Coach Bob Bradley announced the 23-man U.S. squad that he will take to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup Wednesday afternoon, well in advance of FIFA's deadline and just roughly 16-hours after the team's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic. And while there were not any ground-breaking inclusions or omissions, there were still three players selected to represent the Stars and Stripes that came as somewhat of a surprise: Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez.
But our Real Salt Lake blog, RSL Soapbox, likes the trio of "fairly unknown players."
... the speed of Findley is something we know that Bradley likes and while many thought his not playing last night meant he was out of the picture. I believed that it meant just the opposite, that he had a spot and that it would take an incredible performance by several players to knock him out. Robbie had proven in recent weeks that he is one of the most fit guys out there and he can keep his incredible speed for an entire match, I don't think playing at elevation hurt his cause either.
Buddle has simply been on fire and when he is provided with quality service he has shown that he can finish, simply look at his numbers over the last 3 seasons: 15 goals and 3 assists in 2008 with 2,000 minutes played, only 5 goals in 2009 an injury plagued year with just 1,255 minutes, and this year he already has 9 goals and 2 assists in under 800 minutes of playing time. That combined with the fact that he plays with Landon Donovan on a daily basis for LA was enough for me to give him serious consideration.
Gomez will provide the US team with strength this year, not just because of his name, but he showed last night that while he isn't the biggest guy he can still get up in the air and play bigger than his 5'10" frame. I think he brings something unique as most of the teams the US will be facing are now looking online for any tape of Herculez, so they can figure out what he is all about.