The World Cup lies less than a month away, and the rosters for the teams have now been published. American soccer fans are poring over the lists noting the men absent due to injuries, and sizing up U.S. chances in the opening round-robin, in which the U.S. and England will face off against each other, but are both expected to advance. Meanwhile, internationally, a couple of high-profile exclusions from top rosters are drawing attention.
- U.S. Team, Fresh from England "It's possible that our starting 11 against England will contain six members who played in England this season," notes Paul at Power Line. Clint Demsey, for example, played for Fulham. Carlos Bocanegra used to play for Fulham as well, although he's now in the French leagues.
- And Injuries Mark Thompson at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is happy that U.S. coach Bob Bardley saw fit to include the stalwart Oguchi Onyewu." Onyewu recently tore his ACL, but is predicted to "be back up to 100% by the time the tournament gets started next month." Forward Charlie Davies, however, who fought valiantly to recover from injuries sustained in a car crash back in October, did not make the roster. "I've little doubt that Coach Bradley made the right decision," writes Thompson, "but Davies' presence will be sorely missed alongside Jozy Altidore." He worries that Altidore will "have to see his promise paired with the consistently mediocre and uninspiring Brian Ching or the perenially disappointing Eddie Johnson."
- Brazil Excludes Ronaldinho: His Own Fault The absence of international star Ronaldinho from the Brazilian roster has caused considerable buzz. "It is a tough thing to say but the only person responsible for Ronaldinho's absence is Ronaldinho himself," writes Tim Bickery for the BBC. "At 30, he should be an automatic choice but he has spent the last few years betraying his own extraordinary talent."
- English Weakness Max Bergmann at The Huffington Post looks at England's roster and predicts they will be "very dangerous when they have the ball, but ... fairly frail when they don't." In other words: few ball-winners. He also notices another peculiarity:
The English love to talk about their gritty determination and work ethic on the football pitch, but the one position that most exemplifies those traits -- the defensive midfielder or the "stopper" as it is often referred to on US soccer fields -- the English are bare. The only player in the 30 man squad that is a true defensive midfielder is West Ham's Scott Parker -- a quality player for sure -- but would is by no means world class. This weakness is not a new problem for England.