Gold Cup Champions? Check.
Finish top of the Hex? Check.
Now, before Klinsmann can try to take on the world in Brazil he has to fine tune the roster as he narrows it down to the 23 that will represent the United States this summer. The upcoming friendlies against Scotland in Glasgow and Austria in Vienna will be the first opportunity for Klinsmann to build his roster, knowing that qualification is secured. There will be few chances to impress on the international stage after these two games so the players picked will need to make the most of the minutes they are given.
Klinsmann has respected the MLS clubs that are in the middle of their conference finals by not calling those players in contention into squad. That means players like Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, their Eastern Conference opponent Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis and Western Conference’s Real Salt Lake duo Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando who had all been called into recent camps, will stay at home.
The MLS players that will be making the trip to Europe are Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) and the usual Seattle trio of Brad Evans, Clint Dempsey, and Eddie Johnson.
The roster is made up of mostly first team players, with the familiar faces of Tim Howard (Everton, England), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Michael Bradley (Roma, Italy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim, Germany), Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Germany), and Jozy Altidore (Sunderland, England). It would take an injury late in spring next year to keep these players out of the roster.
It is the remaining players, the fringe players, that make up the most interesting part of the roster. These are the players that have either been in and out of rosters over the last year or two, but haven’t solidified their spot, or have been playing so impressively at their club sides that Klinsmann has been forced to bring them into the national side to take a look. It is these players who can make or break their plans for next summer with these upcoming friendlies.
Both Hamid and Johnson will most likely be backing up Howard in net, but how they perform in training could go a long way towards edging out Nick Rimando for the 3rd spot next summer. Howard and Guzan seem like locks for the 23 man roster and it will be one of the three MLS keepers that will round out the trio heading to Brazil.
In defense there are three fringe defenders looking to make their case. Michael Orozco (Puebla, Mexico) has been in and out of the roster, but every time Klinsmann is in need of a defender it is Orozco he turns to. John Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin, Germany) on the other hand is a young up and comer. He’s impressed at the club level and is going to be a member of the national team for years to come, but is next summer too early for him to become a first team regular? Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, England) gets his first call up under Klinsmann. With all the issues at outside back, it is amazing that this is the first time that the solid outside back with Premier League experience gets his chance.
Midfield Gold Cup stars Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes, France) and Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg, Norway) continue their goals of locking down first team roster spots. Since the Gold Cup, both midfielders have increased their standing in Klinsmann’s depth chart and are moving in the right direction for earning that roster spot next summer. Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium) is definitely a step behind those two, but still has played decently in his chances. He will be hoping for some playing time that comes before the last 10-15 minutes of the game. Brek Shea (Stoke City, England) was once an obvious selection for the USMNT first team, but injuries and a lack of playing time at Stoke City have left him on the outside looking in.
Up top there are two youngsters that still have their sights set on Brazil. Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands) seems to be the one with the most upside. He’s looked dangerous in his chances since switching his allegiance from Iceland to the USMNT. Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, Austria) though cannot be counted out. Klinsmann has named him to several rosters during his tenure and the recent form of Boyd makes him one to watch. It is also important to note the continued faith that Klinsmann has shown in Wondolowski. Many of us armchair managers would have written him off at this point, but the only person who’s opinion matters seems to think he can still be of use to the national team.
The two friendlies will be shown on national television, with Friday’s match against Scotland shown on ESPN 2 at 3pm Eastern and the Austria matchup next Tuesday on NBC Sports at 2:45pm Eastern. No need to scramble to find an online stream or a bar with beIN sports this international break.
Goalkeepers (3): Bill Hamid (DC United), Tim Howard (Everton, England), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
Defenders (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), John Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin, Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, England), Michael Orozco (Puebla, Mexico)
Midfielders (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes, France), Michael Bradley (Roma, Italy), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg, Norway), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim, Germany), Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Brek Shea (Stoke City, England)
Forwards (6): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland, England), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, Austria), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)