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Beckerman and Edu battling for place on U.S. World Cup roster

Kyle Beckerman


We are a month away from the U.S. Men’s National Team reporting to northern California for pre-World Cup training camp and there are some serious battles being waged for roster spots.

One of those battles is taking place in central midfield, where both Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu are in the mix for places on the U.S. World Cup squad. Beckerman has seemed like a safe bet to make the team for the past six months after a strong run of form for both club and country. Meanwhile, Edu has forced his way into the conversation after a very good debut month with the Philadelphia Union since returning to MLS from Europe.

In my latest column, The MLS Wrap, I discuss Beckerman and Edu, and the perception that they are battling each other for the same World Cup spot. I spoke to both of them after they each scored late goals in Saturday’s 2-2 between the Union and Real Salt Lake and both sounded very focused on their MLS seasons. They also both downplayed the idea that they are fighting each other for one spot.

Give my column a read and let me know what you think about their competition for places on the World Cup team? Do you see them both making it? Think Beckerman is a lock at this point? Would you bring both midfielders to Brazil?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Maybe this shouldn’t even be brought up this late in the game, but Timmy Chandler is training again and he’s hoping to play before the end of the season. Will it be too soon after his injury to plug him into our training camp? Perhaps. But if he gets legit minutes with a club battling relegation, I think he weasels into the 30 man (look at how desperate we were to find adequate fullbacks against Mexico, though I thought they did alright that night).

    A brazil bound roster could be:
    3 keepers
    6 defenders: Chandler, Cameron, Besler, Gonzo, Beasley, Johnson (Cam can play wide or centrally)
    5 center mids: Edu, Mix, Beckermang, MB90, Jones (Edu can be a 4th CB)
    5 more attacking mids: Donovan, Dempsey, Green, Bedoya, Zusi
    4 forwards: Jozy, Aaron, Wondo, EJ

    With Goodson, Yedlin, Williams, Boyd, Parkhurst, Evans and either SK, Gooch, Agudelo, Shea, Gil, or Davis (I said yuck) being in camp and not making the cut

    I don’t think this will actually happen, but its food for thought. This might spread the defensive cover needlessly thin, though that backline can sustain three injuries/suspensions before you have to dip into Edu at CB. I also look at this and think that Jones, Edu, Beckerman, and even Cameron can all perform essentially the same duty – why struggle to fit the last one on the list? So maybe you’d want to add Goodson instead of Edu. Maybe somebody like Parkhurst, Evans, or Yedlin gets in ahead of Green or EJ. In any case, a lot has yet to be settled, and that versatility of some players can really change depth needs. Interesting to think about, and every single player in my proposed 23 brings something a little different to the table. Filling a niche might be exactly what you need to earn one of those last 3 spots. Just sayin.

    • And for the record my fantasy highest upside squad:
      Chandler – Cam – Beastler – FJ
      JJ -MB90 (JJ staying at home)
      Donovan – Deuce – Bedoya (all three can interchange, maybe you plug in zusi for donovan or bedoya)
      Jozy (or Iceman)

      On the bench when you need a goal – Zusi, EJ, Wondo, Green, ADU (#rideordie #neverforget), Mix, Iceman

  2. The problem is Edu is a bit late battling for that spot. It’s risky to put him in when he has not played with the team recently.

    • Edu is a lock now that he is playing. Both JJ and Edu are the only ones with good Champion’s League pedigrees at center mid.. Edu has been the best center mid in MLS so far this season as well. Also, Klinsman tends to favor Edu in all the big matches.

  3. Ahead of the camp, my opinion has been that JK will ultimately take only 7 defenders, and 3 forwards ( with Deuce as #4) so he will have additional mid options
    I think they both make it

      • Yea we’re essentially saying the same thing, since Fabian can be listed either way, Cam is versatile etc.
        I don’t see him bringing 4 forwards like Ives has been predicting, I see Jozy, AJ, and either Wondo or EJ( not both, and no Boyd)… with Deuce as the 4th.
        That’s why I think Beckerman and Edu are going

  4. After the Mexico game MB90 basically stated that he really liked playing with Beckerman, because of the freedom it allowed him to get forward.

