By IVES GALARCEP
With the final games of 2013 in the books for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Jurgen Klinsmann can sit down and assess the state of his player pool, which is in pretty good shape.
The forward and centerback positions appear to be pretty well-stocked, and the number of good wing options is as good as it has been in a long time. There are still some question marks about the options at fullback, and in central midfield, but there are candidates in the pool who are positioned to stake their claims.
The past few months were good for Aron Johannsson, who has gone from fringe option to a very strong contender for a starting role in Brazil, while Brad Evans continues to hold on to the starting right back role. We have even seen Brek Shea revive his chances of making the World Cup team. He is still on the outside looking in, but a promising display against Scotland, and his first EPL appearance of the season, has Shea suddenly looking like a possible long-shot option.
There aren’t many changes in the latest SBI 23 for 2014, with only one new name on the list. Here is our projected USMNT roster for the World Cup, as of November of 2013:
PROJECTED USMNT WORLD CUP 2014 ROSTER (November 2013)
(Changes from July in bold, new additions to the Missed the Cut list are in bold italics)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
Outlook– This trio stays the same yet again, with no signs of changing any time soon.
Missed the cut– Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Tally Hall
DEFENDERS– Fabian Johnson, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Evans, Eric Lichaj.
Outlook– Steve Cherundolo’s uncertain status, coupled with Lichaj’s recent call-up, gives Lichaj the edge in our projection. That could certainly change once Cherundolo returns to the lineup at Hannover. The rest of the defense remains the same, with John Brooks seeing his momentum halted by his inability to regain his starting job at Hertha Berlin.
Timmy Chandler remains on our missed the cut list despite the fact he continues to be left out of Klinsmann’s call-up because he’s still a very viable option.
Missed the cut– Steve Cherundolo, John Brooks, Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco, Michael Parkhurst, Timmy Chandler.
MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud
Outlook– This group remains the same, but Sacha Kljestan’s outstanding club form has him very close to this group, even though he didn’t exactly impress when given the chance to start. The reality is this group is strengthen its hold on these spots as players like Joe Corona, Jose Torres and Maurice Edu lose ground.
Brek Shea made his season Premier League debut for Stoke City on Saturday, an appearance that comes on the heels of an impressive sub’s appearance for the U.S. team. If he can keep finding minutes for Stoke, Shea still has to be considered a legitimate contender. Benny Feilhaber’s name is added to the Missed-the-cut list as his recent form in the playoffs for Sporting KC has him looking like someone who Klinsmann could use in a playmaker role.
Missed the cut– Sacha Kljestan, Joe Corona, Jose Torres, Brad Davis, Maurice Edu, Danny Williams, Brek Shea, Benny Feilhaber.
FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Terrence Boyd, Eddie Johnson
Outlook– Johannsson’s stock keeps on rising, and at this point it’s more of a question of whether he will start in the World Cup rather than whether he will be there. Terrence Boyd keeps on scoring for Rapid Vienna, while Jozy Altidore remains a key figure despite his struggle for playing time at Sunderland.
Eddie Johnson’s situation bears watching. He will be making a move to a new club this off-season, and how he fares in his new home will determine whether he sticks around. Chris Wondolowski remains a player Klinsmann likes, and the news that he spent several months playing with a broken bone in his foot certainly puts his recent performance into perspective. Juan Agudelo enjoyed a good run with New England, but will need a successful club move to force himself back into the picture. It will be tough considering how well the top contenders are doing.
Missed the cut– Chris Wondolowski, Juan Agudelo, Herculez Gomez.
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.