The USSF has announced the 23-man roster for the upcoming qualifiers at Costa Rica Sept. 6th and vs. Mexico Sept. 10.
Per USSoccer.com release, the roster includes 11 players from the USMNT's 2013 Gold Cup winning squad as well as a number of MLS players. The USA is 4 points away from clinching a berth in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil according to this tweet from ESPN stats czar Paul Carr.
Let's break down the roster by position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Howard, Guzan, Rimando...right, moving on.
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
Clearly everyone knows the first team defense, Beasley, Omar, Belser and Evans. It's the bench that's a bit puzzling to me. Because in theory it's Castillo, Brooks, Orozco and Cameron, which is fine on paper but F. Johnson is also available at LB and Cameron might also pull CDM duty as well. What happened to Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst all of the sudden? Didn't they just win the Gold Cup? More on this in a bit.
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
I actually like the inclusion of Beckerman here, if you're going to play with 2 CDMs you need to have depth at that spot. Essentially, Joe Corona is swapped of for Landon Donovan but there aren't any real surprises here, but there are a ton of lineup possibilities for the three-man attacking midfield with so many players available. Possible lineup of Donovan LM, Dempsey CAM, Zusi RM would be fun to watch.
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
The only two true strikers in my opinion are Jozy and Johannsson, but that's because EJ's been playing a lot at LM/LW so we'll slot him there for depth. If these five guys all make it to Brazil would that shock anyone?
I really like this roster, though I will say that I am against calling up Brooks and Iceman for the Sept. qualifiers. I would prefer to let the younger players establish themselves at the club level, not keep shuttling them off every 4-5 weeks for national team duty. Brooks and Johannsson are going to get their minutes with the national team, but it shouldn't come at the (possible) expense of club minutes.
I also am not a fan of calling them up for these two games in particular, since Costa Rica and Mexico are the two best teams in the region besides the US. That's why I would've gone with veterans like Goodson, Parkhurst and even Chris Wondolowski and rewarded them for solid Gold Cup performances. If the idea is to cap-tie Brooks and Iceman, then you can do that in October in the final qualifiers, perhaps with Brazil already clinched.
Also, there's a lot of players (8) carrying yellow cards into the Costa Rica game, so there might be some lineup decisions made to keep some of those players safe heading into the Mexico game at Columbus.
Either way, this is a dangerous roster and one that should be able to get at least 4, if not all 6 points starting next Friday in Costa Rica.
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