    “I didn’t necessarily look at it so differently tonight other than now you’re playing with a guy in Kyle who does a good job of taking care of things and kind of being disciplined, so it gives me more freedom to be mobile, to be on the move, to get forward, to be up and down, to be more two-way. There’s no doubt I enjoy it. To kind of play off my instincts in those ways, depending on the game, depending on the opponent, it’s certainly something I enjoy.”

    As a leader on the team it would be out of place to directly call for Beckerman’s inclusion over other players, but I think it was a pretty strong endorsement from our best player. I’m sure JK can read between the lines. Ultimately, what is good for Bradley is good for the team as a whole.

    • Bradley continued,” Its pretty much the polar opposite of playing with Jermaine. No matter what the coaches tell him, he runs forward, passes to the other team, and runs around like a cucamunga. Playing with Beckerman was refreshing in that he played his role and allowed me play mine, instead of me having to figure out what a crazy person is doing. The only real downside I see is his hair. He looks like a homeless person, so overall I’d rather play with Jones.”

    • I wouldn’t read too much into that. To the extent that Bradley’s actually expressing a preference here (as opposed to just complimenting Beckerman, which I think is the more likely explanation), it’s for Beckerman over Jones. There isn’t much evidence to suggest the Edu wouldn’t stay back if told to — he’s been deployed mostly as a 2-way player, but has occasionally been played as a purely defensive mid. In fact, contrary to what a lot of commenters have said, there isn’t even much evidence to suggest that Jones wouldn’t stay home if Klinnsman instructed him to play that way (you have to remember, Klinnsman has described Bradley and Jones as dual #8’s, so it’s likely he’s told them to play that way when paired together).

      As for Beckerman vs. Edu, it’s a tough call. Beckerman is a dependable passer and generally positions himself well, but given how much ground we ask our central midfielders to cover (both across the field and back to cover for our CBs), there will always be a couple of times per game when a player in Beckerman’s role with the USMNT will be “out of position” and have to recover. That’s when Beckerman’s less-than-elite footspeed becomes a problem, as opposing players will almost certainly get by him. Edu is more athletic and reads the game well when on defense. The trouble is that once he has the ball at his feet anywhere but the final third, he’s not that great a dribbler and doesn’t pass as well as Beckerman does.

      If I had to pick between the 2, I’d probably go with Edu, just because I think with our centerback situation being what it is, it’s better to have 3 central midfielders (Bradley, Jones, and Edu) who can all cover ground effectively. But I could accept a Beckerman pick, since Beckerman is probably a more reliable player when it comes to transitioning from defense to offense.

      • Edu is Jones….Jones is Edu…..and neither cover ground effectively and give the ball up way to much….and neither is particularly good at defending…..
        Like it or not Beckerman is solid at what he does and rarely make mistakes because he understands who he is and plays within his ability…..

      • Jones and Edu are not the same player. Not even remotely.

        Jones can actually play decent long passes, which do help us out offensively so long as they’re not all that our offense does for 90 minutes. Jones’s primary weakness is that he is prone to overdribbling if he sees even a small space in front of him, which is what causes most of his turnovers. Edu, on the other hand, actually has technical deficiencies — he tends to let the ball get too far out in front of him when he dribbles and he weights his passes poorly. Edu is *more* turnover prone than Jones. Jones’s issues are less frequent and could be corrected either by coaching (i.e. Klinsmann telling him the play differently) or by Jones and Bradley working out an arrangement ahead of time about who goes forward when (thus eliminating the over-dribbling problem and giving our offense a mix of short and long passing). At this point in his career, Edu’s deficiencies likely can’t be corrected, leaving him vulnerable pretty much any time he has the ball. Just on those issues alone, Edu is a step down from Jones.

        Defensively, I’m not really sure how you can argue that neither Jones nor Edu is a good defender. Both have largely made their careers (which for Jones, has included starting for a Champions League-level team, and for Edu, has included a respectable stint as a starter at Rangers) as ball-winners. Both Klinsmann and Bob Bradley have also experimented with Edu as a centerback, which suggests that he is at least competent defensively. Unless multiple professional and national team coaches have all been wrong about both players for years, I think it’s safe to assume that both are talented defenders.

