Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
We are just two weeks away from Jurgen Klinsmann submitting the 30-player preliminary U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup roster, and a month away from knowing which 23 players he plans on taking to Brazil.
Yes folks, it’s coming right down to the wire, and with each passing day it’s becoming more and more clear just how difficult a task Klinsmann will have in selecting his final 23-player roster.
We have discussed for some time how this is the deepest player pool in USMNT history, but that reality is coming into focus the closer we get to the pre-World Cup training camp. There are going to be quality players who don’t even make it to that camp, let alone the World Cup team.
So who do we have making the 23-player roster at the moment? Here is the projected U.S. World Cup roster we see Klinsmann taking to Brazil:
PROJECTED USMNT WORLD CUP 2014 ROSTER (April 2014)
(Changes from January in bold, new additions to the Missed the Cut list are in bold italics)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
Outlook– This list hasn’t budged in months.
Missed the cut– Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Tally Hall
DEFENDERS– Fabian Johnson, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Evans, John Brooks
Outlook– Brooks and Tim Ream are battling out for the fourth centerback spot, while you can argue there is a three-way battle between Evans, Timmy Chandler and Michael Parkhurst for the fourth fullback spot. Chandler and Parkhurst have the advantage of being able to play both fullback positions. Couple that with Evans’ recent injury issues and his poor national team form in the past few months, and Evans could very well wind up not making the World Cup team.
The centerback competition seems a bit more clear cut. Two months ago Michael Orozco seemed a very real possibility to make the training camp roster, and a chance at the final 23-man roster, but Ream and Brooks have really come on strong. Right now I will give Brooks the edge, though I would personally take Ream over Brooks because of his versatility and superior passing ability.
Missed the cut– Tim Ream, Timmy Chandler, Michael Parkhurst, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco, Edgar Castillo, Will Packwood, Tony Beltran, DeAndre Yedlin
MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Julian Green
Outlook– There are some very difficult choices in this group, and it gets even more complicated when you factor in Green, who seems a very good bet to be included in the final 23-man roster.
Diskerud has not been a lock-down starter at Rosenborg early in their season, and could absolutely be the odd man out in central midfield. Especially with Klinsmann showing a willingness to use Bradley in a more attack-minded role. That leaves Dempsey, Bradley and Donovan as attacking central midfield option at his disposal, which suddenly means Diskerud isn’t needed as much.
Maurice Edu is knocking on the door to make the squad, but who does he replace? Beckerman seems firmly entrenched, and the rest of these midfielders are set in stone. Edu’s best bet would be if Klinsmann decided to bring one fewer defender (in theory, Klinsmann could bring three natural central defenders and bring Edu as an emergency option).
Joe Corona has finished the Clausura season well for Club Tijuana, but he will be hard-pressed to make the final World Cup roster.
Danny Williams had been in the mix before knee issues started to cost him playing time at Reading.
Missed the cut– Maurice Edu, Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Danny Williams, Brad Davis, Luis Gil, Brek Shea, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan
FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Terrence Boyd, Chris Wondolowski
Outlook– Wondolowski gets the nod over Johnson based on form, and a hamstring injury for Johnson this past weekend doesn’t help matters. Johnson could theoretically challenge Boyd for his spot as well, but Boyd’s recent hot streak makes him look like a safer bet to make it to Brazil, even if he’s not exactly a lock.
Missed the cut– Eddie Johnson, Juan Agudelo, Herculez Gomez, Mike Magee.
What team would I bring to Brazil? The changes I would make to the above group are replacing Brooks, Evans and Green with Ream, Chandler and Edu. I haven’t seen enough of Green to feel comfortable handing him a spot, and if he does show enough in the camp to merit a spot, then I would probably swap out 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.