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A look back at USMNT players who saw their stock rise, or fall, in 2013

USMNT starting eleven


With the calendar year coming to a close, and the U.S. Men’s National team done for the year, it is a good time to look back at the players who boosted their national team stock the most, and those who saw their USMNT stock tumble.

My latest column for takes a closer look at those players who made the most of opportunities provided by Jurgen Klinsmann in 2013, and when you look at the players I name at every position, you see just how many of the team’s current starters weren’t even on the radar in 2012.

I also look at those players who have fallen out of favor with the national team, either fading out of the picture completely or failing to make progress during an important year.

Give the article a read and let me know what you think of the selections. Which USMNT players impressed you the most with their rapid rises in 2013? Anybody really surprise you with how well they did this year? What player who fell out of the national team picture surprised you the most with their fall?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I don’t think Agudelo’s stock has dropped. More like it is holding. He got called up to the team very young, and then had some injury issues in 2012. But, I think most in U.S. Soccer still view him as a significant player in the 2018 cycle.

    • I think his stock has dropped. It’s true that he is still a good player, but his ceiling has come down from where it once was. People no longer expect as much of him, and he’s not viewed as well as he was.

  2. Jozy/Aron up top, probably in the lone striker spot, EJ as the third option or late speedy substitute.
    then our rag tag bunch of wingers, central mids and central defenders
    Landon, Clint, Bradley, Jermain, Fabian, Zusi, and probably Bedoya/Mix
    for the backline, we are looking at the following
    Beasley, Besler, Omar, Cameron, Goodson, and probably Brad Evans or even Timmy Chandler/ ‘Dolo

    right now, I can’t really see anyone else getting playing time in Brazil from the group listed above…the flexibility of Fabian, Cameron and Beasley to play attacking defense from both midfield and the backline will play a huge factor

  3. All this Talk of Shea and Adu. I’ll add my two cents, Shea, plays a good Joker role. A sub who can be a game changer over the final 15-30 minutes. He is a handful, particularly late in a match, when he is fresh and the defense is not. Sure we don’t always know what we’re going to get out of Shea, but he has almost always played hard and with impact more often then not when wearing the shirt. Adu, I wish we could have a real last look at him with a quality side and with new tactics etc.. last gold cup could have been it, but who knows?.
    Beckerman is solid and has the form and style one desires out of his position however he just lacks the overall talent, physical speed and strength to truly be considered a quality international. In closing I would say that JGreen, possesses all the positive attributes of Adu, and Shea, furthermore including JG in camp, possibly considered for a provisional WC roster spot #23,
    would be unprecedented for the USMNT.
    only the Brazil’s, England’s, Italy’s, and Germany’s of the world do this.
    I’ll take the guy sitting on the bench for the best pro soccer team on the planet please.

    Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

  4. I realize that this is aimed at players and how they rose or fell off their national team performances. However, I just want to add that Cameron has been playing so well at Stoke the last few months and he finally played RB in the last US friendly, his usual position, so his stock must be rising.

  5. Ives, love the site and everything you do for the game in this country, but you’ve got to get a decent editor or start proofreading your own work more closely. The amount of typos in that article should be embarrassing for a professional writer. No malice intended but it truly diminishes my appreciation for what is otherwise excellent content.

  6. Zusi should be starting on either the right or left Mid. There were stretches of 2013 where he was arguably the 2nd or 3rd best player overall on the pitch for USA. Will be interesting to watch his progression in 2014.

    • Nope. Don’t see it. In fact, he might have had a slight stock drop with Donovan’s reemergence and Bedoya’s play. He’s a nice player, but you post is a substantial overstatement.

  7. Would really love to see Besler, Goonzo and Zusi take a shot in Europe, but might not be a great idea in WC year. Beast and Zusi have been biggest surprise risers, I think, but how much better can they get? Have they sort of topped out or will they make another big leap in class next year?

  8. Ives, thanks for posting this here and not having to endure the tire fire of posts on

    The biggest risers for me are Evans and Beasley. Two dudes out of position with suspect attributes for our WC draw. Evans lacks defensive instincts and lacks recovery wheels but has great vision and touch on passes. Again Beasley lacks defensive instincts of a back but he is good going forward and interchanges well with wingers. However, his physical attributes limit him against world class Euro competition.

