The United States announced their 23-man roster for the CONCACAF Cup final against Mexico to be played October 10 at the Rose Bowl Saturday. It was a pretty straightforward selection for U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who picked a veteran heavy side as the U.S. attempts to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
Here is the squad per U.S. Soccer:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Fabian Johnson, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Jonathan Spector
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, DeAndre Yedlin, Graham Zusi
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski, Gyasi Zardes
It’s hard to say there are any snubs from Klinsmann’s selection. This is a must-win game and he’s turning to the old guard to do so. The only noticeable absences are Omar Gonzalez and Mix Diskerud, who have both been very much in the picture throughout the past year and were left off due to poor recent form.
Even though the USMNT has a friendly the following Tuesday against Costa Rica, this time it’s only about one game. And when it’s only about one game, the only thing that matters is the starting XI and the three impact players who will come off the bench.
There aren’t many questions regarding who will start this match. Klinsmann has already said DaMarcus Beasley will start at left back and Fabian Johnson will start at right back. Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are virtual locks, leaving Wondolowski as a potential impact sub off the bench.
Klinsmann has already handed the No. 1 jersey to Brad Guzan, despite Guzan playing horrifically in this summer’s Gold Cup and doing nothing to actually “earn” his number one status other than being available over the past year.
Michael Bradley is the captain of the team, meaning he’ll be on the field and Klinsmann has already said if Jermaine Jones is fit, he’ll be on the field as well. That’s seven of the 11 spots already taken care of. That leaves two midfield spots and the two center backs.
It’ll be interesting to see if Klinsmann opts to play Kyle Beckerman along with Bradley and Jones (which was his plan for the 2014 World Cup). With Dempsey playing as a second striker, this leaves only one natural winger.
While there is risk there, having Beckerman on the field allows Jones and Bradley to play with more freedom, where both of them are at their best. Playing a two-man midfield pair has never really produced positive results for the duo. That leaves the one winger, which will likely be Ale Bedoya, but could be Gyasi Zardes whose form this year has been terrific.
The biggest question is who will get the call at center back for the U.S. With Klinsmann favorite John Brooks missing due to injury, the spot is truly up for grabs. Ventura Alvarado is around but Klinsmann seems to prefer him only alongside Brooks.
The odds are Klinsmann will revert to his first choice center back from the 2014 World Cup, Matt Besler, who historically has played very well against Mexico. With Besler being a left-sided center back, that rules out Tim Ream for the other spot, meaning it’ll likely be between Geoff Cameron and Michael Orozco.
Once those 11 guys are on the field the U.S. have some pretty good options off the bench. DeAndre Yedlin has started getting some playing time for Sunderland and despite being a little inconsistent in a U.S. shirt, he has always been a big time spark coming off the bench. Inserting Yedlin to run wild at the right time could give the U.S. a huge advantage.
Similarly, if Bedoya gets the nod, Zardes’ explosiveness and versatility could also come in handy for the United States. If the U.S. needs a goal, Wondolowski is pretty good against CONCACAF teams and he’s certainly looking for redemption after that miss against Belgium.