By Noah Davis
With United States Men's national team coach Bob Bradley calling 24 players to participate in training camp before the next slate of CONCACAF World Cup 2010 qualifying matches, the weekly hypothetical exercise that is this column has some tangible data from which to draw conclusions. And draw them I will, at least for two once (and future?) Nats heading in opposite directions.
Part of me is surprised by Pearce's inclusion on Bradley's list -- he hasn't played a club match in quite some time -- while part of me isn't, as the manager has shown he'll stick with particular players for far longer than some other coaches might. With DaMarcus Beasley getting the start at left back against Trinidad and Tobago and Jonathan Bornstein coming into his own on a strong Chivas USA squad, Pearce will likely find himself as the third-choice flanker. That said, Bradley's continued faith in the for-now Hansa Rostock defender says a lot. With a strong camp, Pearce could easily win back the spot that's caused so much consternation for the U.S. soccer fanbase (not to mention its coaching staff).
The Colorado Rapids striker notched his sixth goal of the season over the weekend, beating goalkeeper-of-the-year-candidate Kasey Keller. Casey sits atop Major League Soccer's Golden Boot list, tied with Landon Donovan, Josh Wolff, and Brian McBride despite playing in one fewer match. He's looking to increase from last year's total of 11 tallies, which he reached despite missing his team's first nine matches due to an off-season ACL surgery. The burly forward registered his ninth national team cap against Guatemala last November and, although he turns 28 in July, a Gold Cup call up seems like a distinct possibility.
The Massachusetts native, who had an outstanding rookie campaign in 2008, continues to impress on a Houston team that hasn't lost in six matches. He registered an assist over the weekend on Craig Waibel's goal, although he could be blamed for not doing more to stop Ryan Johnson's tally after the result wasn't in doubt. Cameron figured in the American's January training camp for two days but hurt his hamstring and was sent home early. He'll be back, likely for the Gold Cup this summer.
The Columbus Crew midfielder, whose name has appeared in this category before, wasn't one of the 24 players called into camp. At just 22, Rogers has time to learn his trade but will need to quickly get his game in order if he wants to break into a part of the field that's crowded with youngsters such as Jose Francisco Torres, Freddy Adu, and a returning Benny Feilhaber. (Certainly, it remains to be seen what, if anything, the Aarhus player can contribute.) If Bradley favors the formation he played against T&T that features Landon Donovan on the left and Clint Dempsey on the right, it's easy to see Rogers as the odd man out.
Just this winter, U.S. soccer aficionados were singing the praises of the MK Don's striker. He was scoring goals -- golazos, even -- and picking up assists at a stunning rate and, despite the less-than-world-class competition of the England's League One, Johnson seemed to be destined for a call up. Then, however, his fortunes turned. Rumors of a conflict between the player and management about a new contract surfaced, resulting in a benching that saw him play for less than half a game over the final two months of the season. Now, it appears as if Johnson is a persona non grata in Buckinghamshire, despite the club's struggles without him at the head of the attack. Without any club-level playing time, it's impossible to see the U.S. coaching staff dialing Johnson's mobile. (Another Johnson in England, Eddie, was also left off of the U.S. roster.)
The Chicago Fire midfielder's future chances to make it on the National Team haven't taken a serious blow, but recurring injuries are significantly hurting his chances at getting a call up in the near future. A hamstring strain has limited him to just 20 minutes of action during the past seven matches and Marco Pappa has shined in his absence. Even once Mapp returns to 100 percent, he will have trouble breaking into the lineup if Chicago continues to play well.
Noah Davis covers the United States National Team for Goal.com.