        Now, as for Beckerman, we can debate whether, in absolute terms, Jones and/or Edu cover ground well (I would argue that both do), but they both are certainly faster than Beckerman is, which would allow either of them to recover faster than Beckerman would if caught out of position. And, again, because we are asking our center mids to win balls in the middle third or so of the field, drop back to cover for our suspect CBs, and even occasionally cover for outside backs getting forward, anyone who plays the center midfield role for USMNT will likely be put in the position of having to quickly recover from an awful spot on the field (through no fault of his own) at least a couple of times per game in Brazil. Beckerman does pretty well when he stays home, but the simple fact is that against the competition we’re going to be facing in Brazil, he’s not going to be able to just stay home — as a USMNT CM, he will be stretched and will have to sprint back to catch opposing players in the center of the pitch repeatedly.

        It’s not a matter of Beckerman being anything less than solid. I actually like his game It’s a matter of whether his strengths as a passer are worth his mobility limitations, especially given the caliber of the offenses that we will face and the glaring inconsistency of our central defense. Maybe the answer is yes — I actually suspect Klinsmann is leaning that way, but personally, I say it’s no and think that Edu (as a back-up to Jones) is the more sensible choice at the moment.

      • On a semi-related note, why is it that people always blame Jones for what are likely tactical decisions on Klinsmann’s part? I seriously doubt that Jones could keep his starting position game after game if he was really wandering up the field aimlessly and fouling recklessly, as some commenters claim. No manager would stand for a player who continually screws up the game plan and undermines the manager’s authority. The much more likely explanation for Jones’s play is that he’s doing precisely what Klinsmann wants him to, and that even when he screws up (by, for example, dribbling into what he thinks is space but actually isn’t), he’s following general orders from Klinsmann to get up the field and initiate the offense himself.

        When we see a performance like Michael Bradley’s against Mexico, it’s not a matter of asking whether Beckerman (or Edu, for that matter) should be plugged in for Jones. It’s really a matter of asking whether Klinsmann should dump his standard game plan (which includes dual #8’s in the middle of the pitch) in favor of the approach he used that night (pairing players in the #6 and #8 roles). There isn’t a ton of reason to believe that Jones couldn’t play as a purely defensive midfielder. It’s just that, to date, for whatever reason, Klinsmann has refused to try it. it will be interesting to see if that changes during pre-World Cup camp when Euro and domestic players are finally all in one place together.

      • +1. Very well-written analyses. JJ has principally been a destroyer throughout his career with Schalke and now at Besiktas. He can do the job best if given specific instructions to be more disciplined. I think his mentality changes with the nats where he tries to do too much. Most likely that was Klinsmann’s instruction to get forward, but I also think he takes it a bit far on his own volition. When playing a simpler game, he’s our best #6.

      • Excellent point about JJ supposedly repeatedly contradicting JK’s game plan and yet miraculously keeping his starting spot.

  5. I must admit that I have come to appreciate Beckerman after initially hating how he played for Nats. Klinsi has coached him to be more decisive and impactful with his passing. Edu would have scored in last WCup, but for that Mali dude. So, I think both of them can handle the game at the WCup level.

  6. Don’t forget that Edu can step in as a center back, which he has done for Klinsi already. That versatility could be useful in Brazil. Same with Cameron, who can play at least three positions. With cards and injuries it’s nice to have those guys available.

    • I came here to say this.

      Give Mo the “4th CB spot.”

      Our #4 CB options are not so great that taking a versatile player like Mo Edu really hurts us. It also gives us more options in the midfield without having to leave Mix (an attacking spark) home.

      • i was thinking the same, instead of bringing Gooch or Ream or some other CB, bring Mo.

        Gonz, Besler, FJ, Beasley, Geoff, Parkhurst( perhaps Yedlin if looking to the future/experience), Goodson makes 7 defender slots. the 8th should be Mo.

        MB, JJ, LD, Dempsey, Zusi, Bedoya, Beckerman makes 7 midfield slots. the 8th to be chosen from Green, Mix, Shea, Corona, D Williams, etc….. to make 8 mids

        then Jozy, Aron, and choice of 2 out of Wondo, EJ, Boyd, Agudelo

        perhaps Green would go in a striker spot opening up another mid spot.

