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Friday, October 1, 2010
The new-look USMNT


U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley announced his squad for the U.S. games with Poland and Colombia on Oct. 9 and 12 yesterday.

The omissions of MLS playoff-bound Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle weren't surprising. But several additions suggest that Bradley is acutely aware of what ails his team and where it needs considerable alterations as it gets ready for the next summer's Gold Cup and the ensuing World Cup qualifiers.

Two things the U.S. men's team has been in dire need of are a quality left back and a creative force in the middle, which has been missing since Claudio Reyna retired.

In Eric Lichaj, a new contender for the left enters the fray. This call-up by Bradley (a coach who is often criticized for being too loyal to his regulars) makes sense. While not a starter at Aston Villa, Lichaj, 21, has played in a Europa League game and a League Cup game this year, regularly sits on the bench and looks to have every chance of growing into a bigger role over the next four years.

As for that creativity, Stuart Holden, who is already a regular call-up, was brought back. He, too, could assume a more central role. Holden has started every game for the EPL's Bolton in the middle and could offer that badly missing spark. So could 20-year-old Brek Shea (he's available only for the Colombia game). A first-time call-up from FC Dallas and a U-20 graduate, Shea is a hulking attack-minded midfielder who can play in other spots as well. He's become an impact player in MLS as a playmaker for title-contenders Dallas and could be a long-term solution for the U.S. team.

Also returning is Michael Parkhurst, a 26-year-old central defender who plays in Denmark and has had a little exposure to the national team in the past. Bradley will most likely be giving him an early look as a potential successor to the defense, where Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit and Steve Cherundolo are all expected to have gone off by the 2014 World Cup.

Schalke 04 midfielder Jermaine Jones, meanwhile, could make his much-anticipated and hyped debut at long long last.

Clearly, while Bradley isn't making massive changes, he's at least showing a willingness to bring in new faces and make some moves. That's a good thing.