USMNT Lineup vs Mexico on September 10. Will all 11 be on the squad for Brazil 2014?
The Cover 4.com presents you with the Projecting the USMNT 23-Man Roster for WC 2014! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @thecover4 or facebook at theCo VerFour
The World Cup is still many months away, with more than half of the field of 32 yet to be finalized. The United States, however, is one of the few teams who have cemented their place in Brazil next summer. Now that qualification is assured, the guessing game begins: Who will be on Jürgen Klinsmann’s 23-man roster when the World Cup rolls around next June?
Predictions and projections this far in advance may be difficult, with changes in form and injuries forcing adjustments, but The Cover 4 is committed to keeping you up to date on who we believe are the best 23 players available and eligible to wear a United States jersey for the World’s greatest spectacle. From now until June, we will regularly predict that final roster and update you, our beloved readers, on who is tearing it up overseas that you may not know about, as well as any injury news that could create a spot for potential fringe players. In addition to this, we will highlight each positional battle equipping you with as much knowledge as possible leading up to Klinsmann’s final announcement next May.
So without further delay, here is the first Cover 4 roster prediction for the United States Men’s National Team leading up to the 2014 World Cup:
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake/MLS)
Outside Defenders (4): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/Germany), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC/MLS)
Center Defenders (5): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City/MLS), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Omar González (Los Angeles Galaxy/MLS), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes/MLS)
Outside Midfielders (3): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/France), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City/MLS)
Center Midfielders (4): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake/MLS), Michael Bradley (AS Roma/Italy), Jermaine Jones (Schalke/Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium)
Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/England), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC/MLS), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy/MLS), Aron Jóhannsson (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands)
A couple notes for clarification before defending the selections: Geoff Cameron is listed as a center defender but has also been used in center midfield and right back, so consider him under all three of those positions. Fabian Johnson has also played outside defender but Klinsmann’s preference is to play him as a left wing so that’s where we put him. Similarly with DaMarcus Beasley who has been a regular at left back for Klinsmann but plays left wing for Puebla in Mexico, we went with where he plays most for the National team. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan are listed as forwards, though one or the other could line up behind Altidore while the other moves to the right wing as we have seen when Klinsmann shifts to a 4-4-2.
Now to the real business of explaining some selections, the first thing to address: Steve Cherundolo is projected in this lineup under the assumption he will finally be healthy by next June. He has struggled with injuries for the past several months and is currently sidelined following another knee surgery. However, since no one has stepped up and solidified themselves in his place, he will remain the projected starter at right back. Brad Evans has been the best of the replacements, but a change in form could see the likes of Timothy Chandler or Michael Parkhurst step up and take a spot.
German-American sensation John Brooks may also surprise some with his inclusion here as a center defender given his age and lack of international experience. With as much as Klinsmann has fought for him to commit his future to the US, it would be a crime for Klinsmann to leave him out this time around. Don’t be surprised to see Brooks on the field in one of the next two World Cup Qualifying matches that would permanently cap-tie him to the US, assuming he’s healthy, after leaving a recent match for his club early due to injury. He is also the top-rated defender on his team according to one reliable German football site that tracks and evaluates Bundesliga players, so expect to see him next summer in Brazil.
Some of you may also wonder where Mix Diskerud and Jose Torres are on this list, who were regulars for Klinsmann this summer during the Gold Cup. Both of those players deserve to be on the team, especially given Diskerud’s performance as a substitute against Mexico, but there are only so many places. Sacha Kljestan is on this team right now because he has been absolutely on fire for Anderlecht in Belgium scoring goals at an incredible rate, so he gets the nod over Diskerud, though he has been in good form for Rosenborg in Norway as well. However, we saw Kyle Beckerman effectively used as a replacement for Michael Bradley in the Mexico game, and that performance combined with Klinsmann’s confidence in him give him preference over Diskerud or Torres, while Kljestan’s ability to score goals gives him the edge in the final spot there.
Few would argue with Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson, and Graham Zusi on the wings. Bedoya has been a regular starter for Nantes and played well when he got his chance against Mexico, while Zusi has proven himself more than capable in prior World Cup Qualifiers despite struggling against Costa Rica. Brek Shea is currently on the shelf for Stoke City after picking up an ugly leg injury during a preseason friendly, and was not overly impressive during the Gold Cup, though he could challenge for a spot when healthy and at his best.
The final tough decision came at forward. Both Terrence Boyd and Aron Jóhannsson are unstoppable right now for their club teams. Boyd has been attracting serious attention playing for Rapid Vienna in Austria, scoring 22 goals in 51 appearances since joining the club last year, and has teams like Lazio (Italy) and West Ham (England) hungry to add him during the January transfer period. Jóhannsson has been equally impressive with nine goals in 12 games so far this season for his club including a hat trick in the team’s Domestic Cup game this week to lead AZ Alkmaar to victory in extra time.
For the first time in recent memory, the United States has a good problem to have: They have several quality players to choose from and depth at numerous positions. As the year goes on, it will be important to track who is getting healthy and who is playing well at the right time. A player on a hot streak is extremely dangerous in tournaments, especially when it is the World Cup, so an in-form player may get chosen over a more talented player that is out of form.
Be sure to check back with the Cover 4 as we continually update this squad list and analyze the positional battles over the coming weeks and months, and leave comments on who you feel we left off the list that should be on, as well as who you think should not be on the team that we have projected a spot to, and begin to catch World Cup fever with us!
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