BY PATRICK MacDONALD
It’s that time again. The U.S. Men’s National Team returns to their 2014 World Cup qualification fresh off a confidence boosting win in Mexico. The question asked then is which players earned themselves a spot on the roster for the two match series against Jamaica? A few players certainly helped their cause, and may even benefit from their national teammates unsettled club situations. Here’s my predicted roster, followed by some thoughts.
Goalkeepers (3): Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (8): Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondy IF), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjælland), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa)
Midfielders (7): Michael Bradley (Roma), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Maurice Edu (Stoke City)
Forwards (5): Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy), Jozy Altidore (Az Alkmaar), Terrance Boyd (Rapid Viena), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Here is where I am coming from:
- First with the obvious omission, Carlos Bocanegra. Currently the man is languishing in the Scottish Fourth Division for the reformed Rangers. In the Scottish top flight alone, Celtic is the only quality side. Four divisions away, one can easily say Bocanegra is not staying fresh against top level talent. Bocanegra should have come back to the States and MLS when he had the chance. Staying with Rangers, and without other transfer prospects on the horizon, may have put the nail in the coffin of his international career.
- Tim Howard and Nick Rimando are locks. Despite the fact that Guzan still isn’t seeing time with Villa, Klinsmann showed during the last qualifiers he’s very aware of Guzan’s value compared to young keepers Hamid and Johnson.
- Onyewu played his way off the team earlier in the summer.
- Clarence Goodson remains one of the first choice centerbacks. Michael Parkhurst should see the bench again. Yes, Orozco Fiscal was merely in the right place at the right time, but so was Robbie Rogers a year ago when he scored against Mexico, thus earning Klinsmann’s favor and getting called up for the next few matches. Tim Ream may see himself back in the CB picture some time soon, but not for these matches.
- Fabian Johnson and Steve Cherundolo are no brainers.
- Edgar Castillo has been decent as of late, and has at least earned the backup LB role. Eric Lichaj is long overdue for a call-up considering how well he played only a year ago in the Gold Cup and for Villa. Here’s to hoping Klinsmann finally notices the youngster.
- The obvious locks at midfield are Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, and despite his extraordinarily unsettled club situation, Clint Dempsey. Dempsey is just too good to leave in England, even if he is at half fitness.
- Joe Corona hasn’t made much of an impact with the USMNT but he seems to have a fan in Jurgen Klinsmann considering his repeated call-ups.
- The left side of the field came alive for the first time in a while when Brek Shea entered the game against Mexico. In fact the last left winger to make any impact for the U.S. was…Brek Shea. Needless to say, Klinsmann will bring him back.
- Maurice Edu is a wild card. He’s certainly deserving of the call-up showing his versatility against Mexico as well as many solid performances in previous matches, but having just moved to Stoke City, there’s a chance he’ll stay in England. Graham Zusi mayb e called instead of Edu or Wondolowski.
- Barring an injury to one of the midfield stalwarts, Jose Torres has played his way off this team.
- It wasn’t that long ago the U.S. seemed to be without any viable options at forward. At the moment, two of their players lead their respective leagues in goal scoring; Jozy Altidore and Chris Wondolowski. Another two have notched twice in their young seasons; Terrance Boyd and Herculez Gomez. And the other player is Landon Donovan. It’s hard to see any of these players not being called up, though Wondolowski maybe the odd man out with his MLS form failing to translate to the International side as of yet.