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Projecting the USMNT Copa America roster

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

Jurgen Klinsmann offered few surprises with his 40-man shortlist, but the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach must now focus on trimming that roster to 23 ahead of this summer’s Copa America.

Following several months of rebuilding following a disastrous Gold Cup, the U.S. will have a chance to go at South America’s best in this summer’s marquee tournament. Set to face-off with Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay, the USMNT faces no cakewalk, and Klinsmann will be afforded little room for error in escaping such a difficult group.

While the tournament remains almost exactly a month away, Klinsmann’s final roster much be confirmed by May 20. In the weeks that follow, Klinsmann must remove 17 names from his pre-tournament shortlist, while making some difficult decisions on who to leave at home.

Here are the 23 players that could make up Klinsmann’s roster for this summer’s Copa America.

Projected USMNT Copa America Roster


David Bingham, Brad Guzan, Tim Howard

Outlook- After months of duking it out for the right to be the UMSNT’s No. 1, Guzan and Howard are locks for Klinsmann’s roster. Although each has seen their share of struggles on the club level, both Guzan and Howard remain the USMNT’s top goalkeeping options, and it will be interesting to see how Klinsmann chooses to separate them when the tournament finally begins.

Behind them, Klinsmann faces a decision. Does he go with the experience of a Nick Rimando, or the promise of a David Bingham or Ethan Horvath? In truth, Horvath is still a year or two away from claiming his spot on a true tournament roster, but should be expected to get a look in upcoming friendlies or qualifiers. Rimando has been a spectacular USMNT backup and remains one of MLS’ elite, but his inclusion would be a bit of a waste given the two names in front of him.

That leaves Bingham, who brings plenty of potential and stellar club form to the third goalkeeping spot on the roster.

Missed the Cut– Nick Rimando, Ethan Horvath



Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, DeAndre Yedlin

Outlook- Starting with the centerback position, Klinsmann has a few obvious selections to make. Matt Besler, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron are all near certainties to make the team given what they offer, and should be expected to combine to start against Colombia in the tournament opener.

The battle truly begins for that fourth centerback position, which features several USMNT regulars jockeying for a final spot. Ventura Alvarado has played far too few games on the club level to have earned his spot, while Matt Miazga may not be fully ready to be thrown into the fire against the likes of Colombia. That leaves both Omar Gonzalez and Steve Birnbaum and, given Birnbaum’s ability to play at right back as well, the D.C. United defender seems like a safe choice to join the roster.

Out wide, Birnbaum helps provide cover for DeAndre Yedlin, while the resurgent Timmy Chandler can do a job on either side of the defense. The left back position appears to be Edgar Castillo’s to lose, which allows Fabian Johnson to push a bit higher up the field.

Missed the Cut– Kellyn Acosta, Ventura Alvarado, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream


Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Darlington Nagbe, Lee Nguyen

Outlook– Headlining the midfield group is the duo of Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley, two players that should be penciled in to the starting lineup from the get-go. The two are far and away the team’s top two talents at the current moment, and each will have to be at their top level if the USMNT hopes to make a run through the tournament.

Joining Bradley in the center of the field are veteran options in Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, two players that still have plenty to offer despite their advancing age. Beckerman still holds the title of the UMSNT’s premier No. 6 option, while Jones’ recent resurgence with the Colorado Rapids all but guarantee him a spot on the roster. Add in a talented newcomer in Darlington Nagbe, and the USMNT should have enough depth in the center of the field, freeing Alejandro Bedoya up as a sort of utility man to play either tucked in or out wide if need be. As long as he is kept far away from a No. 6 role, Bedoya is still a key part of the USMNT and his versatility should prove helpful in assembling the midfield group.

That likely leaves one spot open in the midfield. Mix Diskerud is usually safe bet to be among Klinsmann’s selections, but the NYCFC midfielder has been relegated to the bench in recent weeks. Danny Williams has fallen out of the picture following an poor showing against Costa Rica in his last appearance, while Perry Kitchen has yet to firmly solidify his spot with the USMNT ahead of such a major tournament.

That leaves Graham Zusi and Lee Nguyen as the most likely additions, and in need of a potential No. 10 off the bench should the USMNT need a goal, the Revs midfielder is likely the best option.

