Although he had until June 2 USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann had apparently seen enough and late today he announced his final, 23 man roster for the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
The team is as follows with a few comments from yours truly:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Not only are there no surprises here and no mistakes either. In fact you could probably make a pretty good argument that there will not be another country in Brazil with a goalkeeping trio this good. Or, to look at it another way, if the U.S. does poorly there will be no fingers pointed in this direction.
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
The pickings are slim for national team defenders and it’s not the “wrong” thing to do, but this is still a HUGE roll of the dice by Klinsmann. Setting Beasley aside (for a second anyway), the remaining septet is very young and very inexperienced- Geoff Cameron is the “grey beard” of this group with his 24 caps. All of this being said, what was Klinsmann going to do? He’s trotted out all of the usual suspects during qualification, he’s tried different combinations and formations, and none of them have looked particularly good- and some of them have looked terrible. So, by my analysis he’s gone young, athletic, and to an extend, big.
Now, back to Beasley. Is he one of the best eight defenders the U.S. has at the moment? I dunno. The competition isn’t too stiff, after all. In the bigger picture, however, I get it. If you need him in the midfield or even on the front line, well, been there, done that at the highest level and taking him out of the defensive rotation probably doesn’t weaken the back line much, if at all. So, basically, he’s the footballing equivalent of a utility infielder.
WeeFuse’s starters: Beasley, Besler, Cameron, and Gonzalez.
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Given the player that were left out (see below), I don’t know that you can fault Klinsmann’s midfield choices too much. I’ve gained a grudging respect for Kyle “Dirty Hippy” Beckerman- or at least for the way Klinsmann uses him, and Bradley and Zusi are no-brainers, Jones and Davis only slightly less so. Diskerud and Green are risks- if only because of their lack of experience at the highest level- but they, especially Green, have more “upside” than a lot of the other choices he could have made. And then there is Alejandro Bedoya…I just don’t get what Klinsmann sees in him and I can only hope that he sees as little of the pitch as possible.
WeeFuse’s starters: Beckerman, Bradley, Jones, and Zusi.
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
No mistakes here either. Forget Altidore’s troubles at Sunderland. He was on a team with borderline relegation quality players and got very little service with which to create goals for himself. What Klinsmann knows- what we all know- is that if Altidore gets hot he’s unstoppable- he’s too big, too strong, and to skilled for all but the most elite defenders. Deuce is Deuce. He’ll work until he drops, he’ll create for others, and he can conjure a goal out of absolutely nothing because the has confidence and quality far above any forward who has every suited up for the U.S.. I LOVE the Johannsson pick as well. He’s young, hungry, and coming off a stellar season with AZ- 26 goals in 51 total matches. Wondo? Well, he is what he is and that’s why he is in the team. By that I mean that on the USMNT he’s been a goal every other match player and he’s been better than that in MLS- but do you remember any goal he’s scored? I don’t. I just remember the “types” of goals he scores. They come out of nowhere- who was marking him?!- they come off all parts of his body, and they come from anywhere in the box. He’ll be a late sub in close matches and the opposing defenders better have eyes in the backs of their heads.
WeeFuse’s starters: Dempsey and Johannsson
So, who didn’t make it?
Forwards Terrence Boyd and Landon Donovan, midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu, and defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst.
If you follow my work hear you know I was pulling for Parkhurst to make it, but I understand why he didn’t. Klinsmann appears as though he’s going to launch an all out attack against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany, and Parkhurst is a steady, stay-at-home defender. As for the rest of this group, I never thought Corona was going to make it and I can say that somebody better (especially given the strategy that seems to be in place) didn’t beat out Edu, Evans, and Goodson.
As for Landon, well, there are two things. First, if you’ve heard him talk or watched him play since he returned from his “sabbatical” in late 2012 and early 2013, you know he just doesn’t “want it” like he used to. He’s been getting by on his talent and reputation rather than his desire. I can’t blame him for that at all- he’s been the face of both MLS and the USMNT since he was 19 years old and he just has to be tired- in so many ways. But, this is the World Cup and I can understand how Klinsmann wants to have players at every position and on the bench who want nothing more in their lives than to be in Brazil in June and to run themselves into the ground for their teammates and country. Landon just isn’t that player or person anymore.
Second, and I say this with the full knowledge that the term is completely relative in this case, my first thought when seeing him on the recent ESPN series following the training camp was that he looked fat. Trust me, I’d KILL to be in the shape he’s in right now, but he no longer has the look of an elite athlete. He looks more like the guy who absolutely dominates your pick-up game or your indoor league and yet you can’t help but think when watching him, “Wow! He must have been REALLY good when he was younger!” So, that’s the end for him on the national team and maybe he’ll be able to rejuvenate his career a little domestically with that off of his plate. However, even if that’s not the case he should have no regrets and we, as fans, should have no complaints.
So, there it is.
Now there’s only one thing that remains- BEAT GHANA!!