By FRANCO PANIZO
There might be 22 players who will try to improve their standings with the U.S. Men’s National Team next week, but they are not the only ones attempting to make a deep final push for a spot on this summer’s World Cup squad.
Several foreign-based players on the fringes of the full U.S. roster will look to impress the ever watchful Jurgen Klinsmann with strong performances this weekend, including center back Oguchi Onyewu. The veteran defender has been playing well as of late for Sheffield Wednesday, and will look to extend his string of strong performances for the Owls when they face Watford on Saturday.
Juan Agudelo is in the same boat. Agudelo needs to piece together some strong outings for FC Utretcht and scoring goals would certainly do him no harm either in his quest to punch a ticket to Brazil. The 21-year-old forward should have a chance to do just that on Friday, as FC Utretch and NAC Breda lock horns.
John Brooks and Sacha Kljestan are two other players whose stocks could use a boost given how much competition they are facing for a place on the Americans’ 23-man roster. Brooks could earn a third straight start and chance to shine when Hertha Berlin takes on a tough Schalke side on Friday, and Kljestan will hope to turn in a good outing against Standard Liege on Sunday to help Anderlecht get off to a strong start in the Belgian playoffs.
Here is who the Americans Abroad take on this weekend:
John Brooks and Hertha Berlin play Schalke 04.
Alfredo Morales and FC Ingolstadt 04 play Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Juan Agudelo and FC Utrecht play NAC Breda.
Jermaine Jones and Besiktas play Karabukspor.
Conor O’Brien and Odense BK play SonderjyskE.
Josh Gatt, Ethan Horvath and Molde FK play Valerenga. (Gatt is out injured.)
Herculez Gomez, Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Guido, Fernando Arce Jr and Club Tijuana play Queretaro.
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa play Manchester United.
Cody Cropper and Southampton play Newcastle United.
Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Stoke City play Hull City.
Jonathan Spector, Will Packwood and Birmingham City play AFC Bournemouth.
Tim Ream, Stuart Holden and Bolton Wanderers play Wigan Athletic. (Holden is out injured.)
Zak Whitbread and Derby County play Charlton Athletic.
Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest play Ipswich Town. (Lichaj is out injured.)
Danny Williams and Reading play Duane Holmes and Huddersfield Town. (Williams is out injured.)
Oguchi Onyewu and Sheffield Wednesday play Watford.
Gboly Ariyibi and Tranmere Rovers play Carlisle United.
David Yelldell and Bayer Leverkusen play TSV Eintracht Braunschweig.
Fabian Johnson and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim play Bayern Munich.
Timmy Chandler and FC Nurnberg play SC Freiburg. (Chandler is out injured.)
Alejandro Bedoya and FC Nantes play Bordeaux.
Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna play SK Sturm Graz.
Mix Diskerud and Rosenborg BK play Viking.
Michael Farfan and Cruz Azul play Atlas.
Alonso Hernandez and Monterrey play Jonathan Bornstein and Atlante.
Jose Torres and Tigres UANL play Toluca.
Gabriel Farfan and Jaguares de Chiapas play Morelia.
Tim Howard and Everton play Fulham.
Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur play Liverpool.
Andrew Wooten and FSV Frankfurt play SC Paderborn 07.
Bobby Wood and TSV 1860 Munich play FC Cologne.
Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar play Cambuur Leeuwarden.
Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht play Standard Liege in the Pro League playoff.
Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg FF play Brondby IF.
Michael Stephens and Stabaek IF play Sogndal.
DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Orozco and Puebla play Club Leon.
Jozy Altidore and Sunderland play Sebastian Lletget and West Ham United.
Which of these matches are you most anticipating? Which players on the fringes do you think have the best chances of making the USMNT’s World Cup roster? Who has the toughest odds?
Share your thoughts below.