WWC ROSTER COMMENTS
I must admit that I am quite happily surprised by some of the selections. I really can’t find much to quibble with. I think they’re bringing their best team.
Quick Comments on the Players
1, Briana Scurry, G, Atlanta Beat - the only thing worrying me is that kicking game. If she has a muff like she did in the Founder’s Cup that defense had better be ready to pounce and/or get back. An international side is likely to make more of that kind of a golden opportunity that the Freedom did. Kicking under pressure . . . So long as Bri can keep that under control I think the US is set with the #1 keeper.
2, Kylie Bivens, D, Atlanta Beat - a good choice for the seventh defender. I was concerned this was going to be Bryan’s spot. While Bryan has better speed, I think Bivens is a much better all around player. I don’t expect Bivens to get a ton of time, I’ll be surprised if she can break into the 6 defender rotation Team USA has, but as creaky as Brandi’s been all year, Bivens is a good choice to hedge against injuries. Hopefully, Team USA will do well enough in group play that Bivens gets a half of time somewhere during the tourney. And of course, with Kylie, there’s the added bonus that she can also play defensive mid. You get two, two, two players in one with this selection.
3, Christie Pearce, D, New York Power - strong choice and possible starter. Not much to say - glad to see she’s worked herself back.
4, Cat Reddick, D, University of North Carolina - again, strong choice and possible starter. My preference with Cat is on the right wing, but I think she’ll be fine at any of the four defender slots. As I’ve mentioned Brandi’s looking her age and I know it’s sacrilege to say, but at times Joy is too - now before anyone gets on me, I’m not benching them . . . but I’m not playing them 90 minutes every game of the tourney either. And with the defenders on this roster, I don’t think Team USA has to.
5, Tiffany Roberts, M, Carolina Courage - While she’s not the starting DMid in any lineup I would come up with, she is a good choice for backup middie. She’s especially strong coming in on the right, solid in the DMid if Team USA has the lead and hopefully, she’ll be able to play on the left - someone’s going to have to because I don’t think Lilly should play 90 minutes every game any more than Joy and Brandi should. Both Joy and Lil looked weary to me at the end of the WUSA semis - I don’t want to see that look on their faces in the WWC semis - to keep it away, they’re going to need to be spelled a bit during group play - hopefully, players like TR will be ready to give strong minutes in the midfield so that can happen.
6, Brandi Chastain, D, San Jose CyberRays - It’s been awhile since she’s been healthy, that’s for sure. On the other hand, she’s very well rested as where some of the other 30-somethings coming off the WUSA season aren’t. While Brandi is probably the weakest of the defenders in my 6 defender rotation at this point, she also might be the most important. I tell ya - she may have lost a step, but that defense is far more organized when she’s back there than when she’s not. I just don’t know if the youngsters will assert themselves with the vets on the field and Joy’s not quite the yapper Brandi is. We’ll see - I’ll be curious as to how she looks in the Costa Rica and Mexico games.
7, Shannon Boxx, M, New York Power - Strong choice and in my opinion, a call up that should have been consistently happening since 2001. At the very least, she should have been called up this summer. A true defensive middie - she’s strong defensively, nice big physical force in the center of the field and in the air, strong changing the point of the attack, great target on set pieces good at getting forward and has great instincts concerning when to stay home. The bad side is that all of the aforementioned has to be said with a question mark at the international level. There is no way to know how she’ll react, how she’ll handle the speed of play or how she’ll handle being on the WWC stage - as fans we think we know - we love Boxxy - but fact of the matter is, we don’t. She needs a half against Costa Rica and if she shows well, she needs a half against Mexico - regardless of where she is on the depth chart, they’ve got to get her feet wet if they want to get the most they possibly can from her when the games that count start.
8, Shannon MacMillan, F, San Diego Spirit - a sentimental spot. I’m not going to get into it, but I’ve got a list of world class athletes who have been up and running after an ACL this fast . . . And I’ve got a corresponding list of how fast they went down when they actually tried to play their sport under normal conditions. I’ll be shocked if she’s able to make any positive or meaningful contribution at all. Because they’re only carrying 2 keepers, they can afford to do this, but I find it to be terribly unrealistic. The talk of the "miraculous recovery" should be tabled until she gets into a game . . . and back out of it . . . and is able to contribute in a meaningful fashion.
9, Mia Hamm, F, Washington Freedom - I’ve got nothin’ - little doubt she’s starting at forward.
10, Aly Wagner, M, San Diego Spirit - Her time to shine - they’re going to give her the ball - it’s time for it to stop being about potential and to get the job done. Mia, Tiff, CP, Abby, Lil . . . She’s got the tools at her disposal, it’s hers to make work. During the WUSA semi, they seemed to talk a lot about how Aly liked to play on National TV, well the stage doeesn’t get any bigger than this one. Let’s see what she’s got.
