By IVES GALARCEP
With the June World Cup qualifiers in the rearview mirror, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup on the horizon, the U.S. Men’s National Team will unveil a new squad on Thursday as Jurgen Klinsmann tries to win back the CONCACAF Gold Cup from Mexico while also giving some familiar face a chance to state their case for places on the full U.S. team.
Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra and Stuart Holden are just some of the players who will be looking to make the Gold Cup their personal springboard to boosting their standing in Klinsmann’s pecking order and all three could still be key figures in World Cup qualifying any beyond.
The Gold Cup has traditionally been a launching pad for younger players to make their moves, but with Klinsmann using so many new faces on the full squad, this installment of the Gold Cup will have more of a veteran feel to it than past Gold Cup B teams.
So who will Klinsmann call up for the Gold Cup? Here is SBI’s 23-player projection for the squad that will be announced on Thursday:
PROJECTED USMNT GOLD CUP ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS- Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Nick Rimando
DEFENDERS- Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Edgar Castillo, Michael Parkhurst, Corey Ashe, Tony Beltran, Michael Orozco
MIDFIELDERS- Kyle Beckerman, Joe Corona, Stuart Holden, Alejandro Bedoya, Mikkel Diskerud, Josh Gatt, Jose Torres
FORWARDS- Will Bruin, Herculez Gomez, Landon Donovan, Jack McInerney, Bobby Wood
Players named to the final Gold Cup roster had to be a part of the preliminary roster. Wondering which players from the preliminary roster that didn’t make the cut? Here they are:
GOALKEEPERS- Tally Hall
DEFENDERS- Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley
MIDFIELDERS- Graham Zusi, Brek Shea, Brad Evans, Brad Davis, Benny Feilhaber, Eddie Johnson
FORWARDS- Alan Gordon, Chris Wondolowski
Don’t expect anybody who played heavy minutes in the June World Cup qualifiers to be called up for the Gold Cup.
The goalkeeper slots seem easy enough to figure out.
Defensively, Bocanegra and Onyewu return from USMNT asylum and could reunite and look to repeat the success they enjoyed when they helped lead the U.S. to the 2007 Gold Cup Final victory. Clarence Goodson will have something to say about that as he is still ahead of them on the depth chart.
Michael Parkhurst didn’t play in June qualifiers, but the Gold Cup should be his chance to not only show Klinsmann he’s still worth keeping in the mix at right back when Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler return. If Edgar Castillo is selected, you have to figure he will start at left back.
The glaring omission from the list of midfielders is Brek Shea, but don’t be surprised if he’s left out. Why? Consider his situation. He’s had some injury issues since joining Stoke City, and now he will be playing for a new manager in Mark Hughes. Jurgen Klinsmann has already shown an affinity for Shea as a player, but getting in the good graces of his new club manager is probably more important right now than proving something in the Gold Cup.
Joe Corona, much like Castillo, could probably use a break, but this Gold Cup should be his chance to shine in the U.S. attack.
Brad Davis didn’t play a ton of minutes in the June qualifiers, so he’s someone who could be called on, but Klinsmann might choose to leave him with Houston after Davis already missed a month of MLS action.
(UPDATE- Made one change to the initial projected squad. Going with young forward Bobby Wood over Benny Feilhaber, who hasn’t been getting regular minutes for Sporting KC lately. Thought he could get a look after his showing vs. Canada in January, but given his lack of minutes lately, and the fact Landon Donovan will probably play in midfield, Wood seems like the safer bet. And let’s face it, Wood would qualify as a true wild card, which the roster probably needs.)
At forward, the above quartet is the safe combination, especially with Chris Wondolowski dealing with injuries. Jack McInerney is a lock, and while he may not wind up starting as a forward, Donovan should serve as captain of the team (unless Bocanegra does).
So what might a starting lineup look like vs. Belize in the Gold Cup opener?
Here is a potential lineup:
Clarence Goodson and Alejandro Bedoya are both good candidates to break into this starting lineup.
What do you think of the squad? Who was left out that you feel should be on the squad? Who are you happy to see included? Think that starting lineup could do some damage and win the Gold Cup?
Share your thoughts below.