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2014 World Cup: Projecting The USMNT Starting 11 (February Edition)

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2014 World Cup: Projecting The USMNT Starting 11 (February Edition)

2014 World Cup: Projecting The USMNT Starting 11 (February Edition)
Gary A. Vasquez - USATODAY Sports

It may not seem like it, but we are slowly getting closer and closer to the 2014 World Cup this summer. Of course, assuming that all the stadiums get built in time to host games. So with roughly three and a half months left before the tournament is scheduled to get underway in Brazil, it’s a good time to take a look at what the starting 11 of the U.S. Men’s National Team might look like when the team begins its World Cup campaign in a critical opening match against Ghana.

We took a look at the projected U.S. starting lineup back in January, but that was before Jurgen Klinsmann’s team began preparations for the World Cup with its January camp, which included a trip to Brazil, and ended with a 2-0 win over fellow 2014 World Cup participant South Korea on a pair of goals by Chris Wondolowski. But while that match was an important first step in the preparation process, it didn’t necessarily have a huge impact on the starting lineup, as most of the players attending the camp were just hoping to get make a good impression on Klinsmann in hopes of earning a spot on the final 23-man roster.

Upcoming friendly matches against Ukraine in March and Mexico in April will have a lot more of an impact on the lineup that Klinsmann ultimately chooses, but with the European leagues in full swing and MLS players getting ready for the season, there have been some changes made from January’s projections to February’s projections. So let’s take a look at our February projection of the U.S. starting lineup for this summer’s World Cup.

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Tim Howard, Goalie

Tim Howard, Goalie
Gary A. Vasquez - USATODAY Sports

There's no question that Howard will be the goalie this summer. He hasn't been given a lot of support by his Everton teammates in the EPL this season, which may actually have him well prepared to face three teams with great offensive weapons during the group stage of the World Cup.

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Brad Evans, Right Back

Brad Evans, Right Back
Peter Aiken - USATODAY Sports

There's still no contender that has emerged to challenge Evans for the starting spot at right back. Eric Lichaj could make a push over the next couple of months, while Timothy Chandler will miss at least two months with a knee injury, making it unlikely that he'll even be on the roster this summer. Geoff Cameron is certainly an option and with an impressive start to the MLS season youngster DeAndre Yedlin could get into the conversation, but for right now Evans still has a firm hold on the position.

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Matt Besler, Center Back

Matt Besler, Center Back
Brett Davis - USATODAY Sports

Besler is probably the safest pick among the current back four to be on the field in Brazil this summer. The U.S. will face some tough attacking teams and they'll need Besler to run with some of the faster attacking players they'll have to face in group play.

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Omar Gonzalez, Center Back

Omar Gonzalez, Center Back
Jerry Lai - USATODAY Sports

Geoff Cameron or Clarence Goodson could push Gonzalez for his starting spot, but with his size and physicality, Gonzalez is going to be the best player the U.S. has for its back line, and his play will be essential to their success this summer.

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DaMarcus Beasley, Left Back

DaMarcus Beasley, Left Back
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

Unless Jurgen Klinsmann wants to move Fabian Johnson to left back, it doesn't look like anybody is going to take that spot away from Beasley. A year or two ago, nobody would have predicted Beasley would have a spot in the starting 11 locked down for the World Cup, much less a spot in the back four, but it actually makes sense after the way he's played and the team can certainly benefit from his World Cup experience this summer.

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Michael Bradley, Center Midfield

Michael Bradley, Center Midfield
Getty Images

I still don't agree with Bradley moving back to MLS, but he's still arguably the best and most important American soccer player, and his presence this summer is essential to the team getting out of the group stage.

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Jermaine Jones, Center Midfield

Jermaine Jones, Center Midfield
Getty Images

Jones isn't perfect, but Jurgen Klinsmann trusts him too much to take him out of the lineup, and his presence allows Michael Bradley freedom to move forward and help initiate the attack, which is important for the U.S.

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Graham Zusi, Right Midfield

Graham Zusi, Right Midfield
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

The top four attacking spots, including this one, are up for grabs, but Zusi is too important to the U.S. for him to not be in the starting lineup. He plays great crosses into the box and gives the U.S. forwards a chance to put the ball in the back of the net, and the ability to do that is too important to not have for 90 minutes.

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Fabian Johnson, Left Midfield

Fabian Johnson, Left Midfield
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

Johnson has had a long hiatus from the national team, but he's still one of the 11 best American soccer players, and Jurgen Klinsmann will find a place to put him. If the U.S. is going to pose a threat in the final third, they need Johnson on the field.

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Landon Donovan, Attacking Midfield

Landon Donovan, Attacking Midfield
Getty Images

I would prefer to see Donovan coming off the bench, but for right now he's in and Clint Dempsey is out. Dempsey is just in poor form right now, and while he can get back on track during the MLS season, if the World Cup were to start today, it would have to be Donovan playing underneath the striker and making plays all over the field to help create goal scoring opportunities.

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Aron Johannsson, Striker

Aron Johannsson, Striker
Denny Medley - USATODAY Sports

With Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey doing nothing in the EPL right now, the start at striker goes to Johannsson. He still doesn't have a lot of international experience, and he is a bit of a wild card on the U.S. roster, but Johannsson is scoring goals right now, and that's the most important thing, so if the World Cup started today, he would be up top in the starting 11, looking to score goals.