With 24 hours behind us, lots of people have lots of things to say about the 23-man roster Bruce Arena announced yesterday as the team he will take to Germany in June. Experts from ESPN and USA Today, as well as readers of the Washington Post's World Cup blog, have all weighed in. And, of course, the BigSoccer boards are swimming in opinions. So, here's my two cents.
First, I was surprised by the inclusions of three players in the roster. The pleasant surprise was DC United's Ben Olsen, who's had a good start to the MLS season (great goal last weekend). He won't supplant any of the big names in midfield (Reyna, Beasley, O'Brien, etc.), but I can see him being very useful to help kill off a game or break up the other side's rhythm. The other two guys - Jimmy Conrad and Brian Ching - I wouldn't call unpleasant surprises, but head scratchers nonetheless. Conrad is lacking in big-time experience, but if MLS form counts for anything, he deserved the shot. It should be fun reading his ESPN pieces leading up to the Cup. As for Ching, I understand the theory - he is a more natural replacement for Brian McBride than, say, Taylor Twellman, due to his size and ability to hold the ball. But Twellman has a kind of reckless disregard for his health that might be handy in the late stages of a scrappy game. But I'm not horrified by the choice, as some Revs fans are.
Second, I think this is a pretty strong team. Yes, there are some players who we will miss greatly if they get hurt - Reyna, O'Brien, Donovan, McBride. But there are very few teams, even really good ones, who could lose their top player or two and not miss a beat. Brazil, maybe. Do you think the Czechs are the same without Nedved or Koller? Or Ghana without Essien? In other words, I don't think we're as thin as some people fear.
Third - I still have no use for Frankie Hejduk. There. I said it. Sorry, Frankie.
Finally, if it were up to me, I think this would make an interesting starting 11 on June 12:
Cherundolo Pope Onyewu Lewis
But, what do I know?