        I’m not saying who should or shouldnt go i just feel these are kind of the best players to pick from in a sense. Mo as hat 8th spot brings good versatility, and I’d rather Mo than Brad…. Evans……………

        I’m still a believer that Yedlin over evans or parkhurst wouldn’t be a bad idea. Yedlin’s arguably the fastest player and we need recovery speed at LB/RB, heck, thats the only reason Beasley is there, becuase he is fast

      • I like your analysis. However, there is a pit in my stomach that tells me that JK will choose:

        Brazil: Shea and Castillo

        Stay Home: Parkhurst, Bedoya, Wondo

      • ” Yedlin over evans or parkhurst”

        Agreed, but only because we’re hopefully talking about the second option, not the starting spot. Cameron is the starter. Now why would you bring on a different RB? Barring injury, it would be to switch things up on attack. Yedlin would certainly do that!

  7. I say if they are battling the spot should go to Edu. Nothing against Beckerman, but he seems to be guilty of giving the ball away and being woefully out of position in International games.

    • Edu gives the ball away just as much or more than Beckerman. Beckerman is a smarter player, but Edu is quicker and more athletic.

      • ^this. Edu is just as guilty as Beckerman in the give away department.

        I hope Beckerman goes. He has been a rock for the US this past year and he’s earned his spot. Beckerman isn’t the fastest but he does his job and he does it well.

      • I don’t think it’s an intelligence issue so much as a technical issue. Edu just tends to let the ball get too far away from him when he has to dribble too much and doesn’t weight his passes as well as Beckerman does. In terms of reading the game, I’d say they’re about equal. It’s just that Beckerman’s a slightly more refined passer with below-average (for an elite athlete) foot-speed so with him, you’ll get a smoother transition from defense to offense, but (at the international level, at least) a lot more sequences where Beckerman’s chasing after a faster opposing midfielder.

      • remember how everyone was clamoring for Edu over clark for Ghana 2010? Well, he eventually got in and scored what should have been a goal against slovenia. Beckerman has played well against concacaf…higher upside with Edu. i highly doubt beckerman will be as effective in the role he played in the Mexico friendly against portugal, germany and ghana.

      • No one will be as effective in the role he played in the Mexico friendly against Portugal, Germany and Ghana.

        All three are better than Mexico.

    • There goes j jones. He gives the ball away with risky unsuccessful passes and he finds himself upfield quite often instead of staying behind Bradley. Beckerman is jones backup so he may not see the field much but he keeps proving he can play simply and effectively. He completes a high degree of passes an has good ball skills. He’s proven his worth to klinsmann. So all he needs to do is keep it up and he’ll be in his first and only World Cup.

  8. I tend to think they will both be there if current form continues. With the midfields we will be facing, Mix is going to struggle. If we play the 4-2-3-1 or even the diamond, the midfield needs as much versatility as possible along with a high level of toughness. Both of these guys in addition to MB and JJ give you that.

  9. Good article and wow, crazy how similar their stats were from this weekend’s game! But if anything, I think Edu is battling Danny Williams and Mix for a central midfield slot. I think Beckerman’s ticket is punched to Brazil. And though Mix doesn’t play the same position as DWill and Mo, Klinsi might decide to take a really good in-form defensive minded midfielder over a more creative central midfielder like Mix who has recently been benched by his team in Norway.

    • I’m gunna watch a Reading game sometime soon. I really wanna see how Danny is doing. It sounds like he is very very important to them.

    • +1
      Agree with all this – I think his choice will be whether to include another DM or to bring Mix. He might feel, based on our opponents and with all of the attacking options available (and with the versatility of Bradley) Mix is not necessary. Klinsmann has shown his preference for/confidence in Beckerman for a long while now so I really can’t see him missing out.

      • Not sure if the rumors that mix was wanted by the timbers was accurate but if he did have the chance he would have benefited from playing in mls. Mix is too out if sight and mind playing in Scandinavia. Still he can bring that bit of attacking magic. This will come down to how players perform in the last camp.

    • I agree Beckerman is on the plane. I think Edu is in a battle with Danny Williams. I think Diskerud is in a battle with Green, Davis, and Kljiestan.

    • Beckerman is Klinsmann’s guy. He does exactly what the coach asks of him. No flash, just do the job. I”ll bet he’ll be on the plane to Brazil.

      I see Edu as a bubble player looking in but still has a chance.

      He may get Donovan’s ticket. Landon must be who Klinsmann thinks started the player uprising last year, or something. Seems like Klinsmann is positioning to leave Donovan home, no matter what his form.

      • How is he positioning to leave Donovan home? Do you read any reports or just come up with your own baseless thoughts?

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