By IVES GALARCEP
Jurgen Klinsmann has some tough decisions to make.
The U.S. Men’s National Team has some good depth at some positions, and with so many new faces stepping up to offset the rash of injuries in March, there are much more options heading into this summer’s action than there was a year ago.
With players like Matt Besler and DaMarcus Beasley boosting their stock in the last pair of qualifiers, and several players returning from injury, the U.S. pool is suddenly stacked with options even when you consider that several of those injured players are now healthy.
So who gets the call for the upcoming stretch of five matches, including three World Cup qualifiers? Here is a projection of the 27 players we can see Klinsmann calling on:
PROJECTED MAY USMNT CAMP ROSTER
GOALKEEPER- Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid
DEFENDER- Steve Cherundolo, Tim Chandler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Matt Besler, Fabian Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley, Edgar Castillo
MIDFIELDER- Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, Maurice Edu, Jose Torres, Brek Shea, Sacha Kljestan, Joe Corona, Stuart Holden, Alfredo Morales
FORWARD- Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez, Terrence Boyd, Eddie Johnson
MISSED THE CUT: Alejandro Bedoya, Landon Donovan, Eric Lichaj, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Parkhurst, Mix Diskerud, Jack McInerney, Brad Davis, Josh Gatt, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Sean Johnson.
The latest from U.S. Soccer is that up to 27 players could be called up. We were expecting between 25-26, but with some injury issues, that number could rise to 27.
Eddie Johnson was omitted from our original list, but has been added.
Where is Landon Donovan? We’ll stand by the SI story from Tuesday that reported he won’t be called in. It’s a pretty safe bet he will not be.
Matt Besler has missed Sporting KC’s past three matches with a knee injury. If he is deemed unable to go, Klinsmann could turn to Carlos Bocanegra in his place.
Tim Chandler is another player facing an injury comeback. If he winds up being deemed unfit, Eric Lichaj makes too much sense. Yes, Michael Parkhurst is someone Klinsmann is more familiar with and someone Klinsmann has called before, but with Lichaj starting and playing well in important matches late in the year for Aston Villa, at his natural right back position to boot, he makes more sense than Parkhurst, who hasn’t seen the field for months.
Who came closest to make the cut in this projection? Bedoya and Lichaj. Bedoya seems destined for the Gold Cup, but is playing so well you couldn’t really blame Klinsmann for calling him up earlier.
Why Morales? He is not cap-tied yet and he saw good minutes for Hertha Berlin at the tail end of their Bundesliga 2 season. He was a part of the May camp a year ago, and this could be a perfect opportunity to get him cap-tied.
Speaking of cap-tying players, we probably shouldn’t completely rule out a call-up for John Anthony Brooks. Reports suggest he is leaning toward playing for the U.S. Under-20s at the World Cup, but Klinsmann could make a power move and invite him to the full senior team camp this month. Would Brooks accept? That would certainly make some waves if that happened.
Why Brek Shea? Even though he hasn’t been playing for Stoke City, Klinsmann needs wing options and with Landon Donovan out of the picture, he can’t pass on Shea.
Why Bill Hamid? He got off to an outstanding start to the season but has had his shaky moments since then. The same can be said for Sean Johnson. Nick Rimando is probably having the best season of the group, but with the third goalkeeper unlikely to see the field, Klinsmann can call up a player who could probably use the confidence boost.
Only 23 players are dressing for qualifiers, so Klinsmann can take a flier with his final 2-3 picks. Stuart Holden is clearly such a player, and Morales makes sense as another. With Besler and Chandler facing injury challenges, Klinsmann could bring one of them and let them complete their recovery in camp. The U.S. team will be together for three weeks so that isn’t a big reach.
With the exception of Bocanegra, Lichaj and Parkhurst, every player on the above ‘Missed the Cut’ list could feature in the Gold Cup squad based on the parameters Klinsmann laid out (MLS players, Scandinavian-based players, and some holdovers from the May-June squad).
What do you think of this projected squad? What player do you love seeing on the roster? Who do you consider the most glaring omission?
Share your thoughts below.