Predicting Which Americans Will Be Househould Names During the World Cup
As the 2014 FIFA World Cup rolls around, casual soccer fans across the United States are starting to get acclimated with some of the players who will be taking the pitch for the Yanks in Brazil.
Only a few of the players to be named to Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster, like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, are currently household names, but there are plenty of other players worthy of being recognized nationwide.
Here is a look at six American players everyone will be talking about during the World Cup.
Over the past few years, Graham Zusi has risen to stardom in Major League Soccer with Sporting Kansas City.
The University of Maryland product has been a consistent part of Klinsmann's starting 11 for the last year, and he should start on one of the wings in Brazil.
Zusi isn't particularly flashy when it comes to his personality, but when it comes to being out on the pitch, his game speaks for itself.
Look for Zusi to be one of the more underrated players going into the tournament but to leave Brazil with his name coming out of the mouths of a ton of United States supporters.
Matt Besler has taken the same path that Zusi has to the national team, and it has made him the top defender in the United States squad.
Besler, a Notre Dame product, also plays for Sporting Kansas City, and just like Zusi, he has been a model of consistency for both club and country.
The 27-year-old may not have his name called by the announcers much during a match, but that is a good thing for a defender.
Besler will have a difficult task in Brazil against three dangerous attacks in group play, but he should be up to the task given his recent form.
When Kyle Beckerman steps out on to the pitch, he stands out in more ways than one.
The dreadlocked midfielder is another product of MLS who has made his way up through the national team ranks to become one of the most reliable players on the roster.
Beckerman will be in direct competition with Jermaine Jones for the second starting defensive midfield spot alongside Michael Bradley, if Klinsmann opts to keep a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Just like Besler, Beckerman may not draw much attention to himself because of his solid play, but he should be recognized more by the American public if he stars in his partnership with Bradley.
The hopes and dreams of scoring goals in Brazil may rest on the shoulders of Aron Johannsson.
The 23-year-old, who was born in Alabama and plays at the club level in the Netherlands, could have represented either the United States or Iceland.
Johannsson has been on a tear with AZ Alkmaar this season, as he has scored 20 league goals, and nine more in other competitions.
If he scores on a regular basis in Brazil, like he did at the club level this season, Johannsson jerseys will be flying off the shelves in June.
Let me introduce you to the player who will probably be the most frustrating to watch when the World Cup begins.
Jozy Altidore is supposed to be the main man up front for the United States, but thanks to a rough club season at Sunderland and Johannsson's terrific form, his starting spot is up for grabs.
Altidore should get the start up front in the first game against Ghana, but if he fails to channel his 2013 goal-scoring form that saw him net eight goals for the United States, you might not see him for the rest of the tournament.
There is one player guaranteed to become a full-blown household name at the 2014 World Cup, and his name is Michael Bradley.
Bradley is by far the best American player in the game today, but because he is not a consistent goalscorer and isn't in the public eye much, he is not the household name he should be.
The diehard soccer fans in the States are already aware of how good Bradley is, but the general public will not pick up on his talents until the World Cup begins.
Bradley has the ability to control the game through the midfield, and he can even march forward to score a goal or two when called upon.
Because of his all-around abilities, Bradley will undoubtedly become the biggest household name in the United States this summer.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.