New USA Soccer Coach Jürgen Klinsmann unveiled his call-ups for a pair of upcoming friendlies: Sept 2 in L.A. against Costa Rica and Sept. 6 in Belgium. We gave Klinsi a pass on his first roster for the Mexico game, but in the time-honored tradition of armchair coaches everywhere, we’re honor-bound to second guess and nitpick his most recent roster. The 24 players who have been summoned:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
There are always injuries and club commitments and reasons why certain guys don’t get the call. Michael Bradley, for example, needs to get a club. George John is just about to move from F.C. Dallas to Blackburn. And no one would be surprised if a veteran like Steve Cherundolo or even Landon ‘tweaked their hamstring’ and had to pull out of these friendlies. So these rosters aren’t yet final. That said…
Most glaring omission: Freddy Adu (Philly Union) – and that’s an easy one. Freddy worked himself into the starting lineup and had the look of an attacking game-changer by the end of the Gold Cup. He was one player former Coach Bob Bradley got right in that tournament. So why not bring him in now? He was in camp last time out – is Klinsmann dissatisfied with something? Does he just not rate Freddy? It’s true, Freddy doesn’t appear to be at top fitness yet, but we hope some intrepid report at least tenders the question.
Glaring omission runner up: Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa). Lichaj was very good most of the Gold Cup also, and looked like a solution to the longterm left-back problem. He recently scored in a cup match for Aston Villa, and could be on his way out on loan again to secure playing time. Maybe Coach Jürgen left him in England to allow that loan opportunity to play out, but we’d at least like to see him on the field against Belgium.
Head-scratcher call-up: Jeff Larentowicz in midfield, followed closely by Michael Orozco Fiscal in defense. No offense to Jeff, a solid d-mid for the Rapids, who is most likely there for depth. But why not call in another attacker? Orozco Fiscal didn’t show much in his last appearance, and if Klinsmann really wants to emphasize undersized but technically sound center backs, why not call in the Michael Parkhust, who fits that description perfectly?
Sentimental Pick: Joe Corona (Club Tijuana). Not only does Corona have a great name, he has a great story as well (mandatory reading for USMNT fans). He also plays attacking midfield and has scored twice for his team Mexico. Joe could play for the U.S., Mexico, and El Salvador, and Mexico has called him up for their U22 camp. While this won’t cap-tie him (and neither would an appearance in a friendly), we would call him in to show interest and to spite El Tri.
Other guys we’d strongly consider: George John, who has a valid excuse with his pending transfer, but who is also eligible for and has trained with Greece; Zak Whitbread with Norwich City (who may be injured), Mix Diskeruud (Stabaek), Alejandro Bedoya (Rangers), Herculez Gomez (Tecos), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nords) and Brad Guzan (Aston Villa).
Fine, so who would you drop and switch in, smart guy? OK, I drop Bunbury for Adu, Lloyd for Lichaj, Orozco Fiscal for John, Larewntowicz for Diskeruud, and Pearce for Parkhurst or possibly Bedoya. I might have called in Corona also if he was interested.
It will be fun to see who ends up making the final 18 for both matches. Under Bob Bradley, a duel-international date like this would have meant an MLS-Mexico heavy roster for the Costa Rica game and euro-heavy for the Belgium game. It sounds like Klinsmann intends to call everyone in, however, and perhaps release some players after that first match. Still think there’s time for Freddy or Eric Lichaj to get the call, as the initial list is so often subject to change.
Jozy Altidore has been scoring and scoring in the Dutch League, Fabian Johnson (duel-citizen in Germany) is intriguing, and we’ve all been anticipating the next appearance of Tim Chandler. Willl Landon be deployed as a true number 10 again with freedom to roam? How will Klinsi deploy Clint Dempsey? What about Brek Shea? Hopefully our guys come out with same mentaility and verve we saw in the final 30 minutes against Mexico. If Klinsmann can get that working, guys like me will have less cause to quibble with his selections.