Jurgen Klinsmann has set his 23-man roster for the U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) for the first two games of the World Cup Qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014. Team USA will play Antigua in Tampa, FL on June 8th, and play at Guatemala on June 12th.
This is Klinsmann's first WCQ campaign as head coach, and he has assembled a good squad that regularly plays against the best competition in the world. Eighteen players on his roster play professionally overseas, including four in the German Bundesliga, three in the English Premier League and one in the Italian Serie A.
Here are seven players on Klinsman's roster that fans of the USMNT—and fans of opposing CONCACAF teams—should keep an eye on as World Cup Qualifying begins.
Michael Bradley is good enough to play for the USMNT even if his father is no longer the head coach. Klinsmann proved that by naming him to the roster.
But will Michael Bradley perform as well under a new coach?
Team USA has always counted on Bradley for steadiness in the midfield and timely goal scoring.
Jurgen Klinsmann will expect the same.
One of three German-born players on this roster, Fabian Johnson is one of the newest members of the USMNT. He began his international career playing for Germany, where both he and his mother were born. But he decided to continue his international career with the United States, where his father was born. So far he has three international appearances for Team USA.
The WCQ campaign should serve as an extended tryout for Johnson, who will bring versatility to the American midfield.
Like Fabian Johnson, Jose Torres could have played for another country. But instead of playing for his father's home country of Mexico, he opted for the United States. He is a veteran of World Cup 2010, but played only sparingly.
This midfield playmaker should now receive a bigger role with the national team, and World Cup Qualifying will be an excellent showcase.
Expect the dynamic Torres to put on quite a show.
Herculez Gomez finished tied for the goal-scoring lead in the Mexican Primera Division during the 2010 season, leading into the World Cup in South Africa. And the striker from Las Vegas played well in the last set of friendlies before the tournament began.
But he received limited playing time from coach Bob Bradley in South Africa, and was benched in favor of Edson Buddle for the Round of 16 game against Ghana, which the USMNT ultimately lost in extra time.
Expect Gomez to receive more playing time with Klinsmann at the helm, and he will seize the opportunity to show his new coach how good he really is.
Jermaine Jones is the physical enforcer in the midfield, and he adds a new dimension to the USMNT.
But the native of Frankfurt, Germany has trouble playing under control, and led the Bundesliga in yellow cards this past season. He even showed off his temper during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final, attacking a Mexican player in an incident that was not detected by the referee.
Jones can be a game changer, but he has to stay in the game.
On paper, Oguchi Onyewu is still the best defender on USMNT, a squad that has been plagued by defensive ineptitude during the last two World Cups.
But is Gooch back to top form after his ACL injury suffered in the final game of WCQ 2010?
The injury forced him to miss the World Cup, as well as the next season for AC Milan in Italian Serie A. The USMNT will need Onyewu to be at his best if they are to succeed in Brazil. World Cup Qualifying will be an excellent test for the defensive standout from Maryland.
Team USA has been looking for a dominant scorer for the last several years, experimenting with Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez and others.
But Jurgen Klinsmann need look no further than Clint Dempsey, a veteran of the last two World Cups.
Dempsey had a breakout 2011-12 season for Fulham in the Premier League. The Texas native became the first American to record a hat trick in an FA Cup game, and then became the first American to record a hat trick in a Premier League game. He also set the American record for most goals scored in the Premier League. His performance should land him at a high-profile club during this summer's transfer season.
If he continues this torrid pace during the WCQ campaign, Team USA could be the class of CONCACAF.