The U.S. and Mexico played out a highly entertaining 2-2 draw on Wednesday evening, and the match undoubtedly gave U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann plenty to think about. In what was the team's final game before Klinsmann names his 30-man roster for May camp, which will be cut down to the 23-man roster for the World Cup, let's take a look at six players whose stock changed after facing El Tri.
Chris Wondolowski: There are plenty of reasons to believe Wondo isn't quite cut out for the international level, but then he just keeps, you know, scoring goals. With another against Mexico, the Earthquakes striker has now scored nine in his last 10 matches for the USA. More importantly, after racking up a number of those goals against CONCACAF minnows in friendlies and the Gold Cup this summer, Wondo has now scored three in the USA's last two friendlies against Korea and Mexico – both of which are World Cup bound. He has a striker's instinct that nobody else in the player pool does, and it could take him to Brazil.
Michael Parkhurst: The Columbus Crew man goes about his job quietly, but his positioning and defensive instincts make him one of the more reliable members of the USA defense. Crucially for his chances of making the World Cup squad, Parkhurst is adept playing any position along the back line. His versatility means that Klinsmann could theoretically put Parkhurst on the team in place of two players, opening up another spot in midfield or attack.
Kyle Beckerman: At 31 years old, the Real Salt Lake midfielder is in the best form of his career. What seemed unthinkable not too far back now seems attainable: a starting position at the World Cup. Beckerman, quite simply, does his job. He breaks up attacks, wins possession and distributes the ball with relative ease. Against Mexico, Beckerman made his case not only with his own play, but with the residual effect it had on Michael Bradley. Free from many of the defensive responsibilities he takes on when partnering Jermaine Jones, Bradley got forward to devastating effect, particularly in the first half. Jones is still the starter at center midfield, but Beckerman has at least put himself in that conversation.
DeAndre Yedlin: The highly promising Sounders right back had a rough start to his U.S. national team career with his cameo against Korea, but showed his hype is justified in his 20 minutes against El Tri. His pace and energy on the right flank is hugely troublesome for opposing defenses, and his end product is improving as well. He's probably still on the outside looking in for a roster spot, but he should at least be among the 30 players Klinsmann calls in May.
Omar Gonzalez: It isn't just Omar's well-documented tendency to switch off at times — which he displayed again on Mexico's two goals — it's also the ease at which opposing attackers glide past him when he's anywhere away from the middle of the box. The Galaxy center back is big, strong and great in the air, but his performance against Mexico was no less than shocking, and must leave Klinsmann wondering if he's the best choice to partner Matt Besler in Brazil. The U.S. boss admitted as much after the game, saying the center back competition is open. One wonders if such a declaration would have been made had Gonzalez turned in a positive performance.
Julian Green: The 18-year-old's stock going down isn't necessarily an indictment of him as a soccer player, it's more a case of reality and expectations meeting somewhere in the middle. Green is highly inexperienced and it showed against El Tri. He got lost defensively for Mexico's second goal and gave the ball away cheaply a number of times. Green will almost certainly be on the 30-man roster in May, and Klinsmann may have even promised him a World Cup spot to ensure he would file his one-time switch to represent the USA. Unless he shows far more composure in the team's three send-off series friendlies though, Green will likely have a permanent spot on the bench in Brazil.
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- Jurgen Klinsmann
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