The Buddle System

Are you prepared for a world where Edson Buddle is the Savior? No, me neither, but the U.S. striker’s two well-taken goals were the highlight of the Americans’ 3-1 win over Australia on Saturday.

More troubling were the continued defensive lapses–Jay DeMerit was particularly culpable–and the lingering mystery of Oguchi Onyewu’s health. Gooch only played the last half-hour, so questions must remain whether he will be able to withstand a full 90 minutes, let alone a full game in the heat of a World Cup. John Harkes and Martin Tyler, announcing the game for ESPN, repeatedly said the coaching staff decided to ease off on Gooch after riding him hard at training recently. If that is indeed the reason. Poppycock. I’m sure that’s the info the U.S. team is providing, but you don’t exhaust a guy in training when what he needs is match fitness. Unless you unintentionally exhaust him because he’s out of shape. Or because he still seems to walk/run with a discouraging limp.

I’d say the odds are high of a Clarence Goodson-DeMerit central pairing in the first game v. England, and judging by the gaps the two have left the past couple games, it’s a work in progress. Aussie striker Josh Kennedy missed two sitters, chances that Wayne Rooney will not fail to convert (though Emilie Heskey will).

buddle

As for Buddle, he and strike partner Robbie Findley were dangerous, though occasionally seemed confused about how to work together. Findley caused the turnover for the Nats’ first, Buddle lashing a shot past Mark Schwartzer after first trying to play Findley in (fortunately, that option wasn’t available, since Findley missed two open nets). Buddle’s second was also well-taken, thanks to an inch-perfect cross from Steve Cherundolo, who started and played all 90, further fueling the sense that ‘Dolo has won the right-back slot over a struggling Jonathan Spector.

As expected, Jozy Altidore was held out of the game with his injured ankle (though he participated in training today), so whether Buddle has seized a starting spot as Jozy’s partner, or remains a late-game sub, remains to be seen. Coach Bob Bradley can go a number of ways in the opener on Saturday. He’s long resisted a lone-striker set-up, but it’s my opinion a 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 (with Dempsey or Jose Torres in the withdrawn striker role) is the Americans’ best option.

The team got out of the game without any new injury worries (though Dempsey was man-handled on a few occasions and Ricardo Clark limped out late, thanks to what was later called cramps) and what should be a decent amount of confidence offensively. On the defensive side, however, we’ve six days left to worry.

Rossi Gutted; U.S. Rallies

See what happens? I bail on polite society for a four-day bender Memorial Day weekend (at least two of my internal organs threatened to shut down) and all hell breaks loose in the Soccer Universe with big names left off World Cup rosters and the U.S. regaining a little bit of its mojo in a send-off win over Turkey.

I’m a little late, but let’s try to get to some of it, starting with Guiseppe Rossi.

The Jersey-born striker was cut from the Italian side, unleashing a torrent of schadenfreude from U.S. fans, still stung by Rossi’s decision to cast his lot with the Azzurri instead of the Red, White and Blue. The thing is, such criticism is unwarranted. Rossi never flip-flopped; his intentions were always clear. He represented Italy as far back as U-16s and politely declined when then-U.S. Coach Bruce Arena invited him to camp in 2006.

rossi

But that’s besides the point. You’re either with us or against us and after Rossi scored twice against the Nats last summer in the Confederations Cup, the hatred was cemented. Hell hath no fury like a fanbase scorned. The most talented U.S.-born striker in the world is not playing this summer and Americans will say it was his hubris–that he could crack the mighty Azzurri–that doomed him to that fate.

I’m not doing any celebrating over the news. Rossi has always spoke well of the U.S. team and he took the blow with class. However, there is perhaps some good news in this for U.S. fans beside a few hours of gloating. The U.S. youth teams have several promising kids with dual nationality possibilities–the Hoyos brothers, Sebastian Lletget and Joseph Gyau to name a few–and Rossi’s situation may have some of them thinking twice about trying to represent countries with deeper and more talented player pools.

