Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
With the June World Cup qualifiers in the rearview mirror, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup looming, it is time to take the laatest look at how the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2014 World Cup squad is shaping up a year before the tournament.
For one thing, the U.S. team’s recent run of victories makes it a lot easier to project a World Cup squad, because lets face it, I’m sure some of you were a little nervous about taking qualification for granted. Now, with the U.S. leading the HEX and rolling toward Brazil, there is little doubt at this point that the U.S. will book a place at the World Cup.
The June qualifiers didn’t actually do much to shake up the make-up of the projected World Cup squad. The reality is that the true revelations of June’s matches involved players who already factored into the squad. Jozy Altidore, Fabian Johnson and Matt Besler all had outstanding runs, but they were already clear-cut options to be on the World Cup team.
Some players on the fringes did well to improve their stock though, from Brad Evans to Brad Davis, while a player like Edgar Castillo saw his stock grow since our last projection April thanks to his stellar play in Copa Libertadores.
So how might a U.S. World Cup team look like at the moment? 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 (June 2013)
(Changes from April in bold, new additions to the Missed the Cut list are in bold italics)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
Outlook– Nothing has changed here and this seems the most likely trio if healthy. Unless Johnson or Hamid really turn it up over the next year, it seems more likely Klinsmann will bring Rimando along as a solid locker room guy.
Missed the cut– Sean Johnson, Hamid.
DEFENDERS– Fabian Johnson, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, DaMarcus Beasley, Steve Cherundolo, Timmy Chandler
Outlook– No changes to this group though Brad Evans did put himself on the radar after an admirable showing in June’s qualifiers. Given Chandler’s continued absence from the mix, it wouldn’t be all that shocking if he fell out of the picture altogether. For now, we’ll keep him on, but if he doesn’t feature in the August friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Evans might see his name on this list soon.
The centerback situation seems pretty set for now, but the Gold Cup should offer us a good sense of whether older options like Bocanegra and Onyewu have a chance to break back into the squad.
Edgar Castillo narrowly missed the cut here, and could definitely be included if Klinsmann decides Fabian Johnson will spend more time as a left winger.
Missed the cut– Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Brad Evans, Oguchi Onyewu, John Anthony Brooks, Justin Morrow.
MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Eddie Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan, Joe Corona, Stuart Holden
Outlook– The core of this group is pretty set after the recent qualifiers, but there is plenty of room for speculation on the tail-end of the group. Landon Donovan continues to project on the team even though Klinsmann left him out of the recent squad, and even though Brad Davis showed well in June.
Why Holden? Maybe it’s a wishful thinking projection, but he showed some glimpses in his recent cameos, and he should be given the chance to start in the Gold Cup next month. The same applies for Corona, who should be a starter on the Gold Cup squad.
Missed the cut– Sacha Kljestan, Danny Williams, Brad Davis, Brek Shea, Alejandro Bedoya, Jose Torres, Josh Gatt, Kyle Beckerman, Jose Villarreal, Mike Magee
FORWARDS– Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez
Outlook– Altidore’s outstanding June has to have Klinsmann feeling better about this group overall. Gomez didn’t feature in the recent matches, but he continues to be a top option. The same goes for the young Boyd, who we still see as a player with major upside.
This group could also be impacted by the Gold Cup, where McInerney and Bruin could have a chance to shine. Juan Agudelo was a surprise exclusion from the Gold Cup preliminary roster, but we still see him as a good potential option, especially if he keeps playing well for New England, and if he makes a successful move next winter.
Missed the cut– Juan Agudelo, Will Bruin, Jack McInerney, Chris Wondolowski,
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.