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The Short List: Prospects In Need Of Playing Time

By Allen Ramsey

As my colleague Kyle McCarthy pointed out earlier today Stuart Holden's decision on where he should head next season is a tricky one. Like many U.S. players, Holden will get his chance to move across the Atlantic, but the move could be costly.

Holden faces the same dilemma that has plagued U.S. players over the last few years. Pick a team that has too much talent, but plays in a good league, and risk riding the pine, or pick a team that you should be an unquestioned starter for and risk moving out of the direct sight lines of Bob Bradley and U.S. Soccer.

With the World Cup just around the corner and a few spots still up for grabs on Bradley's final roster, a number of players face the same problems that Holden will run into in the near future. Find a place to play, or miss the World Cup. 

While not all of them will be able to switch clubs, or make decisions on where they are headed, there are several players in the U.S. player pool who must find time on the pitch over the next months just to have a shot.

While most of the players who are on the fringe of the National Team get regular playing time, some will have to rely on good showing during the second half of the season, and even then might not have enough time to catch Bradley's eye.

Here's a look at some players who are on the outside looking in, but could turn things around with a good showing.

DaMarcus Beasley

Beasley can't make the field for Rangers and basically played his way out of a place with the U.S. this summer. Now he's looking to move on from Scotland and find a new home.

A move to Scandinavia, or even to Major League Soccer, would offer the 27-year-old a chance at regular playing time if he can stay healthy. With a group of up and coming wingers, including Holden and Robbie Rogers, seemingly taking over Beasley's spot with the Red White and Blue, the winger has no choice but to find a regular starting spot somewhere if he wants any chance at a World Cup spot.

To be honest, Beasley's chances of resurrecting his career in time for South Africa are slim, but few players have shown the top end ability that he has in the past.

Eddie Johnson

Reports have surfaced that the Fulham striker is on the transfer list for January as the Cottagers look to cut some of their wages, and a move away from Fulham may be just what the 25-year-old needs to regain his spot with the USA.

Four years ago Johnson was the next big thing. (Think of him as Jozy Altidore before Jozy Altidore became the next big thing.) A stellar youth national team career followed by a torrid start for the senior team in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup had fans salivating over the prospects of the massively athletic front runner. But since that time Johnson has turned into the cautionary tale.

After failing to find much time on the pitch for Fulham, Johnson went on loan to Cardiff City, returning to Fulham at the start of the current season. But his time in the Championship did little to help his standing with Roy Hodgson, and a move away form the Cottage is a must if Johnson wants to overtake the other candidates for a World Cup spot.

It's an outside chance at best, but if the former Kansas City star can find a regular place and start scoring goals again at the club level, the Bradley and the U.S. could reap the benefits in South Africa. Johnson, when on form, has qualities that the other striker in the U.S. pool can't match.

Freddy Adu

Whatever is going on with Freddy Adu, he needs it to be fixed soon if he wants a spot on the World Cup roster. Like Johnson, Adu is very much an outsider for a spot on Bradley's squad. Lack of playing time has plagued the youngster since moving away from Major League Soccer, an that problem hasn't changed with his second loan move in as many years.

Adu was, and still is by some, considered a rare talent in American soccer. A gifted playmaker, Adu has shown flashes of becoming a solid professional, but constant problem at the club level never make it easy for a player to find his way onto the national team.

Adu's only hope of a World Cup spot lies in his ability to earn a starting spot at Belenenses and play well once he gets on the field.

The chances are slim that Adu breaks into either Belenenses' starting lineup or into Bradley's squad, but of all the players listed, a good showing from Adu this season would probably put the most pressure on Bradley to include him in the squad.

Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu