Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
The month of April has been a relatively quiet one on the U.S. Men’s National Team front, with no matches on the schedule. What the month has been is a chance for players on the team, and on the radar, to try and strengthen their places heading into an extremely busy summer.
From Landon Donovan returning to action, and players like George John boosting their stock with outstanding play to start the MLS season, there is plenty for Jurgen Klinsmann to chew on as he formulates his depth chart and puts together his potential rosters for this summer’s World Cup qualifying and Gold Cup.
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 (April 2013)
(Changes from March in bold, new additions to the Missed the Cut list are in bold italics)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
Outlook– Tim Howard has returned from his back injury in strong fashion, returning to form and looking every bit like the U.S. No. 1 for a long time. The third goalkeeper spot continues to be a position in flux, and as much as one of the younger prospect look like a good bet, Nick Rimando’s form in April has been outstanding and reminded us just how strong a goalkeeper he is.
Missed the cut– Sean Johnson, Hamid.
DEFENDERS– Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley, Steve Cherundolo
Outlook– No changes to this group, but there are definitely some players gaining ground on the lead pack. George John is off to an outstanding start and looking like a real strong candidate for a summer call-up. Edgar Castillo is also on the fringes, and is the leading candidate to step in if Cherundolo or Beasley begin to fade.
Beasley isn’t showing signs of slowing down. He followed up his breakout March with a solid April with Mexican club Puebla. Cherundolo’s return to action has been positive and he looks ready to resume his key role for June’s qualifiers.
Missed the cut– Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, George John, Oguchi Onyewu, John Anthony Brooks, Justin Morrow, Amobi Okugo, Eric Lichaj,
MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi, Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan, Joe Corona
Outlook– Donovan is back and rounding into form, and if his time off really did help him recharge his batteries then it’s really difficult to see him not being part of the 2014 World Cup team.
Brek Shea has fallen off the squad, and his move to Stoke City has soured as he is no longer making the team’s game-day rosters. Whether it is foot injury issues, or him simply not being a part of the team’s plans, the fact that he isn’t playing makes it that much tougher to project him being a part of the World Cup mix.
That opens the door for Joe Corona, who is playing regularly for Club Tijuana and is a promising attacking player who could provide a good option off the bench.
One player quietly picking up some steam is Alejandro Bedoya. He is playing well in Sweden and could make his way into the Gold Cup mix. That’s still a few steps from a World Cup place, but he’s moving in the right direction.
Missed the cut– Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Jose Torres, Josh Gatt, Kyle Beckerman, Stuart Holden, Alejandro Bedoya, Jose Villarreal, Brad Davis, Mike Magee
FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez
Outlook– When we added Jack McInerney to our list of players who missed the cut last month, some folks considered it a bit premature, but as he continues to score goals he is starting to look like someone you have to have on the roster radar even though he is just 20.
Eddie Johnson has been hampered by injury, but we’re not ready to drop him just yet. He showed enough last year to give him some cushion, and it isn’t clear that there are other options ready to leapfrog past him just yet.
Altidore and Boyd keep on scoring and Gomez continues to play a key role for Santos so those three continue to look like locks.
Missed the cut– Juan Agudelo, Chris Wondolowski, 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.