By: COLIN REESE
Jürgen Klinsmann has his favorites, and many of them simply lack the genes or the refined skill that comes through practice to perform at the World Cup or in international soccer in general.
The United States Men’s National Team has seen various weak areas remain weak throughout Klinsmann’s tenure, and it appears many viable options are simply not even given a fair shot in friendlies.
With the World Cup fast approaching, only a small number of American players can be said to be truly ready and able to perform against high-level competition.
It could be said that the following USA regular are quality American footballers that belong on the World Cup roster:
Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Geoff CAMERON, Jermaine JONES, Michael BRADLEY, Landon DONOVAN, Mix DISKERUD, Clint DEMPSEY, Jozy ALTIDORE, Aron JÓHANNSSON.
Jürgen Klinsmann’s other regular selections are highly-questionable, and Klinsmann likely gets away with them because of the fact that he can just point to his playing resume as a means to discredit any dissent or criticism.
Below are several American footballers that are either underused by Klinsmann or totally omitted from USA rosters:
1. Benny FEILHABER (Playmaker)
As the only truly proven Number 10 in the entire American player pool, the Benny Feilhaber snub is hard to justify. Feilhaber doesn’t have to be Oscar to be useful to the United States or to be key to getting the most out of Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore.
2. Juan AGUDELO (Striker)
Juan Agudelo is too complete of a striker to have been such a fringe player. Agudelo brings attacking prowess, creativity, speed, quickness, height, and a nose for goal. Jozy Altidore and Aron Jóhannsson are excellent strikers, but the United States needs more than two – and Agudelo is too good to have been underused to the point of almost being frozen out by Klinsmann.
3. Joe CORONA (Playmaker, Attacking Midfielder)
As a proven attacking midfielder who plays centrally as a playmaker or on either wing, Joe Corona is too creative and too technical to not warrant a USMNT roster spot.
4. DeAndre YEDLIN (Outside Back)
One could say that the United States Men’s National Team almost has no real outside backs, and DeAndre Yedlin along with Chris Klute are the two most exciting outside backs in the American player pool.
5. Chris KLUTE (Outside Back)
The lack of two-way left back on the USMNT alone makes Chris Klute an odd snub, but Klute’s excellent and consistent play for the entire 2013 MLS season makes Klinsmann’s refusal to even let Klute dress out very difficult to explain. The United States is not in a position to omit left backs with Klute’s two-way skill and world-class athleticism.
6. Michael OROZCO (Center Back)
For a national team without defensively and technical skilled center backs that are quick, mobile, and agile, Michael Orozco is another player that has too much quality at a needed position to be relegated to the status of a fringe player for the United States.
7. Shane O’NEILL (Center Back, Defensive Midfielder, Outside Back)
Shane O’Neill might be the best American center back along with Geoff Cameron. Taking into account O’Neill’s play with the USA U-20 team and his excellent play in MLS where he played basically every minute of every game, the fact that O’Neill has never been allowed to at least feature in a friendly really questions the ability of the USMNT’s staff to scout and evaluate talent.
8. Benji JOYA (Central Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder)
Benji Joya is a very good player whose lack of international experience is more than made up for by his completeness as a midfielder and his mental intensity. Tab Ramos must have given Jürgen Klinsmann rave reviews about Joya, and if players like Sacha Kljestan and Brad Davis are featuring for the national team, then a better player like Joya deserves a real chance to prove himself.
9. Andrew FARRELL (Center Back/Outside Back)
Unlike Yedin and Klute, Andrew Farrell is a center back that can play as a outside back. With all of the United States’ defensive woes, a skilled tackler and marker with blazing speed and good skill on the ball deserves some real minutes with the United States.
10. Eric LICHAJ (Outside Back)
Eric Lichaj is younger than Jonathan Spector, and given Lichaj’s play with the United States and with his various club teams in England, there is no clear reason why a defensively and technically skilled and fast outside back who can play on either side of the defense has been frozen out by Klinsmann.
11. Jonathan SPECTOR (Outside Back, Center Back, Defensive Midfielder)
Jonathan Spector is a player that is a proven and experienced outside back, even against the likes of Brazil and other soccer giants. For a national team with such an odd bunch of random out of position outside backs, Spector should have been featuring for the USA if not for his ability and experience then merely by default. To not even use Spector for lack of a better option appears to be just another example of Klinsmann really sticking with his favorites no matter what.
12. Kofi SARKODIE (Outside Back)
Kofi Sarkodie has displayed the ability to perform as a modern outside back for several years now in MLS, and given the speed that he provides out wide, his exclusion from the USA national team is another bizarre reality.