By FRANCO PANIZO
The 2015 Gold Cup might still be a few months away, but it is not too early to take a look at which players could wind up contributing to the U.S. Men’s National Team as it attempts to defend its title.
After coming up victorious in the last edition of the Gold Cup in 2013, the U.S. will try and win the tournament for a second straight time next summer to book a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann still has nine months to identify talent that could help his side’s cause at the Gold Cup, but that process officially began earlier this month when the Americans went on the road and beat the Czech Republic, 1-0.
There were encouraging and strong performances in Prague from some of the younger prospects in the pipeline, as well as a handful of the regular veterans. Conversely, some disappointing outings left plenty of questions as to which players will still be in the picture to partake in the Gold Cup next June.
There is plenty of time for players to boost their stock, or possibly see their stock diminish. For now, here is the September 2014 edition of the SBI Projected USMNT Gold Cup roster, as selected by SBI’s editorial staff:
Projected USMNT Gold Cup Roster (September 2014 Edition)(Unanimous selections in bold)
Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid
Outlook- With Klinsmann admitting that Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando are battling for the No. 1 spot that Tim Howard recently vacated, the only real question was who would be taken as a third netminder. Bill Hamid’s strong year at D.C. United makes him the clear choice ahead of other candidates like the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson and Steve Clark of the Columbus Crew, but a lot can change between the end of this MLS season and the initial few months of the 2015 campaign.
Missed the Cut– Sean Johnson, Steve Clark, Cody Cropper
Fabian Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Greg Garza, Timmy Chandler
Outlook- Given how things stand now, the majority of the defense that went to Brazil this past summer will be back. There might be a shakeup as to who plays where, but the only World Cup participant that we see falling off the squad is Houston Dynamo veteran DaMarcus Beasley. Klinsmann will likely want to go younger there, and Greg Garza could be the man for the job as he continues to start on a consistent basis for Club Tijuana.
Missed the Cut– Tim Ream, Chris Schuler, Eric Lichaj, Robbie Rogers, Will Packwood, Michael Orozco, DaMarcus Beasley
Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Gyau, Julian Green, Wil Trapp, Graham Zusi, Jermaine Jones
Outlook- There are so many talented young midfielders emerging in Europe and MLS that it seems likely that at least one or two will break through. Joe Gyau and Wil Trapp are the favorites after respectively finding some playing time at Borussia Dortmund and contributing heavily for the Columbus Crew. They probably will not be starters for the U.S. with veterans Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi in the mix. But they could see time off the bench as the tournament goes on and depth gets tested. Fringe players like Brek Shea and Lee Nguyen will need to have either a strong run of games or an impressive January camp to warrant more serious consideration.
Missed the Cut– Luis Gil, Danny Williams, Brek Shea, Lee Nguyen, Emerson Hyndman, Joe Corona, Perry Kitchen, Alfredo Morales, Harrison Shipp
Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Terrence Boyd
Outlook- Altidore and Dempsey figure to be locks given their experience and game-changing abilities, but who joins them is uncertain. Johannsson and Boyd are both currently recovering from injuries, but have shown they can find the back of the net at the club level and are still young enough at 23 to warrant looks over other promising youngsters like LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes and FC Utrecht’s Rubio Rubin.
Missed the Cut– Gyasi Zardes, Andrew Wooten, Rubio Rubin, Bobby Wood
What do you think of this group of 23 players? Who are you happy to see included in the squad? Who is missing that you feel should have been considered?
Share your thoughts below.