    JK obviously wants players who can interchange positions but most of all wants too create dexterity and competition at all positions. JK is willing to tinker with his lineup looking for his best. So far EJ is not a winger, Beckerman game is too slow beyond MLS, Evans and Beasley see above.

    Kljestan, should be one on the rise!

      • I’ve felt the same way for awhile, but maybe Kljestan just doesn’t offer enough creativity to be placed alongside Bradley. He is always looking to get rid of the ball to keep possession, rarely is he looking to make a threatening pass or run to challenge the opposition. Bradely is the metronome, Kljestan plays that same role at Anderlecht. You only need one of those in the lineup. Look at Gerard and Lampard, they never quite work right as they both play that same role.

    • Evans’ stock may be on the rise but wouldn’t you rather have a healthy Dolo or Cameron starting at RB? I am not sure he should be on the roster if Stevie finds his form. I like Parkhurst better in that spot too. Dude needs to play!

    • have to agree with your post. Interestingly both Evans and Beasley also appear to me to be the least likely to start in Brazil at those positions but still make the team. Beckerman’s a good Concacaf midfielder, could see him in a contributor’s role in Brazil depending on matchups/situation. keeps improving seems to me, steps up to opportunities, hyper responsible, crazy work rate

  9. While I don’t think his stock in the team is any different I think Fabian’s stock as a left midfielder went up this year. I feel like most of Zusi’s success came from his play on the right as well and don’t see him as a real option on the left.

    • We seem to have a better team with Zusi on the right over Bedoya. But both are playing really well, should be an interesting fight going into Brazil.

    • Am I the only one who doesn’t get Zusi? The guy was the definition of inconsistency. He played a couple of decent balls, but disappeared for huge stretches. To me, he’s like this year’s version of all the Robbie Rogers debate a few years back.

      • I think you could say that about every US player in a wide role. All of Landon’s success has really come from playing more under the striker. Bedoya hasn’t really done as well in the first team as he did during the Gold Cup. EJ, Brad Daivs, and Corona, have had mixed results. When you compare him to the rest of the feild, Zusi has done as well as anyone really.

      • John and SJ,

        None of the guys mentioned by the two of you are what would be called “natural winger”s, except for Robbie Rogers.

        By natural winger I mean a guy like Navas of Man City. Landon comes the closest.

      • Good point, our true wingers are Fabian, Shea, Beasley…. in fact we really don’t have a true right winger.. LD the closest…

        As far as the comment regarding Zusi, he looks inconsistent usually because he’s just not very fast. The times when he seems to disappear look at the competition… He gives 100%, but against fast or strong teams I think he’s just not up to it

      • I think you are right about Zusi he shows flashes but it is that inconsistency that will keep Landon ahead of him for Brazil. I think Klinsi is trying to figure out a way to maximize them both and get his substitution patterns right. I think this is Landon’s last rodeo though.

    • good catch. I think Ives put him there so he can write about him. Zusi is fighting with Bedoya, would JK take both? time will tell, so far, my vote is with Bedoya.

  10. Good article and thanks for the link. I try to go to on my own and that homepage is so busy, I can never find what I’m looking for.

    Interesting, there was no mention of Joe Carona. Seems like his stock went both up and down in the calendar year.

  11. i don’t really understand the Castillo one. i feel like he’s in the exact same spot he has always been. which is a back up. good list otherwise.

    • His short comings were finally exposed this year. All of the US soccer community calling for him to play has stopped. We know he can’t defend now. Previously we weren’t sure. Eric Lichaj is kind of the new Castillo. Everyone wants to see him play, once they do though, they won’t be thrilled.

  12. My theory is that Boca was the source for much of the quotes in the infamous Sporting News story and the Klinsi found out. Yes, he is unlikely to make the23 even if in favor but a vet like him not even getting into camp? Something is up there…

    • Mr. Traubert,

      Are you convinced that Boca is still good enough to play for the USMNT? Good enough for the World Cup? I have not seen him at Chivas so I don’t know. Then again if he was spectacular there, you would have thought that would have drawn everyone’s attention.

