The World Cup is just six months away, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s announcement on a U.S. World Cup roster is just five months away. That doesn’t seem like much time for anybody new to break into the USA picture, but the upcoming January national team camp will offer several players a golden opportunity to make the kind of impression that could ultimately lead to a ticket to Brazil.
As much as the training camp, which will be split between the USA and Brazil, will feature plenty of familiar faces, Klinsmann is sure to call in some new options, and bring back some players who have played their way into the picture as potential depth options. A majority of the spots on the World Cup roster are spoken for, but there is still more than enough time for a good player to push himself into the picture and give Klinsmann a tough decision to make.
Among the players Klinsmann could bring in is a trio of veterans from the 2010 World Cup team, including two players who didn’t exactly have memorable showings in South Afrlca, but who showed well in MLS this past season and could merit fresh looks.
What will the January camp roster look like? Here is a potential squad we could see:
GOALKEEPERS — Nick Rimando, Sean Johnson, Tally Hall, Bill Hamid
No truly new faces in this group, not that there aren’t some that could merit a look. Colorado’s Clint Irwin played well enough to earn some consideration, but the above foursome are players Klinsmann has shown consistent interest in seeing in camp.
DEFENDERS — Brad Evans, Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Chris Schuler, Clarence Goodson, Seth Sinovic, Chris Klute
With the fullback spots being such an area of concern, Klinsmann needs to look at some new faces and this group has several. Myers and Sinovic combined to form one of the best fullback tandems in MLS and they play in a Sporting Kansas City system well-suited for them transitioning to the national team.
Klute is one of the more intriguing new faces on the national team radar. Athletic and adept at providing good service from the left flank, he has the qualities that merit a longer look from Klinsmann.
Schuler enjoyed one of the stronger finishes to the 2013 season of any defender in MLS, and his combination of imposing size and impressive athleticism make him a center back worth bringing in.
DeAndre Yedlin’s absence from the list might turn some heads, but he is still a pretty raw player who may not quite be ready for the international level. That said, Klinsmann could be tempted to give him a look and see if the speedy fullback could be a quick learner.
MIDFIELDERS — Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, Mix Diskerud, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil, Dillon Powers, Ricardo Clark
Feilhaber makes a lot of sense considering how much Klinsmann has struggled to find playmakers. The 2010 World Cup veteran really looked dangerous in Sporting KC’s system, and his vision and passing touch is something that’s missing in the U.S. player pool.
Luis Gil is a player who may just be 20, but now has two years under his belt as a starter on a top team. There have been rumblings about Mexico being interested in his services, but if Gil gets a call from Klinsmann, it will be because the coach thinks the young player can contribute soon.
Powers enjoyed a Rookie of the Year season, and his box-to-box style makes him a perfect option as depth behind players like Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones. He suffered a concussion late in the 2013 season that forced him to miss several matches, so it’s unclear whether he will be ready to return.
Clark’s name on this list might lead to some scary flashbacks of his play against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, but that was almost four years ago. Clark is coming off a very good season for Houston, one that showed off his attacking qualities as well as his ability to command the middle of the field. He’s definitely worthy of a look from Klinsmann.
FORWARDS — Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski, C.J. Sapong, Robbie Findley
Sapong was a part of the 2012 January camp, and he showed down the stretch for Sporting KC that he can handle being that physical target forward option. He still has some work to do to improve enough to compete on the international level, but Sapong has the physical qualities to earn another look.
Findley’s inclusion on this list will turn some heads, and not for positive reasons, but as much as he was ineffective in the 2010 World Cup, Findley is one of the few intriguing speed forward options in the pool. He remains a real long shot to make it all the way back, but he showed enough with RSL this year to merit a look.
One player who remains in limbo is Juan Agudelo. He’s not on the list because he is expected to make a club move in January, but if his search for a new team is going to drag out, he should absolutely join the USA for at least part of the January camp.
KREIS NYC MOVE TO SPARK CHAIN REACTION
Jason Kreis’ expected switch to New York City FC became official Tuesday night, and the move should set off a chain reaction of coaching moves around the league.
First, RSL assistant C.J. Brown is returning to the club he spent his career playing for and will join Frank Yallop’s staff at the Chicago Fire. Second, New York Red Bulls assistant Robin Fraser is considered the leading candidate to replace Kreis at RSL, with current RSL assistants Miles Joseph and Jeff Cassar expected to join Kreis at NYCFC.
If Fraser does return to RSL, where he spent time as Kreis’ lead assistant before an unsuccessful stint at Chivas USA, he will need to build a coaching staff, which could also lead to some other assistants from around the league moving to join him. Former RSL standout and current scout Andy Williams would also have to be considered a candidate to take on an assistant coaching job.
As for Kreis’ decision to move to NYCFC, we covered that in detail in Monday’s MLS Wrap. One aspect of the move we didn’t touch on was the breaking up of one of the most successful coach-GM tandems in MLS history. After seven years partnering with close friend Garth Lagerwey, Kreis will now be working with NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna, who is inexperienced in the role, which means Kreis will have an even larger responsibility in player personnel issues than he had with RSL, where he and Lagerwey were equally responsible.
MLS COACHING CAROUSEL UPDATE
Reports out of Canada on Tuesday night have suggested that Bob Bradley will not take the Vancouver Whitecaps coaching job. That development, along with Kreis’ hire by NYCFC, means Vancouver’s quest for a high-profile replacement for Martin Rennie has ended futilely.
As of Tuesday night, RSL, Vancouver, FC Dallas and Chivas USA officially have coaching vacancies, while sources tell Goal USA that Montreal has parted ways with Marco Schallibaum, bringing the total to five coaching vacancies with the MLS Draft just a month away.
RETIREMENTS GALORE IN MLS
A generation of MLS players have picked this week to call it a career, and it’s a pretty impressive and growing list.
Sporting KC captain Jimmy Nielsen’s retirement wasn’t much of a surprise after he won MLS Cup, but he was quickly joined by Pablo Mastroeni, while New England goalkeeper Matt Reis is expected to do the same Wednesday.
That group joined the already stocked list that included Brian Ching, Ramiro Corrales, Chris Albright and Lee Young-Pyo.
The NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks have parted ways with coach Brian Haynes, doing so a month after Haynes was named NASL Coach of the Year. Eric Wynalda has been rumored as a potential replacement. (Haynes replaced Wynalda after Wynalda’s TV commitments kept him from being able to keep the Atlanta job.)
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