Predicting the US Squad to Go to World Cup 2014 in Brazil After the Gold Cup
With the CONCACAF Gold Cup concluding on Sunday in Chicago, the shape of the United States squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup has changed once again.
Just over a month ago after the three World Cup qualifiers, I predicted the 23-man roster for 2014. However, a lot can change in one month's time, especially with a continental competition like the Gold Cup taking place.
Some players have done enough to cement their spot on the roster, while others are still fighting for a place, especially in the crowded midfield. Here is a revised look at how the 23-man roster for Brazil would look had it been selected today.
Players: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
With the first two positions on the goalkeeping depth chart already solidified, Nick Rimando has done his best during the Gold Cup to lock up the third keeper spot.
Rimando has done well in net for the Yanks, and if he stays healthy he will beat out the likes of Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid for the right to sit behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan on the depth chart.
Unless a catastrophic injury occurs to Howard or Guzan, they will be the top two American keepers heading into Brazil, with Howard keeping the starting job for now.
Players: Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron, Steve Cherundolo, DaMarcus Beasley, Fabian Johnson, Timothy Chandler
Regardless of what happens between now and the 2014 World Cup, questions surrounding the United States back four will remain.
One constant in the defensive fold now is Matt Besler, who will most likely be playing alongside Omar Gonzalez at center-back when group play begins next June. If Gonzalez is not in the starting 11, it will be because of Clarence Goodson, who has been a surprisingly consistent force at center-back during the Gold Cup.
Geoff Cameron should be added to the roster as a fourth center-back who can also shift into the defensive midfield position if need be.
As for the full-backs, a healthy Steve Cherundolo is still the best option at right-back for manager Jurgen Klinsmann, but a young, committed Timothy Chandler could provide competition for the wily veteran.
At left-back, Fabian Johnson should be the favorite to start over DaMarcus Beasley. Johnson will likely be forced back into a defensive role at the international level because of the Americans' depth on the wing.
Two names to look out for in the coming months in defense should be DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders at left-back and John Anthony Brooks of Hertha Berlin at center-back, both of whom could make a late run at a roster spot.
Players: Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Stuart Holden, Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona
The depth in the U.S. midfield is quite amazing, as close to 15 players could make a case for Brazil. Of the players listed above, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Graham Zusi should be locks to make the trip to South America.
Bradley and Jones should be the starters in the defensive midfield pairing, but do not be surprised if Stuart Holden, Kyle Beckerman or even Mix Diskerud gets a shot at the position during the final four World Cup qualifiers.
Both Diskerud and Holden are versatile midfielders, and they have shown during the Gold Cup that they have no fear moving forward in attack when called upon. Zusi's inclusion may be a definite, but his spot in the starting 11 may not be after the recent performances of Landon Donovan, Joe Corona and others during the Gold Cup.
Zusi will have to fight tooth and nail to keep his starting position, and I think he will do just that based on the form the Sporting KC product has been in of late. Corona's fine form, meanwhile, should parlay him into a spot on the roster for the World Cup qualifying matches.
However, if any one of these seven players slips up during the next 10 months, there is a replacement waiting in the wings to take their presumed spot on the final World Cup roster.
Players: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Chris Wondolowski
The forward position has received plenty of attention over the last few weeks and rightfully so. Landon Donovan could be listed as either a midfielder or a forward, but for the sake of this list, he moves up front to forward.
Donovan can line up almost anywhere on the pitch, and it will be interesting to see how he combines with Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey in qualifying in September and October. The trio of Altidore, Donovan and Dempsey is the best three-headed monster that Klinsmann can put out on the pitch, and hopefully he obliges to that request in the coming months.
Eddie Johnson and Chris Wondolowski have both gone on scoring streaks during the Gold Cup and both would be valuable substitutes during the World Cup. Johnson has shown the necessary aerial ability on set pieces, while Wondolowski has found a knack for scoring when the opportunity presents itself as well.
If Johnson and Wondolowski can carry their form over into 2014, they will be the two forwards on the bench for the Yanks in Brazil.
On the Outside Looking in
Players: Brek Shea, Herculez Gomez, Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya, Brad Davis, Brad Evans, DeAndre Yedlin, Jose Torres, Terrence Boyd
There are plenty of players on the outside looking in at the moment, but as we all know, a lot can change in a 10-month span.
Brek Shea is possibly the most deserving name on this list, and while he has shown a few glimpses of brilliance during the Gold Cup, he needs to do that on a consistent basis for both club and country in the next year to challenge for a roster spot.
Herculez Gomez could be a victim of others' good form and his injury issues when it comes down to the selection process. One thing that could change that is a goal or two in international caps.
Sacha Kljestan, Brad Davis and Brad Evans are three players who do not get enough respect, as they just may be overshadowed by the young talent flowing through the American system.
He was in good form against Honduras, but Alejandro Bedoya has not done enough to warrant a spot on the roster (though his club form could argue otherwise). And the same can be said about Jose Torres.
DeAndre Yedlin and Terrence Boyd are two young players who could jump onto the national team radar for good this season, but their time will definitely come in 2018.
What do you think of the updated United States roster projections?
Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90.