Jürgen Klinsmann and the United States Men’s National Team have four complete first strikers going into the 2014 World Cup.
Jozy Altidore is the number one striker option right now, but Aron Jóhannsson is equally as skilled from a technical standpoint, if not more so. Additionally, Juan Agudelo and Terrence Boyd are very technically-gifted, fast, tall, and aggressive first strikers who are ready to face high-caliber international competition at the World Cup.
While Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez are quality options who are also international-quality strikers, Altidore, Jóhannsson, Agudelo, and Boyd are the best four American first strikers according to World Soccer Source.
The competition at the World Cup is daunting. Teams like Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, France (if they qualify), and others are stocked full of world-class players, but the United States can take comfort in the fact that Altidore, Jóhannsson, Agudelo, and Boyd are capable first strikers who can score on elite national teams. Every one of those American strikers is technically-advanced and fast, and every one stands above 6 feet.
The Best USMNT XI has yet to be determined, but taking the four strikers listed above to the World Cup gives the United States the firepower to score, if those strikers receive quality service and final balls.
Four USMNT Strikers for the 2o14 World Cup in Brazil:
Jozy ALTIDORE (Sunderland)
Jozy Altidore is a beast of a first striker who has cultivated a more polished set of technical skills inside of a strong, tall, and athletic physique. Altidore brings two-footed skill, size, speed, and a growing ability to do real damage against better opponents.
Aron JÓHANNSSON (AZ Alkmaar)
Aron Jóhannsson is a textbook for footwork, touch, ball striking techniques, finishing, and movement off the ball. Quick, fast, and aggressive in his pursuit of the back of the net, Jóhannsson is a clinical striker who plays with elegance and imagination.
Juan AGUDELO (New England Revolution/Stoke City)
Of all the American strikers, Juan Agudelo is the most inventive risk taker who doesn’t hesitate to attempt to outfox and best defenders and goalkeepers. The United States cannot leave a striker with his invention and technical ability off the World Cup roster, especially given the fact that he also brings excellent speed and strength inside of a 6’2” frame. Agudelo is known for his creativity and refined technical-ability, but Agudelo is a big and athletic striker who will make World Cup defenders expend a ton of energy containing and marking him. Agudelo is a gifted goal-scorer who doesn’t need any extra motivation to aggressively attack the goal with skill, and Agudelo looks to create space for himself to score, which helps to open up games that have stalemated.
Terrence BOYD (Rapid Wien)
Of all the American strikers, Terrence Boyd is the most aggressive of the bunch, and he plays with no respect for his opponents. Agudelo and Jóhannsson may or may not be more technically-skilled than Boyd, but Boyd is a very technically-skilled striker who is the tallest and fastest of the bunch. Boyd plays with real fire, and the United States will need a complete striker like Boyd if it wants to have strikers who can really compete against top national teams and score on them. Boyd has everything: skill with both feet and his head, good finishing, speed, quickness, a tall frame, and excellent movement off the ball.
When the 2014 World Cup rolls around, Jürgen Klinsmann and the USMNT would be wise to put Altidore, Jóhannsson, Agudelo, and Boyd on the roster as the four strikers. Other names have been tossed around in the American media as the best American strikers, but all four of the strikers listed above are complete strikers who can score against even the best national teams. While none of these strikers is an unstoppable goal machine, each of them is unfazed by elite defenders for the most part.
Other American Strikers to Watch:
José VILLARREAL (second striker)
Alonso HERNANDEZ (second striker or attacking midfielder)
Despite the possibility of Michael Bradley and John Anthony Brooks still being injured, Jürgen Klinsmann still has a lot of new options for the United States Men’s National Team’s October World Cup qualifiers.
A prudent decision for the future success of the USMNT is for Klinsmann to start many of the proven players who he has chosen to snub in the past, but he should fill the rest of the roster with new players that need to be given experience.
The math on this is simple; Klinsmann has 11 starting line-ups spots that he can reserve for some of the more-experienced American players who he has chosen to not use, and he has 12 roster spots for the new talents in American soccer.
The other alternative is to use the same roster outlined above but start the new players.
If Klinsmann wants to start more-proven players, then this is a topic that can be discussed with specificity.
For example, Klinsmann could start Brad Guzan in goal with Jonathan Spector at right back, Shane O’Neill and Michael Orozco at center back, and Eric Lichaj at left back.
In front of them, Klinsmann can start Geoff Cameron as a defensive midfielder with Joe Benny Corona, Benny Feilhaber, and Mix Diskerud as a line of three attacking midfielders.
Up top, Klinsmann could start Juan Agudelo (if he’s healthy) or Terrence Boyd with Aron Jóhannsson.
The line-up proposed above leaves 11 or 12 roster spots open for Klinsmann, depending on the health of Agudelo.
Starting in the defense, the obvious names are DeAndre Yedlin, Chris Klute, and Andrew Farrell.
This leaves eight or nine roster spots (depending on whether or not Agudelo is healthy) for goalkeepers, midfielders, and forwards.
If there are eight roster spots, calling up Nick Rimando and some other goalkeeper like Clint Irwin, Dan Kennedy, Sean Johnson, Luis Robles, or Tally Hall leaves six more roster spots to fill.
