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A closer look at the USMNT depth chart: Forwards

Jozy Altidore

photo by John Todd/


Only a few weeks remain before U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his preliminary World Cup roster, and one position where places are still up for grabs is forward.

Klinsmann has what could be the deepest (though not necessarily the most talented) pool of forwards in U.S. history, and that will make for some tough decisions ahead of this summer’s trip to Brazil. How many forwards Klinsmann brings will likely depend on how he views other positions, like central midfield and centerback, but it is unlikely that any scenario ends with him not cutting at least one talented player.

From Jozy Altidore to Eddie Johnson to Chris Wondolowski and more, each of the U.S. forwards that are realistic options for the World Cup provide different qualities. That is why Klinsmann will need to think long and hard about who he takes to Brazil as the Americans try and advance from a tough Group G.

Here is a closer look at the forward options Klinsmann currently has at his disposal and will have to sift through next month:


Might not be enjoying his best run of form, but Altidore is still the forward of the bunch that possesses the best combination of size, skill and World Cup experience. There is no denying that the 24-year-old veteran has had his share of struggles at Sunderland, but he has shown in the past that he can score in bunches when fed with steady service. He did it in large stretches in 2013 for the U.S., something Klinsmann should try and address ahead of this summer’s World Cup and something that seems to be forgotten far too often these days.


The 23-year-old Johannsson’s red-hot season at AZ Alkmaar has cooled off a bit as of late. He has scored just one goal in his last nine matches across all competitions and failed to convert on a couple of penalty kick opportunities. Still, he is a dynamic option that is good on the dribble and can create his own shot, making him a safe bet to be on the plane to Brazil.


The veteran striker has not found his footing just yet at D.C. United, but his versatility, speed and athleticism make him a player on the bubble that Klinsmann will have to think long and hard about. The 30-year-old Johnson might not have a proven track record of scoring against the more elite teams at the international level, but the physical tools that he provides might make him too good of an option for Klinsmann to pass up on given that the U.S. will face far from diminutive teams in Ghana, Germany and Portugal in June.


This is the one forward who has been raising his stock in recent months. Ever since opening his scoring account with the U.S. at last summer’s Gold Cup, Wondolowski has continued to find the back of the net with regularity in his handful of starts under Klinsmann. He has not lit up MLS defenses this season, but the 31-year-old forward’s knack for being in the right place at the right time could see him book a ticket to his first World Cup.


Boyd scored twice this past weekend and that performance for Rapid Vienna served as a reminder as to why Klinsmann has continuously brought the 23-year-old Boyd into camps, even if he has not earned all that much playing time. Boyd has to round out his game outside of the penalty area a bit more, but his nose for goal, size and promising potential make him an interesting depth option that Klinsmann will likely give plenty of consideration to.


The darkhorse of the bunch, Agudelo is seeing the field regularly with FC Utrecht. The 21-year-old striker scored last week to end a two-month scoring drought, and that combined with his potential and skill could see Klinsmann –  who thinks big picture constantly and is big on grooming young players – take Agudelo to the World Cup so as to give him experience at being at a tournament like this.


What do you think of the USMNT’s current pool of forwards? Which players do you think will be taken to Brazil? Who should start at the World Cup? Why?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. This is my starting XI


    Altidore and EJ ready as substitutes up front. Zusi ready to come in for Bedoya if needed. Fabian Johnson ready for Beasley or Landon.

    If we have the lead late like in the 70 minute I’ll bring in Omar and Beckerman, take out one forward and Landon and move Cameron just behind Bradley and Jones.

    I like Guzan over Howard, but that’s just me and maybe a few others. Just remember the many 3-goal-games-allowed he’s been part of and the fact that he is not likely to come out from beneath the cross bar in free kicks.

    In the end, no one really knows what Klinsi is going to do. I want this team to do well after all the accomplishments under Klinsmann, but I am afraid that this will be a very long world cup for this bunch. Also, I am glad they won against Panama as my team should always play to win, but regret the fact that it was Mexico who benefited. I am afraid Mexico will advance and the USA not and would look as a better team, which they are not. I am just being realistic.

    Also, I’d really like for the MNT to advance out of the group stage so that Klinsmann’s second term is more meaningful. That’s all.

    • I disagree. Clint Dempsey is not a forward. Fabian Johnson is a much better player (who also plays in a much better league) than Donovan, Bedoya and Beasley. Omar Gonzalez and JAB are better than Goodson.

  2. 4-4-2


    Subs: Wondo for Jozy; AJ for Dempsey; EJ or FJ for Lando; Bedoya for Zusi; Beckerman for Jones; FJ for Beasley; Evans for Cameron



    Subs: Wondo for Jozy; AJ for Dempsey; EJ or FJ for Lando; Bedoya for Zusi; Jones for Beckerman; FJ for Beasley; Evans for Cameron


    —————–Jozy/ Wondo—————-

    Subs: AJ for Dempsey; EJ or FJ for Lando; Bedoya for Zusi; Beckerman for Jones; FJ for Beasley; Evans for Cameron

  3. Its Jozy and Aron as the two locks. For the rest we can’t just look at form, but also have to look at the matchups as well.

    Wondo could do well against Ghana, but will get destroyed against Germany and Portugal. EJ’s laziness won’t hold well, but is athletic enough to move some bodies around and be a threat in the air against these teams. Agudelo could create some problem, he is getting some burn but not in the greatest form yet either.

    Odds are JK will simply adjust the formations with Clint and Landon as well, and we won’t see another striker touch the pitch barring injuries. So it really doesn’t matter too much beyond Jozy and Aron. With that said, get Agudelo the experience.

  4. Get Jozy offf USMNT and open a forward spot for someone else like Julian Green or Juan Agudelo. Altidore should be “out the door”. He’s a choke!

  5. got to take a look at who’s hot right now, and that is Quincy Amarikwa, he’s got strength and speed to burn, and this year he’s finally starting to put the ball in the back of the net. And yes, he’s not been playing much for the past 4/5 years in the MLS but, you take who’s hot, and he’s up there right now.

  6. I still think the US should have used Dempsey and Donovan as the strike partnership in 2010 and I’d still go with that today. This isn’t meant as knock on Jozy, who would make an excellent offensive sub. Its simply a reflection that having your two best and most experienced players nearest to the goal and leading the attack makes the most sense given the talent pool, particularly when they don’t play the same type of game and you are playing two (or one and a half) defensive-minded central mids. Donovan can still run, scores all of his many goals inside the area, and often turns into a ghost out on the wing. Dempsey is a little more free-ranging and will shoot from distance, but is good on headers and remains our best poacher. He also isn’t a traditional midfielder. Put them up top, perhaps Dempsey slightly off Donovan, and it deepens (2 strikers) and widens (2 wing players) the attack, creates more churn and movement in the offensive third (using Jozy as a lone often stagnates the offense because of the style) without sacrificing our best players or playing them out of their best position.

    • Great argument and mostly agree. Though I would still like to see Jozy on the field, so some combo of Landon/Jozy/Dempsey in the attacking third would be my vote.

  7. If USNT is only 4-4-2, USNT needs to “REAL” forwards up front, maybe Kevin Bacon and Altidore, or Altidore and Boyd, or Kevin Bacon and Boyd. Only 4-3-3 Donovan or maybe Kevin Bacon can play withdraw or playmaker role, also Aguedolo or Dempsey could be useful as wingers, inter-changing position like Donovan and Dempsey did in 2010.

  8. Altidore wasn’t lazy in 2010 or 2013 In 2010, Altidore hussle and muscle open space or wear down defenders. In 2013, Altidore was a scoring beast in the Dutch and with USNT. Dempsey been lazy up front, Dempsey isn’t a forward!!!

  9. Jozy
    LD Bradley Zusi/Bedoya
    FJ Besler Goodson Cameron

    Beckerman provides cover for LD and CB’s and allows FJ to overlap. Cameron stays home and lets the RM (Zusi and Bedoya will swap out starts over the course of WC) work the wing. Bradley plays creator and offers defensive cover on the right side. Dempsey works the left channel and is back door for RM crosses. Jozy is hold up man and occupies the CB’s. Formation can flex 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 diamond as needs dictate during the game. If healthy, Beasley can be worked into the LM/LB equation, pushing LD to the bench.

    • ——————————-Jozy

  10. God, forget Altidore, once and for all. He totally sucks! He should be “out the door”. slow, lumbering hulk, who cannot take the pressure. Cannot score in big games. Johannsson is much better. Backed by Wondo and Eddie Johnson. Leave Altnomore off the USMNT team!

