After a period of intense action surrounding the USMNT, rife with historic qualifiers and not unwarranted concerns over team chemistry — the changing of the guard was apparently over. Omar Gonzalez thrust himself to the top of the team sheet, Matt Besler proved himself a valuable squad member and Clint Dempsey had taken to the captain’s armband with surprising aplomb. But this being the USMNT, nothing is ever set in stone.
In all honestly, not a whole lot has changed since last time we put together our list of the 23 men Jürgen Klinsmann will hand a plane ticket to Brazil next summer. There have been no qualifiers, no camps and, surprisingly, very little drama. You didn’t think that would mean we wouldn’t want to shake things up, did you?
Klinsmann always says consistent playing time for club teams, and we see no reason not to believe him. For that reason, Version 2.0 of 23 for 2013 will send not one, but two Brazil hopefuls to their couches instead of airport. Get your act together, or prepare to feel the shame — of being left off our speculative list.
As we discussed in our latest podcast, this team is constructed with a strong focal point in the midfield. Barring injury or some sadly inevitable card trouble, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones are locks to start and go 90 whenever possible. For much of his tenure, this fulcrum has forced Klinsmann to move Danny Williams — a close second to Bill Bradley and Sacha Kjlestan for strangest USMNT coach-player man crush — around to get him on the field. Well, no Williams hardly sees the field at Hoffenheim anymore and appears destined to languish in the German Second Division. Not playing for a team on the decline at a position that is stacked at the national team level? That equals a quick ticket out of our team.
Unfortunately,the same fate befalls Brek Shea, whose career continues a bizarre path. Not too long ago he was linked with the likes of Barcelona — during silliest of silly season, but still. When he finally moved to Stoke City in January, he could hardly get off the bench. We can hope it’s injury related, but with Shea, you just cant be sure.
Stepping in are two slightly different players who have been around the USMNT for a little bit longer: Benny Feilhaber and DaMarcus Beasley. Both have rediscovered form that many thought was gone forever. Feilhaber provides creativity, although in a more refined way than Shea, while Beasley provides leadership and width and can even play left back in a pinch — though an extended spell might actually drive me insane.
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (7): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana), Timothy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brøndby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
Midfielders (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (AS Roma), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
Dropped: Brek Shea (Stoke City), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
What do you think of our changes? Should Feilhaber and Beasley be there? Do you think Williams or Shea will end up making the squad? Let us know in the comments.