Missed the Cut– Mix Diskerud, Perry Kitchen, Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi


Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes

Outlook- Starting up top, Jozy Altidore reclaims his spot as the USMNT’s go-to forward, while Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris compete for a spot alongside him. Both Wood and Morris have been in fine form for their club’s in recent weeks, making their selections an easy choice for Klinsmann.

Both Gyasi Zardes and Clint Dempsey are listed as forwards, but one would expect them to play in slightly more withdrawn roles. Dempsey will likely drift a bit deeper towards more of a No.10 position, while Zardes will all but certainly be viewed as a wide option that offers pace and athleticism of the bench.

That brings us to Christian Pulisic, whose rise through Borussia Dortmund will likely see him claim a spot on the roster at just 17-years-old. When it comes to form, Pulisic is among the hottest players in the USMNT pool, but it’s not hard to envision Klinsmann being a bit tentative to throw the youngster to the wolves at such a big tournament. Even at his age, Pulisic is among the more technically proficient players on the 40-man shortlist, and could do a job either as a central or right-sided playmaker. No matter how much he plays, Pulisic deserves to come along for the ride, and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder could certainly have a part to play given his current skill set.

Missed the Cut– Ethan Finlay, Chris Wondolowski


What would you think of this 23-man USMNT roster? How would you expect this roster to fare at this summer’s Gold Cup? Who do you see making the squad?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I hope Birnbaum makes it. I believe he has the potential to be another Geoff Cameron: versatile, strong in the air, physical, athletic, composed, reads the game well from the CB spot.

  2. I hope to see Zusi back in the roster. The ability to put him on corners and free kicks and put Bradley back in the mix late in games should not be overlooked. Plus he is really inform and useful all over a 433 formation.

    I like Danny Williams too. Puting up and coming players looking to use the Copa as shopwindow for transfers is always a good idea too.

    I would take these two over Nguyen and Morris.

    • We like to complain about rosters that Jk selects, and Bradley too for that matter, but when you really try to select just 23 guys and everyone is pretty much healthy its pretty hard to do

      • I said once before that if you asked 10 different people posting comments here for their best 23 or their starting XI, you would get 10 different answers. We have a few guys who are locks and a whole bunch of other guys pretty close together. And people don’t even agree on who the “locks” are, with the possible exception of a healthy Fabian Johnson.

      • I remember that comment and I note that as of today there are probably 4/5 locks FJ, MB, Demps, Yedlin, and Wood. I personally would also lock in Cameron and JB… the notable absence here is Howard, who I would have locked in about 12 months ago… but now, maybe not…

  3. It appears that even if Chandler starts scoring into his own net every game he will still be making every USMNT roster.

  4. Chandler is listed as not available on the Bundesliga Website for this weekend’s match with a thigh injury, also Frankfurt has the possibility of being in the relegation playoff during the first week of camp.

    • I have been all for jettisoning Brad Evans and I know Chandler plays at a bigger club in a better league etc. but I’d take Evans over Chandler every time based on their USMNT performances.

  5. “Both Wood and Morris have been in fine form for their club’s in recent weeks” Nice way to skip Jozy’s current club form.

    • Other than last week’s game he’s played pretty well, with a couple of assists. The pairing of Jozy and Giovinco was a bad idea, they really don’t mesh well together. Giovinco has a higher percentage of Toronto’s shots than Villa does for NYCFC. Some of that is Gio’s fault and some of that is Jozy’s fault to be fair.

      • I didn’t know Jozy was a midfielder pulling the string with his assists, he is there to score which he is still at zero, yet we see him being the starting 9.

      • “he is there to score”

        no, he’s there to help the team win however he can. (and to sell tickets, shirts, and tv rights, if we’re being perfectly honest.)

      • Louis- If you watch Toronto you’ll see everyone is there pretty much to get the ball to Giovinco and then get out of the way so you don’t deflect his shot wide. Jozy needs to be more aggressive no doubt, but he’s following what the coaching staff is telling the team to do. It’s not Jozy’s fault Toronto paid him so much money to pass the ball.

      • Jozy is scoreless this season because he has left goals on the field, not because of a lack of opportunities….

      • Not saying at all that its not partially Jozy’s fault, but he’s had 6 shots all season and half have been on goal. He’s not getting a lot of opportunities, and part of that has to do with the teams “strategy”.