    • If Johannsson is much better why hasn’t he scored as many goals on the same team as Jozy did last year? If you take away penalties its 13 to 21 goals.

      • Well, to begin with is not the same team as Jozy had. This team is not nearly as strong as Jozy’s old team.

        In a nutshell, Jozy needs service while AJ can create his own opportunities, that alone speaks tons who is better. The question should be who is better in our current national team setup. That I’ll leave it to JK to figure it out.

      • how many of Johannsson’s goals have been “created on his own,” especially in a lone striker setup? Certainly, his single, solitary US goal wasnt exactly a shining example…

  11. Wondo would be going into this World Cup knowing full well he will never play in another Cup, and never play in any games more meaningful.

    I can’t help thinking its nice to have a forward like that around…guy is going to give 150% trying to score a goal.

    • Well like work the equations,
      3 concacaf B team goals = 2 bottom half Eredivisie goals + 4 Austrialian bundesliga goals < 3 MLS goals – penalty kicks % minutes played and there's the answer.

      • This is great!! According to my calculations, Ghana, Portugal, and Germany put together have only scored five Concacaf, Eredivisie, Austrian Bundesliga, and MLS goals this season.

        That’s mathematical proof that the USA will win its group—and likely the whole World Cup!!!

  12. Let’s not overlook the blatant inaccuracy regarding Johannsson in the article.

    AJ has FOUR goals and TWO assists in the last 9 league games. Yeah, he missed some PKs, too.

  13. People are treating this like a 442 roster where we’d go in with 4 strikers. The reality is that we’re likely to play with only 1 pure striker (hard to justify carrying 3 subs) and if we do go to a 442 at times, then Dempsey and then Donovan would be the options for the withdrawn spilt.

    So we’re probably talking a max of 3 guys: Altidore (who will start the first friendly b/c he needs to get match fit and sharp so needs as much PT as possible…AJ doesn’t need that), AJ probably (unless his form in camp stinks) and then probably EJ (who is strong in the air, fast, and capable of playing outside if need be. All the arguments for Wondo or Boyd or Agudelo are good ones but they can’t get past the reality that if we play only 1 forward, we really shouldn’t take more than 3 and possibly only 2…and if we play a 442 than you have to include Dempsey (and possibly Donovan as a backup) as candidates…which would mean that Wondo, Boyd and Agudelo are competing for at best the 4th spot with EJ and possibly the 5th spot. I just don’t see that happening.

  14. EJ is great in the air. I think this is the piece that differentiates him and earns him a place on the team.

    • agreed. it’s a nice weapon to have vs. opponents when you are probably not going to have so much possession and also when set pieces may be the best chances to score

  15. “Bradley recovers after the Jones turnover, and moves up the field, he scans and finds Zusi on the right side, who delivers a beautiful cross into the box, right at the feet of:

    (a) Jozy Altidore, who blasts a rocket wide, then dives like he was shot from the stands and makes a pained look as he looks up at the sky.

    (b) Aron Johannson, who cooly dribbles around the defender, freezes the keeper and shoots confidently, and the US advances to the next round!

    (c) Eddie Johnson, who starts doing step over after step over that fools no one, then kicks it off the defender for a corner.

    (d) Chris Wondolowski, who sticks out his leg and the ball bounces just over the defender and skips around the keeper for a goal, but still gets no credit for scoring.

    Which do you want?

    • Yeah Johannson is unstoppable. He has scored a ton of goals for the US and shatter Jozy’s scoring record in the Netherlands… Aron deserves a shot to make the team and earn some playing time, but it is silly to think he is dribbling around Neuer with ease while Jozy has no chance.

      • Aron hasn’t shattered Jozy’s record. Jozy scored 23 league, 31 total in ’12-’13. Aron has 16 league, 25 total with 4 games left. doubt he’ll break that record…..

        also not a ton of goals scored for the US, he scored once in stoppage time vs panama. great strike, good goal, only goal, but he’s new to the USMNT.

      • That was sarcasm. I was saying exactly that. He has not beat Jozy’s goal record and he only scored once for the US. That was my point, Aron hasn’t done anything to prove he is better than Jozy at this point.

  16. Not a forward, but what about Chad Marshall at CB. I wrote off all the people suggesting him when he was at the Crew but now I’ve gotten a chance to watch him consistently. Guy is a stud. Some say he’s injury prone, but he rarely misses games. He’s dominant in the air, which is the main thing we lose when we remove Gonzo, like most people want.

    He may be quite a bit slower than Gonzo, but he makes up for that by being quite a bit smarter. I’d take him over Goodson, personally.

  17. Lets face it trying compare player A scoring against C level competition, against player B who looked decent against A level competition is impossible. We just have to trust Klinsmann who can see all the players in training to make the right call.

  18. I’d favor EJ over Wondo for the reasons mentioned here, and think it will likely come down to one of the two going to Brazil, along with Jozy and AJ.

    What I think is encouraging is that Jozy, AJ, Boyd and Agudelo are all between 21 and 24, and hopefully will continue to develop so that in the coming years we have some real quality to choose from.

    Also, regarding Jozy and his need for service, there was an article posted here that thought was interesting.

    • I read it. It was a good read. One thing about being a striker is to evaluate if your team fits the players style of play. Something that Sunderland does not do is fit with Jozys style of play.

    • Good article. Thanks for the link. Jozy does need good service, but the article only talks about crosses. There are other types of passes/service that aren’t really considered. Most of Sunderland doesn’t provide those type of service either, but Giaccarini does and helped Conor Wickham score a couple goals last week. If Giac had played more this season I believe Jozy would have some goals on his tally sheet.

      • Flat out, Jozy is drooling to get into JK’s May camp and away from the distraction, funk, BS that is Sunderland. I think that he’ll have an awakening in the MNT camp and that alone should increase his confidence and stature. He’s our best and honestly only holding forward and with his physique and fresh placement I think that he can be a dominant factor actually.

        Regarding Wondo… I’m sick of all the naysayers that constantly rip this guy. He’s probably the hardest working kid on the team and regardless of all the detractors, this guy is a classic poacher that knows exactly where to be at exactly the right time. This is an invaluable asset, and based on worldwide projections of our upcoming disastrous failure to happen in Brazil, these are the types of things that we’ll need to have the benefit of, in order to shock the experts. Wondo will run through a wall for JK and for America! He deserves a plane ticket to Brazil, and especially ahead of EJ who’s been dogging it in recent times.

      • I haven’t been thinking about this, but EJ made a choice. I watch his ESPN interview a year and half ago. He was clear. He was about getting paid. He wanted to take care of his family and he had a limited time left to do that. I don’t fault the man for that. He owes it to his family to put food on the table. He choose money of honing his craft. He was in a place where he was getting better. Playing better soccer and becoming a valuable member of the US team wasn’t his goal. If he doesn’t make the plane, I don’t think he can be too upset. He made the decision himself.

      • +1 regarding Jozy. could be a breath of fresh air for him, been saying this for a while now. we’ll see

  19. Jozy is the best striker for the NT

    AJ isn’t good enough. Neither are EJ or Wondo. You’re fooling yourselves

  20. I do not get how anyone (the vocal minority of SBI posters) with a fully functioning brain can compare how Wondolowski has done over the past year against Guatemala, Belize, Cuba (none of the three even sniffing the Hex), JV South Korea and a JV or 50/50 JV/Varsity Mexican team, to what Jozy has done against CONCACAF teams in the Hex and European teams…

    believe it or not, it is much easier to score against teams that are 75-100th best in the World than those that rank 15-40th…Wondo’s 9 goals in 11 games and Jozy 8 goals in 15 games across 2013 and 2014 are apples and oranges…Jozy is going to start, barring injury, in Brazil

    moreover, AJ has scored at a similar to lower rate than Jozy playing for the same club in the same league, so I still don’t get how AJ is a better option than Jozy because he plays in a run and gun league that Jozt himself had done so well in…

      • lol. funny. I agree with the sentiment. Jozy is the best forward in our pool. You can always play the game of who did you score against for Jozy too. A “B” team Germany, a “B” team Bosnia, a bunch of Concacaf teams and Eredivise. The unfortunate fact is that Jozy didn’t score in the last world cup. The only truly big goal on his resume was against Spain in 2009 Confederations Cup.
        Jozy is the guy who needs to start for us, but just as you can discount AJ or Wondo, you can discount Jozy.

