U.S. Men's National Team
8 New Faces Klinsmann Should Consider for the U.S.
October 16, 2015
IN THE WAKE OF MULTIPLE disappointing showings, Jurgen Klinsmann said he intends to bring new players into the U.S. men’s national team fold.
The core squad has grown old and, based on recent results, has clearly stagnated. So who could be in line for a call-up? Here are a few names that could be added to mix.
Midfielder, Portland Timbers
After securing his American citizenship last month, Nagbe will likely be in considerations for a call-up due to his speed and ability to create moments of magic. His career numbers are decent but not eye-opening. He has 20 goals and 19 assists in 158 career MLS games. In 2015 he has just two goals and four assists.
That said, his role on the Timbers has changed quite a bit over the years and perhaps that is why he can’t get into a consistent rhythm. He has massive natural talent, though, and this is why he will likely get a look.
Midfielder, Los Angeles Galaxy
The midfielder has enjoyed a seamless transition into a Los Angeles Galaxy team that is poised to make another strong run in the playoffs. When the 23-year-old San Francisco native was part of West Ham United’s reserve side it was hard to gauge his talent. Now that he is in MLS, it’s clear that Lletget stacks up quite favorably against other midfielders in his age group. He has demonstrated a strong great chemistry with high-quality teammates and he brings creativity to the attacking third—something Klinsmann’s team desperately needs.
Central Midfielder, Columbus Crew
The Ohio native has long been a stalwart of U.S. youth national teams and currently wears the armband for the U-23 team. He has already earned one cap with the senior national team and has played well in 2015 since returning from a three-month absence due to a concussion. If the U.S. wants to possess the ball, Trapp is the type of player who can help.
He’s probably not ready to see too many minutes at the international level but calling the 22-year-old into camps so he can be integrated into the squad would be wise. Despite his youth, Trapp is mature beyond his years. Klinsmann rightly said that talent isn’t enough for a young player to succeed at the next level, but Trapp seems ready to move up.
Central Defender, New York Red Bulls
Matt Miazga is truly making a name for himself in 2015. The Clifton, N.J., native has blossomed in MLS, his steady play contributing to the Red Bulls’ emergence as an MLS Cup contender. Miazga has also played in three major youth tournaments for the United States this year at both the U-20 and U-23 levels.
In case you weren’t paying attention, the U.S. senior side has had a few issues at central defense in recent months. Geoff Cameron was the team’s best player during this past international break, but no one else has stepped up. It is tough to see Michael Orozco being a factor in a major tournament. Omar Gonzalez was noticeably absent for the national team recently. Matt Besler only recently climbed back into the team and had both ups and downs against Mexico. John Brooks has yet to consistently translate his form in the Bundesliga over to the national team and Ventura Alvarado has lost his place at Club America.
Miazga, on the other hand, has shown steady growth this past year in all areas of the game. His 1v1 defending has improved, his aerial defense is first rate, and his passing out of the back is above average.
Central midfielder, New York Red Bulls
Dax McCarty is another difference-maker with the Red Bulls. The Florida native completes a very high percentage of his passes, reads the game well, and is adept at playing the ball to wingers and forwards in dangerous positions.
McCarty, 28, is not exactly a kid anymore, and he earned five caps during the Bob Bradley reign so he wouldn’t be a national team newbie. But it seems like now might be the time for Klinsmann to become acquainted with an MLS stalwart who plays a lot like Kyle Beckerman did in his prime.
Brad Guzan and Tim Howard are in a class by themselves in terms of American goalkeepers. The No. 3 spot, however, is very much up for grabs. Who’s next in line? Ethan Horvath, 20, has done very well for himself since taking the starting job at Molde and has performed well in high-pressure games in both the Europa League and Champions League qualifiers.
It’s quite rare for an American goalkeeper at his age to have a starting job either domestically or abroad so Horvath is ahead of the curve. For him to succeed in European competitions is even more impressive. Scandinavian leagues do not play in the dead of winter so if Klinsmann wanted to give the Colorado native a look in the next January camp, Horvath would likely be available.
Right Midfielder, Columbus Crew
Ethan Finlay has amassed nine goals and 13 assists for a Columbus Crew side that is difficult to defend. The 25-year-old addresses two of the U.S. national team’s biggest weaknesses—speed and width—and would seem to be an obvious candidate for a January call-up.
Most importantly, Finlay has shown an ability to deliver a quality final ball and has been a key reason why Kei Kamara has been one of the most productive forwards in the league this year.
Central Defender, FC Dallas
In 2014 Matt Hedges was named FC Dallas’ full-time captain even though he was just 23 at the time. This year he has led his squad to a league-leading 54 points and anchors one of the stingiest defenses in MLS.
The four-year veteran has now logged more than 10,0000 MLS minutes and would require little learning curve to make a transition into the more demanding international stage. His captaincy suggests he has the maturity to handle it. Hedges earned a brief cameo with the national team for the most recent January camp but this season he has continued to progress and it is hard to make a case there is another central defender currently outside of the player pool who is more deserving.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
There are a few players who are also making names for themselves that are worth following. Gedion Zelalem was shaky with the U-23 team for Olympic qualifying but if he progresses with Glasgow Rangers, it’s hard to imagine Klinsmann not taking a look given his longstanding interest.
Similarly, Jordan Siebatcheu is a dual-national striker worth following at Stade Reims.
If Cameron Carter-Vickers goes on loan and gets first-team minutes, he could get into the mix.
Jordan Morris has been a part of the team occasionally but his next step will likely be determined by whether or not he turns professional.
Rubio Rubin has also been a part of the team on occasion but he is now only starting to show signs of reclaiming his starting position at FC Utrecht.
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.