11, Julie Foudy, M, San Diego Spirit - I, of course, have her back at DMid and CP starting on the right - I think it takes pressure off Aly, and gives the US a two headed attack - much more dangerous when you can’t stop the offense by isolating Aly. While that’s my preference, we shall see where she actually plays - if she’s not at DMid, I sure hope it’s because Boxx plays so well against Costa Rica and Mexico that she’s starting because I think going smaller than Jules at the DMid is a mistake.
12, Cindy Parlow, F, Atlanta Beat - my starting right midfielder. Size, space, time - no one is going to be hitting her . . . all the things CP likes - she’s said as much. She’ll drift forward, she’ll be in the box when she needs to be, she’ll win the ball and bring it up into the attacking third, she’ll pick her spots, but she’ll pick good ones - over the course of the year, Team USA’s offense has looked best when CP was at that right midfield spot - there’s no rule that says only one 6 footer - she and Abby on the field together? Deadly . . .
13, Kristine Lilly, M, Boston Breakers - who’s going to back her up - I’ve been asking this for 4 years and still there’s no one. Hopefully, Hucles and/or TR can fill in here - both are stronger on the right in my opinion, but for a half here or there, they can give Lil a break. That’s all I got - not much discussion on where she’s playing or what to expect, is there?
14, Joy Fawcett, D, San Diego Spirit - right center back - that’s where I expect to see her. Hopefully, they’re successful in group play so she can get a half off somewhere along the way, but it won’t surprise me if she’s out there every minute of the tourney. Everyone keeps pointing to Charmaine’s goal in the WUSA semis as a point of concern - and yeah, she got beat, but keep in mind that was a three back - she’s playing central defense in a 4 back here - she’ll have longer to make the reads and well, it’s just a whole lot less likely she’s going to be back there on her own like that . . . And if she is, so many of her colleagues have already screwed up that you won’t be able to blame it all on her. I think Joy’s still one of the best in the world, she’s a big game player and she will play big during this tourney.
15, Kate Sobrero, D, Boston Breakers - love that athleticism on D. My preference is Kate at center back but over the last couple of years she’s shown a lot of improvement on the wing. Like many of her defensive colleagues - potential starter and I wouldn’t hesitate to put her anywhere on that back line.
16, Tiffeny Milbrett, F, New York Power - need to see her come out of this funk she’s been in. In my lineup it’s either her or Abby starting up top with Mia and CP’s right behind them in the midfield. It’s crazy to talk about not starting Tiff, but I tell ya - no one in the US is hotter than Abby Wambach right now - we shall see - the Tiff/Abby/CP (if April's not as excited about CP at the right midfield as I am) competition is one I’d want to evaluate under game conditions against Costa Rica and Mexico. Interesting to see how April sorts this all out.
17, Danielle Slaton, D, Carolina Courage - well, she runs real hot and cold with that knee of hers but when she’s on, she can dominate a game. Great choice and if 100%, she’s in my starting lineup - and again, any of the 4 defender positions is fine with me. The thing with Slaton is that one day she’s 100% and the next game not - and the difference between what she can do out there when she’s on and when she’s not is fairly significant. Hopefully she’s ready to go and is as ready to make a splash as some of the other youngsters appear to be.
18, Siri Mullinix, G, Washington Freedom - well, I’m a homer with this one - she’s the second keeper, and that’s probably as it should be, but I wouldn’t hesitate to put her in the starting lineup for a second. Maybe April will give her a game, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it.
19, Angela Hucles, M, Boston Breakers - good choice - very versatile, very composed, I expect her to get minutes in the midfield and for her to contribute. She tends to bring quite a spark into the attack when she gets in the game - always around the ball, always pushing forward into the box.
20, Abby Wambach, F, Washington Freedom - you can name her to the roster, but ya gotta put her on the field - I’m tellin’ ya - I’ve been saying it for awhile and was even rebuked for making the comparison, but now that Tony DiCicco has said it I don’t have to whisper it anymore. The only Akers-type player in the player pool - Michelle was 23 once folks, honestly, I didn’t see her then, but Tony did and he sees the similarities - I’ll take his word for it. That doesn't mean Abby's going to be Michelle, calm down Akers fans - there was only one Michelle and there won't be another - but for the first time in a long time I think folks are seeing a lot of Michelle's attributes in another US player and it's real hard not to be excited about that. There’s a hunger and an intensity there, and seeing the weary vets at the end of the WUSA season, I think they can use some of the hunger this kid’s got. She can be the difference maker - I believe this, I truly do - she can’t do it if she doesn’t get off the bench though.
So that’s my take for what it’s worth. This is a strong roster, and I’m ready to get this thing started!