Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
There are just two weeks until the U.S. Men’s National Team’s next qualifiers. Just two weeks for players to make their case for inclusion not only on the roster, but potentially into the starting lineup when the U.S. takes on Costa Rica in an all-important home qualifier.
When the Americans walked off the field in San Pedro Sula after a loss to Honduras last month, the sense was that Jurgen Klinsmann would have to make wholesale changes to the team that looked so flat against the Hondurans. As we stand here a month later, there is a sense that the lineup might not see that many changes.
Whether it’s a back-line that still feels like a work in progress, or a midfield that quite simply hasn’t been producing enough chances for the U.S. attack, there are plenty of decisions for Klinsmann to ponder.
For one, do you bring in Carlos Bocanegra because of his experience, or do you leave him home because he hasn’t been getting playing time for Spanish second-division side Racing Santander? Secondly, do you bring in Edgar Castillo, who will have to wear a protective mask to play by then, and who would likely head into qualifying not having played in almost a month?
So who will Klinsmann turn to? Here is a projected USMNT roster for the upcoming qualifiers:
PROJECTED USMNT ROSTER FOR MARCH QUALIFIERS
GOALKEEPER- Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
DEFENDERS- Michael Parkhurst, Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo
MIDFIELDERS- Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, Brek Shea, Maurice Edu, Joe Corona, Danny Williams, Jose Torres
FORWARDS- Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson, Terrence Boyd
Bocanegra hasn’t been playing, but his experience is invaluable and having him in camp wouldn’t be a bad thing, even if he isn’t expected to start.
Tim Howard is dealing with a back issue, but it isn’t expected to be out that long. Clint Dempsey has been sidelined with a minor injury but he too is expected to be back in time for the qualifiers.
Brek Shea makes the list and while he’s still settling in for Stoke City, it is clear that he has regained his fitness level. He’s getting regular sub’s minutes and it is very easy to see Klinsmann turning to Shea as a starting left wing option.
Edgar Castillo had surgery to repair facial fractures recently, but the injury wasn’t as bad as first thought, meaning Castillo could theoretically be back in action with a protective mask. Match sharpness could be a concern, but it can’t be ignored that Castillo hasd enjoyed career-best form before the injury.
Terrence Boyd hasn’t been getting call-ups lately, but with him continuing to score in Austria you wonder if Klinsmann will really ignore him again. We list 24 players in the camp, but that means at least one would be dropped. Boyd could be that player who earns a camp call-up but not a chance to be in uniform.
Joe Corona has continued to see regular starts for a strong Club Tijuana side, and is experience in the Mexican League, and more recently Copa Libertadores, should convince Klinsmann that Corona is worthy of a roster spot. If Corona does get the nod, that could cost Sacha Kljestan his place in the pecking order.
We will discuss projecting starting lineups next week, but for now let us know what you think of this projected 24- man roster. Do you think it’s a strong group? Who would you add to it? Which player would you leave home that we included?
Share your thoughts below.