Klinsmann chooses experience over youth for U.S. roster against Mexico

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Leander Schaerlaeckens
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United States men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has whittled his 35-man preliminary roster down to the 23 who will be available in the upcoming clash with archrivals Mexico. The all-important Oct. 10 grudge match in Pasadena, Calif. – aka CONCACAF Cup – is a one-game playoff for a spot at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

Klinsmann opted for a veteran roster, including all 10 of the players who were 30 or older on the preliminary roster and cutting many of the younger names.

"It's a one-off, and a one-off always has its own dynamics and that's why you need a roster of 23 guys where you really feel as a coach that in this one specific opportunity that they are the right ones to get the job done," Klinsmann said in a statement. "That's why this roster is obviously full of experience. There are a lot of players that experienced different challenges over their careers and managed them and bring now their experience into this one-off clash against Mexico."

While defender Greg Garza and forward Jordan Morris had already been taken out of the running because of an injury and Olympic qualifying duty with the Under-23 national team, respectively, there were a few surprises.

Omar Gonzalez's poor form with the L.A. Galaxy cost him a roster spot. (AP Photo)
Omar Gonzalez's poor form with the L.A. Galaxy cost him a roster spot. (AP Photo)

Defender Omar Gonzalez, who had played well at the World Cup, was left home while Brad Evans, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream and Jonathan Spector made the team, even though all of them featured significantly less over the last year. Gonzalez's sagging club form with the Los Angeles Galaxy seems to have cost him his place.

Forward Bobby Wood lost his spot to veteran Chris Wondolowski, in spite of scoring four goals for Union Berlin in the first two months of the season. Wood's omission may well have been for his maddeningly mercurial form with the national team.

"Every time you have to cut down a roster like now from 35 to 23, there are some players that do not make it and it looks like they are not good enough, which is not the case," Klinsmann said. "The competition is very, very tight. Not having Omar Gonzalez or Mix Diskerud on this roster, for example, is not because they are not good enough, it's just because you see another player that is better in their position right now in this specific moment.

"Those are always tough decisions that a coach has to make, and we believe everyone in that roster will get the job done."

Defender John Brooks and forward Aron Johannsson, both of whom were strong candidates to start, were scratches because of injury.

"Obviously it's a specific moment now, and in that moment John Brooks is not 100 percent; Aron Johannsson is not 100 percent. Greg Garza actually had surgery a few weeks ago," Klinsmann said. "There are always players that you'd love to have be a part of games like this that are just not there. It's unfortunate for them, but it is reality."

Klinsmann explained that he hopes to leverage the urgency his veterans will feel with their time on the national team slowly running out. "I think it's really an interesting moment now because you have a core group of players that are kind of running out of time and I just want them to just embrace that moment," he said. "We're going to play for a trophy. We're going to play for a trip to Russia in 2017, and maybe you're not there anymore for that because you are now 32 or 33.

"We have players on our roster that have done so much for the national team program, but that are also not getting any younger," Klinsmann continued. "All these guys in their thirties, they need to realize, 'You know what? I may not be getting these opportunities anymore. This is it. We better take that trophy.' However it looks like, we've got to go and get this thing."

GOALKEEPERS

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).

Player cut: Bill Hamid (D.C. United).

DEFENDERS

Ventura Alvarado (Club America), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City).

Players cut: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy).

MIDFIELDERS

Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).

Players cut: Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution).

FORWARDS

Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy).

Players cut: Alan Gordon (Los Angeles Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Jordan Morris (Stanford University), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin).

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.