Jurgen Klinsmann went on ESPN today to announce the roster for what he later called the, “biggest game of 2013,” in reference to his team’s World Cup Qualifier September 6, in Costa Rica.
Klinsmann spoke via conference call with the U.S. soccer media shortly after announcing the 23 man roster for the Costa Rica match and the game versus Mexico four days later in Columbus, Ohio.
The United States sit comfortably on top of the Hex, or World Cup Qualifying group, a fact that Klinsmann acknowledged during the media session. “If we can get three points in Costa Rica, we are almost there in Brazil,” the coach said.
The biggest surprise omission from Klinsmann’s squad was center back Clarence Goodson, who was left out in favor of newcomer John Brooks and Michael Orozco. Brooks is the 20 year old German-American who made his U.S. debut in Sarajevo in the Americans 4-3 comeback friendly win against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Brooks is a regular starter for Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin and while he was solid in his USMNT debut, this move looks like a move for the future. A WCQ bow would cap tie the talented Brooks, who Klinsmann rates as, “a very, very special player coming through the ranks.” Orozco was teamed with Goodson in the Gold Cup, although Goodson was preferred to him by Klinsmann when Matt Besler arrived in U.S. camp, likely leaving Goodson puzzled over this reversal in fortune.
Sacha Kljestan was also left out, despite turning in good work in Sarajevo, as well as performing well for his club side, Belgian powers Anderlecht. Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya and Kyle Beckerman were selected for midfield reserve roles instead.
The rest of the roster was fairly predictable. No one could be shocked at the return of Landon Donovan to the “A” team, certainly not after his dominant Gold Cup performance. Brooks and fellow hyphenated newcomer, Icelandic-American Aron Johannsson, were called in, as expected. Of his new striker Johannsson, Klinsmann said, “ he can surprise a lot of opponents.”
Klinsmann noted that veteran fullback Steve Cherundolo, “absolutely has a chance,” to get back into the team despite his ongoing injury concerns. “The door is always open for Stevie,” Klinsmann concluded.
In answering a question on Fabian Johnson’s best position; Klinsmann said it is wing midfield for now; the coach made it clear that DaMarcus Beasley is no stop gap as a fullback.
“Beas is set in the left back role, with Fabian in front of him,” the coach stated. Klinsmann also pointed out that Fabian Johnson can play either wing and can also be used at fullback, on either side of the field.
Klinsmann was less clear about where he might use Donovan, calling Donovan, “a really, really good option.” If, in fact Fabian Johnson is set on the left side of the midfield, Donovan would probably have to beat out Graham Zusi on the opposite flank or be content with a supersub role.
Whoever starts, as Klinsmann alluded a win over Costa Rica would all but punch the USMNT ticket to Brazil 2014, where the real work begins.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla) MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC) –