Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Forgotten Man

He seemed ready to tackle the world's best on the world's biggest stage. He was supposed to help anchor a formidable American defending corps that included Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra. This was going to be Cory Gibbs' chance to shine in front of millions at the World Cup. Then, before this dream could be fully realized, he injured his knee during a pre-World Cup warmup against Morocco. Dream dashed. There would be no World Cup appearance for the talented defender.

Now nine months removed from Germany '06, where is the Cory Gibbs blip on the US MNT radar? With three international friendlies under its belt this year and one more on tap tonight vs. Guatemala, it appears that Gibbs is presently a non-echo on said radar. Interim manager Bob Bradley has brought in an array of players, both stateside and abroad, in an effort to evaluate those who he plans on unleashing during this summer’s important international tournaments: the Gold Cup and Copa America. However, in each of Bradley's training camps, Gibbs' has been has been inconspicuously absent. Unable to get his foot back in the door, the chances of Gibbs reclaiming a roster spot before Memorial Day appears to be as slim as Lloyd Christmas getting a date with Mary Swanson.

While we know that Bradley is certainly making a concerted effort to try and establish a roster of "his guys", it appears that Gibbs is nowhere near that list. Perhaps there are still concerns that his reputation as an injury-prone player scares some, for he has yet to even appear in a Premiership match this season. It was no secret that Gibbs was a favorite of former MNT manager Bruce Arena, for whom Gibbs accumulated all of his 19 national team caps under, and perhaps, he's simply seen as an "Arena guy" rather than a "Bradley guy." Then again, the team’s depth on its defending line is fairly deep, with Gooch, Conrad, Cherundolo already in place, and an influx of youth in form of Jonathan Bornstein (21), Heath Pearce (22) and Jonathan Spector (21), all of which leaves Gibbs as a very odd man out.

So for argument sake where does Gibbs fit into the picture? Apparently, he does not fit in at all – at least not in the foreseeable future. During his convalescence, Conrad emerged as one of the squad's better defenders while Onyweu, Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra have all solidified their spots on the team. Ironically, it was Conrad who was the beneficiary of Gibbs’ knee injury. Unfortunately, it would probably take a series injuries within the defending corps in order for Gibbs just to get a second look at. Until that happens, it appears that we may have seen the last of Mr. Gibbs in the navy, blue, and white kit of the US Men’s National Team.

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