Jurgen Klinsmann announced his provisional roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup last week, a 30-man roster that will be cut down to a final 23 players who will compete in Group G this summer. The big names headlining the squad are well known to fans of soccer in North America, including Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), and Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy).
Klinsmann’s squad doesn’t have very many surprises in it, with most of the players picking up numerous caps under the former Germany manager. However, that doesn’t mean Klinsmann didn’t name a few surprise picks. The full squad, below:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nurnberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
We’ll start at the back with the goalkeeper position, where Tim Howard will be the starting keeper. His form with Everton has been admirable and while Brad Guzan will play second fiddle from the bench, it’s Nick Rimando who once again makes the final team as the third-choice. There is no goalkeeper in Major League Soccer more deserving of a spot, which should please fans of Real Salt Lake.
The backline is a bit strange because of the change of DaMarcus Beasley from a forward to a winger and, finally, to a fullback, specifically on the left, where he’ll most likely play with the national team. Beasley has been put up for sale by his club, Puebla, but he’s one of the better defenders on the national roster so that shouldn’t be too concerning for the team. On the other flank, Geoff Cameron will stake his claim, and in the middle, a combination of Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson could see plenty of playing time.
The surprise pick in the defensive end is DeAndre Yedlin. The young Seattle fullback has enjoyed a sudden rise to stardom and while he is likely to be cut for the final 23, a nod at his age is more than exciting.
The midfield is also pretty straightforward for the U.S., with Bradley, Maurice Edu, Jermain Jones, and Graham Zusi picking up their expected call ups; Mix Diskerud and Alejandro Bedoya played their way onto the roster but it’s Julian Green that will have people talking. The 18-year-old Florida-born winger has played in Germany since 2006 and while he has climbed the ranks at Bayern Munich, Green pledged his loyalty to his country of birth right before the big event, giving the U.S. a hot young talent to utilize in the World Cup.
Up top, Donovan and Dempsey are expected to start, but Jozy Altidore could make his way into the starting line up. He has been in poor form with Sunderland though so he’ll need to make a dramatic change to warrant a spot. As for one of the final spots of contention, San Jose Earthquakes fans will be pushing for late blooming forward Chris Wondolowski to make the World Cup team. The hashtag #Wondo4Brazil has been trending on social media as a result.
This is an exciting young American team mixed with veteran presence but one that will also be facing one of its toughest tests yet in Group G, labelled a “Group of Death” by journalists and football fans alike. As we’ve already discussed, Groups of Death are hardly that for big sides, and the U.S. will face two big teams in Germany and Portugal, as well as Ghana.
Ghana, as U.S. fans will remember, were matched with the U.S. back in the 2010 World Cup in the first knockout round, and beat the United States, too. That rematch will certainly be one that the U.S. players will be motivated for. Should the U.S. get three points against Ghana, they’ll still have to beat one of Germany or Portugal and try for the number two spot in the group.
Michael Bradley has told reporters in Toronto that playing in the World Cup means taking on big teams, the only difference being that the U.S. gets them right off the bat. It’s this positive attitude and confidence that could give the U.S. a chance in the opening stages of the World Cup.
So, can the United States perform in the 2014 FIFA World Cup? More importantly, does the U.S. have an upset in them for either Cristiano Ronaldo or Mario Götze – two of the best players in the world – and their respective national sides?
If any team can do it, it’s the ever-resiliant United States, a perennial underdog side led by Donovan, Dempsey, and a cast of characters that are slowly but surely winning over the hearts of soccer fans around the world.