      • 6 shots is lower than what I thought. Good stat. They for sure just funnel everything to Giovinco

      • After the last Toronto game which I happened to see, I wrote that Jozy needs to be more assertive and more selfish. Giovinco is obviously the center of their attack and calls for the ball and gets it and Jozy defers to him. Maybe that’s what his coach tells him to do, but i think he needs to be more assertive anyway. I think we have seen in the past how Jozy really does better when he is confident and his manager shows confidence in him. Some players you need to encourage, some you need to challenge. I think Jozy is one who needs encouragement while Dempsey just needs to be challenged.

      • Johny: I thought Jozy missed a couple of very good chances in that game. He does get chances, he is just not that good at converting his chances. He lost his mojo.

  6. Colombia has listed ten players from their U23 squad that defeated us in the qualifier. Also, no Falcao, but James, Adrian Ramos, and Bacca are on the list. Qunitero that dominated the midfield is also not on the 40 man roster, but he hasn’t seen the field for Rennes since the qualifier.

  7. Here is a name that will make it, may not seem like he should, but one stat says he should also start. Graham Zusi, cannot believe I am saying that, but when he starts for whatever reason the team wins. When him and Beckerman are in the starting 11 together they have not lost in something like 10 straight.

  8. Edgar castillo should not even be on the list
    of 40 he never played any games with the
    national team and I think beckerman and
    Jones should be “forgotten” by Klinsmann,
    their time has passed and it’s time for
    younger players receive chances

    • Name two defensive mids that have been better than beckerman and Jones for the last 12 months, both domestically and internationally

      • We’ve lowered the bar so far that Beckerman just puts in a decent shift against a country like Guatemala and now he can’t be replaced. The US has been playing so well we better not change anything.

  9. Bizzy man, I would tend to agree with you… but I’ll give you what I think the right answer is… man scored a ton of goals for inter… but just never could cut it at the international level… famously nicknamed il giardiniere (the gardiner) because he botched countless goals by kicking the turf up… So no… I can compare apples to apples and say Morris and wood have had better national team showings than wondo. Plus when they are like 10 years younger… their inclusion is a no brainer.

  10. Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga should make the team. They are two solid defenders that ranked very high playing in MLS (hence scouted by other teams!!!!).

    Danny Williams, a defensive midfielder that that plays at a higher level in the championship league, that has draw interest from EPL teams, a DM than scores goals (long range strikes!!!), should make the roster, if it means dropping Beckerman or the “other” DM on the roster (won’t call his name).

    Chris Wondolowski, who most people on here deems is too slow or doesn’t have the speed for the international level is in the SAME league (where we can compare apples and apples) scoring more goals and has a better scoring percentage than all the MLS players on the roster (you can’t be that lucky to lead ALL of our strikers year after year in the same league….there has to be some skill somewhere)… would only make sense for him to make the 23 man roster.

    Really though at this point whatever gets Klinsmann fired…..plain and simple

    • I think you are not far off on 3 out of 4, however, you are wrong on Miazga for one reason. He has played 3 1/2 games in the last four months, one and a half of those were stinkers and one of the good was against Aston Villa. That’s fewer games and honestly less results than Orozco has had in the same time frame.

      Still plenty of time for Matt to make his case for 2018, if makes into the regular lineup in BPL for Chelsea or on loan he will be seasoned enough for Russia.

  11. I still don’t understand why Morales isn’t given another chance…starting for a mid-table Bundesliga team is nothing to sneeze at and he’s relatively young.

      • alfredo morales? he’s started way more games than not; think he was out a month due to injury, but that’s about it.

      • Morales was out 3 weeks due to injury but had a hard time regaining his starting position because his team got into a hot streak and coach didn’t want to change things. Once he got his chance back he scored.

  12. I wouldn’t start Dempsey at all and depending on the opponent I would not start Altidore either. Right Bobby is the most in form but who knows about time June comes around how the others might be playing. Against an “weaker” side like Paraguay or Costa Rica I would put in Bobby. By the way when I say weaker I mean not Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, etc. I don’t think there are really weak teams in this tournament.

  13. I don’t see JK leaving his boys, Zusi AND Wondo, home.
    (I never have been a fan of Zusi but I will say that he impressed me a bit last game).