      • B Bosnian team? Haha get out of here with that bs, 9 out of 11 players from that game were the starts for the majority of their qualifying run.

      • Francois. I was the one arguing that Jozy had scored goals against good competition. You are on my side on this.
        He didn’t score all his goals while those “9 of 11” starters were on the field. He scored them after the substitutions were made. That is why I called it a “B” team Bosnia.

      • haha, i agree with him too.

        one thing to point out, Jozy has YEARS of experience with the US players, Aron has MONTHS…… Aron was a recent/ late addition to the WC convo (8 months ago, …. only 8). This alone puts Jozy ahead as the incumbent; chemistry. Then, the fact that AJ is scoring similar to Jozy in the Erie, simply can’t prove that AJ is BETTER than Jozy. he’s only doing the same thing Jozy did. how can that mean he’s BETTER…..?. Aron would need to go to a EPL or Liga, etc, team and score a lot to show that he IS better. i want both players in brazil but lets not act like Aron has been balling for years and is getting hated on. no he’s a new member and is coming along nicely. he’s got a goal, cool, let him keep subbing in and scoring and playing well in his few starts. The only way Jozy doesnt start is if JK puts LD and Dempsey up top. other wise, its jozy in a 4231, or maybe jozy AND dempsey/aron in a 442. Aron WILL NOT replace jozy in the starting line up, nor should he.

        ……….WC18 will be a dogfightat striker: Jozy(28), Aron (27), Boyd(27), Agudelo (25), Green (22), all whaving some if not still current European club training. add any number of young players to challenge that will be 21-24 by 2018

    • Safe to say JK is thinking the same thing as you, and we’re just hoping Jozy will pick it up again quickly when they get into camp.

      My biggest concern comes from a question Ian Darke asked on a podcast a few weeks ago. He said, with the three opponents we face in group play, we can expect to lose the possession battle vs all three. When we went through qualifying we usually won the possession battle, how will this team learn to play and score goals knowing they probably won’t have the ball the majority of the time….

    • Because current form is important. Jozy can hardly buy a friend in England at the moment. Sure, AJ is in a bit of a drought, but Jozy’s performances in Sunderland are troubling. If his confidence improves and he looks good in camp, he should start, but goals from over a year ago do not equate to goals today.

      • We could always have Jozy go play a couple of youth league games. Knock over a bunch of 10 year olds, and score like 100 goals. Then once he had that confidence he would for sure score against Germany too, right?

        I think the confidence argument has a tiny bit of validity but is very much over stated.

      • It annoys me as well when people discuss soccer in terms of intangibles. But its silly to argue that psyche can’t effect a player. Going on an epic scoring drought and training with the Sunderland reserves don’t do good things for your mentality. Jozy’s touch almost looks worse since he went to England.
        Sure Sunderland blows, and the service is bad yadayada. But if you think that Jozy has the same swagger as last year you’re kidding yourself.

        I’m not saying AJ starts in the WC. I am saying that Jozy should not be treated as a lock, based on his great play a year ago. Let them prove it in camp, not on past accomplishments.

      • I agree it has some validity as I stated, but form and current confidence is a much smaller factor than skill set. My point was you could take a youth national guy who is lighting the World on fire and as confident as could possibly be, but if his skills don’t translate he won’t do the job. Form matters and Jozy is in poor form, but his brief case has more speed, physical presence, ball skill, shot power, experience and awareness than all of these other guys. His form is down, but he is still the most talented striker at Jurgen’s disposal.

      • I don’t understand, you seem to be arguing against yourself. On one hand you are saying the if a confident player under performs in a better league its because his skill set is not up to snuff (which is what happened to Jozy). On the other hand you are stating that he should be starting for the US because his skill set is so superior.

        Regardless, looking at you young player example… Deandre Yedlin looked very bad for the US his first game. People on these boards were all claiming he wasn’t National caliber. Then, in his next cap against Mexico he looked great. It wasn’t because he suddenly became a more skilled player. it was because he was less nervous, more confident, and was not over analyzing his ever movement and touch.

      • In regards to Yedlin, who said he looked great. He still can’t defend. He has a lot of work to do. I hope he continues to get schooled defensively so that he works on his defense.

      • I didn’t say anything about a league or a better league. I certainly never tried to indicate the reason a talented player under-performs. I have no idea where you got that from. Were you reading this portion of the thread? The Sunderland discussion about why Jozy under performs is somewhere else in this article. Jozy should be starting because he has the skills, and he has proven himself capable of scoring at the highest level. None of our other strikers can say that. My whole point is this, form comes and goes. It is valuable at the time but it is fleeting. Skills are much more tangible, you have them or you don’t. Jozy has the skills, we hope his form will come. Other players may have form, but they don’t have the skill set, and will never be an international threat.

      • First, reread your comment about youth players for context to my Yedlin reply.

        Second, when has Jozy proved himself capable of scoring at “the highest level?” He’s flunked in England twice. Sure he can put the ball in the back of the net against CONCACAF teams, but you should take that at face value. With that said, I like Jozy and want him to play well.

        I think our disagreement comes down to this: I think that skill and form cannot easily be separated. We’d essentially be playing Jozy in the hopes that after months of mediocrity he snaps out of his funk in the middle of the WC.

      • To be fair, I am somewhat playing devils advocate. If I am JK I probably still give Jozy the first start (or along good look in the tune ups). I agree the chemistry and finishing last year were class. Really my contention is that he’s not a sure fire lock. If he looks like Sunderland Jozy for the Nats, then yes, other players should be considered.

      • I just don’t see Yedlin as fitting my description, but I can see why you think he does.
        For Jozy, I know it is a small number of goals that he has scored at the highest level. I was specifically thinking of his goal against Spain in the Confed Cup. That is the high level competition I was referring too. He also scored against Germany and had a hat trick against Bosnia.
        I think you summarized our disagreement well. I know form and skill can intermingle. The same can be said for a basketball or baseball player who gets hot. They look good but for a short window. The way you separate a good player from a hot streak is how long the streaks are, against what competition they are performed and how often they come and go.

      • his touch is not worse, no way.

        and it just could be that Jozy playing with a group, the USMNT, that is actually looking to serve him the ball instead of firing away from 30 yards will be a breath of fresh air for him

      • Jones is the more talented player, there is a reason Beckerman never received a ton of international interest. Jones has not been as aware of his role in the system. Perhaps he is a victim of trying to do to much. There is something Jones can learn from Beckerman.

    • Absolutely agree, Altidore is absolutely the best forward in the US pool. That said, in that world, Dempsey is not a forward, but I would claim he is presently a better goal scorer (and has been for quite a while).

  21. I find how invisible Johannsson went in Europa league kind of troubling. Are we all just kind of over rating the Eredivisie? Even if you take away penalties Johannsson and Boyd’s numbers aren’t all that different. Clearly Johannsson has a great deal of skill but I’m not as sold on how he’d handle the step up in competition.

  22. I’m not really a fan of either Altidore or Johnson, but they do bring a ton of international experience, so I guess that’s worth something.

    But can somebody please explain how anyone puts Johannsson ahead of Wondolowski on the depth chart?

    Let’s look at everyone’s strike rate. These are career MNT stats (compiled from

    – Johnson: 19 goals in 3544 min (0.483 goals per 90 min)
    – Altidore: 21 goals in 4509 min (0.419 goals per 90)
    – Johannsson: 1 goal, 241 min (0.373 goals per 90)
    – Agudelo: 2 goals, 774 min (0.233 goals per 90)
    – Boyd: 0 goals, 248 min
    – Wondolowski: 9 goals in 737 min (1.100 goals per 90)

    And for those of you who think Wondo’s numbers are inflated from his Gold Cup performance:

    – Wondo minus Gold Cup: 4 goals in 597 min (0.603 goals per 90)

    As they say, numbers don’t lie.

      • haha me too, i think it’s cuz that’s what we were thinking. “uh, AJ is just better, that’s why, screw your stats” haha

      • In fairness, neither Wondo nor AJ scored much in the first parts of the multiple games they played in. I think Wondo was something like 0 goals for 9 games in which he got less than 45 minutes each. It is just not the same getting less than 45 minutes here and there as it is getting to play at least nearly the full 90, It could be argued the coaches gave them so little time early on with the national team because they frankly did not think they would score.

    • AJ has been solid everytime hes played for the US. Wondo only looked good against b teams and cuba and belize who dint even have a fully proffesional league if im not mistaken

      • How can you even say what Mexico’s “B team” is when the A team played so poorly in the Hex? Herrera has said the only player that’s a lock is Marquez and he was out there.

