Jurgen Klinsmann selected 26 players for his January training camp, and ASN's John Godfrey has some thoughts on those chosen, those snubbed, and what this means for Brazil 2014.
January 03, 2014
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1. THIS IS A TREMENDOUS TEAM
By United States January camp standards, this 26-man roster is off the charts.
You can credit the development of Major League Soccer for much of this. MLS veterans Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Nick Rimando, and Eddie Johnson
are locks for the United States' World Cup roster...providing EJ adjusts the settings inside his skull and remembers what life was like during his tragic run in the United Kingdom. Brad Evans and Kyle Beckerman, both Klinsmann favorites, as well as Clarence Goodson, a solid backup at a shaky position, are on the short list to make the cut as well.
That's nine likely members of the U.S. national team assembled in the January camp—and all of them play in MLS. When you add in Mix Diskerud, a rising star within the U.S. setup who currently plays in Norway, that's nearly half of the expected American squad gathering for a month to practice and play together. That's huge.
2. KLINSMANN ISN'T SATISFIED
Watch the video below. The recently re-upped U.S. national team coach is never complacent, and that will benefit both his fringe players and the overall team in the long run.
Klinsmann had this to say about the January roster: "What’s exciting is to maybe find another two, three, four guys who break into the inner circle of the senior team. This is the opportunity now to prove it in the next four weeks. It’s a never-ending process."
A few of the names on the squad leap out as potential members of this "inner core." Mike Magee
, for one, seems to have everything going for him. The recently crowned MLS MVP scored 22 goals last year, has the sort of versatility (he plays striker or any midfield position) that comes in handy during tournaments, and he is not the least bit intimidated
by his surroundings. Although he has never been capped, Magee could elevate his status over the next month.
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Defenders Chris Klute, DeAndre Yedlin, and potentially Shane O'Neill—a man searching for a true position—also look very intriguing. Depth and consistency at fullback is one of Klinsmann's biggest problems heading into the World Cup, and by calling in these three players he gets a chance to see if one or more of them can contribute in Brazil. If the answer is No, no problem. The 2018 World Cup is just four years away.
3. Where are the Strikers?
There are only three forwards listed on this team, and one of them, Donovan, is more of an attacking midfielder. What gives?
Well, Mike Magee should be listed as a forward. He's not, for whatever reason, but it's really a semantic issue. Magee couldn't get a sniff with the national team when he was playing midfield, but as soon as he went to Chicago and got a chance at striker, he blew up, scored for fun, won the league MVP, and got a national team invite. He's a forward, and hopefully he will play at that position.
Eddie Johnson and Chris Wondolowski are the other two strikers.
Why not Jack McInerney
? Where's Will Bruin?
Then again, the U.S. strike force is pretty much set at this point. Don't believe me? Click here
, select the "Position" tab, and select "Forwards."
Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Aron Johannsson
are light years ahead of any other strikers in the U.S. player pool. And they're all busy with their club sides, as so are Herculez Gomez and Terrence Boyd. If one of these top five guys goes down, Johnson or Wondolowski makes a lot more sense than an unproven option like McInerney or Bruin.
Again, this is Magee's big chance. I can see him taking it and running all the way to Brazil.
Also—thanks for that great cross in Antigua, Alan Gordon, but it's not going to happen.
4. Kelyn and Amobi Are Both Misses
The midfield is crowded. I get it. And anybody beyond the core group is likely to be a longshot anyway.
I like the inclusion of Benny Feilhaber, who is wildly inconsistent but also capable of sporadic bursts of brilliance, as he showed in the 2009 Confederations Cup.
? Absolutely. If he's not on the 2018 and 2022 U.S. World Cup rosters, I will eat my ASN T.
I like Dax McCarty too, even though he always seems to be the 24th guy on a 23-man roster. If thirtysomething holding mids Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman go down, McCarty is a great option.
But why no Kelyn Rowe? And where the hell is Amobi Okugo
? Both of these guys are major talents, and both deserved a shot to either push for a roster spot or at least get to know Klinsmann and his methods.
Is it the end of the world that neither got the call? Not for me. And not for them, either. They are young, and ambitious, and there is plenty of time for them to make their case for Russia.
Still, it would have been nice to see them in camp.
Only 23 Are Heading South
In the video above, Klinsmann indicates that three of the 26 players selected will not be joining the squad on its two-week trip to Sao Paolo to check out the team's World Cup training ground and accommodations.
The three guys who get left behind will not feel good about it. But you should—competition breeds better results. This is not "Camp Cupcake," as an ill-advised pundit once called it. This will be an intense, hard-fought battle for roster spots that will reward the bold and punish those who hesitate. It's great to see. And it should be a lot of fun to watch.
OK, let me have it. Rebuttals, complaints, and other comments are encouraged below.
John Godfrey is the founder and editor in chief of American Soccer Now.