Most of the focus in the American soccer world right now is on the MLS Playoffs, but Jurgen Klinsmann surely has some of his attention elsewhere.
That’s because the U.S. Men’s National Team’s first two World Cup qualifiers are around the corner, and Klinsmann needs to figure out what kind of roster he wants to take into those important matches.
The U.S. will officially begin its walk down the road to Russia 2018 later this month with a Nov. 13 home game vs. St. Vincent & the Grenadines and a visit to Trinidad & Tobago four days later. The Americans might be seen as the favorites in each of those encounters, but the U.S. head coach has the challenge of assembling a roster that can perform better than the veteran-laden squad that fell to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup in October.
Klinsmann has talked about potentially replacing some of the older and more reliable players on his team with younger prospects who need minutes in order to prepare for what’s ahead, but radical changes seem unlikely given that this is the start of qualifying. Still, Klinsmann could begin to weed out some of his elder statesmen in this upcoming camp and replace them with players who are familiar with the national team setup but haven’t received many minutes.
Klinsmann also needs to figure out what to do with the versatile Fabian Johnson, who he sent home in October to “rethink his approach” to the U.S. cause.
Who will be called up for these initial World Cup qualifiers? Here is the roster we could see when Klinsmann unveils his selections on Nov. 8:
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Bill Hamid
Defenders (7): Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Brek Shea
Midfielders (8): Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Alfredo Morales, Lee Nguyen, Danny Williams, DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes
Forwards (5): Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Bobby Wood, Andrew Wooten
Several veteran regulars are sure miss the cut here, including Chris Wondolowski, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, and DaMarcus Beasley. They would be replaced by the likes of Andrew Wooten, Lee Nguyen, Bill Hamid, and Brek Shea, as Klinsmann goes out with the old and in with the new.
Fabian Johnson, while still in his prime, also could be left off given how fresh the wound still is over his perceived lack of dedication. Johnson is playing regularly for UEFA Champions League participant Borussia Moenchengladbach right now, but it might take more than a month for things to blow over between he and Klinsmann.
One of the names that might catch most people’s attention here is Juan Agudelo. Klinsmann appears likely to start counting on some younger attacking blood, and Agudelo provides just that and an exciting skillset that could add a dimension to the Americans’ attack off the bench.
At goalkeeper, Klinsmann has already stated that it is “likely” that both Tim Howard and Brad Guzan rotate starts in the upcoming games. The in-form Hamid would come in after them as the No. 3, replacing Rimando and earning a just reward for his continued outstanding showings in goal for D.C. United.
Some may be surprised not to see Ventura Alvarado or Alejandro Bedoya on here, but neither of them have played much in recent weeks. In fact, Alvarado has not seen any time for Club America since mid-September while Bedoya has not seen the field since missing out on the CONCACAF Cup because of an illness.
Klinsmann will also be counting on several key veterans to help out during this potential transition phase, including Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and Jozy Altidore.
What do you think of this projected USMNT roster? Like it? Who would you like to see included/omitted? Should Klinsmann bring in even more youth?
Share your thoughts below.
And the best American midfielder based on every team he’s played on and their success is Sacha Kljestan. Yet again, this year. Send Klinsmann back to retirement to his quiet little home in Huntington Beach and bring in a real coach with new ideas that will make a difference on the big stage… Oh, I don’t know say like Jessy Marsh
Would like to see Klinsmann try a 5-3-2 variation with Johnson and Yedlin/Zardes on the outside along with 3 CBs. They have the wheels to play it both ways. Bedoya, Bradley and Nagbe would be the midfield.
I’d love to see Ibarra get another call up though I know that’s not likely right now.
I’m happy to see I was wrong
I don’t understand why Klinsmann consistently uses players out of position. I would rather see Fabian at left midfield. His pass to Jozy against Panama in WCQ two summers ago was awesome, and something that’s beyond Zardes. I think moving him to midfield improves our ball retention and offensive skills and is worth moving Yedlin into his spot at right back.
And no more Altidore! His time is up!
Bennie had a great year, but his own coach had to pull him from the starting lineup at the end of the season because his legs at 31 were going. I’d like him SVG, but not the speed of TnT.
Remove Jones and add Lleget. Would also like to see Morris on the roster. Also can we please find a replacement for Chandler. He continues to under perform for the USMNT. Finally, let it go with Feilhaber. He’s not getting back in the USMNT picture at 31. It’s time for fresh blood and legs, not recycling older players. No reason to replace one aging player with another.
Why no Morris?
I’d love to see Feilhaber get called back in, (finally!) after a season where he is in the final three for MLS MVP. I think he’s the creative midfielder we’ve been lacking for the last couple of years, and would allow Bradley to drop back into his more natural role.
And if Nabge doesn’t get a shot, I’d be amazed.
Brek Shea at left back. Timmy Chandler at right back.
I vote for Tim Chandler right back in Germany.
I would look to bring in Lletget, Morris, Feilhaber, and Nagbe. I could also see Gonzo getting called in. Not a big fan of Orozco. Also, even with the whole debacle, Fabian should be called in. Lastly, I would like to see Lichaj as well, but unlikely.
One thing we have to be wary of is the cohesiveness of the team. These games matter, so it might require a longer wait to bring in some younger and less experienced players just for the sake of qualifiers and maybe bring them in during friendlies.
Lineup could look like the below, but perhaps moving FJ to the wing, and put Brek or Lichaj at LB.
Did you see Gonzo play for Galaxy at the end of the season, no thank you would rather call in Jonathon Bornstein than Gonzo on current form.
Definitely NOT lazy/Jozy Altidore!!!!!
No Dempsey or Altidore. New forwards, please.
Nothing against Julian Green and I wish him all the success in the world, but every time I see one of these lists without his name on it, it makes me even more upset about Klinsmann leaving Landon Donovan off the World Cup roster. That omission potentially cost U.S. Soccer one of its biggest moments ever — a game against Argentina on the Fourth of July.
Please get over it…our boys got out of a very tough group when the consensus was we would fall short to Germany and Portugal
Thank you. Just getting out of the group in 2014 was an accomplishment. Some people are pushing it. At the World Cup beating a UEFA team or COMMEBOL team is a challenge. A win against Ghana and adraw with Portugal was an accomplishment for the US team.
Getting out of group play is always an accomplishment in the World Cup. Absolutely no complaint there.
The lack of possession, lack of attack, lack of creativity left much to be desired though.
Unlike the 2014 World Cup, Klinsmann is now up against the wall and needs results. It will be interesting to see if Fabian Johnson is called in for the WC qualifiers. Klinsmann no longer has the luxury of allowing his personal biases affect his professional obligation to field the best team possible.
Sorry I don’t see how Donovan would have gotten us any further in the WC last Summer, Belgium was more than one player better than us. Might LD have knocked in Wondo’s sitter sure but then blame Wondo not the guy who scored the goal.