For the final six roster spots, Perry Kitchen as a defensive midfielder, Amobi Okugo as a center back and defensive midfielder, Benji Joya as a midfielder who plays as an attacking midfielder or as a box-to-box midfielder, José Villarreal as a forward or attacking midfielder, Joe Gyau as a winger or forward, and Freddy Adu as midfielder or forward (it’s time for Klinsmann to check in with Adu).
The roster proposed above includes three goalkeepers, four outside backs, four center backs, four forwards, five attacking midfielders, three defensive or box-to-box midfielders (plus Shane O’Neill and Geoff Cameron).
To be clear, the USMNT could start the following fairly-experienced XI below:
Starting Guzan in goal with Spector, O’Neill, Orozco, and Lichaj forming the Back Four should be a strong enough defense to win or at least they should be strong enough to win.
In front of them, Cameron as a defensive midfielder behind a line of three attacking midfielders (Corona, Feilhaber, Diskerud) should be a midfield with a strong defender and good passer patrolling the back with three creative midfielders helping the United States to maintain possession and set up goals.
Up top, Agudelo or Boyd with Jóhannsson is a potent young strike force who at the very least should cause problems for all but the very best of international defenders.
These forwards still have room to improve, but all three of them are real threats on the international level. There is no reason to think that they aren’t capable of easily scoring against CONCACAF opposition unless they simply don’t receive enough service.
Something similar to the roster and starting line-up proposed in this article combines the best of both worlds for the United States Men’s National Team: more-experienced players that Klinsmann hasn’t favored as starters with new talents who can gain experience and help to strengthen the national team.
On the other hand, if Klinsmann wanted to use mainly new and/or younger players, then he could start the following XI:
What Jürgen Klinsmann really needs to learn is whether or not he’s been using the best players and if the new talents or some of the out of favor talents can improve the ability of the USMNT to better compete or win at the highest level against better national teams.
The coach of the United States enjoys using the metaphor about tossing players into the cold water, and with the 2014 World Cup approaching next summer, it’s time to see who the best American soccer players are and prepare them for the big stage.
Over the past two years, Jozy Altidore has dramatically improved his movement off the ball, and he has refined his technical ability and finishing skills.
Now, Jozy Altidore has blossomed into a first striker whose athleticism and physique are matched by his technical skill and movement off the ball. Altidore has two years playing club soccer in Holland to thank for these improvements, and now Jozy Altidore tops the list of World Soccer Source’s best American strikers.
After Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo and Aron Jóhannsson are tied for second due to the difficulty in trying to scientifically rank all of the various criteria like finishing, club form, the league played in, technical ability, scoring-rate, and athleticism.
1.) Jozy Altidore (Sunderland)
Easily the best American striker, Altidore showed just how far he’d come in polishing his technical ability, finishing, and movement off the ball when he scored an outstanding hat trick against Bosnia and Herzegovina after two years with a prolific scoring-rate with AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie. Two months shy of his 24th birthday, Altidore is a complete first striker, and he will continue to improve in all areas of his game as the years go by.
2.) Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution / Stoke City)
Juan Agudelo is one of the crown jewels of American soccer, and it will be interesting to see how he compares to Jozy Altidore in a few years or sooner.
It took Altidore several years and the right club situation to become a more finished product who had harnessed his physical gifts and honed his skills, so Agudelo should be allowed the same amount of time to become more polished and deadly.
Whereas Altidore was accused of needing to refine his technical ability several years ago, Agudelo was never criticized for his technical ability. Agudelo has been criticized for trying to do too many tricks, for overcomplicating things, and for taking too many touches, but Agudelo has become more efficient without eliminating the trickery and creativity from his game.
The young American striker has had multiple opportunities to showcase his talent against top national teams playing at full strength, and he has never looked overmatched or fazed by the opposition.
There are too many excellent goals with both feet and his head to not consistently have Juan Agudelo on the United States Men’s National Team, and despite a few injuries, there have been plenty of occasions when Agudelo has been unjustly snubbed by Jürgen Klinsmann and the national team.
2.) Aron Jóhannsson (AZ Alkmaar)
Aron Jóhannsson is as good as or better than Juan Agudelo, and Jóhannsson plays for Jozy Altidore’s former club, AZ Alkmaar.
Altidore has backed Jóhannsson due to his time playing with Jóhannsson and seeing him in action, but Jóhannsson’s play last season and this season combined with his excellent play against Bosnia and Herzegovina prove Jóhannsson’s skill and ability to excel against top-level competition.
The AZ Alkmaar striker is fast and clinical with a nose for goal, and he never hesitates to go straight to goal or hit shots the instant the opportunity presents itself.
If started right now for the United States, there’s no reason to think that Jóhannsson couldn’t do as well or better than any other American striker who has played for the USMNT in the past.
He will continue to grow and get stronger, but Jóhannsson is already a tall striker with excellent speed and textbook technical ability.
Jóhannsson’s biggest strength is the combination of his technical ability with his instinct to attack the goal.
4.) Terrence Boyd (Rapid Wien)
A year ago, the young Terrence Boyd looked poised to make a run at Jozy Altidore’s starting spot, but with Altidore’s improved international form came less playing time for Boyd.
Nevertheless, Boyd is a direct-to-goal first striker who attacks the goal constantly with his skill and athleticism. Unlike Altidore who took some time to develop more of a ruthless streak, Boyd has always been very aggressive and his ability to score with both feet should serve the United States well.
