Shortly before the United States kicked off against Germany on Wednesday USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled the 35 man provisional roster that will form the basis for the final Gold Cup roster. The 35 man roster will be trimmed down to 23, with the caveat that after the group stages you can make six changes to your roster, however all six players must have been named to the provisional roster.
You’d have to be a fool to try and accurately predict a Jurgen Klinsmann roster seeing as when most men would zig, Klinsmann tends to zag which is how we ended up with Bobby Wood scoring two game winners in the past week. Well if it’s a fool you need, then I’m glad I could be of service.
So let’s get to predicting the final roster, the guys who I think will make it will be in bold with the others on the provisional roster in italics
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando, William Yarbrough: Bill Hamid
This one is a straightforward group. Guzan has already been appointed the No. 1, while Rimando and Yarbrough are the only other two goalkeepers who have gotten playing time this calendar year. Bill Hamid has been having a solid MLS season, but he’s really only there as insurance in case something happens to one of the other keepers.
Defenders: John Brooks, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, DeAndre Yedlin, DeMarcus Beasley, Brek Shea, Timmy Chandler, Tim Ream: Ventura Alvarado, Michael Orozco, Brad Evans, Greg Garza
Like I said, when most men zig, Jurgen Klinsmann zags, so if you want to predict who he’s going to take you need to try and think like Klinsmann, and that’s why I’m thinking Tim Ream makes the cut. Ream hasn’t featured much for the USMNT lately, but had a great year at Bolton and deserves to be back in the mix. Furthermore, both Michael Orozco and Ventura Alvarado were given chances to win a spot on this team and both of them turned in rather unimpressive performances against Holland and Germany, though if it were to go to one of them I’d put my money on Alvarado.
The fullbacks is where it gets tricky. I don’t think Chandler or Brek Shea deserve to be here (Chandler maybe, but certainly not Shea) but both of them are Klinsmann favorites (Chandler made the 2014 World Cup team but didn’t play) and Klinsmann seems really determined to make Brek Shea a thing. I could see Shea being left off simply because Klinsmann called DeMarcus Beasley out of retirement, which means he’ll be the starting left back since that’s not a move you make unless you’re planning on playing him. The only other questions left are will Matt Besler or John Brooks get to start alongside Omar Gonzalez and who will start at right back. Chandler? Yedlin? Fabian Johnson (who’s listed as a midfielder, though that doesn’t matter as Yedlin will likely play more midfield then as a defender)?
Midfielders; Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Danny Williams, Mix Diskerud, Fabian Johnson, Alfredo Morales, Gyasi Zardes: Lee Nguyen, Perry Kitchen, Joe Carona, Brad Davis,
The midfield is far more straightforward. Ale Bedoya returns to the fold after missing the previous two games due to injury, though it’ll be interesting to see if he starts/where he’ll play. I haven’t been impressed with Alfredo Morales, but he seems to be a Klinsmann favorite and I think he gets the nod due to that and the fact that the other names are just really unimpressive (Lee Nguyen… kill me).
I didn’t think Danny Williams was bad against the Netherlands or Germany, but I also didn’t think he was that great. What I did think was that he showed us exactly how important Kyle Beckerman is to this team, which is a problem going forward as Beckerman is getting up there in age. A player like Beckerman allows guys like Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud more freedom to get forward since he’ll be able to cover for them. Having Beckerman is a key to the US success, but they need another player like him who can take over for him. If that can’t be Danny Williams then it wouldn’t shock me to see Perry Kitchen get the spot, but I’m not expecting it.
Forwards: Aron Johannsson, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Juan Agudelo: Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon
This is where it gets interesting. Jozy Altidore has been out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury and is not sure if he’ll be fit in time for the group stages. I think the US will play it safe and leave Altidore out to ensure he’s fully fit for the knockout stage. So the question becomes who gets that spot?
I’m going with Agudelo who’s done a great job to play himself back into the fold and deserves the chance, though the knockout stages would be perfect for Wondo since scoring against lesser CONCACAF teams is pretty much his thing. Meanwhile Jordan Morris has become both a Klinsmann and fan favorite so it’s hard to see him being left off.
Notable players left out: Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, Geoff Cameron, Rubio Rubin, Emerson Hyndmann, Julian Green, Gideon Zelalem
Considering Klinsmann’s affinity for mixing veterans with young players, fans were pretty surprised to see some of these players left off, though upon further review it makes sense.
Jermaine Jones was included on the original roster for the two friendlies and would have been here if not for a groin injury, it was unclear how long he’d be out, now it’s clear. For Cameron and Zusi it’s simply a matter of form; they’ve had a dip in form and other players have risen up. Klinsmann is sending them a message that they need to either find their game or this team will move on without them.
Meanwhile, fans were probably expecting to see some of the guys like Rubin, Hyndmann, Green, and Zelalem. The former three have all made appearances for the senior side in the past year and Zelalem just became the latest high profile duel national to declare his allegiances to the US, and many fans were hoping he’d get cup tied in this tournament.
However it makes sense that all these players were left off as not only do they all play for European clubs, but they all have already played in a summer tournament, with Rubin, Hyndmann, and Zelalem playing in the U20 World Cup and Green playing in the Toulon tournament with the U23’s. With the European pre-season starting in July it would be beyond irresponsible to have these players finish their seasons in May, play in a tournament in June and then another one in July. For guys like Jordan Morris (who also played in Toulon, as well as the two friendlies against the Netherland and Germany) it’s not a big deal as he still plays in the NCAA which finished their season in December, and Jurgen Klinsmann could care less about NCAA Soccer.