      • because aside from their poor form as a team, they were still missing their most talented players. i’m not saying it was a bad Mexican team, but any Mexican team without Hernandez, Gio, Moreno, Aquino, Reyes, Herrera, Ochoa, and Guardado is a B team.

      • The name Mexico was really missing was Peralta. I really doubt Hernandez, Guardado or Gio are starters in Brazil. There’s talk Gio doesn’t even go.

      • Interesting how the only argument you haters have is “lies!” and the always convincing “because X is better than Y, that’s why.” Stay classy, fellas.

      • oh my god, give it a rest. i’m a huge MLS fan. just because we think AJ is better than Wondo does not mean we are Eurosnobs.

      • I dare say Gooch, is just about all the way back,
        at least to wherever he was going to get all the way back to?.
        He most def is on the 30 man, whether or not he makes the plane?, I feel it will come down to his form in training and friendlies as well as the overall confidence level in his full fitness and durability.

      • I don’t think thats the case I’m a big fan of MLS but I’m tired of everyone using last years GC to project our WC roster!! All the European teams we played in friendlies were more competitive than that Sponsor banquet we call the Gold Cup. We should use the quality of opponents to judge players not stats that can be manipulated depending on how they are presented.

      • Of coarse the 9 goals from Wondo stat is misleading, but just saying “AJ is better” isn’t an argument either.

      • Let’s be specific: Many of the goals that AJ has scored, and assisted in, have demonstrated extraordinary footspeed, or an amazing knack to find the corner of the net quickly. It’s not meant to degrade Windo by pointing out these facts.

      • but AJ simply just IIIIIISSSS better…….

        watch full matches of them on their club teams……….

    • I think Wondo should be on the roster but the last Gold Cup was not a serious competition and shouldn’t be used to prove anything.

    • I believe Wondo’s scoring has been just prior and during the GC that we mostly played vs. B teams, this year it was vs. a B Korean team and a Mexican side that thought we were going to take it easy before the WC. Once Mexico started to play for real, Wondo’s chances tried up. I don’t believe AJ had the advantage to play vs. B teams. all of his games have been either cameo playing time vs. Euro teams or A teams from CONCACAF that were fighting for their lives.

      • Still, Wondo can only score against the teams he actually plays against. No player in the MLS has been as prolific a scorer as Wondo over the last 4 years. Not Donavon, not Henry, not EF, not Magee, not Robby Keane, not Agudelo, not anyone. If you want to base decisions on past results, no MLS scorer has been close to Wondo. With Dempsey’s return, he will have some real competition over the long haul. Of course, comparing across leagues is a lot more difficult, in terms of scoring goals, only Dempsey, among present day USMNT players, scored consistently in a league that is better than MLS. Given the history of Bradley, Johannson, Altidore scoring so many goals in Holland I am not sure the comparison there is very good. Boyd is arguably in a lesser league ,,,

      • I agree, you do what you can with what you are given. Wondo benefited more but that is the draw when playing domestic and AJ is not. The problem that I see is the number don’t really tell the whole story. I’m sure both will be at the 30 player camp and JK will have a better gauge as to who is better.

      • Really? The Dutch league is worse than the MLS? Well that explains why so much top talent has come from our shores suppose.

    • Subtract out the goal Wondo had in the game before the gold cup too against clearly inferior competition. Also beyond the stats, which are useless because of the small sample size inherent in international soccer and the relative meaninglessness of stats like this in soccer anyway, I’ve never seen Wondo come in and change a game like AJ did in his first cap. They’re both unlikely to start against Ghana. Aron has shown more ability off ofthe bench, whereas Wondo takes a bit of time to get into games. even if you assume that they’re even, which they’re not because Aron can create his own shots better than any other striker in the pool, AJ has Been a better sub while most of Wondos success came as a starter.

  23. good analysis. although, EJ has scored against tougher competition than Wondo. so not sure why he was singled out for not scoring against top-class international competition. EJ did have 4 goals in WCQs, same as Jozy.

    heck of a battle going on!

    • I would say it’s because EJ has more than sixty caps, Wondo less than twenty. Neither have scored bunches against top teams, but EJ has had many more opportunities to do so.

      • that wasn’t the point being made though. the point being made was about the level of competition EJ has scored against.

        EJ: 63 caps, 19 goals
        – El Salvador (2), Panama (4), Jamaica, T&T (2), Honduras (2), Guatemala (2), Argentina, Barbados, A&B (2), Bosnia, Mexico

        Wondo: 19 caps, 9 goals
        – Guatemala, Belize (3), Cuba (2), South Korea (2), Mexico

        both haven’t scored against the best competition, but EJ has certainly scored against tougher competition, IMO.

      • Aside from the fact that Wondo scored 9 versus inferior opponents he also scored a lot of goals in friendlies were nothing is a stake and teams can be very experimental with their line ups. He got benched after the second game in the Gold Up. With all due respect to the tournament but our European friendlies have been way more competitive than the Gold Cup was and I think that is the standard we should use to pick our roster.

  24. Eddie Johnson isn’t enough for the World Cup and doing poorly currently. I rather see Wondo and Boyd, Wondo does well with when USNT controls the midfield, and Boyd never had full 90 minutes game. Aguedolo could play more midfield flanks or withdraw role but not #9.

    Boyd and Altidore vs Azerbajian! 4-4-2!

    • I go with EJ over wondo because obviously neither will stsrt so you ask “who is the better sub?” EJ is faster and valuable on set pieces, which would probably be our best chance of scoring late in a game

      • Agudelo is also faster and valuable on set pieces. Its hard to predict who will make the WC 23 but I’m pretty sure EJ might not make the provisional 30

      • I think EJ definitely will be in the 23. Hes constantly in US camps and was valuable during qualifying

      • Klinsmann used a lot of players in this cycle and there were also a lot of injuries in this cycle thus explaining EJ and Wondo’s consistent inclusion in camps and Agudelo’s exclusion. EJ fought hard but I believe the quality of opponents should be the tie breaker and Agudelo plays against better players. EJ is being exposed on an average team that he can’t contribute at all.

      • I’m Really torn on this. If we have any kind of smooth ball movement established, EJ kills it, Wondo enhances it. BUT, EJ is soooo good in the air.

        I prefer Wondo strictly on style at this point. The crossovers to nowhere from Aran on a wing are embarassing

      • Speed without brains = useless in the World Cup. The set piece won’t be against weaker CONCACAF teams. Plus, forwards have scoring streak mometum, at this moment Eddie Johnson doesn’t have the scoring “mojo”.

    • “Wondo does well with when USNT controls the midfield” Do you expect us to control the midfield vs. any of our group opponents?

      • Unfortunately we are not in 2010 and unless you have a delorean with a “1.21 gigawants” bringing up 2010 is a mute point. We will defending every game and hope to catch them in the counter.

  25. OK, I’ll bite: which era had the most talented forwards in US history? The Eric Wynalda/Brian McBride years? The short-lived Jozy Altidore/Charlie Davies combo?

    • 2001-2002. Wynalda was out of the picture, but McBride was on fire for the Crew and eventually started all the WC matches. And never underestimate how good Clint Mathis was during that period, playing just off the target man. Throw in the fact that Donovan started a lot up front as well (not at his peak yet, but with TONS of pace), and Joe-Max was still at Everton. And Josh Wolff (when he was healthy) gave us another nice option.

      • Agree with Jim here. Waldo never had a consistent strike partner and never really overlapped with McBride. McBride also didn’t really have a consistent strike partner, but the play of guys around him in 2001-2002 was pretty impressive, as outlined above. The Jozy/Davies combo certainly had potential, but we don’t need to rehash what happened there…

    • Altidore/Davies had the most potential. My god, it was perfect. Battering ram in Jozy, speed merchant in Davies. They complemented each other so well.

      • Completely agree. At the time I thought the soccer Gods had smiled, finally, on the US in regards to striker partnerships (no disrespect to Mathis and McBride)

      • Maybe skill wise but he lacks McBride’s heart. There is no way Jozy is as tough or as disciplined as BM. Jozy would have retaliated against Italy when McBride was elbowed in the face and suffered a broken nose. Look at Jozy’s stupid meaningless foul against Costa Rica which caused him to miss Dos a Cero.

      • Agreed!
        The thing about guys like McBride, Bedoya, and even Wondow is that they give all that they have. I like Jozy and love how he has provided goals for the USMNT, but I keep finding myself wondering just how could he would be if only he had the endless fight and effort.

