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A look at an all European-based USMNT squad

Oguchi Onyewu


With the January camp in the rear-view mirror, and the MLS-based contingent of U.S. Men’s National Team players now preparing for the upcoming Major League Soccer season, it is time to think about the next USMNT match, which will feature a team consisting almost exclusively of European-based players.

Given the recent exodus of American talent from Europe to MLS, it might seem like the pickings are slim overseas, but the reality is there are still a variety of options for Jurgen Klinsmann to consider as he evaluates the talent pool.

In my latest piece for, I look at what the USMNT squad could look like that Klinsmann calls in for the March 5 friendly against Ukraine. It is a stronger team than you might expect given all the departures from Europe in the past six months.

What the proposed group definitely has is players who have been missing from the national team radar, such as Timmy Chandler and Danny Williams, who have both gone a full year without playing for the USMNT.

Here are some more thoughts on this proposed group:

The centerback options are a bit thin, which is why John Brooks could step in and start despite only recently coming back from a knee injury.


Stuart Holden and Josh Gatt seem like good bets to be invited into camp, if only to participate in training and spend time with the group. Both are in the final stages of returning from ACL surgeries and having them play in the friendly vs. Ukraine might be pushing it a bit.


Younger prospects like Bobby Wood and Joe Gyau  are interesting options to bring into the group for the few days the team will be together, but the one to watch will be Julian Green and whether he will accept a call-up. With it being an international fixture date, and Ukraine not being far from Germany, there really wouldn’t be a reason why he couldn’t come into the camp.


Do you bring Michael Bradley in or not? He’s off that week, but do you let him stay in Toronto as he gets settled into his new city, or do you bring him in to have another chance to play him and Jermaine Jones together? I think it’s a toss-up at this point.


What do you think of the proposed European-based squad I put together? Who would you like to see start in that match? Who are you excited to see included in the projected group?

Share your thoughts below.








  1. I thought Ream had been starting at LB for Bolton, but I am not sure he has the speed required against speedier competition. If JK insists that F. Johnson play in midfield then Ream is the only other player who starts there for his club. (Chandler played there under Bradley, but I think he has always been on the right for his club). I suppose it could be a spot to try Lichaj (it is one position that the US needs to improve big time).

  2. I think that you will see multiple MLS players brought in depending on their schedules…many teams don’t play that first weekend so look for some of those guys.

  3. This lineup/roster compared to the MLS-based one reveals good and bad news:

    GOOD: the USMNT has seriously good options and depth at every position. Yes, *every* position. There are so many solid players at every position that no one player—perhaps with the exception of MB90—totally stands out as a “must have.”

    BAD: see above. No one player totally stands out. I’m not asking for a squad filled with “world class” players—i.e., CR7, Ribery, Marcelo, Pirlo—but it would be nice to have a few brighter stars. Dempsey was there, but I think he’s slipped a bit. Donovan ditto. Hmmm…

    HOPEFUL: maybe this WC will be the chance for several of our players to really break out: Jozy, Bacon, FabJo, Williams, Cam, Mix….

  4. What about Dempsey? Isn’t he over there now? And shouldn’t he get in a little shooting practice? Maybe he can score some against Ukraine. That would be a nice confidence booster.

    • You beat me to it. Dempsey will just be completing his loan with Fulham on Friday the 28th, and the game is on the following Wednesday. Throw in the fact that he’s the captain, and I would bet money he will start against Ukraine…

    • Hard to say if he would or not. Seattle’s first game (a home game against SKC) is March 8th, just three days later. I’m sure Seattle will want him to start. They can’t force him to not go to Ukraine, of course.

  5. —————— Altidore ———————-
    F. Johnson—— Johannsson —— Bedoya
    ———– Jones ———- Bradley————
    Chandler – Gooch – Brooks – Cameron
    ——————- Howard —————————

    Gooch is clearly a shaky choice, but its a friendly, and he doesn’t take the place of someone that needs reps, so let the old man have a runout!

    • This is what I’d probably do also. Some thoughts:

      Gotta start Gooch to see if he’s somewhat back to what he once was.

      If at all possible I’d make Dempsey delay his flight back to the States and start him for AJ.