  14. I think the biggest question is Dempsey. Write in starter for years, where does he fit in?
    Author says withdrawn forward. That is where he has been for the Sounders, but I don’t like him there, don’t think he really solves anything. If he isn’t in scoring role, I don’t start him and I don’t think that is a scoring role

    • Rimando is an easy cut. His is nowhere near as good as Howard or Guzan which places him as the 3rd keeper option. Since the 3rd keeper is never used (barring a major breakdown of the team) there is no reason to bring another old a## player at the expense of getting a younger option valuable time with the team.
      So unless Howard or Guzan are not able to participate the logical decision is to take a younger prospect (Bingham, Horvath, Yarbrough) so that they can be groomed as potential replacements for Howard & Guzan in a couple years.

  15. The only disagreement I have with this potential roster is the inclusion of both Jones and Beckerman. I realize having a successful tourney is of the upmost importance for Klinnsey and that depth at D-Mid will be important, but I think given Kitchens age, talent level and gritt (and his pt at hearts) he should receive a spot over one of the former. It would make sense given the philosophy of youth.

    • I’d argue Jones isn’t really DM anyway, yes he’s a hard tackler, but he is almost always out of position in that role. I could see him in the role Zusi played against Guat. in Columbus providing high pressure and springing the forwards going forward.

      Of course if we go back to the diamond he’ll probably play wing.

      • He really isn’t a typical d-mid is he? Certainly not a d-mid like Beckerman who’s just a flat out six, but instead he sits deep in defense and then bombs forward into the attack both on counters and in possession, which really has often been to the detriment to his central partner in past. I think honestly, he would best serve in a three man midfield where he isn’t either or, playmaker or holding mid, but I want to say that Klinnsy tried a variation of a 4-3-3 with him in it and it was just a disaster. Really, rather then bother finding the best position for a 34 year old tweener, It might be just be best to move on with other personnel that can best elevate Bradley’s game and everyone elses for the next decade, hopefully.

  16. Missed the Cut– Kellyn Acosta, Ventura Alvarado, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream

    Everyone’s favorite son and the missing link to our success is projected to be cut. Prepare the riot gear.

    • While I’m sure everyone could appreciate the sarcasm, it’s still over the top and petty haha. I don’t think anyone was saying Lichaj was a saviour but that based on Jurgen words(challenging yourself in Europe, playing consistently)he deserved more looks and I agreed. He’s getting his chance again and I for one hope it’s a fair one because he has been one of the better fbs in the championship going on 2 years now

      • One of the top LB in Championship? So he must be getting offers from PL teams or leading his team into the PL. He is a career Championship player which is not a bad deal for him
        I would describe his style of play as a bull in china shop at either LB or RB.

      • I liked what I saw when he was called up under Bradley. I’m of the segment that hasn’t seen his matches since playing the Championship.

        I’m absolutely for people being given a chance – my sarcasm is more related to the hysteria some of us place on a single name we believe should be called up and the over-the-top hyperbole associated with their exclusion. Kljestan comes to mind.

    • I’m curious how many people have even seen him play, outside of highlights, other than NT scouts and fans based in the UK. I haven’t.

      • When he was with Aston Villa about 3 years ago, because of an injury to a regular he started about half a dozen games or so. He subbed on occasionally, too. I would say I saw most of his starts at AV and several of his sub appearances there. While in the championship I have seen him two or three times when Bein has televised one of his games. He has good pace, can go forward pretty well, crosses are average, gets beat too often by skillful attackers, IMO. Last time I saw him play, which was last season, a left winger was consistently beating him with pace and guile.Especially guile (fakes, change of pace, etc.)

  17. No complaints here, except that I would slot in the more versatile Ream in place of Chandler, Birnbaum already provides cover at RB, and Ream can play CB or LB.

  18. I have a hard time believing Zusi will lose his spot after that must win Guatemala game unless he looks really poor in friendlies. The LB spot is definitely concerning as well.

    • Drop Bedoya and add Finlay? Come on friend…Bedoya has been playing well for Nantes and has proven himself on the international stage. Finlay had a heck of a season for Columbus last year but is off to a slow start this year and had been average in his appearances for the Nats.

