The United States Men’s National Team suffered another blow this past Saturday when FC Nurnberg defender Timothy Chandler suffered a knee injury in their loss to German Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. It was later revealed that Chandler had suffered a torn meniscus which will require surgery and will sideline the American for 8-to-10 weeks.
Chandler was one of the fringe players on Jurgen Klinsmann‘s radar who was in line to make his case for inclusion into the final 23-man squad when the United States played their last FIFA matchday friendly at Ukraine in March. He will miss that match and will most likely miss the 2014 FIFA World Cup because of it.
This is just the latest in a slew of injuries to American fringe players abroad, especially those looking to make the club on the defense. A calf injury to former regular center-back Oguchi Onyewu is hampering his ability to stay fit. Onyewu is currently 31-years-old so this will most likely be his last chance to make another appearance in the World Cup. His drive to regain a place is without question after he struggled during the 2010 FIFA World Cup coming off of a scary knee injury.
Other American hopefuls like Alejandro Bedoya and Eric Lichaj also missed their most recent club games as they are dealing with some minor injuries. All of these minor knocks are raising some big questions for Klinsmann; his starting back-line seems set, but after that who are the reserves?
Currently, it is safe to say that barring any unforeseen injuries the United States starting defensive unit will consist of Brad Evans at right back, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez at center back and DaMarcus Beasley at left back. It would be safe to assume that Geoff Cameron of Stoke City would be in a very good place to make the team with his abilities to play well at multiple positions. Cameron currently plays right back at Stoke City but can also cover at center back as well as defensive midfielder if needed.
Klinsmann will take no fewer than seven and no more than eight defenders with him to Brazil leaving either two or three spots open right now depending on your view. There are two names that jump off the page right now as potential favorites to land a spot on the plane to Brazil as well as a player who could be a surprise selection. Those favorites right now are Clarence Goodson of the San Jose Earthquakes and Michael Parkhurst of the Columbus Crew.
Goodson will be 32 when the World Cup rolls around, but he has National Team experience already with 45 caps. His height at 6-foot-4 will also be a positive in marking up with taller opponents as well as on the offensive side of the ball as a target on set pieces.
Though Parkhurst is primarily a right-back, he played the full 90 at left-back in the South Korea friendly just over a week ago. This ability to play well in multiple positions, like Geoff Cameron, will only increase the likelihood of a call-up.
The surprise selection mentioned earlier in the article is Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin. Yedlin earned his first cap with the senior team in the South Korea friendly coming on as a substitute for club teammate Brad Evans at right back. He is 20 years old with a little work to do to improve his offensive game, but he has one unteachable quality–speed. In this tournament speedy wingers from Germany and Portugal could be in the cards. Yedlin’s ability to stay with those players defensively could be a key aspect for Klinsmann to consider while making his selections.