The two aging Americans, who both currently play in Mexico, could give the current U.S. squad an edge in hostile Central American environments.Jürgen Klinsmann is in no doubt a smart man. The U.S. men's team manager's initial roster selection leading up to a pair of World Cup qualifying matches against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala was nothing short of masterful.
A shrewd move to select just 16 players, knowing full well that the most likely six or seven he has yet to call on will have 10 to 15 guys busting their humps in order to be considered by Der Manager at the start of the WCQ 2014 campaign. Klinsmann's core campaign promises have remained intact at the moment. His commitment to Latino talent has already yielded some nice surprises, while his endeavor to unearth every last eligible American mostly in his native Germany is also creating several palatable options for the future.
Another Gringo haven has solidified itself at the south of the border, as more and more players opt to ply their trade in the Mexican Primera, taking advantage of high salaries and a very competitive level of play that is arguably the highest in North America. While many of the Klinsmann selectees in that regard are holdovers of the Bradley Era, it is clear that players in Mexico will get their chance under the German manager as the U.S. gears up for what is looking to be an increasingly treacherous road to the World Cup.
Yet, the absence of a few names has certainly raised eyebrows. DaMarcus Beasley's strong showing at Puebla has so far gone unnoticed, with the former Hannover 96 man scoring seven goals in a full season for a team that had three managers running it over the course of 34 matches. Further north, Herculez Gomez has scored more than 25 league goals since arriving to Mexico in 2010, bagging a scoring title in the process.
The Las Vegas native was also absolutely clinical in the CONCACAF Champions League this season, scoring key goals against MLS opponents (including Seattle Sounders FC) that pushed his Santos Laguna team into the final against Monterrey. What do Beasley and Gomez have in common, other than playing in Mexico? Their long absences with the national team are coupled with the fact that both are now in their 30s.
Like a seasoned politician, Klinsmann has given himself wiggle room this time. Surely, he will tell you, his doors are open for anyone with an American passport and a chance to make the Stars and Stripes better on the pitch. Hey, he's only selected 16 players after all. The reality, however, is different. Anyone expecting to see Beasley and/or Gomez on any of Klinsy's lists soon will most likely be disappointed.
The old guard would most likely make it a cultural issue. Debates stating that about players plying their trade in Mexico are nothing to crow at, as it's no substitute for a top-shelf European league. It's not a cultural issue. It's not that they play in Mexico or that they've failed to make a mark either in MLS or on the other side of the pond. It's strictly an issue of personal preference. Klinsmann most likely believes that players who are unlikely to join the team in Brazil 2014 are of no use to him even in the preparatory stages. Slightly risky, but understandable.
A close call in Guatemala might change his mind.