The World Cup is almost upon us. Bob Bradley, coach of the U.S. team, is about to name his 23-man squad. And the Lucky Bar, my favorite place to watch soccer (Connecticut Ave., a block or so south of Dupont Circle in Washington), has just put up the flags of all 32 participating countries.
But before we get to the World Cup, let’s name the all-star team for the recently completed English Premier League season:
Gomes — Tottenham Hotspur
Branislav Ivanovic — Chelsea
Patrice Evra — Manchester United
Roger Johnson — Birmingham City
Darren Fletcher — Manchester United
Frank Lampard — Chelsea
Cesc Fabregas — Arsenal
James Milner — Aston Villa
Florent Malouda — Chelsea
Wayne Rooney — Manchester
Didier Drogba — Chelsea
Player of the year — Lampard
Runner-up — Rooney*
Everton player of the year — Steven Pienaar**
*Rooney received English soccer’s equivalent of the MVP, but I went with Lampard (22 goals, 14 assists) because Rooney, through no fault of his own, was hobbled by injury during the crucial final games when Chelsea edged out Man U for the title.
**Rumors are flying that Pienaar (the star of South Africa’s World Cup team) will leave Everton, now that we have resurrected his career.
UPDATE: The U.S. squad has been named. With the exception of Jozy Altidore, the list of forwards seems unimpressive, though Herculez Gomez has been coming on. But Landon Donovan, listed as a midfielder, can also play up-front.
Charlie Davies was unavailable due to injury. Excluding Brian Ching seems like a mistake.
The back line also looks thin, so we better hope that all injuries have healed and that there are no new ones.
ANOTHER THOUGHT: Let’s say the U.S. lines up this way in the opener against England:
Spector, Onyewu, DeMerit, Bocanegra
Holden, Donovan, Dempsey
That’s seven who played for English clubs this year and two (Bocanegra and Onyewu) who have played for English clubs in the past. Thus, there would be considerable familiarity among the two sets of players. (Of the other two in this projected line-up, Edu plays for a Scottish club and Bradley plays in Germany).