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The final U.S. Men’s National Team match of 2012 allowed some players to boost their national team stock, and also hurt the standing of some others. In the process, it helped us get a better grasp on the state of the national team pool and which players are helping their chances of being part of the U.S. World Cup team in 2014.
There are still 19 months to go before the World Cup, plenty of time for players to rise and fall, excel and fade away, shine and struggle. We watched Josh Gatt make his national team debut, and captain Carlos Bocanegra suffer an injury that raised questions about just who will replace him when the time comes for Bocanegra to step aside.
The newest SBI 23 for 2014 doesn’t feature wholesale changes, but we do see two new names on the list, while one player finds himself listed at a new position.
PROJECTED USMNT WORLD CUP 2014 ROSTER (November 2012)
GOALKEEPERS- Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson
Outlook- Brad Guzan continues to enjoy a strong run as Aston Villa’s starter (though his team isn’t offering much support). The third goalkeeper slot remains Johnson’s though Nick Rimando remains No. 3 on the depth chart at the moment. Bill Hamid definitely did enough late in the MLS season to keep himself squarely in the conversation and should probably considered a 3A at this point as he and Johnson jockey for position on the USMNT depth chart.
Missed the cut- Bill Hamid, Nick Rimando.
DEFENDERS- Steve Cherundolo, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Maurice Edu, Matt Besler, Timmy Chandler, Edgar Castillo
Outlook- Timmy Chandler’s return to the national team fold means he makes this team easily, replacing Eric Lichaj, who is having a rough time at Aston Villa. Besler just won MLS Defender of the Year and figures to earn some caps in 2013, with the Gold Cup a safe bet for him. Omar Gonzalez hasn’t found his top form lately, but the off-season and a chance to fully rest up after a tough year should only serve to help him return to a top level in 2013.
Maurice Edu is listed here as a centerback. So why does he make the team at all considering he’s not even dressing for Stoke City? He showed in his cameo against Russia that he can still bring something to the table, and his versatility would make him a valuable option on a World Cup roster. That said, if he spends the next two years not seeing first-team minutes he would obviously fall off this list. For now though, we see him eventually finding a more regular role somewhere.
Missed the cut- Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Oguchi Onyewu, A.J. Soares, Eric Lichaj, Michael Parkhurst.
MIDFIELDERS- Michael Bradley, Danny Williams, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Josh Gatt, Brek Shea, Jermaine Jones.
Outlook- Josh Gatt earned his first cap, making his inclusion in the first 23 for 2014 appear much less of a long shot. He still has maturing to do, and sharpening of his game, but he clearly has potential and transfer move from Molde should be coming soon for him. Jermaine Jones makes the list this time around as Maurice Edu moves to centerback on our projection.
Jones keeps playing at a high level for Schalke, and while he is a lightning rod for criticism from USMNT fans, he still stands a good chance of being on the World Cup team if healthy.
Shea recently had foot surgery that highlighted the kind of health issues he was dealing with in 2012. Klinsmann would surely give a healthy Shea every chance to regain his regular role on the USMNT, and for now we will keep projecting him on the final 23. If Shea doesn’t maintain a regular role, it could open the door for someone like Joe Gyau, assuming Gyau can score a more regular role on the club level in the next two years.
Someone asked about Stuart Holden. He still has to make a full recovery from his injuries, and when he finally does we will be able to see where he stands. If he returns to his pre-injury form then he makes this squad easily. He still has to get back to that point though.
Missed the cut- Mix Diskerud, Sacha Kljestan, Joe Gyau, Joe Corona, Alejandro Bedoya, Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen.
FORWARDS- Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez, Terrence Boyd
Outlook- No changes to this group. Boyd and Altidore keep scoring for their club teams while Eddie Johnson finished the MLS season with a strong showing in the playoffs. Dempsey may be struggling with Tottenham, but he remains a clear-cut first-choice starter.
Altidore has returned to the fold, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. He continues to be one of the key forwards in the system, and while players like Johnson and Boyd figure to post stiff challenges in 2013, Altidore is playing with serious confidence on the club side and should have a big year next year.
Juan Agudelo made an impressive return to the national team fold and has to be considered back on the radar, especially if he has a strong 2013, which should offer him plenty of chances to impress.
Missed the cut- Juan Agudelo, Chris Wondolowski, Chris Pontius.
What do you think of this group? Which player are you happy to see make our projected 23-man roster? Who didn’t make the squadd that you think should have?
Share your thoughts below.