Picking a Lineup of 23

Jürgen Klinsmann, head coach of the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT), has named his 30-man preliminary roster for the 2014 World Cup this summer. The final print-out of tickets to Brazil will be handed-out June 2nd for 23 lucky gentlemen men who will receive the honor to don the Red, White & Blue on the biggest soccer/footballing stage in the world.

The list is a dynamic collection of past World Cup stand-outs, familiar MLS veterans and a small group of European-based youngsters who will surely guide the USMNT the next several years. Here is the breakdown of the roster, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (11): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)

MIDFIELDERS (10):
Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS (6):
Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

There are an infinite number of variables that will play out in Brazil with an infinite number of potential results, actions and reactions. Is this roster perfect? Depends on who is answering. Were there a couple players I wished were given a shot at training with the USMNT for the past couple years? Yes, but it’s too late now.

At this point, the most critical question that should be asked is whether there is a combination of 11-16 players who will start and/or serve as super-subs for those moments when playing Ghana, Portugal and Germany when the U.S will have their backs against the wall with multiple goals needed in a 22-minute span after going down 2-nil in the 68′. Or maybe a star player will go down with a surprise injury. Can someone make a name for himself and for the team in a situation of desperation? Fortunately for American fans, Coach Klinsmann has shown his proficiency and an expertise for “the super-sub” during several games the past couple years with surprisingly fast, fantastic results.

But how will these super-subs fare against super competition?

Without knowing the final 23-man roster, it’s difficult to begin examining on-field formations. There will a post with this analysis after the final roster is named in early June.

For now, it’s appropriate to analyze this roster. First off, was it a good idea to leave off Eddie Johnson? Yes. And yes again. In fact, thank you Jürgen Klinsmann.

Looking at the names above, it’s a legitimate inquiry to wonder what kind of team Klinsmann wants in Brazil. Filled with predictable, safe and known entities? Open and unpredictable with a bevy of next-generation USMNT leaders? Or a combination in-between? He’s got a few World Cup freshman in Mix Diskerud (23), Aron Johannsson (23), Terrence Boyd (23) and Julian Green (18) who could really shake the USMNT’s cherry tree of founding principles with dynamic, fearless play. Are either of them in or near their prime? No. But there is something about talented freshman, regardless of sport, where they play just because they want to have fun without backing down to anybody. They’ll try things. They’ll experiment with a move here and there, a clever combination play here and there or with shots that get past the goalkeeper here and there.

When you’re competing against world-class talent and world-class coaching, the element of surprise cannot be underestimated.

Even if you don’t see it coming.

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Posted on May 13, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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