Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

Oguchi Onyewu Sheffield Wednesday (Getty Images)

By FRANCO PANIZO

There might be 22 players who will try to improve their standings with the U.S. Men’s National Team next week, but they are not the only ones attempting to make a deep final push for a spot on this summer’s World Cup squad.

Several foreign-based players on the fringes of the full U.S. roster will look to impress the ever watchful Jurgen Klinsmann with strong performances this weekend, including center back Oguchi Onyewu. The veteran defender has been playing well as of late for Sheffield Wednesday, and will look to extend his string of strong performances for the Owls when they face Watford on Saturday.

Juan Agudelo is in the same boat. Agudelo needs to piece together some strong outings for FC Utretcht and scoring goals would certainly do him no harm either in his quest to punch a ticket to Brazil. The 21-year-old forward should have a chance to do just that on Friday, as FC Utretch and NAC Breda lock horns.

John Brooks and Sacha Kljestan are two other players whose stocks could use a boost given how much competition they are facing for a place on the Americans’ 23-man roster. Brooks could earn a third straight start and chance to shine when Hertha Berlin takes on a tough Schalke side on Friday, and Kljestan will hope to turn in a good outing against Standard Liege on Sunday to help Anderlecht get off to a strong start in the Belgian playoffs.

Here is who the Americans Abroad take on this weekend:

FRIDAY

John Brooks and Hertha Berlin play Schalke 04.

Alfredo Morales and FC Ingolstadt 04 play Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Juan Agudelo and FC Utrecht play NAC Breda.

Jermaine Jones and Besiktas play Karabukspor.

Conor O’Brien and Odense BK play SonderjyskE.

Josh Gatt, Ethan Horvath and Molde FK play Valerenga. (Gatt is out injured.)

Herculez Gomez, Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Guido, Fernando Arce Jr and Club Tijuana play Queretaro.

SATURDAY

Brad Guzan and Aston Villa play Manchester United.

Cody Cropper and Southampton play Newcastle United.

Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Stoke City play Hull City.

Jonathan Spector, Will Packwood and Birmingham City play AFC Bournemouth.

Tim Ream, Stuart Holden and Bolton Wanderers play Wigan Athletic. (Holden is out injured.)

Zak Whitbread and Derby County play Charlton Athletic.

Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest play Ipswich Town. (Lichaj is out injured.)

Danny Williams and Reading play Duane Holmes and Huddersfield Town. (Williams is out injured.)

Oguchi Onyewu and Sheffield Wednesday play Watford.

Gboly Ariyibi and Tranmere Rovers play Carlisle United.

David Yelldell and Bayer Leverkusen play TSV Eintracht Braunschweig.

Fabian Johnson and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim play Bayern Munich.

Timmy Chandler and FC Nurnberg play SC Freiburg. (Chandler is out injured.)

Alejandro Bedoya and FC Nantes play Bordeaux.

Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna play SK Sturm Graz.

Mix Diskerud and Rosenborg BK play Viking.

Michael Farfan and Cruz Azul play Atlas.

Alonso Hernandez and Monterrey play Jonathan Bornstein and Atlante.

Jose Torres and Tigres UANL play Toluca.

Gabriel Farfan and Jaguares de Chiapas play Morelia.

SUNDAY

Tim Howard and Everton play Fulham.

Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur play Liverpool.

Andrew Wooten and FSV Frankfurt play SC Paderborn 07.

Bobby Wood and TSV 1860 Munich play FC Cologne.

Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar play Cambuur Leeuwarden.

Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht play Standard Liege in the Pro League playoff.

Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg FF play Brondby IF.

Michael Stephens and Stabaek IF play Sogndal.

DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Orozco and Puebla play Club Leon.

MONDAY

Jozy Altidore and Sunderland play Sebastian Lletget and West Ham United.

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Which of these matches are you most anticipating? Which players on the fringes do you think have the best chances of making the USMNT’s World Cup roster? Who has the toughest odds?

Share your thoughts below.

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28 Responses to Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

  1. a says:

    The GOOCH seems to be a star in the Championship. Snicker if you will but it’s a better league than MLS.