Come to America! We suck! Guaranteed playing time! Wonder if we can get Nike to create us a slogan.

*

As for those poor souls who couldn’t dream of playing for Italy and toil for the current U.S. side, they had to be breathing easier after a 2-1 comeback win against Turkey last Saturday. It wasn’t an overwhelming performance by any means. The defense, including the midfield, looked completely disorganized in the first half. Even when they had eight back, there was plenty of space for the Turks as the Yanks chased the ball–notably Michael Bradley–lunging into late challenges and hitting only air, which I suppose is fortunate, since, more often, he lunges in and hits someone’s knee and gets a red card.

bradley1

The Turkey goal came from a counter when Jonathan Spector got caught in possession just outside the opposing box and nobody filled in behind him for cover, a missed assignment from the centerbacks and central midfielders. Yes, Spector was awful for all 45 minutes he played (and his replacement, Steve Cherundolo was excellent, so maybe the right back position is up for grabs), but the blame wasn’t his in this case.

In truth, better finishing could have had the Turks up three at the half, but to the Nats’ credit, they reversed momentum and took over the game in the second frame. Jose Torres was all class after coming on as a sub, not only pulling the strings in midfield, which we know he can do, but also showing some bite defensively, a long-criticized aspect of his game. Bradley stopped spraying passes all over the pitch and used his spastic energy to much better effect. And gasp! Robbie Findley was the one to unlock the Turkish defense with an exquisite chip to Landon Donovan.

That goal (Donovan squared it across to Jozy Altidore who tucked it into a wide-open net) showed how dangerous Donovan is, how dangerous other teams believe he is. When Findley received the ball, there were two Turkish defenders in the area, but both backed off Findley when Donovan made his run, giving the Real Salt Lake man time to settle and lift a perfect ball over the top.

Clint Dempsey’s game-winner was all quick-thinking (to settle a difficult pass) and Texas muscle. Oguchi Onyewu got 45 minutes in the second half and looked far more comfortable–and effective–than last week. And those of you who had 28 seconds in the “Length of Time Jonathan Bornstein is on the Pitch Before He Gets Skinned” Pool, collect your prize at Soccerati HQ.

And now that I spent all day catching up, I’m behind again. What happened today?

Essien Out and Other Injuries

Ghana captain Michael Essien has been ruled out of the World Cup as he has not recovered from a knee injury picked up in the African Cup of Nations in January. The absence of the Chelsea midfielder, Ghana’s most accomplished player, is a huge setback to the Black Stars and they must now be considered long-shots to get out of Group D, which includes Germany, Serbia and Australia.

essien

In other injury news, Spain’s Fernando Torres returned to full training with the Euro 2008 champions after six weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury, a certain boost to the co-favorites (with Brazil) and likely also to those clubs hoping to pry the striker away from Anfield later this summer. Torres recently rubbished his agent’s statements alluding to the star staying with Liverpool after a distasterous campaign, raising red flags all over Merseyside, and also at my house.

Closer to home (home, in this case being Group C), England gaffer Fabio Capello is not yet ready to rule out Gareth Barry, who continues to rehab an ankle injury suffered earlier this month. Barry, Capello’s preferred defensive midfielder, had scans on the ankle this week that were inconclusive. Considering the middling performances of James Milner and Michael Carrick against Mexico, it’s clear Capello will consider Barry until the last possible moment.

U.S. players with questionable health include the (many times) aforementioned Oguchi Onyewu. Some pundits claimed he looked about 60-70% against the Czechs, but I’d say that assessment is rather optimistic. Centreback Jay DeMerit, with his new cornea, appears recovered from a strained abdominal muscle, as does captain Carlos Bocanegra, who underwent a recent hernia operation. Though U.S. fans will breathe easier regarding those diagnoses if both take the field Saturday for the U.S. team’s final stateside friendly against Turkey in Philly.

Ladies and Gentlemen…YOUR U.S. National Team

Live! From ESPN HQ and my mother’s basement! It’s the 2010 U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup Selection Show brought to you buy several large advertisers and this bacon and egg sandwich I just made for myself.