  26. Id go with a core of these players and tinker based on match ups and form.


    -Defense is a cluster f*ck and is the ultimate determinant of how far we go, much more so than if jozy can score

    • I have to say I really like this lineup too. I’m not feeling Gonzo right now. He seems shaky. Goodson appears to play more calmly and that is what we need. Cameron has to be the rb. He is playing everyday for a Prem side in the top 10 for goodness sake. He will at least hold his own. I like Bedoya these days too if Zusi, (or day I say Landon), aren’t creating that dynamic play we need. Zusi is solid but not quick. Having said that I agree with you in that we will be tinkering for each group game. Let’s hope Klinsi tinkers well and the chosen players show up! I will be in Brazil for the entire Cup. Go USA!!

    • switch LD to LM and Zusi to RM given that is where they play at the club level.

      i’m also not comfortable with Goodson to be honest, the guy does not look good so far this year for SJ.

      • ………..AJ…
        FJ…? ?……..JC

      • +1 on both statements. I’m not ready to hand Goodson the keys, but then again I understand everyone’s fear about Omar.
        You are absolutely right that Zusi should be on the right and Donovan on the left. But they may switch from time to time in the game.

    • I’d take Bedoya over Zusi and Donovan. He is in tremendous form, having a great year in France, and is pretty much a box to box winger. Sub him off around 70-75 minutes and let Donovan come in.

      • yeah, i’d start Bedoya over Zusi at RM based on form right now. LD at LM which allows FJ to play LB.

      • I don’t understand how much more Zusi has to do for the Nats for people to stop clamoring for someone else…I like Bedoya but Zusi has been putting in deadly crosses for the Nats in every appearance he’s made over the last year, maybe more. I think at this point Zusi is almost a lock to start for that reason.

      • you don’t understand the competition that we, as fans, should want from our international players??? everyone knows Zusi is a great player for us. just because Bedoya is now pushing on Zusi for the start does not mean people are discrediting Zusi or forgetting him. it just means they are taking Bedoya’s performances in FRANCE into consideration. how is that a bad thing?

      • Yes! Both will see plenty of the field, and both will get starts. I prefer Bedoya right now but I will not be upset if Zusi gets the nod in a game.

      • Much of that form has come from Bedoya playing underneath the striker for Nantes and not at right midfield. Just something to consider.

      • That is why i like doing a 4-4-2 if you think about it you let dempsey and Bedoya switch at will with AJ and Donvan with the same. I think with giving those guys the freedom to move and be more fluid with there runs and not constricting them we might get more possession with the ball.

      • I like Bedoya, but this continues to be my concern with him. He isn’t really a winger. He hasn’t played that position at club, really ever.
        I watched him play RM against Chile a few years ago and he got completely overrun. He was awful at RM. I know he has put in better performances there recently and I agreed with him starting. I’m just a little afraid that his good form won’t translate.

      • according to his performance data, he’s played RW at least 8 times this season. he’s played an attacking mid 11 times.

      • Thats the thing a really GOOD attacking options are versatile so why not play a 4-4-2 and have it more free flowing in that they can interchange with each other.

      • I’ve watched several Nantes games and he was playing in the middle. I’ll take your word for it though.

      • I said what I said,he isn’t a natural winger. He doesn’t have a ton of speed, and he isn’t a great crosser. Those are typically the two most important skills of a winger. Yes he was awful in that game. I still like what Bedoya does bring to the table. Good link up play, chasing down lost causes, and reasonably good awareness.

      • If you look at Bedoya as a traditional winger, you’ll be disappointed. What he brings is that he is good enough to stop the opponents attack from that flank and also give much needed help to our CMs.

      • I certainly never said Zusi has speed. He is slower than Bedoya. Neither is a blazing winger like Donovan once was. Zusi is a better crosser though. If you are a winger and don’t have speed you really have to be able to provide solid service. Bedoya does add more defensively but neither he or Zusi are going to be able to contain the likes of Ronaldo and Reus. That will require a lot of team work.

      • I don’t know about flat out speed but Bedoya’s work rate seems incredible. He seems to be pressuring defenders and chasing balls to the touch line on one end, and still getting back to play defense. Blue collar player.

      • Absolutely. Bedoya’s work rate in chasing lost causes is great. Zusi has a solid work rate too honestly. Trying hard is a classic American attribute.

    • I’m not sure a 4-4-2 against Portugal would work. A 4-4-2 against Ghana would be more appealing, and if we play with 12 on the field vs Germany that should solve some of our matchup problems.

  27. I have to say that our issue has always been moving the ball around confidently in dangerous positions. IF we can get Bradley to play like he did vs Mexico and have Landon be Landon and have some speed up the wings (FJ and Beasley) and now Clint is rounding into form, THEN I am not as worried about who is in the box because at least we will be getting forward and creating opportunities. Jozy is not going to take the ball and out dribble and unload from 25 yds out a la Ibrahimovic or maneuver around defenders like Messi or outwit them like Suarez…but if we feed him (and others) in the box then good things will happen. It is when we give the ball away or shy away that we struggle. If we are confident and ping the ball around, good things will happen in the attacking third!!

    • Absolutely agree with you. The US has always been greater than the sum of its parts. What makes us dangerous is that we have better parts this year as a whole than any year I can remember. We finally saw what JK has been wanting the team to play like vs mexico. No other US team has one touched the ball like they did. I expect to see the team use the 3 friendlies to improve that aspect of their game.

  28. Jozy, Johannsson, Boyd and Agudelo are in the mix for Brazil. I don’t think enough credit is being given to these guys, they play against tougher opponents at the club level and all of them seem to be improving. I still remember the Wondolowski that couldn’t score against inferior competition at the Gold Cup and it can’t be ignored that he scored all his goals against the B caliber teams. As for EJ he’s not scoring for DC and Wondo always gets the start for the Nats so I think he’s played himself out of the picture.

    • I don’t complete disagree with you, but I see a few point differently. Boyd, Johannsson and Aguedelo are not playing against “tough” opponents. Eredivise has slack defending. Austria is a lower level league than MLS.
      Wondo has struggled, but recently he scored against Korea and Mexico. Both teams that are in the World Cup, I’ll give him a little bit of credit for that, even it wasn’t their “A” team.
      I think EJ still gets called into camp. He has something to prove to make that plane though.

      • AJ and Agudelo are scoring against tougher opponents for sure. say what you will about the defending in the Eredivisie, but it’s still a higher level than MLS. no debate.

        for Boyd, i think it’s too hard to say MLS or Austrian Bundesliga is better. but Boyd has been scoring in Europa league as well and that is at a higher level than MLS.

        i certainly admit it’s hard to justify Boyd over Wondo, but he’s also the purest replacement for Jozy which is why i think JK sticks with him. as for Agudelo, he will seriously have to impress from now until May camp to over take Wondo. completely agree there.

        but for AJ, he’s the #2 and it isn’t really a debate.

      • There’s element of the Eredivisie that’s far better then MLS. Teams passing out of the back and moving it through the midfield. However some of the defending is honestly awful.

      • I think you do a disservice to MLS treating it like the stray dog in your alley. MLS is not comparable to Austria, it is significantly better. According to this ranking system MLS and Eredivisie are about even (technically MLS was ranked higher). We know MLS isn’t close to the top 4 leagues, but it isn’t that far behind the likes of Eredivisie, even if you don’t believe these rankings.

      • i think that list is pretty awful honestly. France, Argentina, Portugal, Russia, Belgium and Turkey are leagues I would argue are better than MLS. also, China is ranked too high, IMO. i’d like to see the methodology for this list.

      • It looks like that list is based on multiple factors not just the on field quality. Thats the only reason USA would be that high.

      • I am not sure about the accuracy of these rankings, but Ajax beat Barcelona and had two ties against AC Milan and finished with 8 points at the group stage of the UEFA Champions league. MLS teams can’t even beat Mexican teams in the Concacaf regional league.

      • I am not sure how much of each league that you watch to be able to make that statement. I watch a lot of mls and I don’t see anything that is worse than the defending in the Eredivisie highlights. I don’t think you can realistically say the Eredivisie is better defensively.

      • i think you can and almost everyone does. Eredivisie has produced better defensive talent than MLS so far. not saying MLS does not have good defenders, but as a whole, Eredivisie is proven more than MLS.

      • but what leagues have produced in the past is irrelevant. AJ isn’t scoring against those players. He is playing against the current defenders in the Netherlands. I don’t know the answer to this, but how many National Team defenders are in Eredivisie. Are any of the Dutch starters in that league?