      • I’m replacing Finlay over Morris in the Forward pool, Zusi over Bedoya in the Midfield. Just think Finlay can bring something different off the bench at wide midfield, where we already have a few forwards closer to Morris skill set.

        I just think Zusi was a upgrade to Bedoya in the Guatemala matches. I think if you’re taking Bedoya then drop either Nguyen or Nagbe. However I think you need to shake the team up somewhere and Bedoya hasn’t been that good for the US in awhile.

      • Replace Morris for Finlay? Really!!! Finlay is a nice player and I think he should some how find his place on this roster, however Morris is playing much better than him right now. Morris has scored in three straight with the last two games being the winning goal for his team. I think Morris can play up top or out wide were Finlay is pretty much out wide.

      • @cj- I just disagree on that last point. Morris is a striker not a wide midfielder at all, and neither is Zardes for that matter.

      • Jack- Both Morris and Finlay could play the wide role in a 4-3-3/ 4-1-4-1 attacking formation if its a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 counter neither play that outside midfielder role very well, although Finlay would do better.

    • Not gonna happen and it shouldn’t happen. The addition of Pulisic made Finlay expendable. Morales is barely getting his starting position back so is a stretch to think he is going to get a serious look. Lichaj was bypassed for so long, this call up is just to take another closer look at him, I highly doubt it he is going to make it. Now, Zusi has always done well for the NT so I’m curious to see if he makes it and if he does at whose expense is it going to be?

  19. The following statement is incorrect:
    Starting up top, Jozy Altidore reclaims his spot as the USMNT’s go-to forward, while Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris compete for a spot alongside him.

    The starting forwards are Jozy & Clint, provided neither is injured. Wood, Morris and Zardes come in as subs.

    Other comments:
    – Surprised that Pulisic is up top. I thought he was more of a winger.
    – A little disappointed that Omar misses out but it makes sense that Birnbaum can cover for Yedlin. But is Besler that much better than Omar?
    – I’d prefer Lichaj over Castillo, but that maybe more my hope in Lichaj given what I’ve seen from Castillo
    – Given their positions at their clubs, I’d love to see Bradley more of a 6 and cover for J.Jones who would play more of a 10. The opposite hasn’t worked (Bradley as a 10 and J.Jones as a 6; yes, positions are fluid)

    • Don’t be disappointed this is just a projected roster by the author.
      In my opinion, I doubt Klinsmann would bring Birnbaum over Gonzalez. Let’s assume the players are at even level, which I don’t think so, but then the Liga MX vs MLS pushes Omar over the top. Klinsmann favors Mexico’s league over MLS

      • Not always as simple as that. Birnbaum has been solid in his USMNT appearances and in CCL. Gonzalez has seen all kinds of highs and lows. Miagza has all of the potential.. that 4th cb is a real tough pick.

        Jurgen definatly does not have a history of discounting MLS play! If anything he has shown more confidence in MLS players than Bradley…of course MLS has improved quite a bit since 2007-11..fanboys/garber just get worked up when he makes sensible but “bad for business” statements

    • Pulisic is a n 10 that can play on the wings and up front. Played as a number 10 for the u17 team and the Dortmound second and youth teams.

      • I agree with you but young Pulisic hasn’t played the 10 with senior teammates. I suspect JK will play it safe and keep him in the wings for now.

    • It’s not as concerning for me as Timmy Chandlers inclusion. The rate of successful games for both in their time with the Nats is similar, I’ll give naysayers that, but between the two Castillo has shown a greater determination to do well on the field whatever the situation and a willingness to fight on the field when the team isnt, something I just don’t get a sense of from Chandler despite the two both being similarly talented attacking fullbacks.

    • Completely agree. Castillo is a pretty terrible defender for a player listed as a defender. I get that he offers attacking ability but a team like Colombia will target him and we will get completely overrun on that side of the field. I suspect JK is hoping Chandler has regained enough form to offer some speed and defending there. If not, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fabian back at left back.

      • No, I think if we have no one who can play LB JK moves to a 3-5-2 system with FJ and Yedlin out wide. Or, fine call it a 4,2,3,1 with cameron as a DM… but you will see 3 CBs on the field and yedlin FJ pushing up the sides. Plus, the huge advantage against a smooth possession team like Colombia is that you flood the midfield against them and can break up their play higher up the field… at least that is how Italy showed teams how to beat Spain…

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