Coach Bob Bradley is–in mere moments!–handing out 23 cherished tickets to South Africa and while the kleig lights lend the occasion a bit of pomp, the truth is there should be no surprises at this juncture. The only intrigue is the final two slots. Contenders are Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez on the front line and midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Robbie Rogers. Bradley could elect to take both strikers, but it’s unlikely that both Bedoya and Rogers make the team.

Here we go:

It’s Bob Ley! The U.S. players are standing on a random field, looking uncomfortable and sweaty.

Goalkeepers- Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan

Given. All three of our keepers are bald or balding. I’m glad I stopped playing goalie at 13, otherwise I might not have this magnificent head of hair.

Who was the last goalkeeper with great hair? Schumacher? Higuita?

Defenders — Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein

Nothing crazy here, but for the continuing scourge of Bornstein. He’s like herpes.

As mentioned in last night’s post, there’s a lot of versatility in this group should Gooch be physically unable to go (I spent a good half-hour last night trying to convince myself he was just rusty; didn’t take). Bocanegra can play in the middle or at left back. Spector has played right back from the U.S., but left back for West Ham (to middling results this past season). Maurice Edu is a capable centerback. And Jonathan Bornstein can go play in traffic.

Midfielders- Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, DaMarcus Beasley

Bedoya out. That means an extra striker. Congrats Edson Buddle!

I am Michael Bradley! I will not look at the camera!

Most agree (and by “most,” I mean the people I brow-beat into agreeing with me) the U.S. is best served by starting Dempsey up top with Altidore and sliding Torres or Feilhaber or Holden into Deuce’s outside midfield slot. It gets your best players on the field. Of course, Dempsey has been most effective as a striker when moving there later in games, as opposed to starting there. And one also assumes he’ll see less of the ball on the forward line, a fact which has, in the past, caused his focus to wander.

We’ll get a better line on Coach Bradley’s thinking after seeing the lineups for the next two friendlies.

Forwards- Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez

Wow! A stunner! Ching out and Robbie Findley in. I’m officially speechless. Taking four forwards likely means Dempsey in the midfield. To start.

Alright boys. Get to work.

U.S. Questions

Alright, first let’s take a deep breath, chew some nicotine gum, munch some Valium, or whatever it is you, dear reader, do to take the edge off, and note that of the 17 U.S. players who trod the slippery pitch tonight a 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic, a maximum of three of them will start against England on June 12 in the team’s World Cup opener.

Done? Everybody cool? Awesome. Now…panic. Because one of those players, Oguchi Onyewu, is quite clearly not fit. The stalwart in central defense, the man I considered Man of the Match in last summer’s upset of Spain, looked like a guy who hasn’t played since October. Which he is. He was badly beaten in the air for the first Czech goal and generally appeared to not trust his knee, tip-toeing around slowly and awkwardly, a marked contrast to his usual, powerful game. I think it’s apparent Coach Bob Bradley knows this as well, since he deployed Maurice Edu–normally a midfielder, but with some experience in central defense–in Onyewu’s spot after 65 minutes.

WCup Czech Republic US Soccer

Maurice Edu (19) celebrates his first international goal with teammates.

In addition to Edu, Clarence Goodson had a solid effort alongside Onyewu, showing good instincts and contributing to the U.S.’s second goal. And the U.S. back-line has a lot of versatility, a strength I’d hoped would relegate Jonathan Bornstein–another dismal showing; his finest skill seems to be grabbing at opposing players as they skip past him–to the sidelines.

Otherwise, Herculez Gomez and Brian Ching appeared to grab pole position for the available striker positions. Gomez scored the second and Ching was far more effective holding the ball and linking with teammates than the first-half pairing of Edson Buddle and Eddie Johnson. Johnson was horrid and Buddle worked hard, but lacked service. Since Ching has long been considered a lock, the fact Bradley sent Gomez out alongside him might be a clue to his thinking.

