United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann has called 23 players up the USMNT for the upcoming friendly matches against Cuba and New Zealand as the US prepares to enter the final Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Klinsmann is working with one of the deepest depth charts the US player pool has ever had, with competition for spots in several key positions. With this in mind, Klinsmann has called in several of his trusted veterans as well as some new youngsters and players that had momentarily slipped out of the national team picture. Over these next two games, several players will get to fight for a chance to be a part of the 23-man squad that opens up the Hex against Mexico in November.
“These two games are very important for us because it’s the last time we can see certain players before making the decision on the 23 going in to represent us for the Mexico and Costa Rica clashes,” said Klinsmann in a release by US Soccer. “There’s a lot at stake for the players to make their case, to show where they are right now.”
Danny Williams, Julian Green, and Timmy Chandler are rejoining the national team for the first time since a friendly with Puerto Rico in May. While Perry Kitchen and John Brooks return for the first time since the Copa America.
20-year-old Lynden Gooch earned his first call up to the senior national team. Gooch entered the picture this season when he started the first five games of the season for Sunderland. Klinsmann had considered calling up the California native in September, but instead chose to leave him in Sunderland so as to not risk him losing his place in the team.
Gooch is also eligible to play for England and the Republic of Ireland and while an appearance in either friendly wouldn’t tie him to the United States, it would be hard to imagine Gooch turning his back on the country of his birth at a later point.
While most of the names on the roster were expected, especially given the circumstances, what’s most notable about this roster are the names that aren’t there.
Starting at the back, Klinsmann has chosen to leave veteran goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan at home. In their place, the US has called up three of their promising younger keepers, Ethan Horvath, William Yarbrough and David Bingham, who have a combined three caps between them. This will give Klinsmann a chance to get a good look at all three young keepers as he looks for one of them to start overtaking Howard and Guzan in the pecking order.
In the midfield, Klinsmann has left trusted holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman at home. While Beckerman has been called upon time and time again in big games, his national team days have to be numbered. He’s 34 years old and his speed (or lack thereof) has been exposed badly in big games over the last two years. With Beckerman not in camp, newly appointed Hearts captain Perry Kitchen will have a great chance to stake a claim for his spot.
Klinsmann will certainly benefit from having a good mix of youngsters and veterans in camp. Friendlies are often used for experimentation, but the truth is you won’t learn much from watching Perry Kitchen partner Danny Williams in central midfield.
In order to give a player like Kitchen a real shot at replacing Kyle Beckerman permanently is to see him play with Michael Bradley. Is that a partnership that works? This is the time to find out since Bradley will be on the field when the important games matter.
Klinsmann should use the two matches to experiement with different combinations, but combinations that include players like Bradley, Bobby Wood, Christian Pulisic, and Fabian Johnson. Those players will be on the field in November, it’s more important to see how players like Lynden Gooch can play with the aforementioned players rather than how they could play with each other for the final 20 minutes of a game.
Here is the complete roster.
GOALKEEPERS: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS: Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin),Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
MIDFIELDERS: Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Danny Williams (Reading)
FORWARD: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)