Jurgen Klinsmann said his most-recent roster would be his World Cup squad if the tournament was this summer. Here's how his group currently shapes up.Nearly 10 months into his tenure as U.S. national team head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann will finally get a chance to lead his side into competitive matches when the U.S. faces off against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 and Guatemala on June 12 in World Cup qualifiers.
Prior to those two matches, the U.S. will have three friendly warm-ups, against Scotland on May 26, Brazil on May 30, and Canada on June 3. Klinsmann has called in 27 players for the five-match blitz, and will cut his roster down to 23 on Friday.
Klinsmann has vowed to treat this stretch as a five-match tournament and says the group he's called would be his World Cup roster if Brazil 2014 was Brazil 2012 instead. With those factors in mind, here's a breakdown of the team's current roster:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Projected starter: Howard
Projected cuts: None
-No surprises here. With Shay Given injured, Guzan's impressive seven-match stint as Aston Villa's starter this winter will inspire confidence should Howard ever go down. Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid's struggles with the U-23 team in Olympic qualifiers give Rimando the No. 3 spot, but Chivas USA's Dan Kennedy is making a strong case for consideration, and could earn his first cap sooner rather than later.
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland)
Projected starters (L to R): Castillo, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Cherundolo.
Projected cuts: Morales.
-Coming off a great season with Club Tijuana and without another natural left-footed option at the position, Castillo completes his stunning transformation from U.S. fans' preferred whipping boy to national-team starter. Now, about replicating that club form on the international level....
-Bocanegra slots into his natural left center-back role while Onyewu's late-season return from a knee injury earns his starting place.
-Much has been made of Cherundolo's advancing age (33), but he's still performing at a high level for Hannover, and with Timothy Chandler dithering on his international future, Dolo's spot at right back is secure.
-Parkhurst makes the roster not only due to his standout campaign in Denmark, but also his versatility, as he's able to slot in at any defensive spot. Goodson is set as the top backup at both central defensive spots, with Cameron currently failing to replicate his fantastic late-season form of 2011.
-The inclusion of Morales was somewhat puzzling, considering the 22 year-old is uncapped, played almost no part in Hertha's ultimately-losing battle against relegation, and was selected over Premier League starters Eric Lichaj and Tim Ream. Klinsmann clearly sees something in the German-born defender/midfielder, but no experience plus no club playing time will equal his departure.
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Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Projected starters (L to R): Defensive: Jones, Bradley. Attacking: Johnson, Dempsey, Donovan
Projected cuts: Williams, Zusi
-Finally, it appears Donovan and Dempsey will play together for the first time under Klinsmann. Dempsey is nursing a minor groin injury, which will cause him to miss the Scotland match, but he should be good to go afterwards barring any setbacks.
-Johnson has vaulted to the top of the left-midfield depth chart with his strong play for club and country, coupled with Brek Shea's downturn in form.
-Central midfield is clearly the team's biggest strength. Jones helped Schalke to a Champions League berth in Germany, and Bradley's standout season in Italy has earned him reported interest from some of Serie A's biggest clubs.
-Other CM options Beckerman, Edu and Torres bring completely different characteristics to the table, but all have been in good form with their club sides. Klinsmann should feel reasonably confident putting any of them in a game.
-Williams is a puzzling choice not because he doesn't deserve the selection, but because it appears he's not recovered from a shoulder injury that could keep him out another week or two. Without an optimistic diagnosis from team doctors, he could be in danger of becoming one of the four cuts.
-Corona earns the final spot over Zusi for a few reasons. First, Zusi and Sporting KC have cooled off after a hot start, with Zusi not recording an assist for five games now. Second, Klinsmann appears to rate the Mexican Primera league higher than he does MLS and third, Corona is not cap-tied to the U.S. national team. If the Yanks have a big lead against Antigua and Barbuda like they should, don't be surprised to see Corona as a late-game sub, which would bind him to the U.S. permanently.
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Projected starter: Altidore
Projected cuts: Boyd.
-Quite simply, Altidore has become the player we all thought he'd be when Villarreal paid MLS and the Red Bulls $10 million for his services in 2008. Though not the finished product, the 22 year-old is far and away the top striker option for the U.S., and he'll be expected to produce.
-Though neither has appeared to be amongst Klinsmann's favorites, the goalscoring exploits of Wondolowski and Gomez eventually became too much to ignore. Neither is much of a target striker, however. Wondolowski will likely get a look if/when the U.S. switches to a dual-striker formation. The same goes for Gomez, who could also see time at right midfield, where he plays for Santos Laguna.
-Boyd's future is very much in the air at Borussia Dortmund, as the German champs don't appear ready to entrust him with first-team action. A loan or transfer to a smaller Bundesliga side is a likely outcome this summer, but the 21 year-old has still yet to make a Dortmund first-team appearance, and only has one national-team cap. The younger, but more-experienced Agudelo gets the final forward spot.
Projected OPTIMAL starting XI (4-2-3-1):
Cherundolo – Onyewu – Bocanegra – Castillo
Bradley – Jones
Donovan – Dempsey – Johnson