Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 23-man roster for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. Usually Klinsmann has waited until after the weekend’s league matches to make his decision, but we got all 23 names Thursday afternoon which gives ample to time to dissect and discuss the decisions.
The big headline is Landon Donovan is back on the roster for a qualifier for the first time since June, 2012 — also the last time he and Clint Dempsey played together. This should come as no surprise considering Donovan’s standout play during the Gold Cup in July. Will it be enough to get Klinsmann to tinker from the successful 4-2-3-1 lineup the U.S. used in June, meaning either Graham Zusi or Fabian Johnson goes to the bench? Donovan’s pace is still a gamechanger in CONCACAF, so figure he finds a place in the starting XI.
Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud also got called into the ‘A-Team’ lineup after their solid performances at the Gold Cup. Somewhat surprisingly, Clarence Goodson wasn’t included in 23-man roster after the tall defender had a pretty good showing during the Gold Cup. Klinsmann opted for personal favorite Michael Orozco Fiscal as a backup central defender.
Although he’s listed as a defender, would Klinsmann consider starting Geoff Cameron next to Michael Bradley in the center of midfield? It worked very well against Panama in June.
Brek Shea and Chris Wondolowski, who combined for six goals during the Gold Cup, were also both omitted from the squad.
The other thing to keep an eye on is if Klinsmann tries to find a way to get either Aron Johannsson or John Anthony Brooks into either game. Both are dual-nationals, opting to represent the U.S. over Iceland and Germany, respectively. Johannsson is already tied to the U.S. after filing a one-time switch with FIFA, but Brooks will have to appear in an official match to get locked into the U.S. setup. It’s doubtful the young defender would see time vs. Costa Rica or Mexico..
The U.S. has won a record 12-straight games and leads the CONCACAF Hexagonal by two points over Costa Rica and five over Mexico. Four points from the two matches would clinch a World Cup spot. The U.S. could also clinch with a win at Costa Rica on Sept. 6, but it’s contingent on what Mexico or Hondruas do.
For a first time in over a year, the entire band is back together. The question now: is it possible for the U.S. to actually get better from how they’ve played earlier this summer and bottle up that form for the World Cup?
GOALKEEPERS (3):Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)