The U.S. v. Mexico rematch friendly is less than a week away, and today Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled his first list of call-ups as the head coach for the national team. The Mexico friendly comes at a tricky time for the U.S., as the bigger European leagues are kicking off this month and Klinsmann might have hesitated to call-up players overseas in these leagues. Mexico will also be missing key players, and with their national team having played in both the Gold Cup and Copa America this summer, they may use the opportunity to rotate eligible players.
Nevertheless, the roster has been described as a window into Klinsmann’s thinking about the future of the national team. Would it be all new faces or very young players? Would we see more players with Hispanic heritage? What about the German-Americans? Or would it be same old, same old for at least one more game?
The roster, released today, is a mixture of all of these. Six of the players play professionally in Germany, four play in Mexico, and seven are from MLS. Below are the players, listed by position (as listed by US Soccer) and alphabetically with some thoughts on the selections. What do you think, are there glaring omissions in this list? Sound off in the comments section.
Keeper: Bill Hamid (DC United/MLS), Tim Howard (Everton/BPL)
While Howard is a no-brainer and well rested with his time off in July, the inclusion of Hamid is a welcome one and may signal that Klinsmann is looking to MLS for the keeper of the future. As anyone who knows my writing knows, I am a big Bill Hamid fan. He has shown good progress over the course of the MLS season (which coincides with DCU’s defensive improvement) and the time spent with Howard will help him become a better keeper for the U-23 team.
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne/Ligue 1), Edgar Castillo (Club America/Primera Division), Timothy Chandler (FC Nurnberg/Bundesliga), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/Bundesliga), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Danish Superliga), Michael Orozco-Fiscal (San Luis/Primera Division), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA/MLS), Tim Ream (NY Red Bull/MLS)
Many of the names on this list are familiar – the usual starters are well represented here, as well as future starter Tim Ream. Chandler, who many expect to be a future (or current) starter is included as well. But you can see the boss’ desire to include more Hispanic players on the roster in this category. Orozco-Fiscal has been a key member of the U-23 team but has played all but one year of his professional career in Mexico. Castillo was a dual-national who picked the U.S. and made one appearance on the national team in 2009 in a friendly. I was glad to see that Heath Pearce is getting a call-up, as he definitely deserves a second shot at playing time for the USMNT.
Absent from this list are Oguchi Onyewu, some of the younger MLS defenders, and a few USMNT and MLS fringe players. Gooch may have been left off to allow himself time to further integrate with his new European club, so his exclusion was not unexpected. However, the Galaxy got the shaft (or maybe the benefit) of no call-up for Omar Gonzalez. Players like Chad Marshall or Jay DeMerit were also not included, leaving me to wonder if their international playing time window is closed.
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake/MLS), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchen./Bundesliga), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt/Bundesliga), Maurice Edu (Rangers/SPL), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Bundesliga), Brek Shea (FC Dallas/MLS), Jose Torres (Pachuca/Primera Division)
Thankfully Brek Shea made the roster so there would not be a rending of garments by some national soccer correspondents. That said, this group has a distinctly German flavor. Potential “on the outs” players like Jones, Torres, and Edu were all included, either signaling a lack of depth in the U.S. system at this position or that these players haven’t been used to their full potential (in Klinsmann’s mind). Kyle Beckerman also gets another shot at the national team after some time away, again showing the head coach has watched some MLS and knows the players.
Forwards: Freddy Adu (Benfica/Primeira Liga), Juan Agudelo (NY Red Bull/MLS), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Primera Division), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt/2. Bundesliga), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy/MLS)
Some of these “forwards” are more midfielders, so we may subtly be seeing a shift from a 4-4-2ish formation to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-2-2. As expected, Freddy Adu gets another call-up likely based on his Gold Cup performance while the team welcomes back Edson Buddle, who should have a good chance to secure a roster spot.
But while the included are not surprising, the excluded are interesting. Young guns Teal Bunbury, Jozy Altidore, and Mikel Diskerud were all left off the roster, and while Jozy’s absence can again be explained by the new club reason, the other two are curious absences. Hamid’s teammate Charlie Davies also seemingly missed the cut, which causes me to wonder how close he actually is to making the team. And of course the biggest name missing from this list is Clint Dempsey, but we all know what he can do and his professional season starts August 13.