Boyd has all of the tools to be a starting striker with the USMNT, and it’s time for Klinsmann to start seasoning more of his strikers besides Altidore.
Boyd is a faster and more athletic player than Altidore, Agudelo, and Jóhannsson, and his technical ability is equally good.
A striker with Boyd’s gifts and skills should prove to be a very valuable weapon for the United States. Once Boyd plays more with the United States, it will be easier to compare and contrast him with Jozy Altidore.
Of all the American strikers, Boyd is the most ruthless, and he attacks opponents with pure rage and no respect.
Jozy Altidore leads the pack as the best American striker, but Juan Agudelo, Aron Jóhannsson, and Terrence Boyd deserve more opportunities to gain international experience. Until the other three play more for the United States, it’s unclear how they compare to one another or if one of them partners particularly well with Altidore. There is also the real need to make sure that the United States has four first strikers who are ready to play well in the World Cup.
Making an improved 23-man USMNT roster is much easier than choosing the best Starting XI.
The primary difficulty now is not finding quality American players but rather cutting the pool down to 23 players and deciding how many new players should receive roster spots.
Any national team roster normally contains three goalkeepers, four outside backs, four center backs, 4 defensive midfielders, four attacking midfielders, and four forwards, but frequently players can play more than one position so the amount of players at each position can vary.
At goalkeeper, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are clearly the best two American goalkeepers (excluding Brad Friedel), and the only decision for Jürgen Klinsmann to make is who the the third goalkeeper should be. Maybe it should be Nick Rimando or some other goalkeeper like Clint Irwin, Dan Kennedy, Tally Hall, Sean Johnson, or Luis Robles, but perhaps Cody Cropper or some other young goalkeeper should receive the third goalkeeper spot.
When selecting center backs, a wise decision would be to have four center backs. The primary center backs to choose from for the USMNT are Geoff Cameron, George John, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco, Michael Parkhurst, Tim Ream, and Matt Besler. These center backs are some of the more experienced center backs that aren’t too slow for or not skilled-enough for international play.
Additionally, there are younger center backs like Shane O’Neill, Andrew Farrell, Amobi Okugo, Gale Agbossoumonde, and Caleb Stanko who are worthy of a look. Assuming John Anthony Brooks plays for the United States, which isn’t definite, he also has to be strongly considered as a front-runner for one of the four spots.
Therefore, at center back, the coaching staff of the USMNT has at least 12 players to look at without doing more extensive scouting of all of the other options.
When choosing four center backs, the final decision comes down to deciding which center backs have the defensive instincts and fundamentals combined with the technical ability and athleticism to realistically be able to compete at the international level.
Outside back is an area of some concern for the United States. Without any exploration of new players, the obvious starting point is to choose from Eric Lichaj, Jonathan Spector, Timothy Chandler, and Fabian Johnson, but then one has to strongly consider new players like Chris Klute, DeAndre Yedlin, and Andrew Farrell. Furthermore, Steve Cherundolo when healthy is still likely the best American outside back.
The United States has several quality defensive midfielders, and Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Geoff Cameron, and Maurice Edu are the first names that come to mind. There are additionally some MLS defensive midfielders like Perry Kitchen, Jared Jeffrey, and Jeremy Hall who need to be looked at.
Without even including Shane O’Neill and Caleb Stanko, who were listed above in the center back section, Jürgen Klinsmann has seven defensive midfielders to choose from for four spots.
Just looking at this list of defensive midfielders, Bradley, Jones, Cameron, and one other player are the obvious choices.
At the very least, Bradley, Jones, Cameron, and Edu are a good starting point unless Klinsmann is willing to pick one of the newer defensive midfielders instead of Edu.
Benji Joya falls in between the realm of the defensive midfielders and the attacking midfielders. Joya is somewhat more of an attacking midfielder than he is a defensive midfielder, even though he has stated that he is a holding midfielder. Joya has also stated that he can play a variety of positions. A young, complete midfielder like Joya is another name that deserves serious consideration for the USMNT because he can bring defensive coverage and excellent passing and attacking skills to the American midfield.
The decisions now are attacking decisions.
For a country that has a reputation for not having very technically-skilled players, the United States has more quality attacking midfielders than it has roster spots. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan should be obvious choices, and then the team realistically needs to select two playmakers. The obvious group of playmakers to choose from includes Benny Feilhaber, Joe Benny Corona, Mix Diskerud, and Freddy Adu.
While contending that Corona and Diskerud should be the playmakers on the roster is a logical and good decision, both Feilhaber and Adu have demonstrated their ability to perform well against strong opponents in international play.
Choosing Feilhaber should be a much easier choice than it appears to be for Klinsmann because Feilhaber has an excellent track record at the international level, and his comfort on the ball, passing ability, set piece taking, and his excellent shooting skills are quite evident.
Nevertheless, Corona and Diskerud have recently shown their ability to bring strong playmaking qualities to the United States, but of all of the playmakers, Feilhaber has the most international experience and the most proven-ability on the international level.
Additionally, the USMNT has wingers like Brek Shea and Joe Gyau in the player pool who can bring speed and skill as well attacking strength out wide.
