Picking a USMNT All-Star Best XI: Howard, Donovan, Jozy Highlight Squad
The United States men's national team had quite a successful 2013, and they did so with not much consistency in regard to the lineup selection.
Jurgen Klinsmann selected 40 different players to start a game for the Yanks and an additional eight players who were used only as substitutes in 12 months.
With a large selection pool to choose from, 11 were chosen to make the United States Best XI for 2013.
The players were chosen for this squad based on national team performances only, not for their play at the club level.
The team is lined up in a 4-2-3-1, which has been the preferred formation of Klinsmann for most of his time in charge.
Here is a look at the best XI from 2013 whom the Yanks put out on the pitches across the world.
GK: Tim Howard
There was only one choice for the first-team goalkeeper, and that was Tim Howard.
The 34-year-old was in net for five clean sheets for the Yanks in 2013, and he was a pillar of experience in a defensive line that saw plenty of inexperienced mistakes over the 12-month span.
Credit must be given to Brad Guzan for being an admirable backup to the Everton shot-stopper, but until Howard loses his grasp on the position, his spot on the yearly best 11 is solidified.
RB: Brad Evans
The right-back position is the one that is certainly up for grabs when it comes to selection for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next summer.
In the chaos on the right flank of the back four, Brad Evans played the best when called upon by Klinsmann.
Evans, a natural midfielder, has one lasting memory from 2013, which is his game-winner against Jamaica on June 7.
The Seattle Sounders man is far from a lock at right-back in 2014 with Geoff Cameron, Steve Cherundolo, Eric Lichaj, and maybe even Timothy Chandler, putting their names in the race.
CB: Matt Besler
Matt Besler is easily one of the favorites for Most Improved Player as he continued to develop into a long-term option at center-back for the Yanks.
Besler appeared in 12 matches for the United States, including the knockout matches of the Gold Cup and most of the major matches in the Hex, although he missed out on the clincher against Mexico due to suspension.
The 26-year-old still has plenty of work to do as he prepares for Brazil, and he could face competition from John Brooks in 2014 but only if the dual-national is in the form of his life.
As long as he is not injured, Besler's center-back spot is almost guaranteed in Brazil based off his play over the last 12 months.
CB: Omar Gonzalez
The only realistic option to partner Besler at the moment is Omar Gonzalez.
Another young defender plying his trade in Major League Soccer, Gonzalez has stepped to the forefront of what used to be a cloudy center-back picture.
Gonzalez featured in each of the first nine matches of the 2013 campaign, six of which were alongside Besler.
The duo played together a total of seven times, and in those contests, the duo conceded just seven times and were a part of four clean sheets.
The two games where the partnership conceded more than one goal came against Germany in June and against Costa Rica in September, a game where Michael Bradley was injured pre-match.
LB: DaMarcus Beasley
DaMarcus Beasley was a workhorse at left-back in 2013 as he played on 17 occasions for the Americans.
During his marathon international campaign, Beasley became the 14th player to earn his 100th cap for the Yanks.
By the end of the year, the reliable veteran surged up to fifth on the all-time appearance leaderboard with 114.
With Marcelo Balboa's 128 in his sights, Beasley could end up playing past the World Cup if he keeps up his 2013 form at left-back.
DM: Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley may be the easiest selection to the United States best 11.
The 26-year-old is one of the few Americans playing in one of Europe's major leagues, and every time he dons the white and blue of the Yanks, he turns in a quality performance.
Bradley also caused the biggest scare in American soccer in the last 12 months when he went down with an ankle injury before the September 6 match against Costa Rica.
By being absent from the squad that day, Bradley proved just how important he is to the greater good of American soccer as the team fell to pieces after the Roma player was ruled out.
Luckily, the Americans recovered and won their final three games in the Hex, but another sudden scare like the one in San Jose will cost the United States further down the road again.
While it may be simple to choose Bradley for this team, his partner in the defensive midfield was difficult to select.