In the midfield, Stuart Holden and Jose Torres both had disappointing nights, though not poor enough to wedge them off the roster. Edu was composed in his time in the middle and DaMarcus Beasley cemented his spot with a lively performance.

Coach Bradley will announce his 23-man roster tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Here are the seven I expect to see left off the plane to South Africa:

Eddie Johnson — Because he can’t, you know, trap the ball
Heath Pearce — Blame for two of the Czech goals fall directly on his shoulders. Also, he’s fucking terrible.
Robbie Rogers — Played well this evening, but probably didn’t do enough to pass Alejandro Bedoya–a promising youngster who will be taken to his first World Cup for the experience factor–on the depth chart
Sacha Kljestan — Still too green on the international level
Chad Marshall — Injury didn’t help
Robbie Findley — Didn’t see the field tonight, which speaks volumes
Edson Buddle — Had the misfortune of being paired with EJ instead of the steadier Ching

Czechs, Mate (Updated)

The United States Men’s National Team begins its march to South Africa tonight in Hartford with a friendly against a Czech team that can be generously dubbed a ‘B’ side.

Coach Bob Bradley has said he will whittle the 30 players in camp down to the final World Cup roster of 23 after this game, so expect a lot of fringe faces in the Starting XI. One familiar name who should start is Oguchi Onyewu. Gooch will need substantial time in all three run-up games to achieve match fitness after not featuring in a games since his injury in October. Usual starters coming off long European seasons–Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, for example–are also likely to sit this one out (though I’ve not seen that reported elsewhere) as Bradley Sr. sorts through his options.

Players such as Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark, both recently returned from injury, should get the start, while others still nursing injury, like Carlos Bocanegra and Jay DeMerit, may watch from the sidelines and let their possible back-ups fight it out. My guess:

Tim Howard
Steve Cherundolo — Oguchi Onyewu — Clarence Goodson — Heath Pearce
Stuart Holden — Maurice Edu — Ricardo Clark — DaMarcus Beasley
Brian Ching — Herculez Gomez

ESPN has the game tonight with the broadcast starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

Update: Lineups are out. I was close. Sorta. The Two Eds up top!

Guzan
Cherundolo –Goodson — Onyewu — Jonathan Bornstein
Holden — Edu — Jose Francisco Torres — Beasley
Edson Buddle — Eddie Johnson

Mexico Impressive in Loss to England

An entertaining little friendly today at Wembley between England and Mexico that should be of considerable interest to U.S fans less than three weeks ahead of the World Cup.

First-round opponent England won 3-1 over our neighbors bitter, much-loathed rivals, but it was the Mexican team that carried the play in the first 45 minutes with a quality display of possession and flair that proved a handful for the Three Lions. It was something of a makeshift back-line deployed by Fabio Capello, as he held out the five Chelsea players on the roster (only 9 days removed from the FA Cup Final), including near-certain starters John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard. It was their slow-witted replacements, notably Ledley King, whose statuesque (not in the complimentary meaning of the word, but in the fact he appeared to have the range and effectiveness of a statue) performance was hardly saved by his goal off a set-piece.

engmex

Both King and fellow centreback Rio Ferdinand were caught by the lively Mexican duo of Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela, the latter going 0-2 on shots where he had only goalkeeper Robert Green to beat. That was the story of the night for El Tri as, despite a possession advantage and sending 23 shots goalward, they managed just to convert the one time.

England were more assertive in the second 45 minutes and a Glen Johnson stunner early in the second half killed off the tie. But there were precious few highlights for the England men, who will hope the return of the Chelsea Five produces a better all-around effort next time out. England head to Austria for pre-Cup training and a friendly on Sunday against Japan, while Mexico get right back at it with a Wednesday tilt against Netherlands.

In other notable friendlies, host South Africa was held 1-1 by Bulgaria and Portugal stumbled to a scoreless draw with Cape Verde. That doesn’t bode well for the Portuguese.

