Jurgen Klinsmann is very clear about his CONCACAF Gold Cup selections, announced just today. These are the 23 players that provide the best chance for ultimate success as the United States defends its title in the biennial regional tournament (and fights for that spot in the Confederations Cup that the manager wants so badly).
Yes, there is an opportunity to change out the roster following the group stage, which begins in less than two weeks at Toyota Stadium outside Dallas. But there is no plan to do so, apparently, barring injury.
These guys are out front in the current pecking order, Klinsmann said in a U.S. Soccer Q&A that accompanied today’s roster release.
U.S. Soccer had previously released its 35-man provisional roster, as required by CONCACAF. Today we got the final list of 23 (see below) — so, we won’t be discussing Julian Green or Bobby Wood or anyone other absences; they weren’t on the provisional list, so any fan outrage or indignation should have been duly expressed two weeks ago. Sorry ‘bout that.
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/2007), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake/2011, 2013), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (7) : Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC/2009), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy/2013), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers/2011)
MIDFIELDERS (9) : Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake/2009, 2013), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/2011, 2013), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/2007, 2011), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo/2005), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC/2013), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4) : Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/2011), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC/2005, 2007, 2011), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes/2011, 2013)
Tuesday’s final roster helps us learn a couple of things about Klinsmann’s thought process – and about that top-secret (virtual) depth chart on his wall back at U.S. Soccer HQ outside Los Angeles.
First, Matt Besler’s stock has apparently fallen measurably in just one year. We all saw that Besler wasn’t at his best after last year’s World Cup. But now last year’s starter from Brazil is apparently no better than fifth or sixth in the pecking order of center backs. Besler remains on the 35-man provisional roster, but won’t be a first-choice initially.
Ventura Alvarado, a fast-riser later for his work at Club America and in recent U.S. friendlies, has lapped Besler. So, too, has young defender John Brooks, another member of Klinsmann’s always-growing German-American brigade. Tim Ream and Omar Gonzalez complete the foursome of center backs on the Gold Cup roster. (Along with Brad Evans, who is now a center back for Seattle but who can handle chores pretty much anywhere along the back or even in midfield.)
We can also glean that Juan Agudelo’s comeback into the national team has stalled for now. Klinsmann has adjudged that, at least for the time being, Chris Wondolowski and Aron Johannsson (along with higher-ups Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey) can be of greater assistance to the tourney title chase.
That doesn’t leave Agudelo, who scored against Mexico back in April while earning his first cap in more than 13 months, in a terrible place. Agudelo is just 22, and he would probably be “next up” in case one of the named strikers falls to injury during Gold Cup group matches against Haiti, Honduras or Panama.
Considering that Dempsey has been increasingly nicked by injury over the last few months and Altidore’s ongoing hamstring issue, that doesn’t seem too far-fetched. (Then again, Agudelo could nudge his case further by scoring just a bit little more for New England, where Charlie Davies is the Revs man with the scoring plan for the moment.)
Bill Hamid’s status as the apparent 4th choice in goal may be a little different. Hamid has been terrific this year around RFK Stadium; in his case, no need to take a first-choice ‘keeper away from his MLS club to be the third ‘keeper for a month-long tourney.
We also see that Tim Ream continues to be a factor in national team selections, even though he wasn’t named for the Euro-heavy roster that was so successful in two wins recently over Netherlands and Germany. U.S. Soccer officials had indicated that Ream’s only real chance to get some rest after the grinding season in England’s second tier fell right around those two matches; sure enough, he was named among the defenders Tuesday.
Also notable: the “2015 Lee Nguyen” just hasn’t been “the fabulous 2014 Lee Nguyen” for the Revolution, and he will remain on the U.S. sideline for now. So will Brek Shea, who has moved back into the midfield for Orlando. That, along with his exclusion from Tuesday’s final Yankee list leaves us to wonder: is the Shea-to-left back experiment officially kaput? Or, perhaps more appropriately, why did his coaches make that move in the first place?
The complete list of players on the previous provisional roster but not named to Tuesday’s final list of 23: Bill Hamid, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Greg Garza, Michael Orozco, Brek Shea, Joe Corona, Perry Kitchen, Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo, Alan Gordon, Jordan Morris.
Editor’s note: Steve Davis writes a weekly column for World Soccer Talk. He shares his thoughts and opinions on US and MLS soccer topics every Wednesday, as well as news reports throughout the week. You can follow Steve on Twitter at @stevedavis90. Plus, read Steve’s other columns on World Soccer Talk.
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