DM: Kyle Beckerman
Go ahead and write away your objection to Kyle Beckerman's selection in the comments section below, but before you do that, ask yourself if you would really pick Jermaine Jones' 2013 over that of Beckerman.
The 31-year-old holding midfielder may not have had his name called a ton during Gold Cup broadcasts, but his impact was massive as the Yanks went on to win the continental tournament.
It has been well-documented that the Real Salt Lake player is a favorite of Klinsmann, and he has been given his opportunity to thrive for the national team on many occasions.
While he may not be suited to play alongside Bradley in any match because of their similarities, Beckerman certainly deserves a spot in the defensive midfield partnership over Jones in this team.
For those griping about Jones' exclusion, he is too much of a flight risk on the pitch, and he committed way too many silly fouls, due to his overaggressive style, when he suited up for the Yanks.
RM: Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan returned from international exile in magnificent fashion at the Gold Cup.
Donovan played with an entirely different energy and passion in 2013 than he did in 2012 as he went on to justify his self-imposed soccer sabbatical.
The Los Angeles Galaxy playmaker debuted for the Yanks this year on July 5 against Guatemala and never looked back from that point on.
Donovan scored a goal apiece in the first two group games of the Gold Cup, and he became the provider of plenty more scores during the run to the tournament final.
As the season entered the fall, Donovan earned his spot back in the first team on three straight occasions against Costa Rica, Mexico and Jamaica.
With Brazil now six months away, Donovan must continue his form from this season into 2014 in order for the Americans to have a potent attack when they venture down to South America.
CAM: Clint Dempsey
While Donovan had a stellar second half of the year, Clint Dempsey had a terrific first half of 2013 as he gained an immense amount of respect in the American camp.
Dempsey was handed the role of captain in March, and in a time of turmoil, he was the one who scored the winning goal in the snow against Costa Rica on the fateful March night that turned around the fortunes of the Klinsmann era.
The man they call "Deuce" scored six goals for the Yanks, and if it wasn't for his lack of playing time at the club level, he probably would have scored more than that.
With Donovan back in the squad, Dempsey will be charged with sitting behind the lone forward in the 4-2-3-1 formation but do not be shocked if he and Donovan swap spots on the pitch constantly during the course of a game in the future.
LM: Eddie Johnson
It is with a high sense of reluctancy that Eddie Johnson's name appears in this space, but there really wasn't another player more deserving than Johnson to make the team in this position.
Johnson shined bright during the summer in more ways than one as his blonde dye-job helped him break out of his scoring slump.
The 29-year-old scored five goals for the Yanks and kept finding his way on to the pitch in a few different roles, which shows Klinsmann does have a bit of confidence in him.
However, the one knock on Johnson, and the rest of the attacking midfield core not named Dempsey and Donovan, is consistency.
Johnson's name has never been associated with consistency, but in 2013, he did do some things well to dispel the criticism for now.
FW: Jozy Altidore
One of the few selections to this team that cannot be debated is Jozy Altidore.
Altidore formed himself a new identity on the international level in 2013 as he broke a near two-year scoring drought in fantastic fashion.
After finding the back of the net against Germany on June 2, Altidore went on a scoring tear for the rest of that month by scoring a goal in the three matches following the victory in Washington, D.C., over the Germans.
Altidore ended the year with a team-high eight goals, and he earned himself a move to Sunderland, which has stopped his goalscoring form in its tracks for now.
Luckily for the Americans, if Altidore hits a roadblock in 2014, they have Aron Johannsson to move into the starting forward position.
GK: Brad Guzan
RB/CB/DM: Geoff Cameron
MF: Alejandro Bedoya
MF: Graham Zusi
MF: Brek Shea
FW: Chris Wondolowski
FW: Aron Johannsson
Guzan, Cameron and Zusi could have been first-teamers if they had not been stopped by Howard, confusion of international position and form.
Bedoya endured a good spell of form in the summer, while Shea found his role as a substitute and played it to perfection in the Gold Cup final.
Wondolowski scored six goals this summer, and Aron Johannsson showed in limited time that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future for the Yanks.
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