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SBI 23 for 2014: November 2013 Edition

Jozy Altidore


With the final games of 2013 in the books for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Jurgen Klinsmann can sit down and assess the state of his player pool, which is in pretty good shape.

The forward and centerback positions appear to be pretty well-stocked, and the number of good wing options is as good as it has been in a long time. There are still some question marks about the options at fullback, and in central midfield, but there are candidates in the pool who are positioned to stake their claims.

The past few months were good for Aron Johannsson, who has gone from fringe option to a very strong contender for a starting role in Brazil, while Brad Evans continues to hold on to the starting right back role. We have even seen Brek Shea revive his chances of making the World Cup team. He is still on the outside looking in, but a promising display against Scotland, and his first EPL appearance of the season, has Shea suddenly looking like a possible long-shot option.

There aren’t many changes in the latest SBI 23 for 2014, with only one new name on the list. Here is our projected USMNT roster for the World Cup, as of November of 2013:


(Changes from July in bold, new additions to the Missed the Cut list are in bold italics)

GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando

Outlook– This trio stays the same yet again, with no signs of changing any time soon.

Missed the cut– Sean Johnson, Bill  Hamid, Tally Hall


DEFENDERS– Fabian Johnson, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Evans, Eric Lichaj.

Outlook– Steve Cherundolo’s uncertain status, coupled with Lichaj’s recent call-up, gives Lichaj the edge in our projection. That could certainly change once Cherundolo returns to the lineup at Hannover. The rest of the defense remains the same, with John Brooks seeing his momentum halted by his inability to regain his starting job at Hertha Berlin.

Timmy Chandler remains on our missed the cut list despite the fact he continues to be left out of Klinsmann’s call-up because he’s still a very viable option.

Missed the cut– Steve Cherundolo, John Brooks, Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco, Michael Parkhurst, Timmy Chandler.


MIDFIELDERS– Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones,  Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud

Outlook– This group remains the same, but Sacha Kljestan’s outstanding club form has him very close to this group, even though he didn’t exactly impress when given the chance to start. The reality is this group is strengthen its hold on these spots as players like Joe Corona, Jose Torres and Maurice Edu lose ground.

Brek Shea made his season Premier League debut for Stoke City on Saturday, an appearance that comes on the heels of an impressive sub’s appearance for the U.S. team. If he can keep finding minutes for Stoke, Shea still has to be considered a legitimate contender. Benny Feilhaber’s name is added to the Missed-the-cut list as his recent form in the playoffs for Sporting KC has him looking like someone who Klinsmann could use in a playmaker role.

Missed the cut– Sacha Kljestan, Joe Corona, Jose Torres, Brad Davis, Maurice Edu, Danny Williams, Brek Shea, Benny Feilhaber.


FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Terrence Boyd, Eddie Johnson

Outlook– Johannsson’s stock keeps on rising, and at this point it’s more of a question of whether he will start in the World Cup rather than whether he will be there. Terrence Boyd keeps on scoring for Rapid Vienna, while Jozy Altidore remains a key figure despite his struggle for playing time at Sunderland.

Eddie Johnson’s situation bears watching. He will be making a move to a new club this off-season, and how he fares in his new home will determine whether he sticks around. Chris Wondolowski remains a player Klinsmann likes, and the news that he spent several months playing with a broken bone in his foot certainly puts his recent performance into perspective. Juan Agudelo enjoyed a good run with New England, but will need a successful club move to force himself back into the picture. It will be tough considering how well the top contenders are doing.

Missed the cut– Chris Wondolowski, Juan Agudelo, Herculez Gomez.


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.


  1. Ives, I think the problem we face is that the teams in Brazil will be too tough for the kind of lineup we put out in 2013 with Dempsey and Altidore playing up top with little defence or forward pace between them.

    Imagine these 4 forward against Spain or Brazil : aron–dempsey–jozy—donovan

    How will they help Evans and Fabian stop Hulk, Neymar, Marcelo and friends as they pour forward totally overwhelming the 6 players back for USA. Otoh, are Dempsey and Donovan still packing the same counterpunch they did 4 years previous (?) – I dont think so, and Slowzy Altidore’s best counter move always involved falling down and looking around for the ref. (Think USA v. Mexico at Azteca in the hex.)

