10 National Team Players Who Won't Make the USA Roster at World Cup 2014
Coming off the U.S.’ recent World Cup qualifying wins against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala, the United States Men’s National Team depth chart has had a little bit of a shake-up.
With certain players’ stock up and other players’ stock down, let’s take a look at ten players who might not make the U.S.’ 2014 World Cup roster.
Michael Orozco Fiscal
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Orozco has been called into the U.S. camp for 15 of Klinsmann’s 18 games in charge (excluding the January friendlies). However, in that time, Orozco has only earned four caps for the USMNT.
Worse, since starting three of Klinsmann’s first four games in charge, Orozco has not returned to the starting lineup. In fact, his only appearance for the Nats since his last start in October of 2011 was a 13-minute substitute appearance.
At 5’ 11’’, Orozco is not tall enough to play center back against top-notch competition.
As an outside back, Orozco’s chances are even grimmer. Assuming Steve Cherundolo is still starting as the right back, Orozco’s competition for the back-up spot will include Michael Parkhurst, Eric Lichaj and perhaps even Will Packwood.
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Clarence Goodson has a number of things going for him in terms of continuing his run with the USMNT. His height makes him both an offensive weapon on set pieces and a good center back choice against teams that the U.S. will have to bunker down against.
He is an experienced international and has earned 33 caps with the national team.
He is also the captain of his club, Brondby, which shows his leadership abilities.
So why might he miss the roster?
Goodson showed in his last outing with the U.S., against lowly Antigua and Barbuda, that his slight frame and lack of pace make him susceptible to speedy or strong forwards. This was not a new revelation to USMNT fans who have seen Goodson exposed in the past.
Goodson’s club is also in trouble as Brondby sits 12th out of 12 in the Danish Superliga and faces relegation.
As the U.S. moves forward into the hexagonal, the U.S. is going to be forced to look at new center back options which could include Omar Gonzalez, George John, Alfredo Morales, Zak Whitbead, Seb Hines or John Anthony Brooks among others.
Michael Parkhurst or Eric Lichaj
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Assuming that Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson are fit and still the starting choices, there will be an intense battle for the back-up spots (this also assumes Timmy Chandler doesn’t re-emerge in the picture).
Edgar Castillo, naturally left-footed, will be the favorite to be the back-up at left back, leaving only one spot on the roster.
The case for Lichaj getting the remaining spot is that he is young, strong, fast and can play on both the left and right side of defense. Lichaj is also playing in the English Premier League facing some of the best attackers in the world on a weekly basis. And Lichaj proved he can play well at the international level as his performances in the 2011 Gold Cup were very strong.
The case for Parkhurst is that he is experienced having played in Europe for the past five years and has experience in both the Europa League and the Champions League. Parkhurst can also play on both sides of the field and even as a center back.
The downside for Lichaj is that he appears to have lost his starting spot for Aston Villa after a poor performance against Southampton in September. Villa is also currently 16th in the EPL and in danger of being relegated.
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While many USMNT fans and certainly head coach Jurgen Klinsmann are very high on Brek Shea, the fact is his performances have been inconsistent for both club and country.
The other really big problem for Brek Shea is the level of competition for spots in the U.S. midfield.
Joe Corona, despite his relatively few caps, has been consistently called in by Klinsmann over the past year. Landon Donovan is more or less a guaranteed inclusion assuming he is healthy and wants to keep playing. Eddie Johnson and Graham Zusi are in fine form right now and Josh Gatt should soon become a USMNT regular.
Both Sacha Kljestan and Jose Torres can also be played wide, although it is not a natural position for either player. Clint Dempsey has proved at the highest levels of club and international football that he is a world-class wide player. Fabian Johnson was dominant for the USMNT when deployed in the midfield and Klinsmann has shown a willingness to shoe-horn Danny Williams into the wide midfield spot when necessary.
This also assumes that players like Freddy Adu and/or Alejandro Bedoya don’t work their way back into the U.S. picture.
Shea has quite a few players to climb over to make the 2014 roster.
Terrence Boyd or Jozy Altidore
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Assuming Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez are healthy and still the first choice forwards, the U.S. forward pool, long an area of concern, has become surprisingly deep.
Eddie Johnson, who proved over the last week that he is markedly improved from the 2008 Eddie Johnson, has also seen his stock rise quickly.
That would leave one forward spot on the roster open.
Both Boyd and Altidore looked near locks just a few months ago, but neither were called up by Klinsmann for last week’s games.
Now, both appear to be fighting for the same spot on the USMNT roster.
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Jose Torres and Sacha Kljestan’s international fortunes have intersected recently with the oft-chosen Torres dropped from the most recent USMNT roster while the oft-forgotten Kljestan was brought in.
Both players do essentially the same job and both tend to create contentious debate among USMNT fans.
The case for Torres is that he is naturally left-footed and can play in the middle or the outside of the midfield. Torres also contributes strong set-piece service to the mix.
The case for Kljestan is that he is playing Champions League football in Europe for Anderlecht, one of the more storied clubs in the world. Kljestan, like Torres, can also play either centrally or wide in the midfield.
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Spector, despite being largely considered a fringe player among USMNT fans, has 34 caps for the national team and has been called up by Jurgen Klinsmann as recently as this September’s World Cup qualifying games.
The case for Spector is that he can play on both the left and right of the back line and even as a midfielder. He was also a part of the U.S.’ spectacular run in the 2009 Confederations Cup.
However, Spector is unspectacular in both his attacking and defensive abilities.
He can be beat 1 v. 1 on the outside and, in possession, has a bad habit of dribbling into traffic and losing the ball in dangerous parts of the field.
Although Spector has largely played as an outside back or wide defender in his club career, he may have a chance cracking the U.S. lineup as a center back, a position that the U.S. is notably short of depth.
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Agudelo’s rise to the USMNT has been as dramatic as his fall.
Coming on as a substitute in a November 2010 friendly against South Africa, Agudelo scored a terrific goal in his debut. Then, Agudelo got his 2011 club season off to a spectacular start and added another highlight goal for USMNT fans to drool over.
Agudelo has not been called up to the USMNT squad since May and has had an unspectacular MLS season only scoring two goals in 18 games played.
The upside for Agudelo is that he is only 19 years old and is clearly loaded with natural ability. The downside is that he will have to battle Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Terrence Boyd and Chris Wondolowski for one of four probable forward roster spots.
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Club success does not necessarily translate into national team success.
Despite leading MLS with an amazing 26 goals, Wondolowski was left off Jurgen Klinsmann’s most recent roster.
In eight appearances for the USMNT, Wondolowski has yet to score. That scoreless streak has included one incredible miss in the 2011 Gold Cup and being stymied on repeated occasions in the January friendlies by some excellent goalkeeper play.
Wondolowski also faces a strong USMNT forward pool and is unlikely to unseat Clint Dempsey or Herculez Gomez and will struggle to compete with Eddie Johnson, Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd and Juan Agudelo for a roster spot.
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The overwhelming majority of USMNT fans have seen little to justify the repeated call-ups of Kyle Beckerman to the national team roster, but this hasn’t stopped Klinsmann from giving him repeated call-ups and caps.
In last week’s World Cup qualifiers, Klinsmann appeared to have finally realized he is wrong about Beckerman as Beckerman failed to make an appearance. However, that didn’t stop him from being included on the roster in the first place.
The U.S. possesses a number of players who can fill Beckerman’s defensive midfield role and, in fact, do it better, including Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley and Danny Williams.
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