At striker, the United States actually has more than four capable and effective strikers. The player pool includes Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez (injured), and the pool has newer strikers like Mario Rodriguez, José Villarreal, Alonso Hernandez, Gyasi Zardes, Teal Bunbury, Aron Jóhannsson, and Tony Taylor. With the exception of Villarreal, those are all first strikers including Tony Taylor, but a roster normally has four forwards who are not always just first strikers.
The goal is to close the gap with the world’s best national teams, and Jürgen Klinsmann’s roster selections always contain way too many players that are solid at the club level but lacking that next level of skill and athleticism needed to do battle with elites and magicians.
The next step for Jürgen Klinsmann should be to at least call up all of his players with the most proven-ability at the international level, and he also needs to play them together. The starting line-up of proven-players would be something like this formation below:
Tim Howard; Jonathan Spector, Michael Orozco, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson; Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley; Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey; Jozy Altidore.
On the other hand, if the USMNT was willing to use more inexperienced players in the defense to try and improve the level of play of the United States, then perhaps this line-up below would be a good place to start:
Guessing who Jürgen Klinsmann will select for the USMNT roster to face Bosnia-Herzegovina is impossible because there are too many factors that come into play, including his personal opinion of players and what his goals are. World Soccer Source’s guess at a possible Klinsmann USMNT roster can be found at the bottom of the page.
On the other hand, World Soccer Source would like to see a combination of the players from the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying, in addition to some new players to strengthen the United States Men’s National Team at various positions.
Below is the roster that World Soccer Source would like to see called up to face Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it contains more than 23 players:
WSS USMNT ROSTER PROPOSAL VS. BOSNIA
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Luis ROBLES.
DEFENDERS (8): Shane O’NEILL, Michael OROZCO, Gale AGBOSSOUMONDE, Andrew FARRELL; DeAndre YEDLIN, Chris KLUTE, Kofi SARKODIE, Eric LICHAJ.
FORWARDS (5): Jozy ALTIDORE, Terrence BOYD, Mario RODRIGUEZ, José VILLARREAL, Gyasi ZARDES.
*Injured- Juan AGUDELO
Based on World Cup qualifying and the 2013 Gold Cup, World Soccer Source believes this 23-man roster below is close to Jürgen Klinsmann’s first-choice team, with the exception of DeAndre Yedlin and Chris Klute who World Soccer Source believes Jürgen Klinsmann is close to calling up due to a need for outside backs:
Jürgen Klinsmann’s Likely USMNT Roster vs. Bosnia
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Nick RIMANDO.
DEFENDERS (8): Matt BESLER, Omar GONZALEZ, Michael OROZCO, Clarence GOODSON, Timothy CHANDLER, DeAndre YEDLIN, Fabian JOHNSON, Chris KLUTE.
*It’s unclear whether John Anthony Brooks will be representing the United States.
MIDFIELDERS (8): Michael BRADLEY, Jermaine JONES, Geoff CAMERON, Clint DEMPSEY, Landon DONOVAN, Mix DISKERUD, Joe Benny CORONA, Graham ZUSI.
FORWARDS (4): Jozy ALTIDORE, Terrence BOYD, Eddie JOHNSON, Aron JÓHANNSSON.
The World Soccer Source 23-Man USMNT 2014 World Cup Roster Proposal
(August 2013 Edition)
This 23-man USMNT Roster Proposal is less conservative than other projections and predictions that you will find from other writers and websites.
The purpose of not just going with the current group of Jürgen Klinsmann regulars who are doing a good job at staying on top of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table is not to purposely propose a group of inexperienced and young players for the sake of creating controversy.
On the contrary, the purpose is that this group of players below represents a sincere attempt to not just survive the group stage but to give young, talented, and athletic players the chance to try and raise the level of play of the USMNT.
For example, Gyasi Zardes and Mario Rodriguez are on the list over Eddie Johnson, which will seem almost comical to many people.
The reason that this writer selected Zardes and Rodriguez, despite the excellent combination of skill and overall athleticism of Johnson, is that this writer believes that these two young and internationally inexperienced players, if they happen to play for whatever reason over starters like Juan Agudelo or Terrence Boyd, will relentlessly attack the goal no matter the opponent more so than Johnson will.
It’s important to remember that Rodriguez is highly-regarded by Tab Ramos, and Rodriguez plays in Germany. Additionally, Zardes is widely-considered an extremely talented striker in MLS circles, and Zardes seemed to have no problem playing against Real Madrid yesterday who were fielding a strong line-up, including Casemiro at the defensive midfielder role.
Here is the roster proposal:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad GUZAN, Tim HOWARD, Nick RIMANDO.
CENTER BACKS (4): Gale AGBOSSOUMONDE, Andrew FARRELL, Shane O’NEILL, Michael OROZCO FISCAL.
OUTSIDE BACKS (3): Chris KLUTE, Kofi SARKODIE, DeAndre YEDLIN.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS (3): Michael BRADLEY, Geoff CAMERON, Benji JOYA.
FORWARDS (5): Juan AGUDELO, Jozy ALTIDORE, Terrence BOYD, Mario RODRIGUEZ, Gyasi ZARDES.
-There are 7 defenders as opposed to 8 because Geoff Cameron plays center back as well as both outside back positions.
-Michael Orozco, Geoff Cameron, Andrew Farrell, Shane O’Neill can all play as outside backs and as defensive midfielders.
