Jurgen Klinsmann has looked at a healthy number of players since the World Cup ended last summer. He has turned over a variety of stones searching for talent, from Europe and Liga MX, to Major League Soccer and even NASL and college soccer for prospects who might be able to give him options as he prepares to overhaul the U.S. national team.
Has Klinsmann looked at everybody there is to look at? That hasn’t quite been the case. As MLS heads into its fifth week of the season, there are several MLS players playing at high levels who are yet to be called by Klinsmann. Some of those are players who have fallen off Klinsmann’s radar, and others have never been called in.
The opportunities to be seen by Klinsmann are diminishing quickly as the U.S. moves closer to a second half of 2015 that will feature both the Gold Cup and the team’s start to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. The upcoming friendly against Mexico is one such opportunity, but the team Klinsmann calls in for that friendly won’t be together long enough to make bringing in completely new faces a priority.
That leaves the month of June, when friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany will allow Klinsmann to test his first-choice team against some of the world’s best squads. MLS players still trying to impress Klinsmann enough to earn a call in for those June friendlies have two months to really make their case.
Some players already have started to do that, though position depth in the U.S. player pool will make the path to a place on Klinsmann’s squad tougher for some than others.
Here are five MLS standouts who have yet to be called by Klinsmann since the World Cup who are playing well enough to force their way into the picture between now and the summer:
The Chicago Fire standout has been the lone consistent bright spot on a Fire squad that started the season out in terrible fashion before showing improvement in recent weeks. With the U.S. player pool lacking good attacking options on the wings, Shipp is just the kind of player who could merit a look in the coming months. He has the passing skills and mobility to contribute on the international level, and he’s only 23, which has to help considering the need for some fresh, young talent in the player pool.
The best defender in MLS in the first month of the season, and you could argue the best player overall in March, Opara was dominant on both sides of the field. He is at the top of all the major defensive statistics, and he also has scored two goals while using his eye-popping vertical leap to threaten on several other set pieces. He is showing improvement on the ball, though if there’s a knock against him for the transition to the international level it’s his technical quality on the ball, which is something Klinsmann values in his central defenders.
You haven’t heard much about Okogo at Orlando City with Kaka grabbing the headlines, and Kevin Molino providing some highlight-reel moves. The former Philadelphia Union midfielder might be flying under the rader, but he has been the glue holding the Orlando City midfield together through a promising first month in existence. Okugo is fifth in MLS in passes completed (182) and boasts the highest passing percentage in the league (89.22) among players in the top 30 in total passes. Is that enough to get the 24-year-old onto Klinsmann’s radar? If he keeps it up, it just might be enough.
A fast and versatile player with the technical ability and fearlessness to go at defenses and create chances, Villarreal has taken charge with the Galaxy and become a starter for Bruce Arena’s side. If Klinsmann is looking for some promising young attacking talent to help bring along, he should call in the 21-year-old Villarreal for a look this summer, assuming he can continue to play well and keep his starting role with the Galaxy.
The only player on this list to actually be called in by Klinsmann before, McCarty was part of the January camp in 2014, but it can be argued that he has matured into a much better player in the year since that call. The 27-year-old McCarty has earned the captain’s armband for the New York Red Bulls and is a key reason why the Red Bulls are off to such a promising start to the 2015 season. Klinsmann already has a wealth of central midfield options, though, so McCarty may find it tough to break in for a look.