    If Klinsmann has a plan to deal with these problems, he sure is playing his cards close to the vest.

    • Remind me again…does anybody in the world have a solution for this problem? Spain sure didn’t, in the Confederations Cup final.

      Playing Brazil – especially in Brazil – is going to be a nightmare for anybody.

      • I think Boyd makes sense to keep on the 23 just because he’s the only other hold-up player on the roster if Jozy gets hurt.

        I love Beckerman’s heart and grit but unfortunately I think he’d only be a turnstyle against the speed of the world powers. Klejstan makes more sense to me, but I understand the desire to have a more “destroyer” like player available.

        I also love Benny but he’s got even tougher competition to make this roster since I think he’s probably looking at Mix as his primary competition for a spot.

        I think Goodson is a steadying influence. I think it depends on how sold JK is that Cameron is his primary backup for the two CB positions whether or not Goodson goes.

        Fullback has the most intrigue. Hard to imagine that DMB, Evans and Castillo might all not make the squad, all of which may hang on the health/form of Dolo and Chandler. Lichaj has value in his versatility, even. This will be the most interesting.

        And don’t forget to save a spot for Stu! 😉

  2. Considering that the way the group draws are going to run, we might want to load up on defensive players since there are going to be 3-4 groups of death…

  3. would like to see LD paired up top with Jozy in some formation, AJ first off the bench with LD able to slide to many positions in midfield in various formations depending on the game. LD softens teams up with his runs and speed and smarts imo, and fresh legs AJ could really like that

    Coach likes the 4 2 3 1 a lot tho, we know this. really need the right pieces to make it work. Jozy is getting better at some aspects that role for him requires from that formation, but we need superior flank play to make it click and the MB/JJ pairing, whatever formation, has got to find its proper and most effective balance

    Dolo would be a good fit to 4 2 3 1 if somehow he was fit next summer but can’t think of him as a true option at this point unfortunately. would be great if he was in great from by summertime. Evans has been the surprise of the cycle so far tho for me, got to give him credit

    • I agree. With Dempsey and Donovan on the roster, I seriously doubt we take more than three strikers. Best guess is Klinsmann sticks to his 4-5-1 and puts Deuce in the hole behind Jozy, with FJ on the left (I think JK regards him as our starting left wing, not a defender) and LD on the right, and if somebody needs to come off it’ll likely be Jozy getting subbed out for Johanssen, and most likely with EJ there for cover. No point in carrying a fourth dedicated striker when you’re looking at a 4-5-1.

      I actually think that ends up creating a spot he’ll use for Brek Shea. Shea is unpredictable and certainly not a starter…but he can turn a game as a final-20-minutes sort of sub…get Shea on the ball and let him run at tired defenders and he can be a handful when he’s on. (Or he can be a complete headcase. Flip a coin.) But Shea has shown in the past he can be a wild card; Boyd hasn’t shown much except that he’s got a lot of potential but isn’t quite there yet and right now I’d rate EJ over Boyd.

      I’d also personally rather see Clarence Goodsen, at this juncture, than John Anthony Brooks. Goodsen has paid his dues and was money for us at the Gold Cup and is an older, more mature defender…JAB, in my opinion, is a guy for the future.

      I also do think the versatility of Geoff Cameron (CDM, CB, RB) and Fabian Johnson (LW, LB) means there could well only be 7 defenders carried on the roster.

      Does look like, by far, the best team we’ve ever taken to the World Cup. ‘Course…we’re gonna need it, the way the groups look like they’re going to be drawn….

  4. Or even Shea, for that matter. Hasn’t looked great, but brings something as a sub that JK seems to like. Every Nordic needs a good berserker.

  5. Look about right. My main argument would be that Boyd is surplus to requirements in this group, given that Dempsey and Donovan are probably better described as forwards at this point in their careers. Would expect Kljestan to take his spot, given JK’s preference for midfield subs/flexibility.

    • He wouldn’t get a single cross off because he’s so slow in movement and thought. But most would get deflected out for corners and people who don’t know what’s going on would cheer as if creating a 5% chance of a goal out of a 25% chance is something to be happy about…

    • He was one of the better US players in WC2010, and he’s been great in the MLS playoffs… hopefully Klinsmann understands that he is a good option off the bench and is a “tournament player” even if he’s no Kljestan with his club team.

