US Soccer announced the provisional roster for the series of friendlies and first round of World Cup Qualifiers. Your games are…
- 5/26 – Friendly in Jacksonville, FL vs. Scotland (7pm, NBC Sports)
- 5/30 – Friendly in Washington D.C. vs. Brazil (7pm, ESPN)
- 6/3 – Friendly in Toronto vs. Canada (6pm, NBC Sports)
- 6/8 – WCQ in Tampa vs. Antigua and Barbuda (6pm, ESPN)
- 6/12 – WCQ in Guatemala (9pm, pay-per-view)
This schedule is designed to a) prepare for and kick-start World Cup Qualifying, b) Make money, and c) develop roster depth and the team. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has stated he wants to treat these games like “a mini-tournament”. With the quick turn-around, travel, and wide disparity in talent of opponents, it should be just that.
Certainly the most important games, the qualifiers, are two that the US should win by a wide margin. That said, players will be tired, some will no-doubt pick up injuries, and going on the road in Central America is never easy. Guatemala could easily steal a result on their home soil. We’ve seen enough phantom hand-balls and mysterious red-cards on the road to know this.
So Beemsville will provide some analysis and hand-wringing on Jurgen’s mini-tournament in coming weeks, starting with our break-down of the provisional 27-man roster. The Coach has said he will cut this to 23 prior to the Scotland match, and that’s who he’ll have for the remainder (he could call in backups in case of injury – unlike a true tournament).
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake). Our take – no surprises here.
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland). Our take – Still shocked and dismayed by Timmy Chandler’s decision to turn down the USA. Very surprised to see Eric Lichaj excluded after his good run with Aston Villa coming off injury. Equally surprised to see Castillo and Morales called in. Meanwhile, Bocanegra and Cherundolo ain’t getting any younger. This defense needs some younger players to step up in a hurry.
MIDFIELDERS (10): Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City). Our take – a position of strength, this group still includes way too many central/defensive mids and not enough wide-guys and creators. No Brek Shea is a surprise. No creative spark or potential game-changing sub like Freddy Adu or even Josh Gatt is disappointing.
FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes). Our take – This is probably who we would have called in. More than anything, it will be interesting to see who gets cut here. All these guys except Agudelo have been scoring for their clubs, and Juan brings something different and dynamic from the rest.
Jurgen said he didn’t want to mess around with inexperience or noobs, and we suppose he’s sticking to this. Everyone on this list has been in camp or seen the field with this coaching staff in the last year.
Maybe that explains the omission of Lichaj, who wins our award for the biggest snub. Lichaj looked damn good under Bob Bradley in the Gold Cup prior to his injury. He’s been starting the last month in the EPL for Aston Villa. It’s the only explanation, really, and let’s you know Klinsmann is a guy who is going to stick to his script.
Runner up for biggest snub is Damarcus Beasley (just because we already know Klinsmann doesn’t rate Sacha Klejstan). Beasley started nearly every game in Mexico, scored five goals, assisted numerous times, and was by all accounts one of the best on his team. With Brek Shea omitted, this pretty much let’s RunDMB know he’s out of the USMNT picture. Too bad, because I’d have liked to see him get one more chance.
Final thought: The continued preference for Bundesliga players is clearly evident with six initial choices. Not really a surprise when you consider the coach, but let’s hope Jurgen is at least aware of his own apparent bias. If you’re a player on the brink (like Josh Gatt, Klejstan, Shea, etc) you need to tell your agent to get some German contacts ASAP.