As the United States men's national team and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann head into the last six weeks before leaving for the World Cup, much attention has been paid to who Klinsmann will select to represent the U.S. in Brazil.
However, before he selects his final 23-man roster, he will submit a 30-man provisional roster to FIFA by May 12.
That 30-man roster will be the make-or-break point for many of the U.S.'s fringe players, and from that list, another seven will be cut and sent home before the team departs for the World Cup.
Here are the 30 players Klinsmann should put on his provisional roster and bring into the team's World Cup training camp based on their recent performances for club and country and their ability to help the team in Brazil.
There's little doubt that Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando will be the three goalkeepers representing the U.S. in Brazil. However, Klinsmann will likely bring an additional goalkeeper into camp just in case one of his top three gets injured. The likely candidates will include Bill Hamid and Tally Hall, but the correct selection is Sean Johnson. Johnson proved this summer in the Gold Cup against Costa Rica that he is the U.S.'s fourth-best goalkeeper.
The givens to get a call-up into the U.S.'s training camp are Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Evans. Evans still hasn't convinced most U.S. fans that he's a capable right-back, but it's hard to believe that Klinsmann would leave him off the provisional roster after starting him through most of the hex in World Cup qualifying.
The versatility of players like Cameron (who has played left-back, right-back, center-back and in the midfield for club and country) and Johnson (who has played left-back, right-back and on the wing for club and country) also make it difficult to discern a clear-cut depth chart along the back line, but it's likely that Klinsmann will call in at least two more defenders for the training camp.
Michael Parkhurst appears to be the front-runner for one of those spots and, deservedly, will probably even make the final roster. The last spot at camp should go to Michael Orozco, who played well in the Gold Cup, is a weapon in the air on set pieces and who has the versatility to play any spot in the back.
Klinsmann could go with 10 defenders for camp, but picking a 10th option for the provisional roster gets very difficult because of the number of choices involved. Timmy Chandler is back in training after suffering an MCL injury, and Tim Ream has had a strong season for Bolton in the English Championship playing as both a center-back and on the left. DeAndre Yedlin is many American fans' pick to be the right-back of the future, and if another option at center-back is needed, John Anthony Brooks or Oguchi Onyewu could be called in.
But, every choice for a 10th spot has its downside. Chandler hasn't been in the mix for the U.S. since the team's poor performance against Honduras over a year ago. Ream has always appeared to be a bit below international caliber, and DeAndre Yedlin is still very inexperienced. Finally, both Brooks and Onyewu struggled in the U.S.'s last friendly in Europe and both have had up-and-down club form over the past year.
Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Mix Diskerud are the likely givens at center midfield. Diskerud's recent club form is a bit worrying, but it would be a shock if he were not invited to camp. With Klinsmann likely to call in six center midfielders, two spots are up for grabs.
In the mix are Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Jose Torres and Luis Gil. Morales gets an occasional call-up from Klinsmann but, considering the level of competition at the position, is unlikely to be at the training camp. Danny Williams looked strong in the U.S.'s last friendly in Europe, but a series of injuries after the game have kept him largely out of Reading's lineup. Sacha Kljestan is another player who has suffered from poor club form in recent months and, as shocking as it is, shouldn't be called into training camp. Luis Gil is an exciting prospect, but is not ready for the World Cup.
The final two spots on the provisional roster at center midfield should go to Maurice Edu, who has enjoyed a bright start to his MLS season in 2014, and Jose Torres, who has had an even stronger campaign this year for Tigres in Liga MX.
Out wide, Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan and Alejandro Bedoya will get called in. That likely means Klinsmann will have three spots to play with at wide midfielder. In the mix are Joe Corona, Brek Shea, Julian Green and Brad Davis.
Those four also happen to be battling for what will likely be the last spot on the U.S. roster, but one of them will probably be left home before the camp even begins. Unfortunately, Davis will likely be the one who is cut. Ironically, he has been the most consistent of the four, but the U.S. needs at least one spark plug off the bench, and that's not really his' forte.
Up top, Klinsmann will likely bring five players into camp. Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Aron Johannsson and Clint Dempsey will get a call in for sure. That leaves one spot.
Chris Wondolowski has done enough in recent months, scoring twice against South Korea and again against Mexico, to earn the final call-up, even if he doesn't make the final roster.
If Klinsmann were to add a sixth striker, the last roster spot could go to Terrence Boyd, Juan Agudelo or Herculez Gomez.
Gomez hasn't featured for the U.S. since suffering a knee injury last spring. Agudelo has shown some bright spots early on in his European campaign but is still struggling to find consistent form. And Boyd, who frequently gets called up by Klinsmann, rarely plays when called in.
John D. Halloran
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