After an incredible summer for the U.S. Men’s National Team, which included a 2013 Gold Cup championship and an impressive comeback win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, they are ready to jump back into 2014 World Cup Qualifying with a match at Costa Rica next Friday and a home match against Mexico the following Tuesday. On Thursday, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann released his 23-man roster for the two matches.
For once, the Americans are loaded at the forward position with Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, and Aaron Johannsson. Altidore has had a huge summer for the national team and is a big key to their success going forward. The return of Donovan to World Cup Qualifying is the headline of this roster. He was a big part of the team’s success in the Gold Cup, but how he’ll fit with the A-lineup is still uncertain, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be in the starting lineup in either of these games, despite his vast experience. Dempsey and Johnson also figure to play a significant role during these two matches, while Johannsson’s presence on the roster speaks to the high regard Klinsmann has for the young talent.
The U.S. midfield is full of familiar names; it will be held together with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, who have become regulars under Klinsmann. For the outside midfield positions, there are three main candidates for two spots: Fabian Johnson, Graham Zusi, and Alejandro Bedoya. Of course, there is a chance that Donovan, Dempsey, or Johnson could take one of the outside midfield positions. The roster also includes Mix Diskerud and Kyle Beckerman, two holding midfielders who will provide depth for Bradley and Jones, two of the eight players on the roster that face a one-game suspension if they receive a yellow card.
The defense for the roster is headlined by Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, who may be the central-back duo of the future. However, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, and Michael Orozco are all possibilities to play central defense as well. The outside backs are all but set with DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Evans, who have both come out of nowhere to earn starting spots with the full national team.
There are a few notable absences from this roster, including Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona, and Chris Wondolowski, but this roster is as close to the A-lineup that we’ve seen under Klinsmann. It’s a roster that’s strong and deep at every position, and has an opportunity to be the group that officially clinches a 2014 World Cup birth for the U.S.
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.