Place Yer Bets

In previous years, I’d be preparing for the Champions League Final today. By preparing, I mean convincing my boss I need to take a 3-hour lunch break at the Irish Pub near my work. But they moved the Final (Inter Milan v. Bayern Munich) from its traditional Wednesday to Saturday this year, which is a good bit of scheduling moxie, so instead I sit here in the cubicle jonesing for action.

How to remedy that? World Cup futures bets! If, you know, that kind of thing were legal.

I’m not much of a chalk bettor. Boring. I always scoff at the guys jumping around when their 3/5 shot hits the wire first, so I look for value. No wagers on Brazil or Spain for me.

Odds to win:

Brazil +450
Spain +450
England +550
Argentina +900
Germany +1100
Italy +1200
Holland +1200
France +1400
Ivory Coast +2500
Portugal +2500
Chile +4000
Paraguay +5000
Serbia +5000
Ghana +6600
Denmark +8000
Mexico +8000
Uruguay +10000
Greece +10000
Cameroon +10000
Australia +10000
Nigeria +10000
USA +10000
South Africa +12500
Switzerland +15000
Japan +20000
Slovenia +20000
Slovakia +20000
South Korea +20000
Algeria +40000
Honduras +50000
North Korea +75000
New Zealand +100000

England are laughably low. A nod to the furious amount of wagers they will attract and what looks to be easy progression from the group stages. Germany are cooked without Ballack. The Italy price looks good. So would France if they had a different coach. Beyond them, however, you’d have to be a remarkable optimist (or ardent homer) to risk cash on any of the longer shots.

So I’m going with Holland at 12-1. Total Football. I can feel satisfied I am backing a club that will entertain (while at the same time knowing their defensive and psychological frailties). A possible quarterfinal matchup with Brazil doesn’t inspire confidence, but we know the Oranj will go toe-to-toe with the South American heavyweights. Wesley Sneijder has arguably been the best playmaker in the world for Inter this season and, even though all his teammates hate him, Arjen Robbin is in amazing form and has scored huge goals for Bayern.

As long as neither of them pick up a knock in Madrid this Saturday, I’m going Dutch.

Soccer Blogs from English Football People

I’m just starting to get my mind around this World Cup that’s ready to fall upon us. Perhaps shamefully, I missed the whole second half of this EPL season … playoffs included. (Do they call it “playoffs” in Europe?)

Big thanks to AlCantHang and Joe Speaker for sharing bits and pieces here so I could have at least a bit of a clue what’s been going on. (Go USA!)

Anyhow, I swear I’m not a soccer moron … I just happen to have been one recently. But thus, as I begin to figure out my World Cup Days, they will surely include regular visits to probably a half dozen or so soccer websites to see what’s up. Naturally, my first and last stops will be Soccerati … because, frankly, I trust you guys to keep me better informed and intelligently engaged than a website from some random hooligan.

But I will be seeking other perspectives, too, and one of them will come from a Brit pal of mine who happens to live in Germany. He’s @DaveAllan on twitter — Sang needn’t worry, he’s a Liverpool guy, not some douchethug Gooner — and he runs the Betfair Blog over on the poker side of the world.

He and his mate’s new soccer blog, er, sorry, an “England World Cup” blog is A2B World Cup. Check it out … as I will be because it should be particularly fun during the group stage.

BTW, since this is will be my first World Cup perusing the soccer blogosphere, let me know if there are any other sites — American or British — I should be sure not to miss … especially as it relates to Group C play.

Ballack Shellacked

Germany midfielder Michael Ballack will miss the World Cup after tearing an ankle ligament or three in the FA Cup Final won this last weekend by Ballack’s Chelsea over Portsmouth. He sustained he injury after a tackle–termed “brutal” by Germany manager Joachim Low–from Pompey’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, who also happens to be on the provisional roster of Ghana, which also happens to be in Germany’s group.

