AMSTERDAM – As the US national team squad for the August 10 friendly with Brazil is set to be named early next week, it seems a good time to look at who might be called in for the contest.
Instead of trying to predict the eventual roster, I'll run down the group I'd like to see assembled in New Jersey to dance with a green Samba Kings side. That way, I can't possibly suffer the indignity of being wrong.
Besides, there'd be some tricky variables to consider for a prediction of this sort. Not only is coach Bob Bradley's USMNT future at least somewhat up in the air, but there is no corollary friendly for comparison from four years ago.
Overall, I want to see plenty of fresh faces, as well as several who narrowly missed out on the 2010 squad for South Africa. There would still be veterans in the mix to show the way, but several of the stars have club situations to deal with at this time.
That's enough ceremony, let's get to the roster build...
Brad Guzan - There's really no need to call in No. 1 Tim Howard, who opens his season with Everton four days after the Brazil game. The most obvious choice is Aston Villa's back-up, for now the most likely contender for the 2014 starting job.
Will Hesmer - It would easy to tab Nick Rimando, an MLS favorite of mine, but I'd really rather give the Crew netminder his first shot at the national team.
Edgar Castillo - The newly loaned Castillo hasn't established himself at San Luis yet, but it's time to see what he's got as a left back at this level.
Jay DeMerit - His availability could change quickly if the free agent finds a new employer, but I'm guessing that wherever he's going, he won't walk in on Day 1 untrained and less than match fit to be a starter. This is another of my particularly chosen veteran picks, a back-liner who has faced the Samba Kings before.
Omar Gonzalez - This is an easy pick and anyone who has watched a Galaxy match or two knows why. Hopes are very high at the international level for Gonzalez and this is the perfect time to get him involved.
Clarence Goodson - This is a tough call because IK Start have a game two days prior. I don't like taking guys away from club games, but I'd want some experience at the back against Brazil, and Goodson has a chance to be one of the main guys through this next cycle.
Eric Lichaj - As much as I wanted to call in Frank Simek, his club, Carlisle United, have a cup match the same day as Brazil's visit to America. Assuming Lichaj isn't Aston Villa's opening day starter at right back, I want to get this kid indoctrinated the USMNT way as soon as possible. Both Martin O'Neill and his loan coaches rave about him for a good reason.
Chad Marshall - A no-brainer pick, the two-time defending MLS Defender of the Year is once again fit and dominating.
Heath Pearce - Like DeMerit, the FC Dallas ace has seen Brazil before and offers experience in general. What's more, he's playing lights out in MLS out of natural position. Speaking of that, and this just an idea of mine, but it would interesting to see what he could do for a spell as a defensive midfielder at the international level.
Marvell Wynne - Yes, he's doing the job centrally with Colorado, but I'm not ready to abandon him as an international right back. It's a fresh cycle, this is the time to have a fresh look.
Alejandro Bedoya - One of the guys who went close this time around, Bedoya is a player on the rise. His energy, touch and creativity are contagious.
Bobby Convey - Welcome back, old friend. You've truly earned it.
Benny Feilhaber - Another guy whose club situation could change by Aug. 10, he could actually receive a market boost from this friendly. And make no mistake, I would field him as a proper No. 10 playmaker for this game.
Landon Donovan - Would it even be a US match without the Galaxy star? With Donovan around, you can consider the example set for youngsters.
Jeff Larentowicz - There are only a handful of uncapped American players with more MLS games to credit. He's missed prior call-ups due to injury, so this is overdue.
Dax McCarty - The kid is smooth with the ball and I need no further reason to call him back.
Robbie Rogers - Of course, his lack of end product in MLS is a bit maddening. Nevertheless, Rogers has the tools to play a part in the 2014 cycle.
José Francisco Torres - I want to see the Pachuca buzzer at a more purely attacking position, be it as a No. 10 or on left wing. Simply put, he was miscast by Bob Bradley against Slovenia at the World Cup.
Justin Braun - Arguably the top big-play artist this season in MLS, Braun at the least has Chivas USA fans clamoring for a call-up. Considering the lesson of hot irons, I'd oblige them.
Edson Buddle - Though he didn't get a great amount of time at World Cup 2010, this could only be the beginning for the LA gunner at the international level.
Herculez Gomez - See Buddle, insert "Pachuca" for "LA."
Brek Shea - Used all over the field by FC Dallas and US youth national teams, Shea has the most potential at this level playing up top. This is another youngster with a high ceiling who should be brought in right away.