    So are those performances worthy of being invited to the WC camp in May

    i mean we only have 5 legit CB’s. Cameron, Besler, Gonzalez, Gooch and Goodson. Gooch has the experience.

    • Mike says:

      I think John Brooks, Will Packwood, and Michael Parkhurst are also worth a mention.
      Although performances are very important you have to take in account which CB can complement the other CB the best.

    • John says:

      I think Sheffields won 3 of the last 4 now and only allowed 2 goals in that time. Certainly could make the 30 man roster and get one last look.

    • GW says:

      Remember Jay Demerit? Do you know where he spent most of his career? In the Championship.

      • Jack says:

        The fact that Gooch is even in the picture really underscores the center back problem. I’ve watched some Sheffield Wednesday highlights and while his positioning is good, I don’t think that recovery speed is his forte now and sometimes he doesn’t look so reactive. But I’d still take him over Goodson, who is probably even slower and doesn’t read the game as well as Gooch. So, to all the Gooch haters, at least we know what we get with Gooch. Gonzalez has to be one of the most inconsistent players that I’ve ever seen, so I’d might even go for an inform Gooch over a lackadasical, unfocused Gonzalez. Plus, Gooch is an animal on set pieces, which is how we will need to score goals in the WC.

        • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

          Onyewu may not be the player he was once, but he can still play an important role for us. He is very much still in the picture. Like you said, this has more to do with our lack of quality CB options, but the fact remains the same. Looks like Gooch, Goodson and Orozco are competing for 1 spot and Gooch certainly has the edge in experience and quality of competition he faces.

        • GW says:

          Recovery speed?

          Boca never had it, and really neither did Gooch and I’d say Gonzo certainly doesn’t.

          If either Gooch, Gonzo or Goodson is playing with Besler, it will be on Besler to be running down guys. But good defense is about discipline and proper positioning of everyone not just Gooch.

          They know he’s not fast but it is less of an issue if his team mates retain their shape and discipline. The US will have to play defense that way regardless if they are to get out of their Group.

          Where I value Gooch over Gonzo is Gooch is less likely to brain cramp than Gonzo. All the speed in the world won’t save you in those situations.

  2. UclaBruinGreat says:

    Good article on ESPN about Julian Green/T. Boyd and the Herzog/Klinsy recruitment operation. I hope Herzog is retained for the next cycle.

    link to espnfc.com

    • John says:

      I thought this was a pretty interesting quote from Boyd on Brooks:

      “He’s already told me that with German players, it is just a fight. Not only on the pitch — of course you fight for your spot. Off the pitch they are not friends. I don’t care if I’m with Aron [Johansson] or Eddie [Johnson], we’re friends off the pitch, you know. We have one goal, we represent our country, we give everything to succeed as a country and if someone is playing or not, then just do better in the next training.”

      • Nate Dollars says:

        F— YEAH

      • Horsewhistle says:

        Thanks for sharing. I also like the reported companionship and support of the team, as perceived by Brooks.

        There has been a lot of opinions shared on SBI about using dual-citizens, regardless how you feel about citizenship, If other national teams are scouting dual or naturalized citizens, why would we handicap our program by opting out of this development pool.

        My vote is still out on how we perform in 2014, but I feel strongly about a high caliber team in 2018 due in part to recent recruitment.

    • MikeP. says:

      Thanks for the link!Very interesting!

    • Joe C. says:

      Thanks for sharing. I found this quote from Boyd on the team psyche interesting: “We have one goal, we represent our country, we give everything to succeed as a country and if someone is playing or not, then just do better in the next training.”

      ‘Murica.

    • usa fan says:

      Great article with a lot of insight. Also interesting to note is that Herzog will now try to to recruit Gideon Zelalem. There are many hurdles to jump with him but if we land him somehow our talent level could jump immensely.

    • biff says:

      That is a very interesting story and great quotes from Terrence Boyd about Germany internationals. The biggest problem, IMO, with the Germany team is that it is totally dominated by Bayern. Non-Bayern players apparently sometimes feel excluded from being true members of the “Club” (ask Jermaine Jones) and sometimes feel not treated with the same respect as Jogi Low seems to shower on the Bayern boys (ask Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer). I can imagine that the USMNT training camp swarming with players who actually have a sense of humor and are genuinely friendly and fully supportive was a major breath of fresh air for Julian Green and possibly a major reason why he snubbed Germany. I wonder if he also wanted to play on a national team not overflowing with Bayern players.

