Picking USA's Best World Cup Squad Following Latest Internationals
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is just three months away, but the deadline to name the United States squad comes on May 13.
On that date, manager Jurgen Klinsmann can name up to 30 players for a preliminary roster before cutting the final squad down to 23 on or before June 2.
We already have a general idea of how the starting lineup will look, but plenty of fringe spots remain up for grabs.
Here is a glimpse at how the 23-man roster would look if Klinsmann had to pick his team after the latest international friendly with Ukraine.
This is an easy position to pick for Klinsmann since he has three solid goalkeepers ready to book their tickets to Brazil.
Howard is the first-choice keeper for the United States; look for him to keep that role at least until the World Cup finishes.
Howard is not only a strong player at his position, but he is the emotional leader that the inexperienced, out-of-position American back four needs.
If Guzan were not an American citizen, he probably could start for a handful of teams at the World Cup.
The 29-year-old Aston Villa keeper will eventually become the next member of the storied American goalkeeping fraternity, but 2014 belongs to Howard.
Nick Rimando will not see the pitch in Brazil unless something catastrophic happens, but his presence will be felt elsewhere.
Rimando is one of the most respected players in Major League Soccer, and he brings a quality locker room attitude to the squad.
Five defenders are locks to make the trip to Brazil, but the other three of the projected eight defensive spots are still up for grabs with plenty of names in the mix.
Right-Back: Geoff Cameron
If Cameron is not in the starting 11 for the first match against Ghana, something is truly wrong with Klinsmann.
He is in terrific form at the right-back position for Stoke City in England, and he delivered a strong performance against Ukraine from the same spot on the pitch.
Klinsmann could move Cameron to center-back or defensive midfield because of his versatility.
Center-Backs: Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler
Gonzalez and Besler are the best center-back pairing that the Americans can put together, and they have grown into a respectable duo.
The two MLS-based products have solidified a position that Carlos Bocanegra occupied for years and have made it their own.
Left-Back: DaMarcus Beasley
For at least the first game in Brazil, Beasley will be the starting left-back.
There is reason to be concerned about his age and how he will hold up against the talented wingers in Group G, though.
Regardless of how much playing time he receives in Brazil, Beasley will be important to the U.S. squad because of his vast experience at both the club and international levels.
The Reserves: Clarence Goodson, Brad Evans, Michael Parkhurst, Michael Orozco
Goodson and Orozco should be called into the squad to be the reserve center-backs.
Both players have done well when called upon, with Orozco's showing at Azteca against Mexico in 2012 being the most notable one.
Evans has done an admirable job at right-back over the last year, but he is a natural midfielder and will not be playing in the back four for the Seattle Sounders in MLS this season. Despite all of that, he is a lock to go to Brazil because of what he did to help the Yanks get there.
Parkhurst moved back to MLS during the offseason to make his way onto the squad, and he should earn the eighth and final defensive spot.
The right-back does have to play well for Columbus, but right now he is the best option to take to Brazil.
With two months to go until roster selection, three midfielders are absolute locks, and a few others are close to clinching a spot on the squad as well.
This is the position where the United States has the most depth; deciding the final midfielder or two will be a difficult job for Klinsmann.
Defensive Midfielders: Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones
Bradley is the best American player at the moment and is the man who controls the United States midfield.
Jones is known for his disciplinary issues, but he does form a solid partnership with Bradley that lets the 26-year-old move forward in attack while he sits back and defends.
Right Wing: Graham Zusi
The third lock for Brazil right now is Zusi, whose rise to stardom is a fantastic one.
The Sporting Kansas City player has rarely turned in a bad spell of time on the pitch in a United States jersey since he became a consistent starter under Klinsmann.
Left Wing: Fabian Johnson
If Klinsmann keeps the 4-2-3-1 formation, expect him to hand Johnson a start on the left wing like he did on Wednesday against Ukraine.
Johnson's speed and tackling ability will allow him to help out Beasley on the defensive side of the ball, which is something some of the other roster contenders fail to offer.
Reserves: Mix Diskerud, Kyle Beckerman, Brek Shea
While Diskerud and Beckerman do play the same position in the 4-2-3-1, Diskerud is more of an attack-minded player and can come off the bench to provide a spark if need be.
Beckerman is a favorite of Klinsmann, and unless he falls into a ridiculous spell of bad form, he should be on his first World Cup roster.
Shea is ultimate unknown of the midfielders. He was great in the substitute role during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final, but he has also demonstrated a lack of focus at times.
He will make the roster, but just barely, because of his big-play potential off the bench.
Forward is a flexible term for this roster as the versatile Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are set at the position, just like they have been for the last year or so.
That leaves one spot up for grabs behind that pair and two other forwards.
No. 10 Role: Landon Donovan
Donovan came back from his self-imposed sabbatical with a new purpose in 2013, and he has not slowed down since.
The 32-year-old is best suited in the No. 10 role of the 4-2-3-1 because it gives him the ability to roam freely through the midfield as he looks to spring the attack.
Forward: Aron Johannsson
Johannsson's lack of World Cup experience may hurt him in the minds of some, but he has shown in his appearances for the United States off the bench that he is ready for the pressure of being the main goal provider.
The 23-year-old is in much better form than his former club teammate Jozy Altidore, and he is the best American goalscorer at the moment.
Reserves: Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson
Dempsey and Altidore are in poor form at the moment, which may cost them a spot in the starting 11, but Klinsmann won't leave either off the squad entirely.
Both players possess game-changing skills, but they have not shown them recently at the club level.
Johnson has a ton of pressure on him to succeed for D.C. United, a team that he should easily lead in goals. He can also play on the wing if need be, but his consistency and commitment are a concern.
On the Edge
Quite a few players out there could make their way onto the squad by May. Here is a look at a few of them.
Defenders: Tim Ream, Edgar Castillo, John Brooks, Eric Lichaj
Castillo and Brooks did themselves no favors with their terrible showings against Ukraine, but if they recover well at the club level, they could earn one more call from Klinsmann.
Ream and Lichaj have resurrected their careers in the Championship with Bolton and Nottingham Forest, respectively.
Ream, who withdrew from the squad that played Ukraine due to the birth of his child, has the best chance of the quartet to make the roster because of his ability to play both left- and center-back.
Midfielders: Danny Williams, Brad Davis, Alejandro Bedoya
Bedoya needs to stand out a bit more at the club level as he faces stiff competition for a spot on the wing for the World Cup.
Davis is a set-piece specialist who could be brought along for the ride just because of his abilities in that department.
Williams is a player who has jumped back on to the national team radar. He has an outside chance of beating out Beckerman or Diskerud for a spot in the midfield seven.
Forwards: Chris Wondolowski, Julian Green, Terrence Boyd, Juan Agudelo
If Wondolowski can score goals at will during the first two months of the MLS season, it will be hard to leave him off the squad.
Boyd and Agudelo both need to close out the European season on an absolute tear to get noticed.
Then there is Green, who could be an intriguing prospect if he commits to the United States. There is no doubt that he is a face for 2018, but at 18 years old, he may not have enough experience under his belt yet for 2014.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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