1513_isi_usmntcamp_mlsbb120713125 Bill Barrett/isiphotos.com
Brazil 2014

Who in the January Camp Has a Legit Shot for Brazil?

Jurgen Klinsmann called in a compelling mix of veterans and newcomers for his January training camp. ASN editor in chief John Godfrey gives his take on which players have a real chance for Brazil.
BY John Godfrey Posted
January 05, 2014
4:57 PM

Jurgen Klinsmann named 26 players to his January training camp in Los Angeles, with a two-week trip to Sao Paolo, Brazil, along with a friendly against South Korea on February 1, dangled as carrots for the players.

The real prize, however, is a seat on the plane for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But let's be real for second, shall we?

Clint Dempsey won't be in camp. Neither will Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, and many others who are all but certain to make the 2014 World Cup squad. So I thought I'd take an educated, opinionated look at the January camp roster and handicap who has the best, and worst, chances of making the trip to Brazil.

The following predictions assume injuries don't play a role—even though they assuredly will. Before we get started, let's take another look at the squad.

GOALKEEPERS: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Harrington (Portland Timbers), Chris Klute (Colorado Rapids), Chance Myers (Sporting Kansas City), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

MIDFIELDERS: Eric Alexander (New York Red Bulls), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

And now, some predictions.

Landon Donovan—100%
It's a done deal. He's clutch, he has 57 international goals, he's experienced, and he still has plenty left in the tank for one more World Cup run.

Matt Besler—100%
The steady central defender rarely makes mistakes, and that is why he will start all three group stage matches.

Nick Rimando—99.9%
He's the No. 3 goalkeeper in 2014, and that won't change. If he actually sees the field in Brazil, something terrible has happened.

Omar Gonzalez—98%
While capable of dominating, he is still prone to the occasional brain fart. If only Timothy Chandler hadn't taken him out in a Nuremburg training session 12 months ago, Gonzalez would have more high-level experience and would probably be more reliable. As it stands, he is still the first-choice central defender alongside Besler.

Graham Zusi—95%
The Piano Man peaked at No. 6 in the ASN 100, but he has dropped in recent months. Why? Well, the U.S. midfield is very crowded, and Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud want to play in Brazil just as much as Zusi. The Sporting Kansas City midfielder needs to perfect his wide game in order to force his way onto the 2014 World Cup roster.

Eddie Johnson—93%
Eddie Money would be a sure thing if he wasn't such a head case. Will he blow up with the national team like he did in Seattle? Say, if Aron Johannsson takes playing time away from him? Wouldn't shock me.

Mix Diskerud—88%
At the start of last year, Diskerud was barely on Klinsmann's radar. Now, the tricky midfielder seems likely to make the squad. Credit his impressive 2013 Gold Cup showing. And don't be surprised if Mix is a key player in 2018 and beyond.

Kyle Beckerman—85%
The Klinsmann favorite is sturdy and relishes the No. 6 role he plays for the national team. He's also a step or two slow for international soccer. If he can keep his motor revving over the next few months, he will be Jermaine Jones' backup in Brazil.

Brad Evans—80%
A Major League Soccer midfielder who was given a shot at fullback for the U.S. national team, Evans came through in the clutch. Klinsmann has said that the right back job job is Evans' to lose, but let's see where he stands on February 2. (Sounders teammate DeAndre Yedlin offers significant upside at the position.)

Clarence Goodson—77%
A nice guy to have on the squad, but if he's in the starting lineup, that means something went wrong elsewhere.

Mike Magee—50%
Give Magee the ball in a dangerous position, and good things tend to happen. Will the MLS MVP get a chance to show this in January? And if he does, will that lift him above the likes of Terrence Boyd, Chris Wondolowski, Herculez Gomez, and/or Eddie Johnson? It could happen.

Brad Davis—33%
A great left foot, but is that enough to earn him a spot in Brazil? Probably not.

Chris Klute—30%
Klute, 23, plays left back for the Colorado Rapids. Who plays left back for the United States national team? Yeah, I'm not sure either. It wouldn't surprise me if Klute sneaks into the squad—especially if Klinsmann decides that Fabian Johnson is a winger, not a fullback.

Dax McCarty—17%
A backup to the backup. If Beckerman loses a step, McCarty could take his spot.

Benny Feilhaber—12%
Undoubtedly has the talent to make the team, and he ended his 2013 campaign on a high note. But the Sporting Kansas City midfielder remains an enigma. And he is dispossessed way too often.

Chris Wondolowski—11%
Great in Major League Soccer. Great against Belize and Cuba in the 2013 Gold Cup. But he turns 31 in a few weeks, and he seems to have lost a step. I don't see it.

DeAndre Yedlin—10%
Like Jim Carrey's character in Dumb and Dumber, Yedlin has a chance. It's not one in a million, more like one in 10. It will be fascinating to watch how he performs in January.

Luis Gil—9%
Anything is possible with this 20-year-old talent. But something tells me he will have to wait for Russia and 2018.

Shane O'Neill—5%
O'Neill said he was shocked to be called in for this January camp. We would be equally shocked if the Irish-American made the 23-man squad for Brazil.

Seth Sinovic—1%

Michael Harrington—1%

Chance Myers—1%

Eric Alexander—1%

Sean Johnson—1%

Bill Hamid—1%

Tally Hall—0.5%
Especially for Hall, who is sixth on the depth chart at goalkeeper.

OK, let me have it. I know you are likely to disagree with some—or perhaps most—of this. I welcome the conversation. Bring it, and be sure to back it up.

John Godfrey is the founder and editor in chief of American Soccer Now.

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