On Wednesday, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced the roster for next week’s friendly match against Mexico. This will be the final match the team plays before Klinsmann has to name his preliminary roster for the 2014 World Cup, meaning the pressure is on the players to make a good final impression with the national team.
Defensively, this roster contains the back four that’s projected to be on the field when the World Cup gets underway in June: Brad Evans, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and DaMarcus Beasley. However, that group isn’t written in stone just yet, as Clarence Goodson is also on the roster and has a chance to move into one of the center back spots.
Also on the roster are Michael Parkhurst and Michael Orozco, two fringe players that need to impress Klinsmann in order to solidify a spot on the World Cup roster. The most intriguing defensive player on the roster is DeAndre Yedlin, who lacks international experience but may have a chance to unseat Evans at right back. If Yedlin is in the starting 11 against Mexico, it could signal that he has a realistic chance of making the roster.
There are a lot of familiar names in the midfield, including center middies Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, and Kyle Beckerman. Bradley’s spot for the World Cup is secure, but Edu and Beckerman are fighting for a roster spot, and there certainly won’t room for both of them, so both need to make a lasting impression on Klinsmann.
Rounding out the midfield will be Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Luis Gil, and Brad Davis. Donovan and Zusi will be going to Brazil, although whether they’ll be starters is unclear. Meanwhile, Davis and Gil are still competing for a spot. Gil is likely a long shot at this point, but the fact that he’s on the roster is a good sign for his future involvement with the national team, while Davis’ inclusion on this roster could mean he has the inside track on one of the final World Cup roster spots.
The forwards on the roster are an intriguing group, featuring Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Julian Green, and Chris Wondolowski. Dempsey is going to Brazil, but he needs to start playing a lot better after a rough winter in the EPL. Johnson should also have his spot secure, but with the depth the U.S. has up front he can’t afford to struggle so close to the World Cup.
Wondolowski made a good impression during a February friendly against South Korea, but he may need to score a goal against Mexico to secure a spot on the World Cup roster. Finally, there’s Green, who could be a long shot to make the roster, as he’ll be making his debut with the national team, but if he can prove against Mexico that he can compete at this high level, Klinsmann will have to consider him for the preliminary roster.
With so much left to be decided before the World Cup, Mexico is the perfect opponent, as it guarantees that game intensity is high, which will be critical as nearly every player on this roster has something to prove before Klinsmann names his roster for the 2014 World Cup.
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.