Thursday saw a few changes made to the United States roster that will take on the giants that are Brazil August 10th in New York/New Jersey.
First, and most disappointing to me personally, is the withdrawal of Jermaine Jones. As I made note of in my last article, Jones is the kind of beastly defensive midfielder that could allow the U.S. attack to really play freely, doing so by creating a strong link between the defensive line and the midfield while hanging just a little behind the play.
Jones’ absence is due to his continued effort to return to full strength with his club team. In a statement Thursday, Jones thanked Bob Bradley for extending his first official invite to the MNT. He stated that he determined with the Schalke 04 coaching staff that it would be more beneficial to remain with the club and ensure that he gets 100% match fit.
As I also stated in my previous article, with this match not being on an official FIFA fixture date, it does in some cases make much more sense for a top player to remain with his club and lock down consistent minutes for the next season in a top league, rather than play in a fixture that has little to no bearing on the Yanks’ progression as a soccer nation.
At this point, options to partner Michael Bradley in the American midfield boil down to Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu and Anderlecht’s recent signing, Sacha Kljestan. As I wrote previously, Kljestan has most certainly earned another look from the national team camp after the running start he has given to his European career.
That being said, it is much more likely that we will see Edu partnering Bradley. Edu’s form in South Africa was quite good. He provided a stabilizing presence in the midfield and operated much in the same way that Jones is expected to eventually for the MNT. Many will also recall that Edu scored that goal against Slovenia.
The next withdrawal was Chad Marshall. No reason has been given for his upcoming absence, but this has paved the way for one of the brightest young defenders in the US player pool to potentially make his first appearance for the senior squad.
LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez has earned himself a call-up with consistently solid play in MLS. Whether or not he gets any minutes against La Selecao is a different story, with World Cup veterans Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra already a part of the squad, but Gonzalez’s inclusion in the squad does signal that the US staff sees him as an option for the future.
The other interesting inclusion in the squad is Jozy Altidore. Just a day ago, I wrote about the fact that Jozy’s absence may signal that the player is finalizing a move to a new club. His sudden call-up may mean several things.
First, it could mean that Altidore’s long-rumored transfer has been completed. As has been reported several times this summer, it is unlikely that his current club team, La Liga’s Villareal, will keep him. They are in fire sale mode at the moment, cutting ties with players that haven’t already made an impact on the first team.
It also could mean that talks have stalled in Altidore’s move, and his presence is not required in Europe with great immediacy.
Either way, Altidore’s inclusion is an interesting one. He will almost certainly partner with Robbie Findley or Edson Buddle at the tip of the American attack. The United States' other striker in camp, Herculez Gomez, is seen as more of a finisher than a speedster, and therefore doesn’t compliment Altidore’s game as well as Buddle or Findley.