USMNT vs. South Korea: Who Should Jurgen Klinsmann Start?
On Saturday, the United States men's national team and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will wrap up the team's annual January camp with a friendly against South Korea. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. PT.
The game is one of only a handful of opportunities Klinsmann will have in 2014 to make final decisions about the roster the USMNT will take to Brazil and the World Cup.
With that in mind, here is who Klinsmann should start.
Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando
Few would dispute the fact that Nick Rimando is the team's No. 3 goalkeeper behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan and, that being said, Rimando should be the starter on Saturday.
Sean Johnson has a promising future, but he will be a goalkeeper for the 2018 cycle.
Right-Back: Brad Evans
Hardly any U.S. fans are excited about Brad Evans being the potential starter for the U.S. in Brazil, but unless Jurgen Klinsmann decides to start using Geoff Cameron as a right-back (something Klinsmann has been reticent to do), or makes up with Timmy Chandler, it's Evans or bust at the World Cup.
And while Evans should get the start, it would be nice to see a 20-minute cameo from DeAndre Yedlin.
Center-Back: Omar Gonzalez
Omar Gonzalez has been steadily improving for both club and country over the past year and is a likely starter for the U.S. in Brazil. He needs all the minutes he can get right now at the international level.
Center-Back: Matt Besler
Matt Besler, along with Omar Gonzalez, is a likely starter for the U.S. next summer. The more game time he and Gonzalez can get together before the World Cup, the better in-sync they will be when the U.S. kicks off against Ghana.
Klinsmann shouldn't waste any chance he has to get Besler and Gonzalez together.
Left-Back: Michael Parkhurst
Jurgen Klinsmann got himself into a little bit of a pickle at left-back when he sent home both Chris Klute and Seth Sinovic. He's still got Michael Harrington, but the odds that Harrington makes the World Cup squad over DaMarcus Beasley, Fabian Johnson or Edgar Castillo are astronomical.
Thankfully, late call-up Michael Parkhurst can play at every position on the back line. His year at Augsburg was terrible, but just 13 months ago, Parkhurst was on the Champions League Team of the Week. He's the best option the U.S. has on its current roster.
Holding Midfielder: Kyle Beckerman
There's no love lost between Kyle Beckerman and most U.S. fans, but even the most ardent Beckerman haters should admit he had a career year in 2013. He was terrific for Real Salt Lake and for the U.S. in both the Gold Cup and the big 2-0 win over Mexico in September.
Beckerman is also the only true holding midfielder the U.S. has on the roster other than Dax McCarty (whose chances at the World Cup roster are virtually nil).
Center Midfielder: Mix Diskerud
After Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, the depth chart at central midfielder for the U.S. is pretty unclear. There's Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Kljestan, Mix Diskerud and a bevy of long shots including Stuart Holden, Danny Williams, Maurice Edu and Jose Torres.
Diskerud is the only one other than Beckerman who's in camp right now, and he also has a legitimate chance at becoming the U.S.'s central midfield supersub for the World Cup. He should get the nod.
Wide Midfielder: Graham Zusi
Graham Zusi quietly had a very big year for the USMNT in 2013, contributing a number of key goals and assists in World Cup qualifying. He's a likely starter in Brazil and should get all the minutes Klinsmann can give him.
Wide Midfielder: Mike Magee
Mike Magee's monster 2013 Major League Soccer season earned him a January camp call-up, and the reigning MLS MVP should be given a shot to show what he can do at the international level. Although he primarily played as a forward for the Chicago Fire, he played out wide for the LA Galaxy for years.
A case could also be made for starting Brad Davis (something not too many U.S. fans want to see) as Davis showed against Panama that he can contribute to the national team. Davis' World Cup prospects are thin at best, and the January camp and friendly may be a make-or-break opportunity for the Houston Dynamo midfielder.
Luis Gil is also an exciting prospect, but he's one to watch for 2018.
Attacking Midfielder/Withdrawn Forward: Landon Donovan
Other than Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan is the most likely, and best, candidate for the U.S. to play in the No. 10 role.
The January camp has most likely been a last-ditch chance for Benny Feilhaber to impress Jurgen Klinsmann and a 20- to 30-minute substitute appearance by Feilhaber as the No. 10 would also be nice to see, especially if the U.S. attack has been unable to unlock the Korean defense.
Forward: Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson is not the type of player to impress with his first touch, or with his back to goal, but he's a constant threat to get in behind and a monster in the air.
Johnson plays well with Landon Donovan, who will almost certainly start somewhere in the U.S. midfield, and is likely to be the U.S.'s supersub up top in the World Cup. He deserves the start.
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