-Geoff Cameron is as much of a center back as he is a defensive midfielder.
-Benji Joya is a box-to-box midfielder listed with the defensive midfielders.
-Freddy Adu and Benny Feilhaber are on this roster proposal. Both of these players are highly-valued by World Soccer Source for their proven-ability and record of performing and making a positive impact at the international level regardless of the opponent. Many Americans and non-Americans consider these two players to be inconsistent and lazy playmakers with a poor attitude, but World Soccer Source considers them to be invaluable midfielders for the USMNT due to their ability to bring creative and quality passing and attacking play to a national team that lacks these qualities.
The best athlete in the history of American sports said over and over again that failure was the key to his success. That athlete was Michael Jordan.
American soccer has more potential for success right now than at any time in the entire history of soccer in the United States. The key to success is actually fielding unproven players at the international level who have demonstrated the potential ability and the athleticism to be competitive with elite soccer nations.
A vast majority of the coaches in the United States including Jürgen Klinsmann are afraid to risk losing by playing starting line-ups made up of several internationally unproven players in meaningful games, but there is a way to accomplish this without jeopardizing qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
The solution is quite simple: use a Starting XI made up of proven players and fill the remaining roster spots with new but talented players in addition to players who are too good to exclude.
After the Gold Cup, the USMNT could start the follow starting line-up without taking any more risks than usual:
Tim Howard; Jonathan Spector, Maurice Edu, Geoff Cameron, Eric Lichaj; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones; Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey; Jozy Altidore.
The Starting XI listed above isn’t really a risky line-up by any means, as all of those players have ample experience playing international soccer at a respectable level.
If the whole world considers the United States Men’s National Team to be a team with just a few technically-skilled players, then why not use friendlies to field new players who have demonstrated the ability to offer an improvement over many of the players Jürgen Klinsmann has been using?
The sort of undertaking described above is considered risky by many, but couldn’t it also be considered risky not to attempt to strengthen areas where the USMNT is weak?
Beginning to improve the caliber of players fielded by the United States isn’t a question of teaching experienced players to play differently, but it is a question of actually starting promising players who could do very poorly in their first game or games.
On the other hand, maybe they’d do well.
The first step in this process is easy because the first step is deciding which players among the players that Klinsmann has been starting in World Cup qualifying absolutely have to start, and this list of names is short.
Tim Howard or Brad Guzan have to start. Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey have to start, but who else absolutely has to start? Maybe Landon Donovan has to start too.
Looking at that list, that list includes five names for four starting spots leaving seven Starting XI spots up for grabs. Starting line-up space for seven open spots leaves the door open for a lot of possibilities.
Looking at right back, DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders seems like a risk worth taking, given his performances in MLS and in the U-20 World Cup, not to mention the two-way threat he poses. Yedlin has speed that’s close to Chris Klute’s speed, and using them as the outside backs would certainly improve the U.S.’ ability to attack and defend out wide.
Moving to center back, Geoff Cameron has demonstrated that he has a level of athleticism and skill, not to mention size, that has never really been given a chance to partner with a center back of similar qualities.
Why can’t Gale Agbossoumonde, Andrew Farrell, or Shane O’Neill be given a shot to start with Cameron? What’s the real argument against that?
Is there any proof that Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler can outplay Agbossoumonde, Farrell, or O’Neill in an international game when they are partnered with Cameron? Those are all good MLS players, so trying them out should be something that the USMNT’s coaching staff and American soccer writers are interested in seeing.
None of those three players have been given the chance to show how they can perform compared to Besler and Gonzalez, but Besler was started against Mexico in Estadio Azteca in a World Cup qualifier with essentially no significant international experience. Besler and Gonzalez have done well, but have they really proven that they are the best?
At left back, Chris Klute hasn’t been given the chance to show how he can do compared to DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson. Beasley and Johnson aren’t even really left backs. Klute actually is a two-way left back, and he’s a very fast and skilled two-way left back who uses both feet.
If Americans really want to see better soccer, where’s the backing for at least using a friendly to field a backline of Yedlin, Agbossoumonde, Cameron, and Klute with Howard as the goalkeeper? Certainly, the United States has never fielded a back four with that degree of speed and technical ability.
There doesn’t appear to be any real risk, particularly in a friendly. The U.S. might lose, but the U.S. might lose anyway. Klinsmann’s World Cup qualifying rosters and line-ups have been completely make-shift and experimental anyway.
All of the players listed above are players who are garnering attention from the American soccer media and American soccer fans. None of those players are soccer players taken off the street; those are all well-known professional players.
One of the arguments that Klinsmann’s methods have been working is the USMNT’s victory over Italy.
The U.S. played Italy in a friendly, only to have Mario Balotelli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and Daniele De Rossi not start. The USMNT can’t really say that it beat Italy convincingly, if Balotelli wasn’t playing. Cesare Prandelli and Italy clearly felt like they didn’t need to use their best players against the U.S. because, if Italy lost, everyone would know Italy didn’t use its best players.
Certainly, Clint Dempsey played well against Italy, but Americans already knew that Dempsey could perform well against elite opponents.
Rather than not taking any risks in friendlies, the USMNT would be better served to see how much potential it could show if a bunch of young, athletic, and skilled defenders were allowed to play with a slightly older Geoff Cameron who too hasn’t really been given a fair chance to play with an adequate center back partner.