      Conspiracies are fun but Boca was pretty iffy once he left Rangers and strolling around with Chivas does not seem like ideal World Cup prep.

      If you bring him in then you cut the playing time and stunt the development of Besler who I see as his replacement.

      So do you want to find out that Boca is just not good enough anymore or do you want to find out if Besler can, under pressure, make the leap? There is only so much time left.

    • Actually, the article came out after he got benched, and it was the main thing that upset the mole(s). I really doubt Bocanegra would be the type of guy to do such a thing. This is Captain America we’re talking about here. As far as why he got benched, realistically he wasn’t going to on the plane to Brazil. We needed to move on and figure out which CB combination would work best (we still haven’t) and while perhaps Klinsmann did it too abruptly, no tears were shed and Carlos seemed to take it very professionally. He understands the situation.

      • I certainly wasn’t implying that Boca is anything but a stand up guy, or that he is deserving of a spot to Brazil. Only that his veteran presence might be useful in camp and I wonder why he is never called. But somebody (or bodies) said those things and no way a guy like Klinsi keeps anyone around if he knew they were the one (OK, maybe if it’s Bradley!). But we all bitch about the boss in those weak moments…just idle speculation.

      • Mr. T,

        Whoever spoke to Strauss did so at length. It was more than a weak moment.

        Maybe it was Boca but that is irrelevant. The question is do you believe he can still play for the USMNT in the World Cup?
        What did he do at Chivas to convince you? And if he is not up to it then why do you want him around?

        Besler is the new Boca now and he needs to take that role over, on and off the field, ASAP. Unless Boca is a coach I don’t want him around if he can’t play better than Besler or Gonzo or Clay or Brooks or Cameron.

  13. A guy like Bac would know better but it seems pretty clear that DDR, Strootman and PJanic are well ahead of Mikey in the MF pecking order.

    Since Roma play a 4-3-3 that leaves Mikey as a spot starter and injury alternative.And if one or all of those three get sold it’s not clear to me that they will just give a spot to MB90.

    • whoa… what did I miss…
      Looks like a Bradley discussion was taking place & got deleted?
      One Christmas break & feel like I missed everything!!

      • It’s funny because I thought it was a good conversation – maybe just because I was participating in it, ha. I don’t know. I did employ sarcasm as a comedic device in my praise of another person’s comment. Perhaps the censors misunderstood.

  14. If I was going to take any of them it’d be Strootman. Pjanic is a better play maker in the final third but Strootman is the better 2 way midfielder. De Rossi gives you a little more on the defensive end but also can tend to disappear in matches. Bradley’s going to give you a tempo with his consistent passing and solid play. After Strootman it’d just come down to what a team needs from its midfield for me.

  15. “but he’s actually poor offensively and his positioning isn’t that great either”

    Poor is a poor choice of words and regards to his positioning, he is a coaches so I think he knows were to be. If anything, your use of adjectives here is not great.

  16. No offense, but your observations are prtty superficial if that’s what you think. They dont show any understanding of the subtleties of the game. MB is a beast in possession, has an outstanding work rate, is impossible to dispossess, is an incredibly accurate passer who always makes the right decision even in the thickest traffic. His positioning is superb and has been complimented by Rudi and Juergen and his first touch is superb and controlled. He thinks the game as well as anyone, always knowing exactly what to do with the ball before he even gets it. Is he as creative in the final third as Pjanic or Strootman? No, but that’s not his job. Pjanic is an offensive midfielder. He’s playing a completely different position and it’s insane to comp him to MB who is a deep lying defensive midfielder. The only one who really plays the same game is DDR and they are pretty similar skill wise. DDR has a better shot, MB is a bit more accurate passer. Otherwise, pretty similar.

  17. I don’t remember how the timing worked with Agudelo’s form in MLS and national team dates, but I don’t really understand why some substitute caps for Agudelo couldn’t have been arranged. He’s in good form and national team callups always help with getting work permits.

    Was he not on the gold cup roster? Man, it’s been a busy year.

  18. Fair enough, but I do find it interesting that you site his defensive side, when I see him more offensive minded and a bit of a defensive liability.

