he will not be making the journey to South Africa with the squad.
The opening match of the tournament is June 11 and it features host nation South Africa and Mexico, the United States’ rival from the CONCACAF confederation. The US National Team kicks off its tournament against mighty England on Saturday June 12. This game will be featured on the ABC television network live and in High Definition starting at 2:00 PM eastern time. Their next match is Friday 6/18 against Slovenia and the final first round match is Wednesday 6/23 against Algeria.
While many US soccer fans considered this group draw one of the best-case scenarios, it is certainly not a straightforward task for the United States team by any means. Having to play England the first match complicates matters a great deal, because assuming a loss against the heavily favored English team the US would have no margin for error the rest of the way. This will put an enormous amount of pressure on the US team as they will need, at the very minimum, some combination of a win and a tie (4 total points) from their final two matches against Algeria and Slovenia in order to advance to the knockout stages. That is certainly within the realm of possibility, as the US will feel they are the superior team in both those games, but you’d always rather avoid unnecessary pressure in a tournament of this magnitude.
After their success at the 2002 World Cup, and then the disappointment of the 2006 tournament, the US will want to show that they’ve progressed as a soccer playing nation these last four years. It is essential that they qualify for at least the knockout stages for it to be considered a successful tournament. The 2010 World Cup will hopefully be remembered as the tournament where the United States become a nation to be respected and even feared in major international soccer competitions.