Rating MLS Players' Chances of Making USMNT World Cup Squad

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Rating MLS Players' Chances of Making USMNT World Cup Squad
Rick Scuteri

In just three weeks, United States men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will name a provisional World Cup roster which will be full of Major League Soccer stars.

Since the return of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, among others, to MLS, the league's players are more important than ever to the U.S. squad.

Here's a look at each player's chances of making the cut and representing the U.S. in Brazil.

 

Locks

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The top of the list is headed by a number of household names, including Landon Donovan, Matt Besler, Clint Dempsey, Graham Zusi, Michael Bradley and Nick Rimando.

Donovan has been the U.S.'s talisman for years and Dempsey is the team's captain—Dempsey's also on a hot streak with eight goals already this season.

Besler is likely the only player on the U.S. back line who has locked down his starting spot and Bradley is arguably the team's best player.

Zusi is another player who should start this summer after proving his worth during World Cup qualifying and Nick Rimando will probably be the best goalkeeper in the entire tournament that never sees the field as he backs up U.S. netminders Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.

 

Near Locks

USA TODAY Sports

The next group, the near locks, is comprised of players who are favorites to make the roster. This group includes Omar Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Kyle Beckerman, Eddie Johnson and Clarence Goodson.

Most pundits had Gonzalez penciled in as a starter prior to 2014, but a series of sketchy performances for both club and country have left his position a little less stable. He'll still be on the roster, barring a major collapse, but his place in the starting XI is certainly up for grabs.

One of the players who could take that starting spot, and who is a near lock himself, is Clarence Goodson. Goodson has never been spectacular for the U.S., but he's a physical presence in the back and avoids the kind of mental errors that Gonzalez often commits.

Brad Evans was a surprise for the U.S. during World Cup qualifying at right-back, but he still seems to be a temporary fix rather than a permanent solution. Klinsmann will still probably take him to Brazil, but right-back is the most up-for-grabs position on the entire roster.

Kyle Beckerman is another player who has done very well in recent months for the U.S. and should make the team, but who is facing last-minute challenges from Maurice Edu and possibly Danny Williams.

Finally, Eddie Johnson has been a go-to player for Klinsmann during qualifying and in last summer's Gold Cup, but his recent club form is a bit of a worry. Johnson will still likely make the roster, but is facing last-minute challenges from other strikers, including Chris Wondolowski and possibly Terrence Boyd.

 

Bubble

Rick Scuteri

The bubble group, those players who will likely have to impress Klinsmann during camp, and may not even make the provisional roster, include Chris Wondolowski, DeAndre Yedlin, Michael Parkhurst and Maurice Edu.

Wondolowski, despite his recent hot form for the U.S., is still likely in a battle for the last striker spot on the roster.

Parkhurst is another favorite of Klinsmann and whose versatility gives him an edge as he can be plugged in anywhere along the back line. He also performed well enough against Mexico last month to possibly leapfrog Evans on the right-back-depth chart. Many fans would put him above Evans—an argument with serious merit—but there may only be one spot remaining at right-back and Klinsmann may find it difficult to take Parkhurst over Evans.

Yedlin is also still in the mix at right-back, but likely behind Parkhurst and Evans in the selection process. Yedlin did get into both of the U.S.'s last two matches when MLS players were called up and is a dark-horse candidate to make the team.

Finally, Edu has enjoyed a strong start to his MLS campaign this spring, but it may be too little too late. After suffering for a year-and-a-half at Stoke City with almost zero playing time, Edu has seen his place on the national team slip and may not have enough time to work his way back into the mix.

 

Long Shots

Rick Scuteri

The long shots, players who will likely not make the roster, but who are still on Klinsmann's radar, include Brad Davis, Sean Johnson, Luis Gil and Tony Beltran.

Davis has long been a USMNT fringe player, but faces competition on the wing from Zusi, Donovan, Alejandro Bedoya and possibly Julian Green, Brek Shea and Joe Corona.

Few doubt that Johnson is the U.S.'s No. 4 in the net, but the only way he'll get on the team is if Howard, Guzan or Rimando get hurt.

Gil has been called into the last two U.S. camps, but he was an unused substitute against Mexico and likely faces too much competition in the midfield to make the roster.

Finally, Beltran simply has too many players in front of him at outside back to have a realistic shot, despite starting against Mexico earlier this month.

 

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