Bobby Convey, Freddy Adu and other fallen prodigies

Justin Mapp ... a few years ago, we just KNEW he'd remain in the national team conversation for years to come, didn't we?

The U.S. Gold Cup roster is due out soon. Apparently, some last minute snags may delay things, but not past Monday. Or so I hear.

Meanwhile, here’s what I’m thinking about this morning: names that we won’t be talking about today.

Names like Justin Mapp, Bobby Convey, Freddy Adu and Eddie Gaven.

It would have seemed inconceivable five or six years ago that we might be talking about a U.S. national team roster in 2011 without these guys at least in the discussion.

You could probably throw a couple more names in there, like Eddie Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley and Robbie Rogers. But they might be under consideration. They probably shouldn’t be … but it is what it is. The national team needs strikers and speed on the wings, so they can’t be ruled out for the moment.

Mapp plateaued a couple of years ago, which prompted a move out of Chicago. He’s a part-time starter now for Philadelphia, which is not going to earn you many national team call-ups.  Gaven? He’s not doing badly for Columbus. But nobody on that rebuilding side looks great right now, outside of perhaps Chad Marshall. (And even he had a rare, bad weekend in MLS.)

Come to think of it, add Marshall’s name to the list of people we’re probably not talking about today. He’s been lapped recently by Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream. Probably by Clarence Goodson, too.

Adu? Well, we’ve chewed up that ground pretty good, haven’t we? I know some Adu believers remain out there. But in my opinion, until he gets into a better club, works hard for his place and understands that he might have to settle for being one of the men (as opposed to being The Man), then I don’t think he’s any closer to a national team shirt than Eric Wynalda. And Wynalda retired almost 10 years ago!

Convey, who will turn 28 later this week, could probably get back into the national team picture but for his sulking. He scored the winning goal Saturday against New England – but left the locker room without talking to reporters, which certainly gets tagged under “Odd reactions.” It sounds like he was upset, again, at being asked to play left back. Which is funny, because that’s probably Convey’s best chance at regaining national team grace. That spot remains, as always, the dark hole in the U.S. national team pool. If he would embrace the spot Bob Bradley might be more inclined to forget some of those toxic, national team-related comments that tumbled from Convey’s mouth in the past.

Adu, Convey, Gaven and Mapp were all prodigies to some degree, guys who started early and showed remarkable promise. None were over the age of 17 when they made their first pro appearance.

But this is a swell reminder that youthful promise does not mean you’ve arrived. There are plenty of hurdles on the sprint to greatness, some a bit too high, apparently.

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