By IVES GALARCEP
In the wake of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras it is easy to come away feeling as though some players who were once considered locks as likely members of a projected 2014 U.S. World Cup are suddenly not such safe bets (let alone the fact that the Hex-opening loss has some folks fearing that the U.S. may not even qualify).
There were plenty of bad performances to go around against Honduras, but I’m not sure any of the starters who faced Honduras are suddenly bad bets to make the World Cup team. Jermaine, Jones, Fabian Johnson and Tim Chandler are all too important to consider leaving out, and even the struggling Danny Williams is young and talented enough to see getting his act together and remaining a solid choice.
One thing the February qualifier did offer us was a glimpse of life without long-time defensive stalwarts Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo. With Bocanegra benched in favor of Omar Gonzalez, and Cherundolo sidelined by knee surgery, we saw what the U.S. team might be like without them. Sure, it was a bit of a scary sight, but the fact that Klinsmann went with youth shows that he is ready for the next generation of defenders to take on a larger role.
Another development this month was Landon Donovan’s public assertion that he would like to return to the national team, if given the chance. Given the utter lack of viable wing options in the pool it is a safe to project Donovan as a member of the 2014 World Cup team if he is healthy and still wants to play.
There weren’t a bunch of changes to the projected 2013 World Cup team, with Donovan among the few new faces who weren’t in our January projection.
Here is the latest SBI projection for the 23 players we see on the 2014 U.S. World Cup roster (yes, assuming the U.S. qualifies):
PROJECTED USMNT WORLD CUP 2014 ROSTER (February 2013)
(Changes from December in bold, new additions to the Missed the Cut list are in bold italics)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson
Outlook– The top two spots are set in stone, but the third goalkeeper position will continue to circulate between Johnson, Nick Rimando and Bill Hamid.
Missed the cut– Rimando, Bill Hamid.
DEFENDERS– Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Maurice Edu, Matt Besler, Michael Parkhurst, Edgar Castillo
Outlook– With Eric Lichaj seeing no playing time in recent weeks for Aston Villa it is tough to project him being a part of Klinsmann’s World Cup plans right now. Castillo is starting for the defending Mexican League champions, and recorded a game-winning assist in Copa Libertadores action. There is a new name in the Missed the Cut section. German-born John Anthony Brooks is an intriguing prospect, and while he is still raw, his continued strong play for Hertha Berlin has him in the conversation. The real question is whether he will play for the U.S. or Germany. That’s a question that may not be answered until the summer.
Missed the cut– Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Eric Lichaj, John Anthony Brooks, Brad Evans, Justin Morrow
MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi, Brek Shea, Josh Gatt, Landon Donovan
Outlook– Landon Donovan is back in the picture, and while he’s still a month away from soccer activities, he does sound like someone ready to get back into the mix. No other changes to the list but Joe Corona is climbing the charts as he gains more valuable experience with Club Tijuana, most recently starting in Copa Libertadores. Jose Torres is also boosting his stock by playing well for Mexican League leaders Tigres.
Missed the cut– Sacha Kljestan, Corona, Alejandro Bedoya, Stuart Holden, DaMarcus Beasley, Nick DeLeon, Jose Torres, Mix Diskerud, Kyle Beckerman,
FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez
Outlook– No changes to this group as Altidore and Boyd continue to score goals in Europe and Gomez continues to see regular playing time under Santos Laguna’s new manager (even if the goals aren’t coming as frequently as they used to). Eddie Johnson didn’t do too much against Honduras, but he’s primed for a big year in Seattle and should remain in the middle of the forward conversation for the USMNT.
Missed the cut– Juan Agudelo, Chris Wondolowski, Chris Pontius, Will Bruin.
What do you think of this group? Which player are you happy to see make our projected 23-man roster? Who didn’t make the squad that you think should have?
Share your thoughts below.