Assuming Michael Bradley is playing as a defensive midfielder and Landon Donovan is out on the right wing, why not start Freddy Adu or Joe Corona as a central attacking midfielder with Clint Dempsey out left? This group of players has been used before with success, at least with Adu playing with Dempsey and Donovan. Whereas, Corona hasn’t really been given the chance to play with Dempsey yet.
With the players mentioned above, there are only a few line-up choices left to make for the purpose of this experiment.
Does the U.S. use another defensive midfielder or perhaps a box-to-box midfielder with Bradley, or should the U.S. start two forwards? If the USMNT plays another midfielder with Bradley, is there any reason not to let Benji Joya start with Bradley?
Furthermore, who should the U.S. start at striker?
Jozy Altidore has improved greatly over the past two seasons in Holland, and the players listed above provide him with the service he needs to score goals.
On the other hand, if Altidore has already proven himself by scoring so many goals in Holland as well as showing that he can score for the U.S. when provided with service, shouldn’t the USMNT see how Juan Agudelo or Terrence Boyd can play with the players listed above?
Lots of questions. Few answers.
It’s time to start answering some of those questions, and the way to answer those questions is to start the following Starting XI:
Jürgen Klinsmann selected another trademark imbalanced roster for the United States Men’s National Team’ s Gold Cup squad.
The roster has one right back, three left backs, only one defensive midfielder, several mediocre center backs without good agility, and mostly pedestrian strikers.
Klinsmann made one needed change from his previous roster which was putting more than one playmaker on the roster: Joe Corona and Mix Diskerud.
Below is the United States’ B Team Gold Cup roster selected by Klinsmann and his staff, and changes could possibly be made to the roster after the group stage of the tournament, should the United States advance out:
GOALKEEPERS: Bill HAMID (DC United), Sean JOHNSON (Chicago Fire), Nick RIMANDO (Real Salt Lake).
OUTSIDE BACKS: Michael PARKHURST (Augsburg), Edgar CASTILLO (Tijuana), Tony BELTRAN (Real Salt Lake), DaMARCUS BEASLEY (Puebla) , Corey ASHE (Houston Dynamo).
CENTER BACKS: Clarence GOODSON (Bronby), Oguchi ONYEWU (Malaga), Michael OROZCO FISCAL (Puebla).
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS: Kyle BECKERMAN (Real Salt Lake).
ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS: Alejandro BEDOYA (Helsinborg), Joe CORONA (Tijuana), Mix DISKERUD (Rosenborg), Josh GATT (Molde), Stuart HOLDEN (Bolton), José TORRES (Tigres).
FORWARDS: Will BRUIN (Houston Dynamo), Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy), Herculez GOMEZ (Tijuana), Jack MCINERNEY (Philadelphia Union), Chris WONDOLOWSKI (San Jose Earthquakes).
The Gold Cup roster Jürgen Klinsmann has selected for at least the group stage of the Gold Cup should be very alarming to anyone who remembers that in the 2011 Gold Cup the United States Men’s National Team struggled with the following players on the roster: Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Eric Lichaj, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, and Juan Agudelo.
Looking at the roster by position, even the goalkeepers are just the same goalkeepers that Klinsmann always selects as third string or B Team goalkeepers without even using them or proving that they in fact deserve to always be on the roster.
Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, and Nick Rimando may prove to be capable as international goalkeepers, but are they better than some of the other MLS goalkeepers like Dan Kennedy, Tally Hall, Luis Robles, and Clint Irwin?
So far, Klinsmann seems to just select Hamid, Johnson, and Rimando without proving that they should just automatically be given the B Team goalkeeper spots.
Klinsmann and his staff selected just one right back for the Gold Cup roster: Tony Beltran.
The other right back in name only was Michael Parkhurst. Parkhurst is a good center back who has done well overseas, where he has recently been used as a right back. But, Parkhurst is a center back who doesn’t have the speed or the style of play to realistically be used as a right back against strong opponents.
Is Tony Beltran was on the roster, then where were the likes of Kofi Sarkodie, Jonathan Spector, and Eric Lichaj? Picking Beltran over the other three requires some evidence, and Klinsmann doesn’t have it.
Spector and Lichaj have a body of international work to support their inclusion over Beltran, and Sarkodie continues to display how he (like DeAndre Yedlin) is a fast and aggressive outside back who poses a two-way threat.
Sarkodie keeps getting better, and proving that Beltran is better than a player like Sarkodie is a tough sell. At the very least, Sarkodie has shown his ability in Olympic qualifying, and his form in MLS continues to improve.
Sarkodie’s attacking ability and his improved tackling has been something that many writers and pundits have noticed.
Exclusions like Sarkodie are a concerning pattern with Klinsmann where he selects certain players without backing up his selections, and at the same time, players who are as good or better aren’t even mentioned, almost to the extent that it would appear that Klinsmann’s scouting is inadequate and subpar.
Even if many of the opponents in the Gold Cup are soccer minnows, the United States still needs to improve as a team and gel, and this roster puts the USMNT in the position to possible lose to teams that it should easily beat.
While there is one right back on the roster, there are three left backs, and they aren’t the kind of left backs who can play as right or left backs. They are three left backs, who can only play on the left, and one of them, DaMarcus Beasley, isn’t even an outside back.
