Egyptian turmoil puts mids battle on hold 

February, 2, 2011

The cancellation of the national team's friendly against Egypt in Cairo cost the Americans a lot more than an appearance fee for U.S. Soccer. Losing a match at this juncture is a huge missed opportunity for coach Bob Bradley and his staff as they evaluate and experiment with the team ahead of this summer's Gold Cup. In the October friendlies against Poland and Colombia, Bradley tinkered with his midfield and back lines, searching for ways to put central midfielders Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden and Jermaine Jones on the field at the same time, while figuring out the best places and times to use the versatility of Clint Dempsey and Benny Feilhaber. Cairo promised another chance to see how to mix and match the talented pool of mids, possibly with Landon Donovan -- who missed October's matches because of his MLS duties -- thrown in.

That chance vanished with the latest unrest in the Middle East. If there's a bright side, however, the just-concluded transfer window has left Bradley & Co. in perhaps a better position than ever to evaluate their players in high-level club play.

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