Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
On Thursday, the roster for the upcoming five-game stretch of matches, which includes three World Cup Qualifiers, was released. Jurgen Klinsmann named 26 players, and it’s a list full of big guns and veterans, but there were some interesting inclusions, as well as a few noteworthy names left off the list.
Klinsmann is under no illusions about the importance of the games ahead. With two of the three WCQ games at home, this is an opportunity to pick up precious points, and many of the names on the roster are familiar.
Both Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, who stepped in ably for Howard in the last set of games, will be there. In defense, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, and Omar Gonzalez are included. DaMarcus Beasley is also listed as a defender after his nigh-heroic stand-in at left back against Mexico and Costa Rica, but natural left backs Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo also make the team.
In midfield, the usual suspects—Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, Danny Williams, and Graham Zusi—are all there. And up front there are no surprises, with an in-form Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey leading the list, alongside Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez, and Terrence Boyd.
The exciting inclusions are in midfield. First, Brad Davis and Sacha Kljestan both make the roster. Davis seems to have made an impression on Klinsmann, as he was one of the few to survive the cut from last winter’s camp and get on the field with the rest of the senior squad during games that count. Kljestan appears to be continuing his renaissance with the national team, which is encouraging, given the relative lack of playmakers otherwise included.
Second, a couple of young players that haven’t seen much time in the national team picture of late make returns: Joe Corona and Brek Shea. Shea’s inclusion is especially surprising, considering how little playing time he has seen since his move to Stoke City in the English Premier League. Shea, however, is something of a pet for Klinsmann, and certainly has the capacity to be electric when in form.
The biggest name on the list, though, is Stuart Holden. Three years ago, Holden was one of the most exciting American prospects. Signed by Bolton Wanderers, then of the English Premier League, in January of 2010, Holden went on to be named Bolton’s Player of the Season in 2010–11. But a series of injuries has kept him mostly inactive since then, with Holden only resuming regular play in January of this year. It’s certainly encouraging to see him back and playing again, and a call-up from Klinsmann is a wonderful gesture, but it would be a surprise to see him play in the qualifiers. He may see time during the pre-qualifier friendlies against Belgium (May 29) or Germany (June 2).
Who’s not here?
In defense, neither Timmy Chandler nor Steve Cherundolo are fit. Cherundolo has been playing again for his club team, Hannover, but is not deemed fit enough for national team duty, which is a shame. His leadership, as well as his play, have been greatly missed in the U.S. back line.
No name looms larger in its absence, though, than Landon Donovan’s. Donovan, of course, famously “took some time off” during the MLS off-season, needing to recharge his batteries. He didn’t retire, just said he needed a break. Returned recently to the LA Galaxy, Donovan has looked rejuvenated by his sabbatical, as Union fans are only too aware (he scored one and assisted two others in Wednesday game at PPL Park), and has stated his desire to return to the national-team fold.
Donovan’s self-induced exile, however, seems to have irked Jurgen Klinsmann, as Donovan’s absence came at a crucial time for the U.S. That the team weathered the storm without Donovan appears to be immaterial, as a fit and in-form Donovan will not be joining the team this June. However, a call-up for the Gold Cup may be in the offing, and Donovan has said he would accept it if given the chance.
As noted, the team will play five games in June, two friendlies and three qualifiers. The roster named for those games is a very strong one, with few if any weak links. The midfield make-up will always be a question, and who plays right back is up for debate, but with the strikers the team has at its disposal, the U.S. has to feel good about its prospects. PSP will have full previews of the individual games as they come.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (6) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8) : DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (10) : Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5) : Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)