I’ll say one thing about Herr Doktor Klinsmann- he’s not afraid to take a risk. If you ever needed proof of that you don’t have to look any further than the inclusion of Alan Gordon of the San Jose Earthquakes. There is no denying that he’s having a good season (on a good team), but his track record is…thin. Prior to his 10 goals so far this year he’s scored only 21 times in 116 MLS matches. Who knows, maybe he’s a late bloomer, maybe Klinsmann catches lightning in a bottle for a few matches, but more likely he’s in line for his first and last cap. I hope he does well, but given the other players out there (Molde’s Josh Gatt is the first name that popped into my head), he seems an odd choice. Then again, he’s a big physical presence and it’s Mexico… I guess that’s why they play the matches and why we watch them.
What’s clear from the rest of the roster is that Klinsmann is using this match as one last “trial by fire” to see if there are any other players who might be able to help the USMNT qualify for World Cup 2014- let’s take a look:
No surprises here, though I agree with a comment I heard a few nights ago: If Tim Howard gets hurt at any point leading up to the World Cup somebody needs to get on the phone to Brad Friedel, because the old man is still better than Rimando or Johnson.
Beitashour and Besler are uncapped at this point and nobody else on the back line has more than 6 caps. What does that mean? It means that Klinsmann knows that the defense is a mess and that he is casting about to find somebody- anybody- who might be able to help. Johnson and Cameron will probably be there in the end, I’m not sold on Castillo, and I hope this is the last time we see Orozco Fiscal for a long time.
First off, the obvious- I never thought I’d see DaMarcus Beasley play for the national team again. To his credit, however, he’s truly had a renaissance since joining Puebla last year. His 7 goals in 37 matches are equal to his production at the Fire, PSV, or Rangers. Beasley is still young enough (30) to contribute through the World Cup and what an unexpected surprise that would be. Beyond that, I remain unconvinced by the dirty hippie and Torres, and I hope that Shea does better for the national side than he has for Dallas- his season in MLS has been a mess.
It’s unlikely that these will be the forwards with which Klinsmann begins qualification, but they are making it interesting for the coach. I’ve dealt with Gordon above, but Boyd has also been tearing things up for Rapid, Wondo is tearing up MLS (again!) but has yet to prove his worth for the national team, Gomez has been good, but not good enough to become a “lock,” and while Landon has struggled a bit, his four assists the other night shows that he can have a huge impact on matches without actually scoring a goal. Beyond Donovan the only other lock is Clinton Drew Dempsey. If I had to guess the “final five” it would be Donovan, Dempsey, Altidore and two from this group- probably Gomez and Boyd.
Lastly, this roster more than any of Klinsmann’s so far shows that he’s really taking a long hard look at U.S. players in Mexico- be they Mexican-Americans or…DaMarcus Beasley. That’s a good strategy in the long term, and also a good one considering that the opponent is El Tri. Still, with six players from the Mexican top tier and four more from German (or German speaking) leagues, Klinsmann will need to be careful not to succumb to visión de túnel or, if you prefer, Tunnelblick.
Make sure to tune in tomorrow night!