    I read about the bottom tier EPL interest, I can only hope that it is not serious. He is at least at mid table level or higher.

  19. Avoiding the wondo question eh? I admit it’s a difficult one myself but he should be mentioned there before agudelo or gomez… scored 6 goals for the nat’l team on a broken toe.

    • Leave Wondo in MLS. We have better Fwd options in Jozy, Bacon, Boyd and even Deuce as Fwd. I also think If Gomez gets back in form Jk will take him over Wondo because Gomez can play wing and Fwd; plus Gomez has played in crucial games for us and has played hard in them.

    • What in the world does your comment even mean? You saying Wondolowski’s stock dropped or what? Not sure you understood the exercise. Gomez and Agudelo saw their national team stock drop in 2013. Wondolowski did NOT.

      • Wondo’s stock went up. Before the Gold Cup he had not scored at all.

        When you are at the bottom there is no where to go but up.

      • Wondo did good against the very bottom feeders once he had to do the same to the top 4 CONCACAF teams his true color showed. I don’t think his statue has improved.

      • I think that Wondo’s stock did not move very much. On the one hand, he scored goals (won the golden boot in the Gold Cup, but did not even play in all the games). On the other hand, for the first time in 4 years he was not a leading goal-scorer in MLS. Wondo is pretty athletic in the sense that he ran 4:15 in the mile in HS, despite training more for soccer than with the track team. The reports from the Gold Cup training camp said he and Gomez scored lots of goals in practice games, yet JK did not start them together and used Wondo mostly for less than the whole 90 in the GC and apparently saw some things that kept him out of final despite scoring in the early games and training.

  20. I would much rather have 15 minutes of Freddy Adu pin point passes and lack of defense than Shea’s unpredictability. Just call him in Kinsmann. You don’t follow any rules anyway.

    • Any predictions on how many more years of the cries for Freddy Adu we’ll have to endure? 2? 3? If all you can do is drop a nice pass every once in a while, you’re not a complete player. You’re watching the basketball equivalent of a guy who can only throw alley-oop passes for a dunk and calling him the savior of the national team. He has shown that he can’t contribute in the other necessary areas of the game to be productive.

      My new year’s resolution is stop commenting on Freddy Adu posts. Help me be strong.

      • i predict it’ll be around the same time we get a competent #10.

        also, i don’t know what you’re getting at with the ‘complete player’ line. jozy can’t play defense=not a complete player=don’t call him up?
        besler can’t dribble through players=not a complete player=don’t call him up?

        in most formations, there are some players who only have to do 1 or 2 things. being a ‘complete player’ is not a prerequisite for a call-up.

      • More is expected of midfielders. Jozy is a striker; if he contributes defensively, great, but he’s there to attack. Similarly, a defender who can “dribble through players” is a luxury which the US doesn’t really have. First and foremost you want central defender who can defend. Anything they can do on top of that is gravy.

      • ‘More is expected of midfielders.’

        not necessarily; my point was that it depends on the formation and tactics. it’s not that unusual for international teams to have a one-way midfielder, depending on how the team plays.

        and i’m not saying it would work for our current setup, though maybe in a couple years (certainly not with bradleyball). i’m simply taking issue with opmg’s criticism of adu for not being a ‘complete player’.

    • I’m with you on this one. When legs are getting tired and one through ball can be the difference, I say Adu is with that gamble of having him on the game day roster

      • Freddy is the Jack Johnson of US Soccer. He stinks for his club but when he straps on the red, white, & blue he plays inspired. I am not saying he should be called in but I like freddy yes adu.

      • “He stinks for his club but when he straps on the red, white, & blue he plays inspired. I am not saying he should be called in but I like freddy yes adu.”

        Great, just keep him away from the USMNT when they are a competitive game.

        Freddy has 17 caps. A lot of those were of the 10-20 minutes at the end of the game variety, memorable but few and far between. And they rarely came in wins.

        The Panama semifinal in the 2011 Gold Cup is the only game where I can remember Freddy contributing to a competitive win for the senior USMNT that mattered.

        Freddy was great if you wanted a couple of pretty plays but winning a game?

        Freddy hasn’t gotten to that chapter in the book yet.

