Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Building The 23 - USMNT 3.0 for 2014 World Cup

For those that forgot, the United States was drawn into the "Group of Death" with Germany, Ghana, and Portugal.  As I said in that post, Building The 23 for the USMNT is similar to what I do with Building The 53 for the Green Bay Packers, Building The 25 for the Milwaukee Brewers, and Building The 15 for the Milwaukee Bucks.  I gave my first and second looks at the 23 players I thought USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann would take to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Yesterday, Klinsman named his provisional 30-man roster that will have to be trimmed to 23 by June 2nd.

Traditionally the breakdown of The 23 is 3 goalkeepers, 8 defenders, 8 midfielders, and 4 strikers.  Besides goalkeeper, some of the players drawn into defense or up front could also slide into the midfielder so those are not hard and fast numbers.  Here are my updated thoughts about the players Klinsmann should select for The 23.

Goalkeepers on 30-man & 23-man (3): Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and Nick Rimando.
Starter: Tim Howard
Analysis: Absent an injury to one of the three goalkeepers, the USMNT is all set at goalkeeper.

Defenders on 30-man (11): DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Michael Parkhurst, and DeAndre Yedlin
Defenders on 23-man (8): DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, and Fabian Johnson
Dropped (1): Clarence Goodson
Added (1): Timmy Chandler
Starters: DaMarcus Beasley (LB), Matt Besler (CB), Geoff Cameron (CB), and Fabian Johnson (RB)
Analysis: The USMNT has a ton of quality options across the back four.  I am not as worried about the outside backs because those spots seem borderline interchangeable but I am starting to worry about the two central defender spots because continuity is key.  Thus Klinsman needs to settle on a healthy pairing soon to give them time to build the chemistry necessary to man what could be the the two most important positions on the pitch for the USMNT at the 2014 World Cup.

Midfielders on 30-man (10): Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Joe Corona, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Maurice Edu, Julian Green, Jermaine Jones, and Graham Zusi
Midfielders on 23-man (8): Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Julian Green, Jermaine Jones, and Graham Zusi
Dropped (1): Landon Donovan* (previously treated as midfielder but now treated as forward
Added (1): Alejandro Bedoya
Starters: Brad Davis (LM), Kyle Beckerman (CM), Michael Bradley (CM), and Graham Zusi (RW)
Analysis: I started Beckerman over Jones despite Klinsman's affinity for Jones because that gives Klinsman the option to field two proper wingers.  Zusi deserves to start on the right side, which left the winger spot open.  I decided to give Davis the spot but the left winger spot is probably the least settled in the starting eleven so look for Klinsman to try a number of players in that spot, including possibly moving Beasley up from left back, Klinsman can find a suitable replacement for Beasley at left back.

Forwards on 30-man (6): Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Aron Johannsson, and Chris Wondolowski
Forwards on 23-man (4): Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Aaron Johnannson
Dropped (1): Chris Wondolowski
Added (1): Landon Donovan* (previously treated as midfielder)
Starters: Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey
Analysis: Eddie Johnson's goal against Mexico last September was the goal that secured the USMNT's spot in the 2014 World Cup.  For the third World Cup in a row the player that scored the goal to clinch the USMNT's spot in the World Cup (Steve Ralston against Mexico in September of 2005 and Conor Casey at Honduras in October of 2009) will not be on The 23 at the World Cup for the United States.  With Johnson no longer in the running for a spot on The 23 that leaves six guys fighting for four spots.  Interestingly Donovan is characterized as a forward instead of a midfielder.  The fourth striker spot likely comes down to Donovan and Wondolowski given that Altidore, Dempsey, and Johannson look like locks.  Since Donovan is the most successful player in USMNT history, I would give him the spot ahead of Wondolowski but it only matters what Klinsman and his assistants think come early June.

The USMNT play three exhibition games as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  The USMNT's first match is against Azerbaijan at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on May 27nd followed by a match against Turkey at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on June 1st and finally a match against Nigeria at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. on June 7th. Klinsman must submit his final 23-man roster following the USMNT's match against Turkey, at the latest.  Make sure to check back following that announcement by Klinsman for my initial thoughts on The 23.

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