      • and a player with a skillset that fits a role still needed and who is proven for the USMNT. would like to see him get his chance and see what happens in January, sink or swim. I think Benny likes those situations

  6. My question is about Timmy Chandler. I see Right Back as the most unsettled position. Brad Evans, MAYBE. But if we start Brad Evans, then we really need a backup in case the first game in the World Cup doesn’t go well. Sure, it’d be great if Cherundolo was back and at his best form, but that is pretty much a lot of hoping and wishing right now. I haven’t seen Chandler play, but I’ve read reports that he’s playing well–despite the fact that his team is in relegation and is leaking a lot of goals. I’m a big believer in judging a player based on team performance (not everyone will agree with that). I tend to believe that Klinsmann is not calling in Chandler mostly because of his play. Has anyone here watched him regularly?

  7. No need for four forwards when Donovan and Dempsey can play there, also since Jürgen often goes with a 4-2-3-1. Jozy, AJ, and EJ will do for now. Replace Boyd with Kljestan. Also JAB over Evans or Goodson. If I had to pick I’d leave Goodson off. No need for 5 CB candidates.

    However, this all moot. I know someone will make a late charge, like Agudelo or Shea. Perhaps Cherundolo or Chandler. Maybe even a dual national who comes out of nowhere.

  8. I really want to see Herculez Gomez on the field in the World Cup. Maybe it’s just frustration left over from 2010 – I still feel like one of the bigger coaching errors that year was not starting him or getting him more minutes. But he’s a super-classy player who is able to make it happen when it counts. He can score big goals and he isn’t shaken by facing up to high caliber defenders.

    • Alot of people have kind of forgotten how huge that free kick against Jamaica was. Coming off a loss, we only get a daw at home there, we were some trouble and maybe don’t even make it to the Hex.

  9. ——–Altidore—Johannsson

    6 days until the draw

  10. Scary that we’re about 6 months away and we still haven’t settled on a starting CB combo…and Evans and Beas are still in the mix to start at RB and LB. I still have to believe that Beas will not be a WC starter.

    I don’t think we have as much depth as we think. We’re still very thin with respect to true impact players that can make a difference against WC competition.

    Still, JK seems to come up with the goods when he needs to…I always have the impression that nobody will see anything close to full performance until he absolutely needs to show it. I have to tell myself that, it makes me feel better.

  11. – Brooks will make it..he’s been injured so he hasn’t really ‘lost’ his starting spot due to poor play…in fact Langkamp, his replacement, has been playing pretty awful so Brooks will have a good shot at gaining that spot back heading into winter break
    – Chandler has the talent to be starting but other factors (whatever they may be) leave him with a 50/50 shot on the roster
    – I think Shea can still nudge out Beckermen or Klejstan
    – Agudelo will beat out Boyd

    • Still alot of time for both Agudelo and Boyd but at the moment Boyd already has 7 goals in 13 matches(3 in Europa). While Agudelo had 7 all last season. Boyd I think also has a greater work rate and hold up play that Klinsmann likes. Not saying Agudelo can’t make a move and get hot somewhere but I just think he has some work to do to pass Boyd still.

      • How does Agudelo have work to do to pas Boyd? How many has Boyd scored for USMNT or even the u-23 team? Those who think the Austrian league is better than the MLS are out of their mind. Not sure how Boyd somehow got an automatic spot on this team.

      • Both have 2 goals at the U-23 level. I don’t know how you’d go about comparing the Austrian league and MLS honestly. 7 goals in 13 matches is still a good rate in any league and some of those are in Europa.

  12. Knowing EJ, he’ll thankfully play his way out of this 23. He’s too full of himself at the moment. That drive to prove himself is over after this season. I fully expect him to relax on the accelerator.

    I think this is the season Dempsey permanently moves to the forward group. He’s not a winger anymore and there’s a lot of pressure from players to play in the “hole” which up until his move to Seattle, was his alone.

    Brooks will earn back his starting role once he’s fully fit. Goodson is now the CB out, looking in.

