U.S. Men's National Team
Lynden Gooch, Julian Green Among 23 on U.S. Squad
October 02, 2016
JURGEN KLINSMANN today announced the 23-player roster that will take part in the upcoming friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand. The games will provide the team with a final tune-up ahead of the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying next month
The roster has a few surprises but features mostly players who have been involved with the team in recent months. Here's the roster.
David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin),Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Danny Williams (Reading)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Julien Green (Bayern Munich), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)
Midfielder Lynden Gooch is the only player on the roster who has never been called up before. It makes sense too as the California native has been earning plenty of minutes for English Premier League side Sunderland.
Gooch, 20, was cut from the 2015 U.S. U-20 team and never saw any action with the U-23 team in its failed attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. Now he on the full national team roster just before two very important games in November. He is eligible to play for both England and Ireland and he played in a pair of friendlies for Ireland’s youth national team.
Gooch offers Klinsmann versatility to play either out on the wings, at forward, or even in central midfield. He has a tremendous work rate and can score impressive goals—occasionally out of nowhere. The opportunity is there for him to make a positive showing, and it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Some Notable omissions
Brad Guzan: Guzan is not starting at Middlesbrough and finds himself in a difficult position due to lack of playing time. Staying with his club makes sense if it would increase his chances to impress his manager. Besides, this camp will also give Klinsmann a chance to see the next generation of American goalkeepers.
Darlington Nagbe: ASN has learned that Nagbe is not with the team due to personal/family reasons.
Aron Johannsson: With Clint Dempsey out, it seemed like Johannsson could make his way back into the team to fill the void. The Werder Bremen forward is back in action after missing most of last season with a hip injury. But he is in a tricky spot with his club that is struggling and recently fired its head coach. With that instability at the club level, it is not altogether surprising that Johannsson is not here.
Jorge Villafana: The U.S. national team has never had stability at the left back position. After winning the MLS Cup in 2015 and becoming a consistent starter with Santos Laguna, Villafana still can't manage to catch Klinsmann's eye, and remains on the outside looking in—much to the chagrin of ardent fans.
Juan Agudelo: When Agudelo is on a good run, he's outstanding. When he's off, he's really off. Right now the New England Revolution forward is in great form and could be on the verge of carrying the team into the playoffs. With Agudelo surging, it is surprising to see Klinsmann go with 34-year-old Chris Wondolowski for a pair of friendlies against weak teams.
Alfredo Morales: Alfredo Morales is a puzzling case. He is a Bundesliga player at Ingolstadt and there is an opening at his position. But the German-American has never really looked comfortable with this team and Klinsmann has been calling him up since 2011. It's not surprising that he was left off this roster but it is revealing. There are simply not going to be many more chances for him to get a serious look before the 2018 World Cup.
Green and Chandler return
Julian Green and Timothy Chandler are two of the most interesting names on this roster, and both had had puzzling histories with U.S. Soccer.
Chandler, 26, has been in and out of the team due to commitment issues—to the ire of Klinsmann and American fans. He generally plays in the Bundesliga but his time with the U.S. national team has been mixed. (One reason is that he plays left back for the Yanks instead of right back, his primary position in Germany.) From the look of the roster, he will probably play left back at this camp. Will he finally make a case that he belongs on this team?
Green, 21, is at Bayern Munich but has never really come close to earning minutes with the German giants. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that as there are great players on the bench for Bayern. But Green’s loan to Hamburg in 2014/15 was a disaster and his decision to not go on loan last season or this fall only stunts his development. Green played well for the U.S. off the bench in a May friendly against Puerto Rico and then scored a hat trick for Bayern Munich in a preseason game. At the start of the season, he was in the 18 for Bayern in Bundesliga games but now looks to be out of the picture.
At his age, minutes are a priority and since he is not playing it is unclear what he will offer the United States. If given the opportunity against Cuba and New Zealand, he will have to take advantage because he has so few opportunities to showcase his abilities.
central midfield and goalkeeper
One of the big storylines to watch in these friendlies will be how the goalkeepers and central midfielders perform. In goal, Howard and Guzan have been the top two for so long that other keepers have not had much of an opportunity to prove themselves. This is a very rare opportunity for Ethan Horvath, David Bingham, and William Yarbrough—and they must take advantage of it.
The case is very similar in central midfield since there have been very few times in the Klinsmann era when Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman were both unavailable for FIFA-date friendlies. This opens the door specifically for Perry Kitchen, Sacha Kljestan, and Danny Williams to claim the spotlight. All three are veterans of the U.S. senior side but none have been able to solidify a role and secure consistent call-ups.
Kljestan and Arriola riding momentum
Klinsmann has repeatedly gone on record saying he wants to see young players step up and surpass the veterans. This camp it is going to be interesting to see if Paul Arriola can ride the momentum of a very strong camp in September. The Chula Vista, Calif., native has impressed in his first two U.S. caps this year and while most of his minutes at Club Tijuana are coming from the bench, that team is the top club in Liga MX. Arriola seems to be answering Klinsmann’s challenge and this camp will be the latest test to see if he is ready for important minutes in the Hexagonal.
Similarly, Kljestan is also raising his game with an MVP-worthy season with the Red Bulls, as well as a strong September U.S. camp where he combined very well with Christina Pulisic. At 31, Kljestan is not young but he is playing the best soccer of his career and could bump established players further down the pecking order.
What do you think of this roster? Encouraged? Excited? Disappointed? Share your take below.