Chalk this up to MLS’ unconscionable decision to continue play right through FIFA international blackout dates. Bob Bradley today named the squad for next Wednesday’s match at Wembley Stadium in London (A match I will be attending) and the team is missing several standards of the US setup including Pablo Mastroeni, Maurice Edu, Frankie Hedjuk and Jozy Altidore. Each of the aforementioned players was named to Bradley’s provisional 33 man squad last week but was dropped this week presumably because of the MLS schedule. While I am pleased that Jozy Altidore, due to this scheduling conflict will miss the match and we will see some other forward options (including the often forgotten Josh Wolff) we will not see a the team that will feature in qualifying playing together, using these friendlies to gel as a unit.
Thus the US team, already vastly inferior in talent and skill when compared to their English counterparts is entering the match shorthanded. Part of the US’ strength through the past few season has been the familiarity each player has with one another due to the January training camp, even when facing superior sides. However, only five players who participated in the January 2008 Home Depot Center training camp is on this squad. Only three MLS based players have been included on the US squad: Landon Donovan, Rico Clark and Brad Guzan.
Here is the US Squad:
GOALKEEPERS - Dominic Cervi (Out of Contract), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC)
DEFENDERS - Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Dan Califf (FC Midtjylland), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS - Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Eddie Lewis (Derby County)
FORWARDS - Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nate Jaqua (Out of Contract), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich)
So it appears in the United States club has won out over country. Complicating matters further for MLS is the league’s new found love for artificial turf as evidenced by the situations in Toronto and Seattle. With turf once again proving to be unsuitable for the game and the problems of laying a new natural grass surface in short order in Moscow, MLS has a potential image and credibility problem emerging. It’s best MLS solve both its scheduling issues and it’s continued promotion of artificial surfaces in the near future. I will have much more on the debate about fake grass in the near future.