By IVES GALARCEP
The first month of the new year has nearly flown by, and as we prepare for the first U.S. Men’s National Team match of 2014, there has been little true movement on USMNT depth chart in recent months.
There are players struggling, like Jozy Altidore, and players dealing with injuries, like Fabian Johnson and his broken hand, but the actual projected 23-man U.S. roster for the World Cup hasn’t really changed much since November, when we last revisited the SBI USMNT 23 for 2014.
Is anyone really gaining ground on the established pack? There are some players who have improved their circumstances, such as Juan Agudelo and Oguchi Onyewu, but no player has emerged from the winter to stake a serious claim to a roster spot. Tim Chandler continues to work his way back into Jurgen Klinsmann’s consideration, and Herculez Gomez has benefited from the coaching change at Club Tijuana. Being healthy for the first time in eight months is also helping Gomez.
Not every U.S. pool player has seen their stock rise in recent months. John Brooks has seen a handful of injuries limit his action in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin, while Steve Cherundolo is continuing to battle knee issues that are making a miracle run at a World Cup roster spot seem less and less likely.
So what does the projected U.S. World Cup roster look like right now? Here is the latest projection of the USMNT 23 for 2014:
PROJECTED USMNT WORLD CUP 2014 ROSTER (January 2014)
(Changes from November 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, Michael Parkhurst.
Outlook– Parkhurst’s move to MLS sets him up for a charge at a spot on the squad, while Chandler’s recent impressive form for Nuremberg has him gaining steam. The unsettled left back situation makes Chandler an even more appealing option for Klinsmann.
Brooks has seen injuries really curtail his first season in the German Bundesliga, while Oguchi Onyewu has made his way onto the radar after moving to Sheffield Wednesday and quickly establishing himself as a starter. Edgar Castillo continues to start for Club Tijuana, and can’t be forgotten as a left back option, even though he remains a questionable defender. Eric Lichaj drops off the latest roster in favor of Parkhurst, but if he continues to play well for Nottingham Forest, he will keep putting pressure on the other fullbacks ahead of him.
Missed the cut– Eric Lichaj, Timmy Chandler, Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, John Brooks.
MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud
Outlook– Not much has changed on this front except for the addresses of some of the candidates. Bradley’s move to Toronto FC doesn’t change his position as the best midfielder in the bunch, while Maurice Edu could push himself into the race with an impressive turn with the Philadelphia Union.
Sacha Kljestan’s candidacy has lost a bit of steam as he struggles for consistent starts at Anderlecht. Joe Corona has been in and out of the lineup under new Club Tijuana head coach Cesar Farias, while Brek Shea helped his stock stabilize thanks to a successful short loan to Barnsley.
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– This group stays the same, though Altidore’s place as the first name on the list could be in jeopardy given his shaky form for Sunderland. Johannsson and Boyd keep on scoring while Johnson will be under pressure to score for D.C. United. Especially given the fact Juan Agudelo has settled into the Dutch Eredivisie, and Herculez Gomez has become a regular starter for Club Tijuana.
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.