Bob Bradley faces challenges with roster 

November, 10, 2010

When Bob Bradley took over as U.S. coach on an interim basis in 2006, the Yanks were a mixture of crisis and opportunity: Three mainstays of the previous three World Cup teams -- Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope and Brian McBride -- all retired from international soccer shortly after the tournament. But on the horizon was a corps of young players, including Benny Feilhaber, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Bornstein, Maurice Edu, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, who would make valuable contributions in the next World Cup cycle. The elder Bradley wasted little time incorporating youth into his national team mix, in part because he had little choice.

This cycle will be different. With no retirements from the team this year, Bradley has more veterans to choose from as he mulls possible rosters for the first big test on the 2014 road to Brazil -- next summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. Meanwhile, there's less obvious up-and-coming talent in the youth ranks; while the 2007 U-20 World Cup squad featuring Altidore and Bradley beat Brazil en route to the quarterfinals, the 2009 version was out of the tournament after going 1-2 in the first round.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.