To Be or not to be...in less than a week, we will most likely know the 30 who will be whittled down to the 23 chosen to represent the United States in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Jürgen Klinsmann has already stated that he will bring 30 into camp at Stanford preceding the friendlies that lead into the World Cup, and while he may already have his 23 written in pencil, his overall practice of squad competition might have you wondering if there won't be some surprises when the final roster is announced. Here is my projection for who you will see next week.
Campers: (Down the depth chart)
This grouping has not changed for months (years?). I'm on a strict word count limit so let's discuss...
I kept the defender pool the same size, but I swapped Timmy Chandler for Michael Orozco Fiscal. My gut feeling is that Klinsmann does this for the following reasons:
1. He rates Bundesliga experience over that of the Mexican League.
2. Chandler represents a the most physical and pacey option on the wing in the pool at the moment.
3. There are other fall back options at CB (Parkhurst, Cameron, and Edu) that make Orozco Fiscal more of a luxury.
4. Coded communication between the wings in game (Fabian Johnson-Chandler combo)
I still think the preferred 4 man back line looks like this:
I also cut out some late hopefuls I had in April. The top of the chart looks good to go as Omar Gonzalez's early withdrawal on the weekend appears to be cautionary.
(Bennie Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, )
This is where the action is for determining who gets on the plane. I think Klinsmann will take 8 of these at the most. The 8th would be Edu because he adds CB versatility- remember Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley, and Eddie Johnson all equate to tweeners in some form or another- maybe Brad Evans and Cameron as well.
The interesting battle is the experience of Davis and the high upside of Green. I think anything beyond a top form 2 weeks will see Brad Davis left at home. He's really improved his conditioning, and we know he can handle the heat, but Green offers something in pure speed and wiggle that no one else in the pool currently offers.
Here's where I'll stump for Feilhaber. My gut tells me he's not going to be invited. Maybe it's because he hasn't been called in much lately. Maybe it's because he's older, and Klinsmann has an eye to the future. Let's look at the case for Bennie:
1. On form- he's playing extremely well for Sporting Kansas City. In large part, he was the reason Sporting didn't have their doors blown on the return leg in CONCACAF champions league.
2. He's addressed the weakness in his game. Fitness and defense.
3. Heritage. He's got a little extra motivation playing in his native country.
4. The unforgiving minute. He's been there. He's lead a victory over Messi's Argentina, Helped beat Spain, scored the winner in the Gold Cup, a World Cup vet. This could easily be his year. Classic American late bloomer- he can be a difference maker in Brazil.
Altidore is going. So is Deuce. So is Aron Johannson.
After that, it's wide open. Wondo and Boyd are both on good form with Boyd offering more in hold up play and Wondo offering more as the guy who finds himself in the right place at the right time- perhaps the most instinctive scorer in the group.
Eddie Johnson has fallen the furthest amongst players once considered a sure bet for the squad. Between meshing with a new team, going goalless on the season, and now with a late injury, he's going to have to really show something in camp. Either Boyd, Wondo or EJ is staying home in my opinion. I think Eddie Johnson's sitting in 3rd place right now.
The pool is strong heading into this World Cup, and it really feels like there's several deserving and useful candidates are going to come up just short. We'll find out very soon- pipe up if I missed something, yeah?