By Patrick MacDonald
There’s never a dull moment with Jurgen Klinsmann. The U.S. coach stated on ESPN that fans shouldn’t expect too many surprises when the roster for World Cup Qualifying was announced.
That should have been everyone’s clue that their would be surprises.
From the inclusions of both Sacha Kljestan and Alan Gordon to the big exclusion of Jozy Altidore, Klinsmann is clearly still tinkering with his roster and is taking major risks with at least 4 points needed to completely secure a spot in the hexagon.
In case you missed it, EoS had the full roster release yesterday afternoon. Today, we are going to break down all the selections and decisions that went into this vital World Cup Qualifying squad:
- Despite Timmy Chandler saying he was open to coming in for this camp, he is not on the roster. At this point, until he actually appears in a U.S. shirt, all speculation that he’ll dress for the Red, White, and Blue should be a closed book.
- Maurice Edu played his first Premier League football this past weekend. He came in and aided in killing off the final 9 minutes against Liverpool, earning Stoke City a draw. Apparently that was enough to get him on Klinsmann’s roster and on defense no less, where the coach seems to be hinting Edu is the heir apparent to Carlos Bocanegra.
- Welcome back Sacha Kljestan. Many have been calling for his inclusion for some time and apparently he’s taken that extra step Klinsmann was looking for. The coach seemed to hint at trying out Kljestan on either the right or left, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Anderlecht man can impact this squad.
- With Edu moving to the backline, Kyle Beckerman’s callup isn’t all that shocking. However, it is shocking to see Joe Corona called up over Jose Francisco Torres. Sure, Torres has squandered ample opportunities to make his mark on the squad, but at least he’s seen the field, unlike Corona who’s been relegated to cameos.
- Forward is where the controversy’s at. Let’s start with the exclusion of Chris Wondolowski. Yes, Wondolowski may break the MLS single season scoring record and is unquestionably on a tear. However, he’s been an unstoppable goal scoring threat before, and when called upon, he did this. Wondo certainly hasn’t used up his all his chips. Come January he will have his opportunity in the all-MLS camp to make his mark once again. He just has to seize that opportunity and light up the scoreboard against what will likely be lesser competition.
- The other shocking inclusions are Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon. Johnson certainly has earned another look for national duty, scoring 14 times for the Sounders this season. Alan Gordon is a bit of a head scratcher. Gordon has never before earned a cap and will turn 31 the day the U.S. faces Guatemala in Kansas City. Klinsmann stated that it’s Gordon’s ability in the air that earned him the call-up, a tactical advantage the U.S. will need against Guatemala and Antigua, sides that will likely bunker down. Still not convinced Gordon should earn a callup, the very insightful Matt Doyle over at MLSSoccer.com breaks it down in a somewhat convincing manner.
- And then there’s the biggest story nugget in the release of this roster. The exclusion of Eredivisie leading goal scorer, Jozy Altidore. In a time it would behoove the U.S. to score early and often, leaving the top scorer in a solid European league would seem like playing with fire. Klinsmann stated that he hasn’t seen enough out of Altidore in both training and on the field, and the fact is, no one can argue that Herculez Gomez has certainly eclipsed Altidore in the pecking order.
Everyone can slam Klinsmann all they want when it comes to leaving such an offensive threat home when moving on to the next round is far from assured, but give the man credit for sticking to his guns in demanding the best from his players. If Altidore is dogging it in National team training, then it’s not like Klinsmann doesn’t have precedent for making such a move. Altidore saw the bench just last year in AZ under similar circumstances. He looked great on the field, but apparently his work ethic wasn’t there in training. If Altidore responds to Klinsmann’s demands the way he did in the Netherlands for his club, then U.S. fans will owe Klinsmann a huge debt of gratitude.
- Where you watching the game? I will be at Darby Road in Scotch Plains, NJ. It’s a new pub and they’ve claimed they’re going to be soccer friendly. So, I’d like to invite out anyone in the Union/Somerset County Area, to join me at Darby Road around 6-6:15. Let’s show them how lucrative being a soccer friendly pub would be.
Offense! Offense! Offense! has got to be the name of the game, so here’s what I’d play.
I actually think this lineup has a good chance of being Klinsmann’s choice. The only potential change I could see is moving Bradley in for Kljestan and Jones manning the CDM in front of the back line.