If I’ve said it once (which I have), then I’ve said it a thousand times (more like a dozen): Jürgen Klinsmann doesn’t exactly do lineup consistency. Whatever the stat is at this point, the theme is very clear in that regard. When the USMNT takes the field in Sarajevo on August 14 it will be no different, as a number of fresh faces — especially among the forward corps — will join some stalwarts from the recent World Cup Qualifiers, likely assuring that another game will go by with a different lineup.
To be frank, this type of game leads to unique player choices anyway. FIFA’s August friendly date comes as many of Europe’s leagues are in their early weeks or just about to begin, as is the case with the Premier League, which kicks off just days later. Players who have spent the whole summer with the national team or just made a major move tend to be left behind. Not to mention, the reward of just being in camp that accompanied players like Jack McInerney at the Gold Cup doesn’t really apply with just a couple of days together. Instead, you get a strange mix of new blood working its way into the equation while a skeletal version of the “A Team” moves around it.
Last year, this friendly date netted a famous victory against Mexico in Azteca (Thanks Mike!) with another mixed bag of talent. There will be no real gain from a victoria over Bosnia and Herzegovina, just a winning streak to preserve. For what it’s worth, which might be kind of a lot, Bosnia appears to have brought its top talent for the game. Though, to be honest, outside of the likes of Edin Dzeko, Asmir Begovic or Miralem Pjanic, I really couldn’t tell an “A Team” midfielder from a third-rate cellist in the Sarajevo philharmonic. That said, it will be a good test for an apparently on the rise USMNT, as Bosnia ranks at No. 13 in the FIFA rankings — for whatever those are worth — and sits comfortably atop its qualifying group for Brazil 2014.
When Klinsmann officially names his roster, likely on Monday, he’ll know that whomever he calls in will have a tough task ahead. In the days and weeks after the Gold Cup final, clues have slowly been leaked out. As it stands, there have been approximately 13 names confirmed for the match, with some making their first appearance — John Anthony Brooks and Aron Johannsson — and others picking up right where they left off — Eddie Johnson and Joe Corona, to name two.
Though the squad might be a little bit smaller than in other camps — the roster capped at 20 last year — there is still some wiggle room to be had. So who might Klinsmann call in for this World Cup-quality friendly?
BOLD = Reported/Confirmed
Everything else? Well, that’s just my guess.
Goalkeepers (2): Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)
Normally, three goalkeepers is the norm, but I don’t see a third getting on this roster with so little practice time. This would seem especially true with Nick Rimando having spent much of his summer away from Salt Lake City and others also missing significant time. Why fly them across the world to sit on the bench and fly right home? Could a young guy like Cody Cropper or even a former fringe guy like David Yelldell get a call in? Sure, but it’s unlikely.
Defenders (7): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
Four players will start and a few others will probably get some time, but there is really only one story here: John Anthony Brooks. The indications that the towering center back has accepted the call-up could be potentially huge, and a great sign for the future. With Cameron already in for the game, it’s unlikely three more center backs will be called in alongside Brooks — even with Cameron excelling in midfield last time out — meaning one of the Besler, Gonzalez, Goodson will have to miss out. I could see them all sit this one out, but with enough of the first team, it probably won’t happen that way. Instead, it will probably be Gonzalez left to question his place in the side going forward. Where I see things really being shaken up is at left back, with Fabian Johnson given a shot and DaMarcus Beasley left home this time.
Midfielders (7): Michael Bradley (AS Roma), Joe Corona (Tijuana), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (RSC Anderlecht), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt 04), Danny Williams (Reading)
With Clint Dempsey officially being left home in Seattle (how weird is that to say, huh?), the real questions is whether Donovan will step into his spot or play in a position that would allow the duo to play together in the future. Elsewhere, it could be interesting to see what Alfredo Morales can bring at this point in his career, even if there currently is a glut of talent at his position. Corona and Kjlestan can also take this game to make a case for a major role on this team heading to Brazil. Other than that, it reads like a list of classic Klinsmann regulars.
Forwards (4): Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich)
As long as you don’t count Donovan as a forward, it looks like this groups is already pretty set in stone. Eddie Johnson would probably start if this was a competitive game, but it really could be any of the four. What will really be interesting is how the other three are worked in, especially since you assume Klinsmann will want to see Johannsson and Wood in action in his system.
Who do you think will get called in? Any snubs I left out or players included that you think will be left home? Let us know in the comments.