      • Olympic qualifying was impressive for Adu. I know this is not the senior team but it was his last US event that mattered. If it wasn’t for a horrible Brek Shea décision followed by a fluke goal we may have seen Freddy shine on the world’s stage. Coulda woulda shoulda is the story of his career.

      • Adu showed well there. If any player needed that opportunity in the Olympics it was him, and poof…one bad decision like you said, and a few seconds later, no Olympics. He could have continued to mature in the leadership role on that team but instead

        oh well, it is what it is. Freddy is amazingly talented like his teammates have always known but…….

      • You are talking about equivalent of college or the minor leagues.

        I only care about the senior USMNT and for them Adu is a clown and a serious waste of time.

        If there was a soccer equivalent to the Harlem Globetrotters Freddy would be on them.

      • college equivalent or not GW, even Klinnsman stressed what an important opportunity it was for that group and specific individuals in it. I’m certainly not arguing for the inclusion of Adu btw

      • I’m fairly certain JK was not referring to Adu when he speaking about the Olympic opportunity. Rather it was a chance for Shea, Mix, Corona, etc. and others to show what they could do.

        Freddy had already showed that he could do well in the Olympics and then go on to repeat his inconsistency,fecklessness and failure at the senior level .

        I’d be shocked if JK paid any attention to Freddy at all.

      • who knows to whom he referred GW, but my point remains: the Olympics were not unimportant like your post seems to pretend. and like I already said, not making a case for him to be called

      • beachbum,

        The Olympics were important for the guys I mentioned because JK had seen little of them but not for Freddy. He had already done well in the previous Olympics and what did that get him? He’s still the basically the same player I saw at DC United.

        Doing well in the Olympics is not a predictor of future success at the senior level but JK obviously needed to see more of Corona, Shea, Mix etc., in a US shirt in an international tournament even if it it just an Under 23 tourney. It would probably be the equivalent of say an AAA team as related to the major leagues.

        Anyway Freddy was crap in these Olympic qualifiers. A miserable failure. He was captain and they needed his leadership in that El Sal game and he was nowhere to be found in a game they should have won handily. When you need him, most of the time, he is nowhere to be seen.

    • I have stated on this page many times my feeling of Fredy Adu. Please stop bringing up his name whenever we talk about the USMNT. He is not a possibity for Brazil and never has even been in the discussion. That is my nice way to say “PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT FREDDY ADU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
      Thank you
      Go Fire!

      • Sad thing is that it is players like altidore, Dempsey and Howard that say that he is one of the most talented and would help them tremendously but he has not qualified himself in having the proper minutes. I have always wondered who the players want to see on the team….if they had a choice who would they pick…?

      • I’ve read the most talented remarks…

        Talent alone is not enough.

        And I challenge you to show everyone where those guys said “he would help them tremendously” and more to the point what the the context of those comments were.

  21. It’s hard to disagree with any of Ives points, but for whatever reason JK really likes Shea and I think if he gets any pt between now and June he has a real chance of going to Brazil. He is the one guy who can enter a game with 15 minutes left and put a ball 100 yards off target or beat a defender and play a goal scoring pass.

      • If he doesn’t know what he’s gong to do then the opposing team can’t possibly anticapte his next move. Its a brilliant strategy.

      • Actually I think Shea is pretty predictable. He tries to touch the ball wide and dribble forward. In the cases when it works, he can get behind defenders and score, but most of the time his touch lets him down and/or the defenders anticipate his attempt to dribble and stop him. His successes have mostly come as a result of his late insertion and defenders who had been covering players who were more likely to pass than dribble and the defenders had already played 60+ minutes while Shea was fresh. On those incidents where he started, his touch let him down too often and his penchant for repeatedly attempting the same thing made him fairly easy to stop.

    • Speaking of Shea and a coaches love, can someone bribe Cupid to pull out the Shea arrow and replace it with one that has Chandlers name on it. Chandler is starting now, playing well, and in a recent Bundesliga match had the most shots on goal for his team. Hope to see him in some of the friendlies.

      • Nurnberg is also yet to win a match this year, so his shot total might have more to do with how bad they are then anything else.

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