The U.S. Men’s National Team will conclude its 2013 schedule this Friday and next Tuesday with friendly matches against Scotland and Austria. Regardless of who coach Jurgen Klinsmann puts on the field, the U.S. should be able to win both matches. However, the roster that Klinsmann has chosen for the two matches is still important to look at and is telling for the shape of the team moving forward.
As usual, Tim Howard will be the starting goalkeeper. However, U.S. backup Brad Guzan will not be available due to injury, so Klinsmann is going to take a look at Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson, two keepers that are long shots to overtake Nick Rimando as the third-string U.S. goalie.
On defense, the U.S. will have three of its four regular starters in Omar Gonzalez, Brad Evans and DaMarcus Beasley, and dependable backups Geoff Cameron and Michael Orozco will be available to provide depth. Two intriguing names on the roster at defense are John Brooks, who has just one cap but could be capable of pushing for a spot on the 2014 World Cup roster, as well as Eric Lichaj, who is making his first appearance with the national team since Klinsmann took over and could look to push at either outside back position.
The U.S. has an impressive group of midfielders, led by Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones. The other midfielders on the roster include Fabian Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud, all of whom should be considered favorites to make the World Cup Roster.
Two midfielders with plenty left to prove and a chance to do so in these two matches are Sacha Kljestan and Brek Shea. Kljestan is on the periphery of the full squad, while Shea has always been a favorite of Klinsmann’s and will continue to get opportunities to play as long as he’s healthy.
Up top, the Americans are stacked with six quality players, highlighted by Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson, three guys that should feel good about their chances of being in Brazil next summer. The other three forwards on the roster are Aaron Johannsson, Terrence Boyd and Chris Wondolowski, who are all trying to work their way into the full squad on a permanent basis and will have the opportunity to do so.
Notably absent from the roster is Landon Donovan, who played poorly in a recent 2014 World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica and was sent home before the Americans’ final qualifying match against Panama. His absence from this roster, which is in most part Klinsmann’s A-lineup, is quite telling and continues to create uncertainty about how he fits with the USA lineup.
Outside of Donovan and a few other players, this roster is the best Klinsmann could have put together. Klinsmann will likely wait until January to give the younger players a chance to push for a World Cup roster spot. Instead, this roster gives the impression that he wants his top players getting as much time playing with one another as possible, which is the right thing to do heading into next summer’s World Cup. It should result in the Americans winning both matches.