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U.S. Men's National Team

A closer look at the USMNT depth chart: Forwards

Jozy Altidore

photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Only a few weeks remain before U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his preliminary World Cup roster, and one position where places are still up for grabs is forward.

Klinsmann has what could be the deepest (though not necessarily the most talented) pool of forwards in U.S. history, and that will make for some tough decisions ahead of this summer’s trip to Brazil. How many forwards Klinsmann brings will likely depend on how he views other positions, like central midfield and centerback, but it is unlikely that any scenario ends with him not cutting at least one talented player.

From Jozy Altidore to Eddie Johnson to Chris Wondolowski and more, each of the U.S. forwards that are realistic options for the World Cup provide different qualities. That is why Klinsmann will need to think long and hard about who he takes to Brazil as the Americans try and advance from a tough Group G.

Here is a closer look at the forward options Klinsmann currently has at his disposal and will have to sift through next month:

JOZY ALTIDORE

Might not be enjoying his best run of form, but Altidore is still the forward of the bunch that possesses the best combination of size, skill and World Cup experience. There is no denying that the 24-year-old veteran has had his share of struggles at Sunderland, but he has shown in the past that he can score in bunches when fed with steady service. He did it in large stretches in 2013 for the U.S., something Klinsmann should try and address ahead of this summer’s World Cup and something that seems to be forgotten far too often these days.

ARON JOHANNSSON

The 23-year-old Johannsson’s red-hot season at AZ Alkmaar has cooled off a bit as of late. He has scored just one goal in his last nine matches across all competitions and failed to convert on a couple of penalty kick opportunities. Still, he is a dynamic option that is good on the dribble and can create his own shot, making him a safe bet to be on the plane to Brazil.

EDDIE JOHNSON

The veteran striker has not found his footing just yet at D.C. United, but his versatility, speed and athleticism make him a player on the bubble that Klinsmann will have to think long and hard about. The 30-year-old Johnson might not have a proven track record of scoring against the more elite teams at the international level, but the physical tools that he provides might make him too good of an option for Klinsmann to pass up on given that the U.S. will face far from diminutive teams in Ghana, Germany and Portugal in June.

CHRIS WONDLOWSKI

This is the one forward who has been raising his stock in recent months. Ever since opening his scoring account with the U.S. at last summer’s Gold Cup, Wondolowski has continued to find the back of the net with regularity in his handful of starts under Klinsmann. He has not lit up MLS defenses this season, but the 31-year-old forward’s knack for being in the right place at the right time could see him book a ticket to his first World Cup.

TERRENCE BOYD

Boyd scored twice this past weekend and that performance for Rapid Vienna served as a reminder as to why Klinsmann has continuously brought the 23-year-old Boyd into camps, even if he has not earned all that much playing time. Boyd has to round out his game outside of the penalty area a bit more, but his nose for goal, size and promising potential make him an interesting depth option that Klinsmann will likely give plenty of consideration to.

JUAN AGUDELO

The darkhorse of the bunch, Agudelo is seeing the field regularly with FC Utrecht. The 21-year-old striker scored last week to end a two-month scoring drought, and that combined with his potential and skill could see Klinsmann –  who thinks big picture constantly and is big on grooming young players – take Agudelo to the World Cup so as to give him experience at being at a tournament like this.

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What do you think of the USMNT’s current pool of forwards? Which players do you think will be taken to Brazil? Who should start at the World Cup? Why?

Share your thoughts below.

338 comments
    • John

      Goal totals from there last 10 matches, (any competition)

      Boyd- 6
      Wondo- 5
      Agudelo-2
      Aron- 1
      Altidore- 0
      EJ- 0

      Like

  • BryanTheChamp

    ALTIDORE, EDDIE JOHNSON, & WONDO SHOULD BE THE THREE TO BE ON WORLD CUP SQUAD.

    Like

  • Patrick2

    Altidore may not me scoring goals left and right….but funny thing about Altidore’s game….even when he isn’t scoring goals he finds ways to help his team win. The two most memorable wins for Sunderland this year in the regular season were arguably the last Newcastle and Chelsea games. Funny how Altidore was instrumental in those. At the end of the day Altidore has played well with the USMNT…Dempsey in particular seems to benefit from him, and his USMNT teammates still remember how he helped level a pretty decent Bosnia team when he got good service.

    If he does well in the warm-up games, he will start.

    Personally? I’d start him and Boyd up top with orders to physical, and win freekicks. After 70 minutes of dealing with those two big boys, I’d bring them both out, for AJ and a midfielder, pushing Clint up top. Those would be some tiered defenders dealing with two crafty strikers.

    Like

  • MikeV

    I hear many who think Wondo is not good at this level because he couldn’t score in his early MNT games. What they don’t recognize is that the team did not play a style suited for his game as a poacher. JK now has the team playing an attacking rather than a counter attack style which is why Wondo has lit it up in his last 10 or so games. I for one think Wondo will do well in the WC as a sub.

    Like

      • MikeV

        Same reason Jozy had such a long scoring drought for the US. Then suddenly he became a scoring machine for the team. As the team learned to play how JK wanted, the goals began to come.

        Like

      • MikeV

        more service, equals more goals. A poacher will flourish in that environment.

        Like

    • Brett

      Wondo will not press against Germany or Portugal, but his movement would be useful against Ghana. We will need physical superiority to compete with Germany and Portugal.

      Like

      • MikeV

        That’s why I have Boyd coming with Wondo as a sub. Lets not forget that Wondo plays against some big boys in the MLS. Not saying MLS defenders are world class such as those from Germany, but he has done well over the past years against more physical players.

        Like

      • Brett

        It’s not about meeting size with size. It’s whether or not Wondo’s movement alone can break down a defense. Germany and Portugal are more organized and so probably would have no trouble tracking Wondo in the box. He’s not going to out leap or out muscle or out run them, so if he can’t out wit them he shouldn’t be on the field at all.

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      • MikeV

        Your right about size vs size. His movement may not get him a goal, but it would definitely create opportunities for others who may get open because he would have to be accounted for by the defense. You have to look at the whole picture, not just the limitations of a player.

        Like

  • MikeV

    I would go with 4 strikers, Jozy to start if alone up top, with Aron in a 4-4-2. Boyd as a back-up to Jozy, and Wondo as a sub. EJ just misses the cut and Aguadelo also.

    Like

  • MikeV

    —————————Jozy
    Dempsey———————————Donovan
    Aj——————-Bradley——————–Jones
    FJ————Beasler——OG———Chandler

    That’s a line-up I would like to see in a 4-3-3. Dempsey would pinch in while Aj would be free to occupy the left flank as FJ would be behind him. Jones would be DCM role and would free Bradley up to join the attack when possible.

    Like

    • Brett

      Johansson isn’t a midfielder. If you want him on the field move him up top and change to a 4-4-2 with Dempsey and Donovan on the flanks. Those guys are far more versatile than AJ.

      Like

      • MikeV

        He played on the left for JK in one of the friendlies, He did just fine. From the left he has the skill to take on defenders and create chances for himself or others.

        Like

      • Brett

        His ability isn’t best utilized there. That’s my point.

        Like

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