On Thursday, U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 24-man roster for next week’s friendly match against Ukraine, which will be played in Cyprus due to the unstable political situation in Ukraine at the moment. The roster is made up of mostly European-based players, with the only two MLS players being Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, both of whom did not participate in the team’s January camp; Bradley because he was mid-transfer and Dempsey because he was on loan with Fulham.
The forward position is the most intriguing position on this roster. Outside of Dempsey, Jozy Altidore is the most prominent striker on the roster. He’ll have an opportunity to impress Klinsmann after a lack of goals and erratic playing time have defined his club season with Sunderland. Aron Johannsson also has a chance to solidify a spot on the 2014 World Cup roster with a good performance. Meanwhile, this could be the last chance for Juan Agudelo or Terrence Boyd to make a push for one of the final spots on the World Cup roster.
The midfield will be anchored by Bradley and Jermaine Jones, who both look like safe bets to be in the starting 11 this summer. The Ukraine match could also mark the national team return for Fabian Johnson, who could be a key part of the U.S. midfield in Brazil. Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud are also players on the Ukraine roster who should be on the World Cup roster. Finishing out the midfield is Danny Williams, Brek Shea, and Sacha Kljestan, all of whom have a lot of work to do if they expect to be with the team this summer.
The defense on this roster includes none of the projected starters for this summer’s World Cup, which should make things interesting. Geoff Cameron will be on the World Cup roster, but what role he’ll be playing and if he’ll crack the starting 11 remains to be seen. The other six defenders on the roster will all be hoping to impress Klinsmann and earn a spot on the World Cup roster, including Oguchi Onyewu, a veteran of two previous World Cups. Outside of Onyewu, the defenders with the best chance of playing their way onto the roster this summer are John Brooks, Edgar Castillo, and Tim Ream, although all of them must seize this opportunity if they’re going to make their way to Brazil this summer.
As for getting a result against a tough Ukraine team that was close to qualifying for the World Cup, there is uncertainty along the back four, which could create trouble, although Tim Howard being in net should help. The midfield should be solid with Bradley and Jones controlling the middle of the field, and with every forward on the roster having something to prove, there should be incentive for the U.S. to push forward and attack.
It’s always difficult to get results in Europe, but with a good collection of attacking players, the U.S. should be able to get on the scoreboard and earn a win, or at least a draw, against a quality European team like Ukraine.
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.