Friday, October 03, 2008

Good to see Jozy in the U.S. squad

Harkesy and I have had many recent conversations about how no U.S. men's side, in a game that truly matters, can afford to be without striker Jozy Altidore and midfielder/striker Freddy Adu in the starting 11. Those two players, while still learning the game and not without their flaws, give the U.S. a cutting edge that not even the talented Landon Donovan can provide. Altidore, with his move from the New York Red Bulls to Spanish side Villarreal, is the first U.S. export to garner big money from a top-tier league, while Adu finds himself playing for Monaco in France's highly athletic Ligue 1. Both men were named Friday in gaffer Bob Bradley's 23-man American side to face Cuba in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier on Saturday, Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. (7 p.m., ESPN Classic and Galavision). The roster shows Bradley has a sense as to where this team has to transition to in order to make the second round at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. I like the fact that there's no Pablo Mastroeni (nothing against him, but he's from the past), but there is a first-time call for Jose Francisco Torres. Assuming we qualify from the Hexagonal (3 of 6 go to the Cup from the next CONCACAF round; you have to think the U.S. and Mexico will be two of those teams), we can't take an old, tired team to the big show. Names like Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu and Sacha Kljestan represent the next generation, whose time will surely come in the FIFA Confederations Cup next year and at the real deal in 2010. With Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu and Tim Howard at the back, this team is primed to surprise. I predict another quarterfinal appearance (like 2002), at least.