U.S. looking to shuffle forward(s)
Three years ago, during preparations for a match against England, U.S. striker
Johnson, 21 at the time, had been acclaimed as a vital component of the forward corps for perhaps the next decade -- and a strong candidate to lead the attack in the aftermath of
Now, both are playing in the English Premier League for Fulham: Dempsey with some success, and Johnson a virtual non-entity since his arrival last January after restoring some of his luster by scoring 16 goals for Kansas City in his final MLS season. Though defender
They are two of numerous question marks as U.S. coach
In an ideal world, Bradley would find a suitable pair as well as a complement for
The return of
Also on the squad for the England match are the Mutt and Jeff team of polar opposites, similar only in that both are out of contract:
Wolff, 31, has nine U.S. goals to his credit but hasn't scored for the national team since '05. Jaqua (6-foot-4) can be the big forward to mesh with Donovan's pace and guile, and a short stint in Austria since leaving MLS has accelerated the process of sharpening his touch and vision. At age 26, he has room and time to improve, but how much?
At this point, Dempsey (38 caps, nine goals) leads the pack and has meshed well with Donovan (99 caps, 35 goals) in the past, but Bradley knows he needs at least two more dependable forwards to navigate the heavy schedule of friendlies and qualifiers that loom during the next 18 months. Plus, Dempsey is something of a second forward-type himself despite being five inches taller and more than 20 pounds heavier than Donovan. He's also said in the past he prefers to play in midfield.
There aren't many more European options available in the short term, unless someone from the under-23 team blossoms at the Olympic Games or
Bradley's ultimate test will probably come at the 2010 World Cup, and he needs a team capable of scoring more than one goal, as it did in '06 (Italian defender