  6. —————————–Jozy—————————-

    Kljestan on the bench (not playing for his club at the moment due to injury)
    Guzan in 2nd half
    Bedoya in 2nd half for Mix or Agudelo
    Shea in 2nd half for Johannson
    Boyd in 2nd half for Jozy
    Gooch, Packwood, on bench as depth in case a CB gets injured.
    Gyau on bench in case of an injured attacker.

      • Interesting lineup, indeed.

        You have Jones and Williams (presumably) sitting and playing defensively to counteract the heavily attack-minded front four. I’m not sure that’s enough… but a good thought.

        I would worry that this would required Agudelo to do too much on the defensive side of things (that they’re not used to doing)

      • Jones & Williams do sit deeper shifting into holes as the outside backs overlap as cover…Mix as an agitator nipping (double teaming) when the ball is turned over, to slow down the opposition rush.
        Effectivly clogs the center pushing all the opponents attacks to the wide possistions. the US team does well defending crosses….but are a little weak when opponents can slip in behind or with the diaginal ball on the ground.

    • Man, I would love to see the sort of shenanigans we could get into with AJ, JA, and JA up top. Get these guys some reps together, I hope we’ll see a good bit of them come 2018.

  7. ————-altidore———–

    Kljestan or FJ start at LW if healthy. Then depending on how ballsy klinsmann is feeling we could see mix or Williams. As much as I would love to see altidore, AJ, and agudelo out there together (my predicted front 3 in two years time) I don’t think we see it this time around.

  8. Enough with Cam playing in the middle either at D or CM. He is a starting RB for stoke all year and we are so weak in FB positions I’m not even sure why it’s a discussion. Put any two of Ream Gooch or JAB there instead.

    God I hope Chandler or Lichaj come and start in this game opposite Cam. Happy for agudelo and hope to see him too

    • What I’d like to see would be a back 4 of:

      Fabian still gets to play at the LM spot that JK likes him at. Cameron pushes Gonzalez to a backup role in Brazil, and Lichaj & Chandler blanket the wings up and down the field with their speed & defending. Putting in good crosses for Jozy to feed off for a brace.
      (Would have Brooks at LCB if he wasn’t just getting over his knock.

  9. As part of the spine, I think Bradley gets called in…my prediction:

    —————— Altidore ———————-
    Shea ———— Johannsson ——— Bedoya
    ———– Jones ———- Bradley————
    F. Johnson – Ream – Cameron – Chandler
    ——————- Howard —————————

      • Woohoo!

        I was waivering on Gooch v. Ream….ultimately Gooch’s lack of agility lost him a spot.

        And, deciding on Diskerud in the “hole” with Johannson on the left…. Shea as a sub.

        If Brooks wasn’t fresh back from injury, he would slot in at CB.

  10. i will say, i’m surprised Packwood wasn’t even mentioned given how thin the CB options are. he plays 90 minutes in the Championship, sounds like we could use him for depth in this friendly.

    very surprised FJ is not included in the starting lineup.

    • There’s very little time to integrate Packwood, now. Maybe if he hadn’t gotten injured before the U-20 WC he would have been called to the senior team.

      That said, we don’t have many CBs in Europe now, so who knows!

  11. A few random notes:

    1. I honestly believe this roster to be stronger than the one we just had against SK-B, especially at LB and RB. I think our best options are Cam, Chandler, FJ and Lichaj.

    2. It will be interesting to see what happens with the ‘role in the hole’. I’m not convinced by LD there, as I honestly don’t think he imposes himself on the game enough, especially against world class teams. Deuce has it, but has also looked a few steps off the pace for quite awhile now. I hope he recovers form. Otherwise, who plays there? Bacon? Do we move Zusi or Bedoya in the hole, put LD on right and FJ on left, with Chandler and Cam as FB’s?

    • All good questions.

      I do think LD is most effective in that “hole” position, but then that leaves us lacking on the left-side of midfield (unless you play Bedoya or Zusi there, which isn’t out of the question).

      I would like to see Aron play in the “hole” for some extended period of time and see how he links with Jozy.

    • 1. I caught myself thinking that too, but then I remembered that up until about a month ago, the euro-based players were the select group.

      2. It has to be Dempsey. He’s the only attacking player we have who can receive a pass and possibly turn under pressure.

  12. Gyau, Packwood, Wood, Lletget, Gatt, Wooten, Stanko, Morales, Rodriguez in the lower divisions plus U20’s coming up like Hyndman, Flores, Gooch, Scott

    Lots of guys to see for 2018.

