Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bradley announces CONCACAF Gold Cup roster

Bob Bradley announced his 23-man roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup starting next month.

Ridge Mahoney writes of the return of Freddy Adu to the US team.

The recall of Freddy Adu and fresh starts for Robbie Rogers and Sacha Kljestan provided the major surprises of Coach Bob Bradley's 23-man Gold Cup roster. When it came to explaining some of his more curious choices to face Spain and Concacaf opposition in the Gold Cup, Bradley admitted he wanted to go with guys he knew.

“That certainly was a factor,” said Bradley in a conference call Monday shortly after the roster was finalized and released. “Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan and Freddy Adu are players that we know well.

“They are players that have shown that when they come in for these types of tournaments, they understand the way we work and the way we do things. People certainly respect what they bring when we go into a month-long tournament so those were definitely factors.”

Those three players help cast this 23-man squad in a more varied and different light than the roster picked by Bradley for the 2010 World Cup. There are some younger players, such as Juan Agudelo, who can gain valuable experience – there’s that word again – but with a place in the 2013 Confederations Cup on the line for the winner, this is a competition to be won, not tinkered with.

“We certainly thought first and foremost about putting a team together that has the best chance to win this Gold Cup,” said Bradley. “With that we believe that there are players here that we see for sure being key parts in 2014, so I hope those things go together well.”

Adu’s recall earned the most notoriety, since the one-time, can’t-miss superstar wasn’t even in contention for the 2010 World Cup team, yet since moving to the Turkish second division to play for Caykur Rizespor on loan from Benfica has impressed Bradley and his staff, at least on-screen. All Bradley has seen are clips and computer feeds of live games.

“We have followed Freddy since he transferred to Rizespor,” said Bradley of Adu’s move at the end of January. “We’ve watched him a number of different times on the computer. We’ve not managed to get there. We watched one of his playoff games this morning, but we still feel that there are good signs from him as a player that have shown us soccer qualities that we think help our team.”

When pressed for details of those qualities, Bradley said, “I think it’s important to say that it’s not that we’ve seen anything specific playing for his new club that shows how he’s made progress or how he’s improved. It’s a package of things.

“He’s a player that certainly we all know at different times has shown some soccer abilities that are special. He hasn’t always been able to make them count in different situations at different levels but we respect the fact that he made this move to go to a smaller club because he had to show people he was willing to do whatever to keep going.”

This is Adu’s fourth loan since he signed with Benfica in 2007 and not always has he displayed that he’s “willing to do whatever to keep going.” Yet as Bradley also said, this call-up is just a step to assess Adu’s current value at the senior level, and not based on what he’s done for other U.S. teams in the past.

“There are still challenges for Freddy to show that the things that he’s been able to do at times, let’s say at some of the youth levels, that they can really make a difference whether it’s for the senior national team or a top club,” said Bradley. “Those are things that we all need to assess and it yet it works well sometimes and it’s a gut feeling sometimes that this is a good time to size this guy up again and that’s probably where it comes into play.”

Steven Goff of the Washington Post writes of some of the omissions, as well as other news and notes.

Brad Guzan has scheduling conflicts with his wedding. ... Timothy Chandler needs a break after a demanding first full season with Nurnberg. ... Adu is making his first appearance in two years. He will join the squad following the Turkish promotion playoffs. Rizespor lost the opener, 4-0, and will play again Thursday. If it advances, the club will play Sunday. ... Charlie Davies is still not back at international form and is currently hurt. ... Rimando, the No. 3 keeper, will remain with RSL and join the U.S. team when needed. ...Teal Bunbury has not been at top form this season. ... Training camp will take place in Cary, N.C., starting Thursday.

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