On the back of last week’s international friendly with Ukraine, United States men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is surely closer than ever to narrowing down the U.S.’s World Cup roster to 23 Americans.
However, with three months left until the team departs for Brazil, there are still a few decisions to be made.
Here are 15 Americans who are still in the running, but who need to make a strong case, and do it soon.
It stands to reason that Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron and DaMarcus Beasley are locks to make the team at the moment. That leaves the possibility for a fair amount of late movement among the defensive roster spots for the USMNT.
Cameron seems to be the U.S.’s likely World Cup starter at right-back while Brad Evans has been a Klinsmann favorite on the right over the past year. However, Cameron’s versatility may force him elsewhere in the U.S. lineup and Evans’ poor performance against South Korea may have put his spot in jeopardy.
Timmy Chandler seemed a sure-fire pick to earn a recall to the team over the past few months, but a recent meniscus tear has him back on the bubble. Michael Parkhurst, now back in Major League Soccer after a disastrous stint in the Bundesliga, will need a strong start with the Columbus Crew to make his case.
Michael Orozco could also make a late case and his ability to play anywhere along the back line is a distinct bonus. Eric Lichaj looked to be in the mix with a strong start in the English Championship this year, but a recent groin injury looks like it will keep him out of the mix.
Fabian Johnson’s versatility also complicates things. Most fans think he should start for the U.S. at left-back, but Klinsmann has shown a preference to playing him in the midfield. Further muddling the discussion is the fact that Johnson has played his last several games for Hoffenheim at right-back.
Edgar Castillo has been on the fringes of the team for the past year, but another poor performance against Ukraine may have sealed his fate. A dark-horse candidate on the left is Tim Ream, who has quietly enjoyed a strong season with Bolton in the English Championship.
At center-back, John Anthony Brooks’ poor performance against Ukraine likely will keep him out of contention, but if Klinsmann wants some competition for Clarence Goodson as the U.S.’s fourth center-back, he could take one last look at Oguchi Onyewu. Gooch was far from spectacular against Ukraine, but he at least fared better than Brooks.
Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Mix Diskerud look to be locks for the roster which would leave only one spot open. Kyle Beckerman has been the front-runner and will likely stay there considering Sacha Kljestan’s poor performance against Ukraine likely doomed his hopes.
Maurice Edu could springboard a bright start to his MLS campaign into another chance with the team. Danny Williams, who has had a solid season with Reading and looked good off the bench against Ukraine, could also sneak into the mix.
The common consensus for the attacking midfield spots has Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi and Alejandro Bedoya headed to Brazil. Dempsey’s form has been worrisome and Bedoya hasn’t exactly impressed with the national team, but they are both clearly favored by Klinsmann.
Joe Corona could make a late push, but will need to get enough quality club minutes to earn a call-up into the camp for the U.S.’s April friendly with Mexico to have a chance.
Brek Shea has been a fixture of Klinsmann’s lineups since he took over for Bob Bradley, despite relatively poor club form. He was also just released back to Stoke from Barnsley three weeks before his loan deal was set to expire—not exactly a ringing endorsement from the Championship side.
Brad Davis has been hanging around the edges of the U.S. roster for the past year, but few are convinced of his international ability.
Finally, Klinsmann will have to decide whether or not to gamble a roster spot on promising youngster Julian Green.
At forward, Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson and Eddie Johnson are the favorites.
Juan Agudelo and Herculez Gomez would need some very impressive club form to work their way back into the mix, but it certainly is possible.
Terrence Boyd has been doing well in Austria and Klinsmann loves to call him into camps, but he rarely plays him in matches.
Finally, MLS poachers Mike Magee and Chris Wondolowski have two months of MLS play, and possibly the April friendly against Mexico, to convince Klinsmann the U.S. needs them.
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