For further intrigue, Boateng was born in Berlin and featured for several German national youth teams before committing to Ghana on the senior level. His half-brother, Jerome, decided to stick with Der Mannschaft (gayest team nickname ever? Gayest team nickname ever) and is on Germany’s provisional World Cup roster.

ballack

Ballack, at 33, is not the dominant player he was in his prime (he had an especially potent tournament in ’02), but was expected to start and lend experience in midfield. The Germans have undertaken something of a youth movement, bringing in a new generation of players and Ballack’s steadying force was seen as integral. Definitely a blow to their chances, but it is never wise to count out the Germans. As former England marksman Gary Lineker once said,

“Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.”

Davies Out

An apparent disappointing end to Charlie Davies quest to return from a horrific car accident in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He was not named to Coach Bob Bradley’s provisional 30-man roster that will convene for training camp next week in Princeton, N.J.

Said Bradley, “He (Davies) hadn’t been given full medical clearance and therefore was not given a full release to join the camp.”

Bummer. Feel bad for the kid.

In-form strikers Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez were preferred to Davies, who has resumed full training but has not played a competitive match since the October accident which left one person dead and Davies with severe injuries. Considering that group, as well as surprise inclusion Robbie Findley, the competition appears wide-open for the slot along-side automatic selection Jozy Altidore.

No other shocking names on the roster (Kljestan might shock some, but not anyone who is aware of his long association with Bradley) and those left out, aside from Davies, were only peripheral names like Frankie Hejduk, Edgar Castillo, Freddy Adu and Conor Casey.

Coach Bradley has until June 1 to cut the roster to the final 23 and the U.S. will play two friendlies prior to that, May 25 v. Czech Republic in East Hartford, CT and May 29 v. Turkey in Philadelphia.

The full squad:

Goalkeepers- Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan

Defenders- Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall

Midfielders- Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers

Forwards- Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Brian Ching, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez

It’s Raining Footballers

So many unpronounceable names.

A dozen other international teams have named their preliminary rosters for South Africa, highlighted by perennial World Cup contenders Brazil and Italy.

With a powerhouse side such as Brazil, a few notable names are sure to be left on the sidelines, but this year’s selection has some superstars on the outside looking in. Ronaldinho failed to sway Coach Dunga. Same with midfielder Diego, AC Milan striker Pato, holdovers like Adriano and the emerging starlet Neymar. To me, Diego is the biggest omission, the only true creator available behind Kaka.

Jersey-born Giuseppe Rossi was called into the Italian camp after a few weeks of nail-biting. Some big names left out of the Azzurri set-up, including Alessandro Del Piero, Luca Toni and Roma’s Francesco Totti, who probably hasn’t done himself any favors by just running around and kicking people.

If you’re studying up for your World Cup fantasy team and need to know who’s starting at left back for Cameroon, here are links to the complete preliminary rosters released so far today:

Brazil
Italy
Netherlands
Spain
Portugal
Switzerland
Denmark
Greece
Cameroon
Ghana
Australia
Ivory Coast
NewZealand
Honduras
Japan
South Africa

Thirty for England

England Coach Fabio Capello has named his provisional 30-man roster for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. England will line up against the United States in their opening game on June 12 in Rustenberg.

The most surprising inclusion is Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who “retired” from international duty in 2007. His recall may confirm that the only reason he ditched the national side is because previous gaffer Steve McClaren is a twit. Or Capello’s desperation–with the brittle nature of Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King–was enough to sway the Reds stalwart.

Tottenham, who finished 4th in the Premier League and grabbed the last Champions League spot, place six players on the list, including Abbey Clancy’s boyfriend. Let’s hope Crouchie goes to SA for the crowd shots alone.

abbey

England 30-Man Preliminary Squad

GOALKEEPERS (3): Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham Utd.)

DEFENDERS (10): Leighton Baines (Everton), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester Utd.), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham Utd.), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa)

MIDFIELDERS (12): Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester Utd.), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Aston Villa), Scott Parker (West Ham Utd.), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City)

FORWARDS (5): Darren Bent (Sunderland), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester Utd.)