    I know Chandler screwed us over, but we need him. I’d “punish” him by testing his nerve and inviting him to Camp Cupcake for a week of light training. Make him show his commitment, make him come with his tail between his legs, and teach him the system again.

    I think Jozy finds his way into a starting role at Sunderland once more midfield support is brought in in January. Jozy is a luxury striker for a relegation-chasing team. Like a Berbatov or Klose, he won’t do much without the ball near him. Fletcher is a poorer striker, but he’ll chase everything for 90 and that attitude will create goals even when the ball isn’t played directly to him.

  13. I think it’ll be interesting to see if Boyd or Johansson take a chance and try to make a move in the transfer window. Both have had rumors around them recently and if they get time at a higher level could push Altidore.
    Kljestan is anouther one who I could see taking a chance on a move if he isn’t sure that he’s done enough for Klinsmann yet. He’s said he has had offers from top 4 leagues but stayed for Champions league, which they are out of now. Finishing his year in stronger league could help make sure he’s in Brazil.

  14. There’s no way that group of 4 forwards makes the final 23.
    It will be 3 of these 4, either Boyd or EJ doesn’t make it.
    Book it.
    EJ can’t play on the wing-period. Just because he’s played there some was only because of the available players. Boyd may be having a good year, but he’ll never see the field with this team.
    An extra midfielder will make it, most likely Sasha.
    And I’m not convinced he brings in Lichaj or Castillo.. With the flexibility of Cam and Fabian, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another extra midfielder… probably Shea.
    I think the only way we see 8 defenders is if Dolo is healthy enough to start…. not just play, but start

      • No one said Dempsey sucks, but do you honestly have him in your starting eleven right now? One goal in twelve games with Seattle (if I have my numbers right), and he’s been a non-factor with the national team for the past few months. Aside from not producing, he straight up hasn’t looked good since moving to Seattle. I’m not saying he won’t regain his form by next summer (and I certainly hope he does!), but he’s far from a guaranteed starter right now.

      • Dempsey use to always take the far post run, if you go back a good number of his goals come from there. Since becoming captain he’s put it on himself to make the near post runs more and the goals haven’t come as easy. It has allowed others to score a few times though. Diskerud, Kljestan and Johansson have been given a shot and didn’t really make it there spot. So I still think Dempsey still starts if the World Cup was tomorrow.

      • His form has dipped notably since he joined the Sounders. I think he didn’t realize how much the pressure of the EPL lifted his game, and the expectations on adjusting to not only being expected to score, but to lead a completely unfamilar squad, as well as being a huge marketing blitz… some players just perform better with a chip on their shoulder, Deuce is definitely one of them.

        He’s still a starter for the Nats, though. AJ and Jozy haven’t been the most compatible on the field- at this point, it’s one or the other and a second striker- Deuce is the best we have. I like Mix a lot, but not to start. He’s a great creative off the bench option when the team wants to go for it late in the match.

        And honestly, don’t get the Bedoya over Zusi at this point. Zusi has been incredibly clutch for the US since his assist to Jozy in against Germany- he’s got some impressive, important stats in important games. Bedoya played about as well as Corona in the Gold Cup.

    • Need a defensive midfielder, especially in front of that back line. I’d have Dempsey and Jones instead of Mix and Bedoya, otherwise this lineup looks good to me.

  15. Although I hate to say it, the Altidore situation is turning out to be as bad as some people had worried. While it seems the coach is okay with him and it isn’t all his fault, he is still having a cruddy season before the World Cup.

    • We are still so far from where we should worry about anything. I mean why single him out when Bradley is coming in and playing right back for 10 minutes at Roma. Bedoya is in and out of line ups and the other half of the roster is on vacation anyway. April is about when we should start looking at everyones situation form.

      • April is way too late.

        And Roma is loaded and 2nd in the league in Italy. Sunderland, not so much. Add in how much Sunderland spent to get him, and things are clearly not going to plan so far. That could still change of course, but his situation is clearly worse than Bradley’s.

      • Should we hope for a loan come January for Jozy? Or just stay and fight? He needs playing time to keep confidence up. Having said that he does still have a Dec (and into next year) to turn things around at Sunderland.

      • There is a big difference between your examples and Jozy….The others you mentioned are playing well while Jozy is not doing as well as one expect him to do.

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