    • Lots of time to see them before 2018, too.

      I doubt we’ll see anyone who doesn’t have at least an outside chance of making the Brazil roster.

  13. Kljestan starts. He’s the most well established Euro on this roster excluding the keepers and maybe Jones. Then, he goes to Brazil to back up Jones and Bradley.

  14. —————-Altidore

  15. If I’m JK I’d bring in the guys who would be the world cup team. Then tell the players left off that if the WC started today, they’d miss out. It could be motivational tool.

    • +100000. This is a FIFA date so to limit the team to just European based players is silly. At the very least bring in Besler and Gonzo so they get some more game time under their belt, but in truth they should bring the A team with the possible exception of the outside backs because their is a good possibility that upgrades at those positions may exist.

  16. Good article, Ives. I forgot there was still so much talent in Europe. If you got rid of the tr0llz I would definitely follow more but their comment sections are infested with idiots from what I remember and looking at the comments on your article, I can see nothing’s changed. ugh

    • this is my only problem with it’s amazing how much time that “JACK DAVIS” tr011 puts into it, but come on, there has to be a way to limit the amount of tr011ing going on over there on any US-related thread. the lack of action, to me, says that doesn’t really care about US fans or even the quality of their comment section.

  17. ——————–Altidore—————–

    Wouldn’t be opposed to sliding Cam in at CB for Gooch and putting Chandler in at RB or sliding FJ in at LW for Shea and putting Chandler at LB or Seeing Williams or Kljestan in at either CM spot. I just don’t want to see Williams pushed out wide. I’m done with that.

    • Shea isn’t a starter. He isn’t at the level yet where he can bring it for a whole game. He’s best suited as an impact sub really.

      • I agree with that. And I’ve been convinced for awhile now that he’s going to make the Brazil 23 for that specific purpose (unless somebody like Green or Gatt comes out of the blue). I think Klinsmann knows that’s what Shea’s good at at this point in his career and that he can’t really be trusted to start a game (defensively, possession-wise, tactically), but it’s puzzling that Shea keeps getting starts in the half-strength squad matches. I think putting him out there does a disservice to the other guys who are trying to impress because a rusty Shea is definitely a weak link that makes the whole thing break down. I hope the fact that he’s getting consistent minutes now doesn’t tempt Juergen yet again.

      • Agree he profiles as a guy who’s better off the bench, but with regular minutes lately, JK might want to give him a shot. He’s the only true wing on the roster.

      • And even at that, I’d still personally rather have Johnson start on the left wing with Chandler behind him.

      • I actually think that could work. I think Aron is the more likely to make that timed run and pull the defenders. While Jozy is alittle better on the ball and might be the better passer. I wouldn’t mind giving it a look anyway.

    • Agree, and how long does it take to settle into a new city. Seems like he’s been there for months..though i know that’s not entirely accurate. Dude needs to train and play.

    • Regardless , I don’t think TFC would release him. Wouldn’t it be something if MLS’ record signing was injured and wasn’t available to start the season

      • TFC has no ability to block his release for a FIFA date, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t decline the call up.

    • The point to Bradley coming back was to get him involved in MLS quickly to keep his sharpness. So they leave him put.

      Agudelo AJ
      FJ Mixx
      Lichaj Brooks Gooch Cameron

      I think Chandler is superior to Cameron as a RB if he participates. Then move Cameron in CB and sit Gooch.

      Some back
      Green (if he comes)

      Ream is an awful defender who might be called for experience but is basically a waste of time. Ditto Gooch in the now. Personally I’d call someone fresh at those spots to take a longshot because on the merits I’d move Cameron, Edu, or a list of people insider before I’d rely one minute on Gooch or Ream. Pointless.

      • some back? can you not even be bothered to google someone’s name? how about Will Packwood? and do you realize Tim Ream is having a very good year with Bolton?

  18. I predict that Gatt and Holden will bang knees in training, knocking them both out for 2 weeks which will turn into 8 months…. and I will be sad.

  19. It’ll be interesting to see if Green comes. Interviews with the other German-Americans made it sound like they were sold quickly on the team chemistry.

  20. Is Green eligible to play right now or would he need to file a switch and could only participate in the camp but not play in the game pending approval of his switch ( unlikely he would do that just to play in a friendly if that was the case )


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