Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
With four points from two World Cup qualifiers, and with a handful of new faces stepping up to stake their claims to regular places on the U.S. Men’s National Team, the race for places on the 2014 U.S. World Cup team is looking like it will be a very competitive one.
DaMarcus Beasley and Matt Besler were the big winners in the last round of qualifiers, and while Besler was already a player we were projecting to make the U.S. World Cup squad in 2014, Beasley is someone who has successfully catapulted himself from the fringes of the conversation to right in the middle of it.
Here is the latest SBI projection for the 23 players we see on the 2014 U.S. World Cup roster (yes, assuming the U.S. qualifies):
PROJECTED USMNT WORLD CUP 2014 ROSTER (February 2013)
(Changes from December in bold, new additions to the Missed the Cut list are in bold italics)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson
Outlook– Brad Guzan put some serious distance between himself and the rest of the pack for the No. 2 goalkeeper spot, and is even drawing attention from those who feel he is ready to seriously challenge Tim Howard for the top spot. Sean Johnson remains the most likely No. 3 right now, though Bill Hamid has started the new season off in strong fashion.
Missed the cut– Nick Rimando, Hamid.
DEFENDERS– Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley, Steve Cherundolo
Outlook– Beasley has to be in the conversation after turning in two strong showings in qualifying, while Goodson’s effort against Costa Rica has him back in the mix. We already had Besler on the team last month, but that pick looks a lot better after his strong outing vs. Mexico. Clarence Goodson was on the outside looking in a month ago, but his showing against Costa Rica, and the fact he’s playing regularly for his club team, has his stock rising.
So how did Cherundolo get back in the mix despite still being sidelined by injury? With Cameron, Gonzalez, Besler and Goodson all looking like viable centerback options, Klinsmann could have the freedom to spend a roster spot on a veteran who is not only good enough to start when healthy, but who helps bring some experience and maturity to the locker room.
Missed the cut– Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Michael Parkhurst, Oguchi Onyewu, Eric Lichaj, John Anthony Brooks, Justin Morrow, Amobi Okugo.
MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi, Brek Shea, Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan
Outlook– No changes to the midfield grouping, with Zusi doing the most to boost his stock in the past month. Yes, Landon Donovan is still on the list despite not having played yet this year, but with his public proclamations about wanting to win back his spot on the national team it’s safe to say he will be in the national team mix again very soon.
Joe Corona didn’t make the cut, but his stock is rising faster than anybody else who didn’t feature in recent friendlies. It is going to be a very important summer for him, and he could be a starting fixture on the Gold Cup team. A strong summer, coupled with continued excellent play for Club Tijuana, can earn him a spot on the World Cup roster.
Missed the cut– Sacha Kljestan, Corona, Jose Torres, Josh Gatt, Kyle Beckerman, Stuart Holden, Alejandro Bedoya, Jose Villarreal.
FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez
Outlook– This quartet didn’t produce any goals in the recent qualifiers, but it is tough to see anyone breaking through this foursome just yet. For Gomez, his versatility and form on the club level has him fighting off the notion that he will be too old to make the 2014 team.
Look out for Juan Agudelo, who is enjoying a strong start to the 2013 MLS season with Chivas USA. He is another player who is in for a very important summer.
Missed the cut– Juan Agudelo, Chris Wondolowski, Chris Pontius, Will Bruin, Jack McInerney.
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.