The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is just one month away, so time is running short for American soccer players to prove that they deserve a spot on the final 23-man roster for the United States men's national team.
Team USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann recently revealed the United States' preliminary 30-man roster, according to Leander Schaerlaeckens of Fox Sports, but seven of the players on that roster won't be lucky enough to represent their country in Brazil.
While most of the roster seems fairly straightforward, only Klinsmann and his assistants know where things currently stand. Here are three potential World Cup roster members who will fall just short of the ultimate squad.
Few fringe players have made a greater case for themselves to make the United States World Cup roster over the past couple of years than striker Chris Wondolowski. After going two years without scoring a goal for the USMNT, it looked as though Wondo's time might be coming to an end for Team USA. However, he has found new life with Klinsmann as head coach.
The 31-year-old scored his first Team USA goal against Guatemala in July 2013, and he has scored on eight more occasions since then, including a hat trick against Belize in the Gold Cup. Wondo has simply made the most of his opportunities and has become tough to ignore.
Many have taken notice of his impeccable effort level, and that includes Klinsmann, per Robert Jonas of CSN Bay Area:
Klinsmann on Wondolowski: "Every time he comes into the national team environment, he gives you everything he has. He always goes 1000%."— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) May 12, 2014
It is blatantly obvious based on his comments that Klinsmann likes Wondolowski and is rooting for him to a certain extent, but the path to making the final roster is a difficult one. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey are virtual locks to make the squad, as is Landon Donovan, who has taken on a forward role under Klinsmann.
Perhaps there is room for a fourth striker, but Wondolowski will have to beat out Terrence Boyd and Aron Johannsson. Since Klinsmann went to great lengths to get Johannsson to commit to the United States rather than Iceland, he may very well have a leg up. That means Wondolowski has an uphill battle between now and the final roster decision.
Along with Johannsson and Julian Green, Klinsmann was able to convince big German defender John Anthony Brooks to join the USMNT in 2013. Although Brooks has only played in a small handful of matches for the United States senior squad, he has shown flashes of potential brilliance at center back.
Klinsmann has to be fairly comfortable with what he has in goal, in the midfield and up front, but the back line is a definite concern. Perhaps DaMarcus Beasley, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler have separated themselves from the field to some degree, but there are definitely spots to be had. Since Brooks is viewed as a big part of Team USA's future, Klinsmann could opt to give him a look.
One thing working in Brooks' favor is the fact that he is playing against elite competition in the Bundesliga for Hertha BSC. Brooks has been used largely as a reserve, although he did get the start against Borussia Dortmund in Hertha's final match of the season, according to Mathew Wagner of the Tribune Chronicle:
Last day of this Bundesliga season, folks. John Anthony Brooks starts for Hertha BSC against Dortmund.— Mathew Wagner (@Mathew_Wagner) May 10, 2014
That could have potentially helped him, but Hertha didn't fare particularly well against one of the Bundesliga's best:
John Anthony Brooks went the full 90 minutes in a 4-0 loss to Dortmund. Not exactly the best performance from the Berliners.— Mathew Wagner (@Mathew_Wagner) May 10, 2014
Brooks is very much on the bubble, as he will be the last defender either on or off the squad. Since his impact on the national team has been minimal to this point, expect Klinsmann to opt for more experience.
Which player is most likely to get snubbed for the United States' final World Cup roster?
Having earned 14 career appearances for the United States men's national team, 32-year-old veteran Brad Davis is no stranger to international play. That experience makes him an intriguing midfield option off the bench, but the midfield group is crowded, to say the least.
Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi and Jermaine Jones are all virtual locks, with Julian Green, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud and Maurice Edu making strong cases as well. Davis is a solid all-around player, but he simply isn't a dynamic offensive player like Zusi, Green or Diskerud. He also doesn't have the same defensive acumen as Bradley or Jones.
That didn't stop Davis from willing himself into the competition, even after he thought his chances to make the national team were shot, according to the official Twitter account of the Houston Dynamo:
Davis making the team would be a great story since he has scratched and clawed to get noticed by Klinsmann. Unfortunately, it would probably make more sense for Klinsmann to include specialized midfielders like Green and Diskerud. Because of that, Davis will just miss out.
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