      • it doesn’t matter!? look, i understand the point you are trying to make. but you cannot be serious in saying what a league has done in the past is irrelevant. and when i say past, i’m not referring to the 70s when Dutch football was dominating. since 2000 there have been plenty of strong defenders that have come from that league. and attackers (Suarez…his strike rate is only 0.1, or 10%, less in the EPL compared to in the Eredivisie).

        no one is arguing the Eredivisie produces the best defenders in their prime. the Eredivisie is a feeder league, but that does not mean there is not quality.

        of the 9 defenders on the squad for the game against Ecuador next month, 5 of them play in the Eredivisie.

        the other 4 all started in the Eredivisie. van der Wiel (Ajax), Vlaar (AZ & Feyenoord), Pieters (Utrecht & PSV), and Verhaegh (Vitesse).

        just like i hate to see people discrediting MLS just because they are not familiar with it, i equally hate when people discredit AJ or even Jozy by saying the defending in the Eredivisie isn’t worth anything.

      • Suarez is an exception to any rule. He is a hard example to pull much of anything from.
        In addition to the difference in quality defender you also have to consider the quality of the team any given player is on and the systems they play.
        As you stated what the Eredivisie produced in the 70′ 80’s etc really doesn’t tell us how good the defending is today.
        In the end all these comparisons don’t matter a ton. Because of what AJ has accomplished he will get a chance to prove he is good. If he lights it up in camp for the US and shows well or at least shows better than Altidore in the friendlies, you could see him start. Jozy is still the man to beat.

      • Jesse – i do see your point, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree. i don’t think Suarez is an exception to the rule, and there are many other examples of solid players that came from the Eredivisie. Robben, RvP, van der Vaart, Sneijder, Huntelaar, etc. all had successful careers as attackers despite playing in that league. and that is just Dutch players.

        my only point is that AJ shouldn’t be discredited because people perpetuated the idea that the Eredivisie doesn’t defend. Jozy is absolutely still our #1 striker, especially in the 4-2-3-1 that JK uses.

        i’m responding to the AJ vs Wondo, Eredivisie vs. MLS, discussion.

      • bryan: I largely agree with you about the quality of the Eredivisie and Jozy. I will say, however, that I wouldn’t use successful Dutch players as evidence of the success of the Eredivisie in producing high quality players. Where else would we expect to see Dutch players develop?

        Suppose the Dutch were magically gifted by the gods to be superb footballers; we would expect to see lots of great Dutch players come out of the Eredivisie because those are the teams they grew up with. (We see a similar pattern with the Brazilian leagues; e.g., Neymar.)

        A more objective measure of the Eredivisie would be the number of high quality foreign players it produces; e.g., Suarez. Who would you add to that list?

      • King – always enjoy discussing thing with you, but how can you say we can’t count Dutch players as evidence that the Eredivisie produces good players? don’t we, as US and MLS fans, do the exact same thing. how many articles and talking points have been centered around how the US does at the World Cup will reflect the progress of MLS? that’s a main theme running right now.

        you can absolutely use Dutch players as examples of the Eredivisie developing good players just like you can use American players as examples of how MLS is developing good players. there is a reason so many teams in the EPL use the league to loan players out to. take this quote as an example:

        “The report showed that the Dutch giants (ajax) produced 69 players (more than any other Euro-based club) that are playing in one of Europe’s highest tiered leagues at this current time, 12 of those 69 are apart of the present-day squad.”

        as for foreign players; Romário and Ronaldo (like THE Ronaldo) come to mind immediately.

      • grrr, to clarify, that quote was a separate thought from the point about EPL loans. that quote about Ajax was regarding THEIR players, not loanees.

      • bryan: sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that Dutch players could not be used at all, just that I would want to see more than only Dutch players. Again, if youth development is for some reason spectacular in the Netherlands, then the Eredivisie wouldn’t necessarily be a great developer of talent, it would just be lucky to have a steady flow of talent.

        I can see, however, that I am arguing a slightly different point than you were trying to make. My bad. I think you pointed to the quality of talent in the Netherlands as evidence of the quality of competition there, whereas I was thinking about the quality of development. Thus, the Netherlands could be a land of giant centaurs that were fearsome soccer opponents, which would support your argument but not answer my question.

        What I was trying to think about was the quality of player development in the Eredivisie (not in the Netherlands as a whole, but the league specifically). For that, I wanted to see that they weren’t just “producing” quality talent because they were lucky to have a gifted/developed local population.

        (And just to be clear: I’m pretty certain that the Netherlands is not populated by centaurs. I mostly just wanted to think about great foreign players who developed in Holland—like the great example of Ronaldo that you provided.)

      • King – fair enough, and i agree the original point is probably lost at this point. this whole discussion started with me saying there is no basis to say AJ is not playing against “tough” opponents. he is. same with Boyd although I bowed out of the Austria v. MLS debate.

        then it turned into a discussion of MLS being better than the Eredivisie and that Wondo should be considered equal to, or better, than AJ simply because Wondo scores in MLS and scores against low-level international competition.

        AJ is a bench option for the A team, Wondo is a starter for the B team. already apples to oranges. and, IMO, i think the Eredivisie is better than MLS right now. and i’m a big MLS fan.

        that’s not discrediting MLS or treating it like a “stray dog in your alley.” it’s also not saying the Eredivisie is La Liga, the EPL, or the Bundesliga.

      • Bryan, I am classifying those 3 strikers exactly the same way you are. So in the end our argument over what talent they are competing against doesn’t really matter. The truth is we don’t have a Suarez or even a Lukaku on our roster. We have guys who have excelled in lower level leagues and who are either untested or who have struggled in higher level leagues. That is the end game. I root for them all, and I would gladly send our next young American prospect to Eredivisie to develop.

  29. Unfortunately for Wondo, he plays for one of the worst sides in MLS. The Quakes have absolutely no creativity in the midfield, so his scoring opportunities are few. This may hurt his chances a bit but I still think he’s on the plane to Brazil.

  30. Wondo has made a believer out of me over the past year. He’s not going to beat an WC-level defender with a stunning bit of skill or athleticism — and besides Altidore when he shields off a defender and then turns, which US forward is? — but he just knows how to get into the right position, and is a good finisher of the chances he gets.

    Has Herculez Gomez fallen off the SBI radar?

    • Herc can’t even get consistent playing time with TJ. i don’t think he has scored yet this season and has no assists. unfortunately.

      • +1 Herc is not in form, and has played for the US team in a long time. He isn’t really in the conversation right now.

    • I like Wondo’s work ethic, but his supporters always kinda remind me of Tim Tebow’s defenders. “Sure, he doesn’t do anything well, but his team wins.” Unfortunately try hard can only replace skill up to a certain point.

      • Except in MLS, Wondo scored when SJ was in the bottom of the league and when they won the Supporters Shield. He does one thing real well, he gets in positions to get shots. In addition to scoring the most in MLS over 4 seasons, by a wide margin, he is among the leaders in # of shots taken and his goal scored/shots taken percentage, 17.5% is better than McBride’s even if it is lower than Donavon’s or Carlos Ruiz’s. He does work very hard, and he has the brains and talent to score often as a result that hard work.

      • I agree he has a knack in front of goal, but only directly in front of goal… like within the six. otherwise he brings little in the way of hold up lay, distribution, speed, or vision.

      • experiment:

        Put Wondo on Sunderland this season. does he perform better or worse than Jozy did? does he even make the starting lineup?

        Put him on some other European team in spain, italy, portugal, germany, and ask yourself would he even play?

        I respect Wondo and give him credit for what he does do.

        But, to me, is he the best choice for a WC spot?……. Meh, sure if you have an open spot. that’s not the case here tho, Jozy and Aron are “locks”, dempsey (and landon) will be considered a mid to bring more STs, EJ, Boyd, Agudelo, Green; pick 2…

      • I’d be happy to see that experiment. It’s the only way to know how he’d do. (The Spain, Italy, etc. experiment, not the Sunderland one. The only experiments I’d like to do with Sunderland are: add Cristiano Ronaldo to show just how inept Sunderland’s service is— and to sit back and enjoy CR’s emphatic displays of frustration— or to replace Sunderland’s entire squad with a flock of geese because you never know….)

        I agree that there are tough decisions to make between forwards, but I wouldn’t put Julian on that list yet. Maybe he will show something in the send-off matches, but until then he’s far more experimental than Wondo.

