By the time this is published, Bob Bradley will have announced his lineup for the Gold Cup. Grumbling on internet message boards will ensue. The Jozy-haters will be out in full force, as will the Jozy-apologists. Someone will decide to become the first “Juan Agudelo stinks” guy. Soccer wonks will outdo each other trying to dig up the most obscure outfield player possible and argue that he deserved a call-up (the name Joe Corona will be mentioned, partly because that name is so awesome that it deserves to be mentioned as much as possible). I will take a gratuitous shot at Robbie Findley, not counting the one later in this column.
Most of the grumbling will be caused by Bradley’s choices at striker. There’s no way around it: you’re not going to like who he picks. You’re going to think “THAT guy? He doesn’t even start for his club team!” And your claim of shenanigans will be just. But put yourself in Bradley’s sweatpants for a minute. What are his options? His options are Peter Crouch-slim. So before you criticize Bradley’s picks, at least take a minute to wade into the Heart of Darkness that is his full slate of possible options. Which, as I see it, are:
Pick any four underwhelming choices. Your options: Jozy “Infrequent-Starter-in-Turkey” Altidore, Juan “Displaced-by-a-Career-Second-Division-Player” Agudelo, Teal “Can’t-Put-Two-Good-Games-Together-in-a-Row” Bunbury, Charlie “Stats-Look-Much-Better-Than-His-Current-Form” Davies, Edson “What’s-the-German-Word-for-Inconsistent?” Buddle, Herculez “Hasn’t-Started-a-Match-at-Any-Level-Since-the-Clinton-Administration” Gomez, Chris “Good-Run-of-Form-Ending-Any-Minute-Now” Wondolowski, Eddie “Oh-No...is-HE-Back-in-the-Discussion?” Johnson, and Robbie “Scapegoat-for-All-Bad-Things-Short-of-the-Japanese-Tsunami” Findley. If it was me...Jozy, Bunbury, Agudelo, Gomez. But I very well might go for one of Bradley’s other options...
Fake your own death. Maybe this is the coward’s way out, but when you’re calling Nottingham Forest to inquire about the status of Robbie Findley’s hamstring, dignity is pretty much out the window already.
Think outside the box about what it means to be “American”. Whenever someone refers to the United States of America as just “America”, there’s always some jag-weed around to jump out of the woodwork and point out that “America” refers to all of North and South America. And they’re right. So, Bob should adopt the less-culturally-imperialist definition of “American” and select the best players from both continents. I’d take Tevez, Chicharito, Diego Forlan, and Neymar.
Tim Pawlenty. Sure, he’s bland...bland like a fox! Look for him to wait for all of the other candidates to play themselves out of contention, then slip in as the consensus “look: we have to pick somebody” option.
The rarely-seen 0-10-0 formation. My nephew’s pee-wee team played this formation this year, and it was surprisingly effective. Also, I believe Steve Sampson tried it at the ‘98 World Cup.
Build a grassroots movement behind sensible immigration reform, leverage that movement into Congressional action, assemble a legal team to defend the law in the courts, select strikers from the expanded population. There might not be time to do this in time for the 2011 Gold Cup. In fact, there might not be time to do this in time for the 2091 Gold Cup.