In our first Armchair Midfielder before the 2006 FIFA World Cup we proclaimed that Brian McBride would most likely lead the U.S. in scoring at the tournament’s end, and you replied with theories of your own in our 50/50 Ball segment.
This time around, we’re going to enlighten you with our list of U.S. players that have the best chance to get chosen for the 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star First Team. And, yes, you’ll have your chance to tell us where we went wrong, or you could be different and tell us where we went right (we know, never happening).
Now, just to clarify, we’re not placing odds on the chances they will make the team out of all the players involved in the World Cup, but rather the chances they have when just comparing the 23 players on the U.S. squad. Oh, and we know getting named to the starting XI means the U.S. will have to at least get out of their group.
Will Reyna get named to his second in a row? Is Donovan the most likely pick from the U.S. team?
Here are our odds on who will be penciled in by the FIFA head honchos in early July.
- Chime in with your own picks. Write to: email@example.com
KASEY KELLER (2 to 1)
Position by position, Kasey is probably the best U.S. player Bruce will put out on the field. Some might make the argument for Reyna and maybe even Donovan, but Kasey has proven his worth at the club level overseas and with consistent solid performances at the national team level for more than 15 years. After a back-and-forth with Brad Friedel as the first-choice ‘keeper, Kasey led the U.S. to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, seeming to do it single-handedly at times with some jaw-dropping saves. Sitting in ’02 after playing the first two matches in ’98, Keller is no doubt licking his lips for a chance to shine on the world stage.
LANDON DONOVAN (3 to 1)
The Kid is all grown up. Donovan showed in 2002 that he can be “The Guy” and over the past four years he’s been the most productive and dominant field player for the U.S. Men. When Landon plays well, the U.S. usually ends up getting a good result. So how does that connection benefit his chances for making the All-Star team? Well, the majority of players that end up getting picked are on teams that did some damage during the tournament (see at least getting out of the first round). Landon plays well, so the team plays well, which means they’ll get noticed more, allowing Landon to be talked about as a possible top tournament player.
CLAUDIO REYNA and BRIAN MCBRIDE (10 to 1)
People might have him lower because he’s older and slower (maybe) four years later, but the All-Star team is never piled with a ton of young players. Reyna’s experience is what puts him in close running for his second best XI appearance. His mastery of the midfield for the U.S. is still a crucial element for us to have success and his skill and supervision will be noticed by those in charge of picking the final list. As we mentioned before, we think McBride could be the top goal scorer on the U.S. team. If that happens, expect Brian to be in the running for the top XI.
DaMARCUS BEASLEY and EDDIE JOHNSON (15 to 1)
Beasley and Johnson have been a bit of an anomaly lately. They’re still seen as two of the most dangerous players Bruce can put on the field, but they’ve also been struggling of late. Here’s to hoping both, or at least one, can snap out of the doldrums and return to their fiery goal-scoring, defender-beating self when June 12 rolls around. If so, either of these playmakers could make a name for himself in Germany and find their way into the top 11.
OGUCHI ONYEWU and STEVE CHERUNDOLO (35 to 1)
Defenders are tough to pick for any All-Star game, but if the U.S. does get out of it’s group it most likely will be due to some quality defensive play. So why pick Onyewu and Cherundolo over, say, Lewis or Pope? Over the past four years, Cherundolo has probably been the most consistent defender we’ve had, and he shown his small stature doesn’t equal his impact on the field. He has the ability to stand out with some quality defending from right back, while also darting up the flank to serve in dangerous crosses. Meanwhile, Gooch has been the most intimidating defender and stands out in a crowd (6’4”and 210 will do that). Good performances at the World Cup will get people to start noticing him for more than just his size.
CLINT DEMPSEY and BOBBY CONVEY (50 to 1)
The Beasley and Donovan of 2006, Clint and Bobby have the chance to follow in the footsteps of their older teammates with breakout performances. But will that be enough to get a nod to the final XI? Probably not, but we’d be happy to see them pull it off.
JOSH WOLFF and BRIAN CHING (75 to 1)
Josh and Brian will both be fighting for time up front, so getting in the starting XI could be tough. But, remember, the forward spot is wide open and either of these guys could go on a tear. If that happens that means more time on the field and more looks from those deciding the All Star team.
PABLO MASTROENI, JOHN O’BRIEN, EDDIE LEWIS and EDDIE POPE (200to1)
O’Brien might actually have a little better chance than the other three, but his tendency to pick up injuries lowers his time on the field, thus hurting his chances to make an impact. Pablo and Pope are solid players, but most likely aren’t going to be making folks take notice. Lewis isn't playing his natural position, so he probably won't be flashy, but will do what's required to do a job well done.
CHRIS ALBRIGHT, GREGG BERHALTER, CARLOS BOCANEGRA, JIMMY CONRAD and BEN OLSEN (500 to 1)
All but Berhalter are new to the World Cup, but even Gregg would admit his chances for top 11 are slim.
TIM HOWARD and MARCUS HAHNEMANN (1000 to 1)
Playing behind our No. 1 pick doesn’t give them much chance.