      • these Wondo notes remind me of comments being made about Brian Ching four years ago. Bradley left Ching behind in favor of Robbie Findlay’s speed. Will Klinsmann do the same?

    • Brain Guy: me too. There are two guys I just hate seeing score for the US: Wondo and EJ. Why don’t I like seeing them score? Because it challenges my belief that they should be left home or that we have better options (Boyd, Agudelo). (I also don’t like EJ’s attitude.) Why can’t Wondo and EJ play into my bias and utterly fail?!

      So yeah, I’ve given up. They won me over. I cannot justify leaving either of them out.

      • I’m not as clearly sold on EJ as you are. My image of him at his most effective is rising to head the ball over smaller CONCACAF opponents. I don’t think that translates as well to the WC as Wondo’s strengths.

      • I like EJ as a wide player in a 4-2-3-1. He can receive and take on and he can get behind defenses off the ball. In a 4-4-2 he just isn’t good enough at checking/creating/playing small when he has to. If we go 4-2-3-1 I would start him on the left with Dempsey in middle and Altidore up front. On the right there would be several options like Donovan, Zusi, Johannson.

      • No Stick to your guns trust me on this one Wondo and EJ are no good. Wondo can only score against nobody teams and our group is filled with real teams with world class defenders. EJ just thinks he’s better than he is and will give you 20 step overs to no where. I remember in 2006 we almost took Kerry Zavagnin to the WC because he was a star against the B teams then we had a friendly against Germany and they exposed him good thing it was before the WC. I just hope we avoid the Bornstein (2010), Josh Wolff, Brian Ching and Chris Albright mistake of 2006.

      • In 2006, the question with that team always was who besides McBride could score? It turned out some questionable defending did not help them either. The problem in 2006 was that there simply were no forwards who could come close to McBride.

      • You’re probably right, but it’s interesting that Arena said he regretted not playing Ching.

    • Could it be the reason Wondo “has not lit up MLS defenses this season” (as Franco put it) is because MLS defenses are better than defenses from Belize, Cuba, and Guatemala? He’s scored goals for the US against those teams last summer, plus a Korea B team and a decent Mexican side.

      Trust me, I would love to be wrong about him and see him score important goals at the World Cup, but I just do not see him giving Ghana, Portugal and Germany any problems.

      Unfortunately, he’s Twellman 2.0. Great goal scorer in MLS, not good enough for the international game.

      • Lets not go there…. Twellman was robbed when Arena took Ching to the WC and he was a far better scorer than Wondo will ever be. He was a player that never got too many chances with the ‘A’ team

      • I always wondered about Twellman in that regard. I was a Ching fan but didn’t know that he was the reason Twellman was left behind. Did Twellman really not perform as well, relatively, in his international opportunities as he did for MLS? I just don’t remember.

  31. The problem we have is that we don’t know what Aron can do at the international level because Klinsi has spent the last year gifting Jozy starts to try and kickstart his season. Aron deserves a start in the first friendly.

    Between EJ and Wondo, I’ll take EJ. Neither will start so you’re judging their impact off the bench, Boyd too. I just don’t see Boyd’s poor US record earning him a plane ticket. Agudelo is sadly too little, too late.

    • I don’t think it’s too little too late for Agudelo he’s really being undervalued. He was injured last summer so he missed the Gold Cup he finished the season with 9 goals, Wondo had 11 and one thing the Dutch league is really known for is teaching you the game almost everyone leave there a better player and I think that gives him the edge

      • I would agree, Juan is a game changer and JK could use a game changer on the bench. He may be the most individually talented of the lot

    • “Spent the last year gifting Jozy starts…”

      What? In the last year Jozy has been scoring for the U.S. Quite a bit, actually. Just to be clear, Klinsmann hasn’t done him any favors. He deserved the starting role this past 12 months. Don’t confuse his poor club form with his U.S. qualifying form.

    • I would not take anything from AJ’s “treatment” this calendar year. Neither of the games this year was a full turnout serious friendly. I think he proved his worth last year, particularly against Panama, and will either get to start or supersub accordingly.

    • Asinine. Did US Soccer decide to “gift” Jozy the USMNT player of the year award too? Maybe you can explain why they didnt “gift” the award to him in 2007, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 since you think there is some grand conspiracy to give Jozy “gifts.” Oh, wait, what a coincidence, they gave it to him the same year he scored 8 goals (I guess you think the opposing teams gave him those too).

      What exactly is the rationale for the “Give Gifts to Jozy” movement? Is Bob Bradley the founder?

      Why exactly is JK supposed to start Johannsson over a World Cup veteran and reigning USMNT player of the year? Is it because he failed to score as many goals as Jozy did with the same team?

  32. Unfortunately, there is quantity and not a lot of quality outside of Jozy (arguably) and Johannsson. Good strikers don’t grow on trees, and many national teams struggle in that area of development, but I wish we good develop a couple of strikers that are producing at the highest levels week in and week out. If we do………the sky really is the limit for the USMNT.

    • Strikers sell tickets. Defenders win championships. The sky will never be the limit for us until we re-learn how to develop defenders.

      • Are you suggesting that Spain won the last world cup and the last two Euros because of their ability to develop defenders? It would take a lot more than fixing one position or even one line before we can seriously contend for the WC.

  33. My thing with Jozy is like you said in your article that he can score bunches when getting loads of service. So is he going to get loads of service in the world cup when we play Germany Ghana and Portugal? If he is not going to get allot of quality service is then the best option? If he isn’t the best option do we switch the other formation and bring someone like Aaron on and play a more free flowing style up front where we let players like Dempsey Aaron and one of the attacking winger move more around and try to create space and runs for each other.

    • I see this train of thought, but all three teams feature big, physical center backs, and I just don’t see A.J. dealing well as a lone forward in that situation. Like you said, we could switch formations, but against Germany, and to a lesser extent Portugal and Ghana, we inevitably will play more than a few of long balls hoping a target forward can control them and distribute. I just don’t see us trying to set up a flowing attack against any of these teams (maybe Ghana?). I know J.K. has said this is what he wants, but its a reality check that Germany and Portugal are a more talented side, and we’ll have to pick and choose our moments to attack.

      • Agree but what i mean by free flow attach isn’t really as much as attacking but letting players like LD, Dempsey, and AJ float around more switching positions and running of each other in hopes of getting the ball and releasing pressure from the Defense. I think with those 3 being able to do that and MB distributing from central with a player like Kyle behind him i think will do allot more of getting the ball on the other side.

    • I am concerned about Jozy’s form and fitness related to Sunderland but to the extent you balance a big guy and smaller quicker players in the traditional fashion, he wins by default, there are no current challengers at his level, despite how uneven he can play.

      • Jozy hasn’t been in good form. But it’s exacerbated both by Sunderland’s frustrating system, and a disturbing propensity among the team’s midfielders/wingers to forego forward passes for their own ill-fated forays. Altidore makes several runs a game only to see Borini or Alonso or Johnson just ignore him.

        They seem to lack confidence in him. That’s partly his doing, but it hurts SAFC more than it’s helped.

      • But to sit your big lunk striker you either have to concoct a scheme that gets by without one, or find someone else of similar size for holdup play duties. I do worry about his form just like you, but no one has taken advantage of it, and we may simply be stuck……as with our defensive choices, where no one’s earned it and the pool is relatively settled, for good or ill.

        FWIW, there is not a chance Jozy is left home healthy. Sloppy as he is, he is more likely to contribute or score in a high level game than Wondo.

    • If AJ starts is not going to be in a 4-2-3-1 it will probably be in a more traditional 4-4-2. I don’t think Jozy is one to play well with a partner, JK tried to pair him up before with AJ and that didn’t work. Jozy’s passing is not his strength, his is holding and finishing.

      • I thought in 2010, we played 4-4-2 and Jozy wasn’t bad alongside a speedy Charlie Davies (before the injury).

      • wow, i pretty much totally disagree. i think jozy works very well with a partner (davies in 2009, dempsey as supporting striker recently). i also think he’s a very good short-range passer, and holdup play is most certainly *not* one of his strengths, although he has improved lately.

      • -1

        you missed the mark on all of your observations seems to me…Jozy works better with a partner and always has and Jozy’s passing is a huge strength while his hold up play has improved and his finishing has been adversely affected by that p.o.s team he plays on

      • I think there is a misconception that people believes he plays better with a partner simply by looking at the results. With a partner he gets less attention by defenders which would increase his chances to score but to say he combines better with a partner I haven’t seen it. Most of his combinations with teammates have been when he has his back to goal and/or he is combining with midfielders. The only time he combined with another forward in the last 6 months that I can remember is in the Bosnia game and there is doubt that he intended to pass it to EJ or just pass it to himself for the shot. The times that he has partnered with AJ have been bad, he couldn’t make a simple square pass but by then he was already in a funk at club level.