Beasley is a winger who did a good job of filling in at left back in the first half of the Hexagonal round of the World Cup qualifying when the U.S. needed a left-footed player to play left back.
Chris Klute of the Colorado Rapids deserved to be on the Gold Cup roster or at least part of the discussion.
Klute is a lightning-quick left back who can also play as a right back, center back, or as a midfielder, and Klute boasts a 4.3 40 time according to his former coach Eric Wynalda.
Klute is just what the doctor ordered for the USMNT.
He’s a modern outside back who attacks with speed and skill by combining to exchange wall passes with his teammates, and he makes dangerous overlapping runs. Marcelo Balboa also rates Klute highly.
Klute offers the United States an outside back who has the speed and skill to be effective going forward and on the defensive side of things.
Klute has great recovery speed, and he knows how to cover for the center backs when they come over to cover for him if he’s beaten.
He can dribble or pass the ball out of the back, and he uses his excellent vertical leap to head out dangerous balls played into the box or into the attacking third.
Klute can outplay Ashe, Castillo, and Beasley, and while Klute is not immune to being beaten off the dribble or with a pass just like any defender is, he is great at quickly closing in on the player who has passed him.
Chris Klute is an excellent example of one of many quality MLS players who have appeared from somewhat off the radar, and they are totally passed over by Klinsmann and his staff for players who haven’t proven that they are better.
Klinsmann has never even mentioned Klute, and Klute is almost never even discussed by the American soccer media. For all of these pundits and American soccer writers who seem to only pay attention to MLS, how did they miss Chris Klute?
At center back, it’s unclear how Klinsmann rationalized his selections.
For example, how does Klinsmann justify omitting George John from the roster, when John is a center back who is almost universally recognized by MLS coaches and players as one of the best center backs in the league? Even the Greek national team and EPL clubs have openly shown interest in John.
Looking at Klinsmann’s roster selections at center back, Onyewu and Goodson have repeatedly been shown to not have the agility or technical ability to take the United States to the next level, and using players of their age does nothing to incorporate younger and better center backs like George John, Amobi Okugo, Gale Agbossoumonde, and Andrew Farrell (who can play either as a center back, outside back, or midfield destroyer).
Say what you want about Agbossoumonde and Farrell, but their comfort on the ball, their strong defensive skills, and their athleticism are there for all to see.
These are promising players who have enough experience to not be dismissed as raw and unproven players. Farrell and Agbossoumonde are not YouTube players, but rather they are players who games can be viewed and analyzed on MLS Live.
Any American defender who could possibly improve the center of the American defense deserves to be considered.
Whereas Klinsmann often put five or six midfield destroyers on his previous rosters, Klinsmann has only one defensive midfielder on this Gold Cup roster: Kyle Beckerman.
Beckerman is a midfield destroyer, and the roster doesn’t have a back-up destroyer for Beckerman or two players of the second kind of defensive midfielder: the box-to-box midfielder.
How was Perry Kitchen passed over for this Gold Cup roster as an additional midfield destroyer? Everything Beckerman does, Kitchen does better.
Kitchen isn’t fast by international soccer standards, but he isn’t a slow liability. His passing and comfort on the ball is as good or better than Beckerman’s, and he can also play as a center back.
Amobi Okugo is another defensive midfielder or center back who was necessary as a substitute or as a starter. Given Beckerman’s glacial speed and poor quickness, he’s a liability that should have been replaced by Kitchen, Okugo, or Jeremy Hall.
Despite Beckerman’s sound fundamentals and technique, there’s no place for a player who’s that slow in international soccer, especially a country like the United States that wants to improve its quality of play and international competitiveness.
The rest of the midfield is all attacking midfielders of various varieties including two actual playmakers in Joe Corona and Mix Diskerud and one attacking midfielder in Stuart Holden who doesn’t easily fit into any category.
Additionally, José Torres is on the roster, despite never performing well or impacting any game he has played for the United States, and Torres doesn’t combine enough with his teammates or play enough final balls to be considered a playmaker.
Benny Feilhaber deserved a roster spot over José Torres because Feilhaber has outplayed Torres at the international level, and Feilhaber has been enjoying a solid season with Sporting Kansas City in MLS, despite being left off a recent travel roster.
Sporting Kansas City’s passing is better when Feilhaber is playing, and Feilhaber has also displayed quite a bit of tackling and strong defensive work for a playmaker. Feilhaber even had seven or eight tackles in a game against the LA Galaxy when Jürgen Klinsmann was in the stadium to watch the game.
Feilhaber’s qualities are well-known in the United States, and often coaches like Klinsmann expect him to either play more defense that a playmaker normally plays or they have unrealistic expectations for him.
People know Feilhaber is a talented passer, so they raise their expectations for him, while allowing less talented people to play.
Even without Feilhaber, at least the roster has Joe Corona and Mix Diskerud, but the selection of Torres over Feilhaber shows Klinsmann’s tendency to pick his players early and insist on selecting them over and over again without any evidence.
The roster also has wingers amongst the group of attacking midfielders. Alejandro Bedoya and Josh Gatt are wingers, but it’s hard to support that they match the combination of skill and speed that Joe Gyau and Brek Shea provide as wingers.
Shea has performed better than Bedoya for the United States, and Gatt offers less speed and skill than Gyau offers. Gyau also plays in a more competitive environment in Germany.
