U.S. under-23 men
Nowak selections for Olympics team contain few surprises.
By Robert Wagman
(Thursday, July 17, 2008) -- There were few surprises in the 18 players United States men's Olympic coach Peter Nowak has selected to take to the Summer Games in China.
Men's teams in the Olympics are under-23 with three exceptions and, as expected, 36-year-old striker Brian McBride was selected as one of the "overage" players. Three mainstays from Olympic qualifying -- striker Jozy Altidore and midfielders Freddy Adu and Michael Bradley -- were also chosen instead of for a conflicting World Cup qualifier in Guatemala.
A mild surprise was the selection of goalkeeper Brad Guzan over the more experienced Kasey Keller or Marcus Hahnemann, and defender Michael Parkhurst as the other overage players. In a phone conference, Nowak explained that he selected both because they are very close in age to the rest of the squad and had played with many over the years. "Both were very enthusiastic about going," Nowak said.
The inclusion of Guzan also will likely help him obtain the work permit he needs to complete his transfer from Major League Soccer's Chivas USA to Aston Villa of the English Premier League. In January, Guzan was refused a permit which blocked his transfer to West Ham United.
Nowak said that he first approached McBride about going last January, long before the striker helped Fulham avoid relegation from the EPL after finishing last. After the season, McBride decided to leave the Cottagers, hopefully to play for the Chicago Fire, but he has yet to sign with an MLS team. "From the start, Brian was very receptive to the idea and very enthusiastic," Nowak said. "He will bring the experience of playing in World Cups to the team and that will help."
Also slightly surprising was the inclusion of midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who was released by Derby County, which was relegated from the EPL. An injury has caused Feilhaber to miss recent action with the under-23 men. A number of ailments over the last 18 months have prevented Feilhaber from repeating the form he displayed in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The U.S. looks to have a reasonable formidable attack with McBride, Altidore, Adu and Bradley, but might have problems in midfield and on defense. The Americans preliminary group is difficult with Japan, the Netherlands and Nigeria.
Only CONCACAF, the region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean, has scheduled World Cup qualifiers during the Olympics, making it easier for several nations, especially Argentina and Brazil, to load their teams with proven international talent.
Argentina's three overage players are Juan Riquelme (Boca Juniors), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), and Nicolas Burdisso (Internazionale). Brazil is countering with Ronaldinho (AC Milan), Robinho (Real Madrid), and Thiago Silva (Fluminense), chosen after AC Milan refused to release Kaka.
The U.S. men's Olympics roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake, Major League Soccer)
Defenders (5): Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Michael Orozco (San Luis, Mexico), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution, MLS), Nathan Sturgis (Salt Lake, MLS), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC, MLS).
Midfielders (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica, Portugal), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen, Netherlands), Maurice Edu (Toronto, MLS), Benny Feilhaber (no team), Stuart Holden (Houston, MLS), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA, MLS), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio, Italy).
Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal, Spain), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF, Sweden), Brian McBride (no team), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew).
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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