The United States Men’s National Team and manager Jurgen Klinsmann announced the 23-man squad for the upcoming friendlies. While it’s not the strongest squad that could have been picked, Klinsmann honored the MLS Playoffs by not selecting anybody who was currently participating in them leaving off players such as Graham Zusi and Matt Besler from Sporting Kansas City, Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando from Real Salt Lake and Brad Davis from Houston Dynamo. These omissions opened up some spots to be occupied by fringe A-teamers and some younger players looking for a chance to impress.
Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
The obvious note here is the omission of Brad Guzan from Aston Villa. He is listed as not making the trip due to injury, but after scouring the internet I have yet to find what his injury actually is. Hamid and Johnson will only get better due to the extra training with Howard.
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
The surprise selection in this group would be that of Eric Lichaj. The 24-year old Nottingham Forest man has not been with the National Team since the 2011 Gold Cup. It is fitting for Lichaj, though, as he is now getting constant first team minutes since transferring to Forest appearing in 14 of their matches so far. Also another call-up for 20-year old John Brooks who is now fully cap-tied to the United States which bodes well for the future of the defense.
Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City)
Michael Bradley makes his national team return for the first time since spraining his ankle in the warm-ups leading into the qualifying match at Costa Rica back on Sept 6. These matches will be very good for Bradley who hasn’t seen much action for Roma this year having only appeared in six matches with two starts. The biggest shocker in this bunch is the inclusion of Brek Shea. Shea has been a bust at Stoke City to say the least having made just four first-team appearances since signing in late January of 2013. These friendlies will be critical for players like Diskerud, Kljestan and Bedoya to prove they belong in the final World Cup squad. We know Zusi, Bradley and Jones are a lock and Beckerman is in good shape which leaves anywhere from three to five open midfield spots on the team. I’m very surprised not to see Joe Corona or Daniel Williams instead of Shea.
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
The omission of Landon Donovan could come as shocking for some, but Donovan has not been fully fit for a while now. Missing these two games will not be the main factor whether Donovan goes to Brazil or not because he probably will. This will allow Donovan to focus on healing so that he’ll be ready for the January camp. Another deserved call-up for Chris Wondolowski who will need to utilize these practices to show Klinsmann why he should make the trip to Brazil. Wondolowski will be 31 by the time the World Cup starts next year, but he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Overall this is a good squad that will be capable of getting results in Europe. We can expect Klinsmann to start strong and liberally substitute in the second half to see what his reserves can do. Here is my projected starting XI (4-2-3-1).
Brad Evans — Omar Gonzalez — Geoff Cameron — DaMarcus Beasley
Michael Bradley — Jermaine Jones
Eddie Johnson — Clint Dempsey — Fabian Johnson
The United States Men’s National Team will travel to Glasgow, Scotland for a clash with Scotland at the famous Hampden Park on Friday, Nov 15 at 3:00 p.m. ET. The match can be seen nationally on ESPN2 or UniMas.
On Tuesday, Nov 19, the United States Men’s National Team will travel to Vienna, Austria for a showdown with Austria at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion. The match will kickoff at 2:45 p.m. ET and can be seen nationally on the NBC Sports Network or UniMas.