Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
About five months from now, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have some serious decisions to make. A trio of World Cup qualifiers will be looming in June, a mini-tournament of sorts that will go a long way in determining how well the USMNT qualifying campaign is going. July will then bring the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a competition that will require an almost entirely different squad than the one he will use in qualifying.
Bob Bradley had a similar situation in 2009, when the U.S. had an extremely loaded summer that included qualifiers, the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup. That year, Bradley put together what amounted to a B team to take part in the Gold Cup, a team that reached the final before being demolished by Mexico in the final. Two years before that, Bradley also built two teams to take part in the 2007 Gold Cup and Copa America, with the Copa America team providing some experience for a young, and ultimately overmatched team.
Klinsmann would love nothing more than to have a full-strength team for both qualifying and the Gold Cup, but that just isn’t realistic. There could be a few players who take part in both, but there aren’t likely to be any first-choice starters taking part in the Gold Cup. Why? Because European-based players need to take time off at some point in the summer before returning to pre-season with their clubs.
Just what kind of teams could we see when Klinsmann builds two USMNT rosters? Here is a look at what we could see this summer:
PROJECTED JUNE WORLD CUP QUALIFYING ROSTER
GK- Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
D- Steve Cherundolo, Michael Parkhurst, Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, Oguchi Onyewu, Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson
M- Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi, Sacha Kljestan, Mix Diskerud, Brek Shea
F- Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez, Juan Agudelo
PROJECTED 2013 USMNT GOLD CUP ROSTER
GK- Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Dan Kennedy
D- Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Eric Lichaj, Edgar Castillo, A.J. Soares, Tim Ream, Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow
M- Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu, Joe Corona, Jose Torres, Chris Pontius, Alejandro Bedoya, Josh Gatt, Joe Gyau
F- Terrence Boyd, C.J. Sapong, Chris Wondolowski, Will Bruin
Players who could play their way into the conversation: Tally Hall, Jonathan Spector, Michael Orozco Fiscal, George John, Chance Myers, Zach Loyd, Kevin Alston, Austin Berry, Matt Hedges, John Anthony Brooks, Amobi Okugo, Luis Gil, Freddy Adu, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, Benny Feilhaber, Ricardo Clark, Dax McCarty, DaMarcus Beasley, Teal Bunbury, Jack McInerney
Keep in mind that there could be some players who take part in both qualifying and the Gold Cup, particularly players who don’t play much in qualifying. Someone like Juan Agudelo makes sense as a two-roster option, as does Brek Shea if he winds up not seeing much time in qualifying. The same goes for Terrence Boyd. Someone like Michael Parkhurst could also join the Gold Cup squad if he doesn’t play in qualifying, which would give the Gold Cup roster some veteran leadership to go along with the likes of Beckerman and Wondolowski.
The rosters are based on Klinsmann’s established preferences as well as our own projections for where people will stand in the pecking order five months from now (when rosters would be expected to be put together).
Yes, Landon Donovan is still projecting on the team. We’ll take him off when he actually retires. As things stand, we aren’t ready to buy the idea that he won’t take part in qualifying.
I tried covering as many candidates as possible in the third grouping, but you will notice that list doesn’t include players like Seb Hines and Aron Johannsson. Until they actually take part in a camp we aren’t going to be including them in these sort of projections.
Chris Pontius has replaced Nick DeLeon on the Gold Cup roster. Forgot to add him to the Gold Cup squad after removing him as one of the final World Cup qualifying cuts.
Sacha Kljestan was a late addition to the World Cup qualifying roster, was accidentally left off the initial list. He hasn’t been someone who has regularly been called up, but is enjoying a great season with Anderlecht and is poised to be a factor this summer. Those who saw our latest World Cup 2014 roster projection should know that we definitely rate him and like the direction his level of play is heading.
What do you think of these rosters?