    • biff says:

      Interesting that Herzog in the news article claims not to know whose idea it was to give Green the shirt. Maybe it was Clint’s idea.

    • Expat4455 says:

      Very informative article, thanks for the link. So, the scouting for dual-nationals playing in Europe started in 2009 under Thomas Rongen and it was him who brought in Boyd and Chandler. That explains a few things.

      I did know all about Andi Herzog’s work. He, much more than Klinsmann, handled the negotiations with Bayern concerning Julian Green. As I said, it was Herzog who, on 14 Feb. 2014 visited Bayern’s training center, met with Green and gave him the invitation to train with the USMNT in Frankfurt, which Julian accepted. Bild Zeitung then ran with it in it’s 15 Feb issue. Klinsi nimmt Bayern-Bubi mit zur WM.

      That was why I asked the question: Who will sit with Klinsman on the bench in Brazil, Valquez or Herzog? Also, it is good to hear that Andi is working on Gedion.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Wow what a depressing article. “I needed to go outside the country” – Thomas Rongen. Sounds like he doesn’t get the concept of international competition.

      Any young kid looking at this “US” national team under JK is going to think “soccer is a game for foreigners” which is how many in this country already think unfortunately.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Ironic too that Rongen managed to drive away Subotic, someone who was actually developed in the US. But hey, no problem, we’ll just find some European somewhere to replace him.

  3. Dennis says:

    It would be quite a trick for Sunderland to win against Norwich if they are playing West Ham.

    I do not like the way Jozy is always drifting to the far post and not making runs across the front of goal. It means he is going away from goal and with the service from Sunderland, the ball seldom gets past the defenders he puts himself behind. Is this just what Jozy does or is it part of Poyet’s plan of attack?

    • John says:

      I saw an interview with Johannsson recently when he was talking about how under Verbeek he was asked to run into space more and even drift wide at times. However with the new manager at AZ, he just wanted him press the center backs and be in front of goal. Considering Verbeek was Jozy’s manager last year I wonder if there’s been a similar transition for him under Poyet.

      • GW says:

        In the Norwich game Jozy spent more time out wide.
        Before he got to Sunderland, Jozy was never really a classic target guy. I think Poyet putting Jozy out wide a bit more and pairing him with Wickham is an acknowledgement of the fact that Jozy can be better when he can run at the goal.

    • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

      Couldn’t agree more. When the ball goes wide for Sunderland jozy just floats into the box hoping the ball makes its way onto his head. Sometimes he needs to charge to the near post in front of his defenders to give himself the best chance to get on the end of the cross. He lacks purpose and suddenness of his runs and doesn’t seem to have a great hunger to get the ball.

  4. Jack says:

    Plus, I don’t think that we should give up on Brooks just yet. If he can play for the rest of the season at Hertha and clock some more minutes, I don’t see how he can be left off the plane. He just seems to be missing a “killer instinct” on the pitch and just plays a bit too calm, which might be good when he’s distributing the ball out of the back, but he’s not aggressive enough in his defending. My CBs would be Cameron, Besler, Gonzalez, Gooch and Brooks. Goodson for me just doesn’t have the athletic potential to play at the WC.

    • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

      Brooks been too mistake prone to be trusted with a WC spot this time around. I could see us bringing only 3 “true” CBs with Cameron, Edu and Parkhurst with the capability of playing CB. At this point, I think JAB is behind Gooch, Goodson and Orozco.

      • biff says:

        +1 Brooks has hardly played at the club level since September and when he has, he has generally been bad, not to mention his weak to bad performances in a US shirt. His time will come in WC 2018, but only if he can improve his game. I agree that Goodson and Orozco are well ahead of Brooks on the depth chart and Gooch a bit ahead. Gooch is a great guy and you can’t help but pull for him, but I would be pretty nervous to see him on the field in Brazil. In his instance I have faith that Klinsmann will not include him on the roster unless Gooch proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is capable. We shall see.

  5. John says:

    Jones and Brooks getting a start