With the World Cup set to start in a little over a month, yesterday proved to be the day that most Fifa teams would trim their world cup list from 100's of potential players down to a mere 30. Each team is allowed to bring 23 players to the world cup, but those 23 do not need to be submitted until June 2. Now there are few things to note from Klinnsman decisions on narrowing the field.
The USA is set in Goal:
The fact of the matter is that the US only brought 3 keepers to camp because FIFA told them 2. The USA has Howard as a number 1 who could start for a number of world cup teams. The USA also has the very talented and capable Brad Guzan backing him up. This top 2 combination is probably in the top 5 in the world cup with out much exaggerating. The sad fact is that our number 3 Rimando probably could still start for some teams at this world cup, and, unless something goes terribly wrong. He will probably not even dress for this world cup.
A lot of news was made of the fact that Landon Donovan was listed as a forward rather than a midfielder. Now there shouldn't be too much read into this (I.E. Donovan will be starting up top or is ineligible to play in the midfield) but this distinction may mean that we will see Donovan more in a reserve role as to starting all of the games in Brazil. I love Donovan, but it is not hard to see his heart is not in the game as much as it once was. He didn't start the Mexico friendly in April simply because Klinnsman didn't think he was working hard enough in training. Now, Donovan probably isn't the same guy he was 4 years ago in terms of being physically fit, but he could still go 90 if asked. The one positive if he falls into a bench role is that he can provide a creative spark which can be big late in the game... plus he is known for late game heroics. Also, listing Donovan at Forward may keep another Forward off the plane to Brazil.
The lesser noted position listing was Fabian Johnson listed in Defense rather than midfield. Johnson has played almost exclusively at left mid for the last 2 years. He is a defender for his club and is probably the best leftback we have. But, he also is very dangerous getting forward. While many are probably happy to see him listed in the back, it may shake up the starting lineup we saw in qualifying quite a bit.
I can probably count on 1 hand the number of players that are locked into a single position outside of the Goalkeepers on the roster. The defense is loaded down with guys that can conceivably play 2 or more spots in the back with 5 that could easily step into a midfield role as well. Similarly there are 3 out and out strikers listed as forwards with the 3 others being able to fill in very capably in the midfield. Klinnsman will have options regardless when he goes to Brazil so that in the case he wants to really mix things up against a certain opponent, he definitely will have a team that can do that.
There were a number of players in the pool for the roster that were on the bubble of making the 30 or 23 man rosters. The first big bubble burst came yesterday with Eddie Johnson failing to earn a spot. While he was great in qualification, there are several guys who play the same role as him on a roster that are better at multiple positions or in better form (Johnson is goalless in 8 games in the MLS). While there are a handful of guys that are, barring something crazy happening, are on the outside looking in. There are a couple guys at each position vying for a single spot.
At forward, Chris Wondolowski and Terrance Boyd seem to be competing to be Jozy Altidore's back up. Not to take anything away from either of those guys, but neither is likely to start, but both has a good form of putting goals in the back of the net. Knowing the formations that Klinnsman likes to run out, there is probably only room for 1 on the 23 man roster.
Midfielders Edu, Bedoya, Davis, and Corona could all potentially not make the cut. All of them bring different components to the table, so how other positions shake out could decide who out of this group goes to brazil moreso than how they look in camp because not much separates most of these guys.
In the back, Timmy Chandler has been absent from the team for over a year, so he will definitely have to earn his way on the plane, but has the talent to do so. Yedlin at only 20 with very few caps has to be seen as on the outside looking in at this point in camp. And Brad Evans, a natural midfielder, may prove to be out of his league playing right back against the top talent, especially if either Yedlin or Chandler have a good camp, it may be at his expense. John Brooks is young and talented, but is prone to mental lapses, given the strengths of the other Central defenders, Brooks will really have to impress to displace one of them... but he has the talent to do so.
The USA camp opens Wednesday at Stanford University. It should be interesting to see who makes the cup and dons the Red White and Blue down in Brazil.
Thanks for reading,
-T.O. signing out