Six Young Players Who'll Be in Place for the USMNT by World Cup 2014March 7, 2012
Jurgen Klinsmann is trying to build a team not only for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but also a team for future World Cups. The German's vision of what U.S. Soccer should be is still a little unclear, but his vision of the U.S. Men's National Team is a little more clear.
He wants to meld different leagues together, different players and playing styles from around the world, to make a beautiful mix of hard-workers and creative players. There is still a lot of work to be done, but Klinsmann has already started to make up his mind on the players he will be carrying on the journey during this World Cup cycle.
Here are six players who will hold down a spot on the roster come 2014.
The FC Nuremberg defender turns 22 this month and he's already made eight appearances for the USMNT. The versatile German-American can play on either side of the defense at either full-back position, which makes him a rare breed of defender strong on either foot.
Chandler's ability to get up and down the flank makes him an imposing player to line up against, and in two years time expect him to continue to grow into himself more. Chandler will be asked to do a lot, but he's already handled the jump to the American team and the jump to the Bundesliga with Nuremberg, so a little World Cup pressure will just be another stepping stone for him.
Another German-American who plays in the Bundesliga, Johnson is a left-footed player who can play as an outside midfielder/winger or at left back, which makes him indispensable to the USMNT with its lack of top-tier left-footed players.
Johnson showed that he can play left back against top opposition in the USMNT's historic win over Italy, but he's more suited further up the field. Look for him to push Brek Shea for the starting spot on the left-side of the midfield if Landon Donovan isn't fit or is moved to a more forward position
The D.C. United goalkeeper won't steal the starting spot from Tim Howard between the posts for the USMNT, but Hamid will be in place as Howard's back up. And he'll be ready. Hamid has established himself as the first choice goalkeeper at D.C. at just 21 years old, and it doesn't look like he's going to lose that job anytime soon.
Okay, Cameron is 26 years old, but he's still young in terms of center backs and USMNT defenders and in the miles he's put on his legs. Cameron just got his first three caps, all under Klinsmann, and he's still got a ways to go before he becomes a regular.
But he's shown he can play and play well at the international level. Cameron has great ball skills for a center back—he use to split time in the center of the midfield—and that's the kind of player Klinsmann wants leading the line in the center of his defense. Look for Cameron to get more chances and to keep improving at the international level. He's a solid player with more potential to be reached.
People tend to forget that Altidore is still just 22 years old. The AZ Alkmaar forward already has 46 caps with the national team to his name, but he's still a young pup on the international stage.
With a shortage of true forwards and players who can work inside and between center backs on the USMNT, Altidore will have a starting place barring unforeseen injuries or a titanic drop in form.
Hopefully his time in the Netherlands will help him establish a bigger presence in front of goal because he needs to start to put the ball in the back of the net for the USMNT for this core group to be successful come Brazil.
Klinsmann likes what Torres brings to the USMNT. The little midfielder is a passer, a creator and a deep-lying midfielder who can supply the kind of service Klinsmann wants in his side. Torres is 24 and still hasn't broke through as a regular into the U.S. side, but that's soon to change when he can get and stay healthy for his club Pachuca.
The experience at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will certainly help him going into Brazil and give him the kind of confidence every midfielder needs.