In their first game since being crowned champions of the 2013 Gold Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team will play a friendly Wednesday on the road against Bosnia-Herzegovina, in its last match before playing the final four matches of 2014 World Cup Qualifying. One of the things we learned from the Gold Cup is that the Americans have incredible depth, giving head coach Jurgen Klinsmann an abundance of options when picking the roster for this friendly.
The first thing to notice about this roster is that it contains just two MLS players. One of the MLS players is Brad Evans, who saved the U.S. with a late goal in a qualifier against Jamaica in June. Evans has emerged as one of Klinsmann’s top choices at right back, a spot of uncertainty for the U.S. Michael Parkhurst is also on the roster for this match after being the primary right back during the Gold Cup, so it will be telling who gets the start at right back between those two.
This roster is missing the potential center defense duo of the future in Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, as well as Clarence Goodson, who is also one of the top options in central defense. Instead, Geoff Cameron, Michael Orozco Fiscal and Tim Ream are the central defenders that will suit up against Bosnia-Herzegovina, defending the goal that will be protected by first-string keeper Tim Howard.
The midfield for this match will be controlled by duo of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, the tandem of holding midfielders that has the U.S. on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Joining them in the midfield will be Joe Corona, Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud. All three players are coming off strong performances in the Gold Cup, and have emerged as strong candidates to make the World Cup roster next summer.
Rounding out the midfield is Danny Williams, Sacha Kljestan and Fabian Johnson. Williams and Kljestan have fallen out of favor recently, and need a strong performance in this friendly to stay on Klinsmann’s radar. Meanwhile, Johnson is in good standing with Klinsmann and is one of the top choices to play midfield on the left side when the full side is reunited for qualifying.
The two big names up top are Jozy Altidore, who just made a risky transfer to Sunderland, and Eddie Johnson, the second MLS player on the roster who played a big part in the U.S. winning the Gold Cup. Terrance Boyd is also on the roster, and is another player that’s running out of opportunities to make a good impression if he wants to be in Brazil next summer.
The most interesting name on the roster is Aron Johannsson, who recently announced his switch in eligibility from Iceland to the U.S., much to the dismay of Iceland. Johannsson is young and could become a wild card for the U.S. going forward, and this will be Klinsmann’s first chance to see him up close with the U.S. national team.
Notably absent from the roster is Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. With the roster being comprised of mostly European-based players, the absence of the Americans’ best two attacking players isn’t a surprise. Despite the absence from this game, Dempsey will certainly be back with the team when qualifying resumes next month, while Donovan’s future with the national team and place with the team’s A-lineup remains unclear.
Overall, this roster offers an interesting mix of established starters, fringe players, and those trying to make a name for themselves with the national team. The U.S. appears strong at the midfield and forward positions, but their back line has few established players, and will be challenged by a Bosnia-Herzegovina team that looks poised to qualify for their first World Cup in 2014 and is averaging close to four goals per game during UEFA qualifying, albeit in a weak group.
The Americans will surely put their 11-game winning streak on the line in this game, especially with an unproven back line. However, it is just the kind of challenge they need heading into the final stretch of qualifying.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.