Well, we know more about the fringe of the WC roster than we did yesterday. Said Rob Stone during the match: "Coach Bradley indicated that 16-18 players have already made the roster." With five or more slots up for grabs, who helped and who hurt their chances of grabbing one?
- Ching. Poor man's McBride? Maybe. But beggars can't be choosers. Ching showed hustle, poise, and intelligence. His aerial ability is at the top of the MNT forward pool, and his volley off a Jeff Cunningham service tested Ramires well. What's more, he also showed a crucial element that the rest of the forward pool is still developing: leadership. I'm thinking in particular of how he turned Rogers' impulsive strike at Ramires' near post into a learning opportunity, pointing out what the young winger should have done.
- Rogers. Showed pace and initiative. Most creative player of the evening. Masterful cutbacks, excellent service. Nice work with his right foot as well as his left. Shows a mature awareness of when to push forward and when to look laterally. An asset in dead ball situations. Big questions about his fitness, though. He's not a 90-minute player yet, and you could see that when he gets tired, he gets impulsive and less aware. Super sub?
- Goodson. Showed aerial dominance, but how much does that count for against an opponent as short as El Salvador? I was more impressed with his positioning and organization at the back, consistently finding the right place to be to interrupt the Salvadoran offense. Certainly made a case for himself for fourth-string CB.
- Kljestan. I was more impressed with his hustling and tackling than I was with his vision, but if hustling and tackling is what we need (and, thinking about trying to hold onto a precious lead late into a WC game, I think it is), then Kljestan made a case for himself. Case in point: the clutch repossession and finishing in the dying minutes of the game. How many other players on the pitch could have done the same at that moment?
- Casey. I've never known what Casey does so well that he deserves international minutes. I think I finally learned tonight. He plays well with his back to goal, bodying up on defenders and punishing defensive miscues with a deadly through ball or pass out to the wing. He's got no pace, though, and I don't trust his ability to finish his chances in international matches. I'd say that Ching has more to offer than Casey.
- Pearce. Cool on the ball, decent tackling. He was caught up the field a few times, but he was also a solid offensive contributor, creating a number of chances throughout the match, including the excellent service for Ching's goal. Do the pros outweigh the cons? And how does Coach Bradley like him compared to Bornstein? He did well on the night, but I wonder if Pearce has done enough to win a roster spot.
- Gaven. Won some free kicks in great positions and had some decent leading passes, too. Constant bother for the Salvadoran fullback. But would he be strong enough to withstand bigger, stronger tacklers at the WC?
- Evans. Sophomore mistake to gift El Salvador the goal. Where was the communication?
- Davis. Had some good service, but didn't track back as well as I thought he would. I can't say that he contributed on offense more than he failed to defend. Also, he seemed to dribble into traffic pretty frequently, which says to me that he doesn't quite know where to put himself off the ball.
I'd say that these two are really the only ones who hurt their chances for making the squad, if they were ever in serious contention anyways. Their good play in the MLS doesn't seem to translate internationally. Besides the players mentioned above, I think the rest of the squad played decently and came out no worse for wear on the night, but no better, either.
What do y'all think?