Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named 30 men to his preliminary squad for the U.S. National Team in preparation for the World Cup in Brazil this summer. The USMNT coach has decided on a group of players that have been tested and that he believes can shock the entire world later this year.
“We had some difficult decisions to make, and we are very excited about the 30 players coming into camp,” Klinsmann said in a statement.
Those difficult choices included leaving Eddie Johnson off the roster. A veteran of the 2006 World Cup and a player who had a significant part in the nation’s qualification to the tournament, Johnson has sputtered significantly in the past few months. He has yet to log a goal this season for his MLS club D.C. United. When asked why Johnson failed to make the cut, the coach was forward and honest, saying that Johnson had fallen behind other forwards competing for roster spots.
Those forwards are Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Aron Johannsson, and Chris Wondolowski.
Altidore has had a horrific season since his arrival at Sunderland. Having scored just two goals in 39 appearances for the Black Cats, he’ll need to show flashes of brilliance prior to the start of the World Cup to guarantee himself a spot on the final roster.
Terrance Boyd meanwhile has been nothing short of spectacular. Firing on all cylinders and having breached the 20-goal mark for the season, the only worry with Boyd is that he does not burn out before the World Cup.
Dempsey makes his presence known on the roster following a solid start to the MLS season while Donovan will legitimately have to fight for his spot at the World Cup. Klinsmann has made it known that while Donovan has done wonders for American soccer, the time to win is now, and he wants a team full of hungry players. Unless Donovan finds the beast inside of him in the next three weeks, it would not be surprising to see him sent home early.
The striker field rounds out with Johannsson and Wondolowski, the two that likely benefited the most from Johnson’s collapse.
The midfielders for team USA will look like this: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Joe Corona, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Maurice Edu, Julian Green, Jermain Jones and Graham Zusi.
The big surprise from this group was Julian Green, the young soccer stud who comes over from Bayern Munich. Having only one international game under his belt, it will be interesting to see if he can handle the pressure of the big-stage and win a spot to Brazil.
An interesting tandem to watch in the midfield will be Beckerman and Bradley. The two MLS players have looked sharp during international play, and if the United States are to beat the likes of Portugal and Germany, the midfield might just be the key to their success. Beckerman’s consistency allows Bradley to push the field and attack more often because he knows that Kyle will be there to solidify the middle.
The back four will consist of men from this collection: DeMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Michael Parkhurst, and DeAndre Yedlin.
The core group of Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Evans, Gonzalez, Goodson, Johnson, and Parkhurst are favorites to make the trip to Brazil. They have been the center of Klinsmann’s defense and have regularly been touted by the coach as important pieces to the puzzle. It will be intriguing to see if Chandler and Yedlin can seize their opportunities to impress the coaching staff.
While Klinsmann has named three keepers to his roster, it is strongly believed that Tim Howard will beat out Brad Guzman and Nick Romando for the starting spot.
The 30 men head to Stanford in Palo Alto, California where a two-week training camp awaits them. They will play a scrimmage game against Azerbaijan in San Francisco on May 27 and Turkey on June 1 in New York. The following day, Klinsmann will chop the roster down to 23 and they will travel to Jacksonville for a final sendoff game against Nigeria on June 7.