Breaking Down USMNT Roster for Friendly vs. Czech Republic
Barely two months removed from their run in the 2014 World Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team will get back on the field Wednesday against the Czech Republic in a friendly. Jurgen Klinsmann has called in a roster of 22 players for the match, and as expected, it is comprised almost exclusively of European-based players, as Klinsmann starts the process of preparing for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
At the goalkeeper position, it’s a brave new world for the U.S. in net following the announcement that Tim Howard is taking a year-long hiatus from national team duty. Brad Guzan now steps in as the top-choice keeper, and he will likely get the start against the Czech Republic. Nick Rimando is now elevated to the backup goalie position, while 21-year-old Cody Cropper has also been invited to the camp. Cropper is a reserve goalie for English side Southampton, who started for the U.S. at the under-20 World Cup in 2013 and did participate in pre-World Cup training with the full national team at Stanford back in May.
The back line features four members of the World Cup squad in John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron and Timothy Chandler. Johnson figures to be a mainstay on the team for the next four years, while Brooks hopes to become a mainstay in central defense moving forward in what will be his first action with the national team since scoring the game-winning goal against Ghana. Rounding out the contingent of defenders will be Greg Garza, Michael Orozco and Tim Ream. Orozco and Ream are running out of time to become meaningful members of the national team, while the 23-year-old Garza is getting his first taste of action with the full national team.
The midfield includes three members of the team in Brazil, including regular Alejandro Bedoya, who figures to be a key part of the team for the foreseeable future, as well as Mix Diskerud and Julian Green, fresh off his goal against Belgium. Joe Corona is another familiar name after being on the 30-man preliminary roster, as is Brek Shea, who has always been a player Klinsmann favors. Both Corono and Shea are young and talented enough to become consistent contributors to the national team in the years to come. Meanwhile, two newcomers in the midfield are Emerson Hyndman and Alfredo Morales. Hyndman is the youngest player on the roster, but the 18-year-old has been part of Fulham‘s starting 11 early in the season. Morales is a German-American who made his international debut against Canada in January 2013.
The forwards on the roster are led by a familiar face in Jozy Altidore, who saw his 2014 World Cup end far too soon. Altidore is healthy again and likely to be a huge part of the national team over the next four years. The other four strikers on the roster are all relatively unfamiliar names in Joe Gyau, Jordan Morris, Rubio Rubin and Bobby Wood, with Wood being the only one of the group with an international cap. Gyau is a member of Borussia Dortmund‘s reserve squad, Morris is a sophomore at Stanford and Rubin plays for Utrecht in Holland‘s top league.
Overall, this is an incredibly young roster, with 14 of the 22 players under the age of 25, including five players on the most recent World Cup roster. By doing so, Klinsmann is wasting no time in giving young players an opportunity, as he tries to form a nucleus that can carry the U.S. through the next four years. This friendly is just the first of many steps that will ultimately lead to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but this roster provides a glimpse into who Klinsmann believes could be important players for the U.S. over the next four years.