      • there’s no misconception. either you have not been watching or you missed what’s happened over the many years of data that’s accumulated

      • I been watching, very carefully. “Missing what has happened over the years” ? we are talking current form, any data beyond 6-9 months is not going to give you a true gauge what a player can do today, specially with a WC coming up. I welcome a rebuttal but you have to be more specific to make your point.

      • how many times has he played with a second forward in the last 9 months?

        also, if I am scouting an opposing player, I am not limiting myself to the last 6-9 months of data…

    • Yes. He’ll get loads of service. The teams you mentioned are all top class but they are not defensively superior to any of the teams we have been recently playing.

      • Both Iceman and Jozy, play better alongside another striker, AZ plays two or three strikers and that is where both Ice, JA, are having or had career years. As for the speculation about Jozy’s, play making ability, Watching some of him at AZ, one actually witnesses quite a few world class passes and assist’s, that went along with thirty plus goals.
        I know it all seems like a long time ago, but the mantra here for Jozy, and any attacking player is quality service, service, service, a nurse and some more service, please!.

  34. I wonder if Klinsi would think about Landon as the striker, with Clint sitting underneath him. Would be a way to get Dempsey, Donovan, Zusi, and Bedoya on the field at the same time.

    • I would highly doubt that he would omit Jozy (or any other hold up forward) unless we were playing a 4-4-2, which I don’t see us being in unless we are behind, in which case I could see a Landon/ Clint pairing while bringing in outside options to get a goal.

      • I take Altidore, Wondo, Johannsen and Agudelo. Nice mix of experience, skill, speed and opportunity.

      • Johnson’s ability to come in and get on set pieces is a bit strength to me, we could definitely use him late in matches when we need a goal. Agudelo to me is the most likely to miss out, Wondo has proven me wrong lately and maybe this could be his shot?

      • This. AND, he can do what EJ does, score on a set piece or in the air.
        Another reason I think Boyd will trump EJ is his current form simply trumps EJs, pure and simple.

      • Jozy & Johannsson are locks to go so long as they are healthy
        The questions JK has to make is….
        EJ Vs. Boyd as the backup to Jozy as the big bodied striker
        Wondo Vs. Agudelo as the a late sub when/if we switch to a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 type formations.
        If it was my call as of right now I’d go with EJ as a flat out speed option (so long as not deployed as one of the 3 attacking mids) and Agudelo for the creativity factor (he has good size, speed, and technical abilities).

      • Actually, I suspect that the US will play 4-4-2 at the Cup. One striker formation was only temporary arrangement. The team is holding the ball better and the last two games we have come out with a 4-4-2 and looked better.

      • i agree actually, wasn’t the 4231 mainly just what JK used to kinda build the midfield up? i always thought he wanted to play a 442 if he can get the team playing in the style he wants. when he got the team he needed to focus on defense and train heavy like that until there was better movement and natural, long possessions. JK wants the team to have a good style of moving the ball around and retaining possession through quick simple passing then find the place to attack.. the 4231 helped if the mids pinch in, clog the middle more and break wide on the counter, etc. leaving the 1 striker to more or less occupy CBs and choose runs etc.

        with a 422 it gives the chance of more possession in the attacking third, with patience and a good partnership up top. essentially ours would morph to a 4411, one striker as a CF rather than full ST. clint would most likely play this role(CF), allowing him to drop back when needed/ he feels like it. it also gives him the option to use Jozy for give n gos. this way the lone striker has a partner to work off of/with, yet still two mids and two wides to play back to at any time. The CF and ST stay closer together yet have a free forming form, level when needed or stacked when needed

        Thus the mids still have two wides who SHOULD help out still on defense, and two CMs organizing the possession. whether the CMs are level or one is more a cam, they still defend the middle. I noticed that in the Mexico game, while bradley was the cam, he’s also in good shape and really stayed level with beckermann on defense AND early in the possessions, he wouldn’t move up unless the possession moved with it. he didn’t make a lot of through runs, still progressively organized the midfield as the possession worked it’s way up the field. THAT’s what i would guess JK would like to see more in the US style.

        but who knows, that came out way longer than i meant, in short, i like the 442 and was under the impression that JK had said early on that is was his preference but he felt the 4231 was his choice in building the team style he wants.

      • What he really wants is to play a 4-3-3. That is what his preference has always been. He has not used it much as he may not feel it is our best formation.

      • Pick the best eleven first, then choose the formation that best suits their abilities. We don’t have the player pool depth to choose a formation and then find players to fit into it.

      • If Altidore is the USA’s best option up front and Bessler is their best central defender, they are in for a long, very long, very very long World Cup.

      • Well you’re not wrong, but I mean… so what? We’ve never had a forward/central defender combo that would make us favorites over germany or portugal.

        “If Gyan is the best option up front and Mensah is their best central defender, Ghana are in for a long, very long, very very long World Cup.”

      • Ronaldo Messi: “[The USA is] in for a long, very long, very very long World Cup.”

        normal = group stages (i.e., what every team does)
        long = round of 16
        very long = quarterfinals
        very very long = semifinals

        So you’re saying that Altidore and Besler will lead the team to the semis? Woo-hoo!!!

    • We used to use Landon up top, but quite frankly he is not a striker. He is best utilized on the wings where his intuition, vision, anticipation, pace, and service can change matches. Just like his goal against Algeria in World Cup 2010 or his goal against Brazil in the Confederations Cup Final the year before.

      • The problem is he doesn’t have the pace to play on the outside anymore. It is clear in his recent form for the Galaxy and the USMNT. I think he will be relegated to the bench at this point unless he has an amazing run of from leading up to the World Cup.

      • Pretty sure he’s been injured recently. It was just last summer that he was showing some of his old pace and also his wiliness.

      • he still has good pace. Rooney pace but not elite like he once was. Good on a counter attack, but not able to run at people like he once was. Dempsey never had pace and he played LM for us last World Cup. Pace isn’t everything, but if a player doesn’t have the skill to adjust his game it is a major issue.

      • Could be. He’s still got craft on his side, though, compared to a lot of our other options.

    • It’s interesting to me that no one has really talked about this, but for the match against Mexico, when JK was addressing his benching of Landon Donovan, he said that based on LD’s performance in training, he felt he couldn’t justify starting him over Chris Wondolowski. That seems to suggest to me that Brad Davis was always going to start that match, and JK planned on using LD as a striker.

      • I noticed this as well. Yeah JK was apparently ready to start that Donovan/Dempsey combo up top. I still think Altidore starts against Ghana, but JK is clearly worried about him and entertaining other options.

      • JK says what ever is necessary to justify what ever it is he is doing. You can never expect a consistent application of his own rules.

        For example, how could he start Jozy based on his form? he is in terrible form, and yet… Im as sure as anything he will start him and Im just as sure he will produce nothing

      • To a good manager, “form” doesn’t equal “goals scored in the last five months.”

        If jozy is doing the things correctly that he’s put in a position to do, then he won’t be considered out of form.

    • 2010 Landon, maybe. 2014 Landon is going to be fighting to make the team and carve out a bench niche.

      I think the top 3 on the list are no brainers because they performed in quali. I may be critical of Jozy and worry his transfer choice will hurt us, but he’s our best big lunk striker, Boyd has had his chances and not challenged him yet. After that it’s Dempsey — oddly omitted — and AJ and EJ. Those are the only prime time performers we have. Virtually self selected.

      I do think one player out of Green, Wondo, Boyd, and Agudelo makes the roster as the last choice forward. I see that as an embarrassment of riches compared to 2010, but is it truly crowded, or is more like there is a cluster of comfortable people in first class and then a big bunch of people fighting for the last seat in coach? I don’t think the top few are even in doubt if everyone stays healthy.

      • Agreed its about Green, Wondo and Boyd likely fighting for 1 spot. Was toying with some roster combinations earlier and Klinsmann certainly has his work cut out for him. That being said, it wouldn’t be a Klinsmann roster without at least 1 surprise inclusion.

        Landon is still a top 3 player, and surefire starter, for us in my opinion. Klinsmann has shown he isn’t afraid to leave him out, but if he isn’t the first player off the bench I would be very surprised. Too much skill, intelligence and experience to not utilize.

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