The omission of both Terrence Boyd and Juan Agudelo from the group of strikers was very indefensible, especially since strikers like Chris Wondolowski were selected over both of them.
Given the problem with goal scoring in the 2011 Gold Cup, how can anyone have any confidence in Klinsmann and his staff who selected strikers like Chris Wondolowski, Will Bruin, and Jack McInerney to do something that Altidore and Agudelo struggled to do?
In 2011, there was a real lack of service for Altidore and Agudelo, despite the presence of attacking midfielders like Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. With Benny Feilhaber injured before and during the tournament in 2011, the then-coach Bob Bradley was forced to insert Freddy Adu into the semifinal game against Panama because the USMNT was not creating any scoring chances.
Bob Bradley should be applauded for putting Adu on the roster to begin with, but given Bob Bradley’s prefence for using two midfield destroyers, it must have taken a lot for someone like Bradley to abandon his coaching philosophy and put Adu into the game.
This Gold Cup roster has the playmakers and attacking midfielders to play final balls and create scoring opportunities, but it doesn’t have the best strikers at Klinsmann disposal to finish those final balls, with the exception of Herculez Gomez.
Klinsmann selected Will Bruin and Chris Wondolowski over Juan Agudelo, and Agudelo has more goals in MLS than Bruin and the same amount as Wondolowski.
Unlike Bruin and Wondolowski, Agudelo has proven ability on the international level and 17 international caps for the USMNT.
Klinsmann can rationalize the inclusion of McInerney because he has a good MLS goal-scoring rate this season, but he can’t justify selecting Bruin and Wondolowski over Agudelo.
Agudelo is only 20 years old, and he has already shown more ability to perform on the international level than Wondolowski. Agudelo is better, taller, faster, more active off the ball, and more aggressive than Wondolowski.
Klinsmann said that Agudelo needed to be more “consistent” and less “up and down,” in order to make the team and yet he still has more goals than Bruin and the same amount as Wondolowski.
There is a definite pattern with Klinsmann’s roster selections, which almost seems to boil down to his selection of players he feels he can get to play a more proactive style rather than selecting the players than already play that way.
Klinsmann is quite frankly using many of the same players who have already shown that they don’t have the capacity to play at or close to the same level as the United States’ best regular players like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.
The United States and really Klinsmann is squandering an opportunity to take a number of players who have demonstrated that they have the skill-set and natural gifts to play soccer well at the international level and begin to incorporate them into the national team set-up so that the U.S. can improve.
Using these new but talented players isn’t a bigger risk than using many players who fall short of being able to keep up with the speed and skill of international soccer.
WORLD SOCCER SOURCE’S NOTABLE ROSTER OMISSIONS (WHICH ARE LARGELY UNPOPULAR WITH THE AMERICAN SOCCER MEDIA):
The upcoming United States Men’s National Team game offers Jürgen Klinsmann the chance to see how Joe Corona and Stuart Holden can bolster a midfield with Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Clint Dempsey.
More so than any other players on this roster, Corona and Holden offer the USMNT the opportunity to improve the technical ability of the American midfield and test the USMNT against one of the top national teams in the world, Germany.
Belgium and Germany are several levels above the United States in terms of technical ability, but Klinsmann should seize this chance to start players like Corona and Holden who can not only help out Bradley, Jones, and Dempsey but who can also provide certain types of passes and final balls that the other three don’t provide enough of.
Jürgen Klinsmann would be wise to start something like the line-up below, which is a 4-2-3-1 formation:
Tim HOWARD; Fabian JOHNSON, Omar GONZALEZ, Geoff CAMERON, DaMarcus BEASLEY; Jermaine JONES, Michael BRADLEY; Joe CORONA, Stuart HOLDEN, Clint DEMPSEY; Terrence BOYD.
DaMarcus Beasley is the only player proposed above as a starting defender who is playing out of position, but Beasley has played a few games at left back.
Beasley’s speed was presumably the reason that Klinsmann elected to use him at left back at times when the United States had some injuries, but he has shown the ability to play some respectable defense against a team like Belgium as well as Mexico and Costa Rica.
With the players available on the roster, Fabian Johnson is needed at right back so that Gonzalez and Cameron can continue to build chemistry as the American center back duo.
In the midfield, Klinsmann has somewhat transitioned away from using three defensive midfielders, as he now uses two technically-skilled defensive midfielders in Jones and Bradley whose skill on the ball and athleticism allows them to do more than playing the roles of midfield destroyers.
The change needed for the game against Germany, which should help the United States in World Cup qualifying, would be the insertion of Holden and Corona into the starting line-up to provide Dempsey with more support from creative and skilled midfielders in maintaining possession and connecting the midfield to the attack.
Up top, Jozy Altidore deserves a chance to start at striker when he actually has enough players behind him who can provide better service beyond just crosses played into the box, but at the same time, a friendly is a good chance to let Terrence Boyd start and show what he can do.
Perhaps the best course of action is playing each striker for one half or playing both of them at the same time at some point in the game, which would require taking off one of the two defensive midfielders or one of the three attacking midfielders.
The primary change needed in this game in order to see how the United States can improve for upcoming qualifiers is to take both Brad Davis and Graham Zusi out of the starting line-up and insert Joe Corona and Stuart Holden.