USMNT Report: Little Magic in Euro Friendly Callups

USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann plays it safe in most recent 23-man roster
by Herb Scribner   |   Tuesday, November 12, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

For the United States Men’s National Team, the hard part is over.

Now, USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann has the daunting task of perfecting his lineup ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off next summer in Brazil.

Part of fine-tuning that roster comes this week when the USA starts a two-game stretch first on Friday against Scotland and then next Tuesday against Austria.

Ahead of those friendlies, Klinsmann called in 23 players for training camp on Monday. Here’s the roster:

GK: Bill Hamid, Tim Howard, Sean Johnson

DEF:  DaMarcus Beasley, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Eric Lichaj, Michael Orozco

MID: Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea

FWD: Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, Aron Johannsson, Eddie Johnson, Chris Wondolowski

The lineup has some glaring absences, as Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, Kyle Beckerman and Brad Davis (all proven USMNT players) weren’t brought in, but that’s to be expected given MLS is still in the middle of its playoff stretch. Zusi, Beckerman and Davis are still competing for the MLS Cup, while Donovan is nursing an ankle injury suffered towards the end of the MLS regular season and was just eliminated from playoff contention last Thursday.

Players like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore were expected additions. Bringing in these experienced players offers the USMNT a sense of comfort and will surely anchor the Yanks as they play abroad for this stretch. Bradley’s still on the come-back trail after an injury set him back during the last round of qualifiers, and Dempsey and Altidore are struggling to find form for their respective clubs. Klinsmann may be using this occasion to get them back in top shape and build their confidence back up.

These next two friendlies will be mightily important for bubble players, like Mix Diskerud, Sacha Kljestan and Aron Johannsson. All three have offered flashes of brilliance in the last six months or so for the USA. If they’re looking to get to Brazil next summer though, they’ll have to prove vital for Klinsmann in Glasgow and Vienna.

Surprisingly, though, 24 year-old rightback Eric Lichaj secured a call-up for his play with Nottingham Forest. His last time in training camp came in 2011 towards the end of Bob Bradley’s tenure, in which he impressed in the backline. Given his solid contributions at Forest, Lichaj has earned another chance to prove himself for the US.

There are two other players who certainly deserve a chance with the Americans, but weren’t called up: DeAndre Yedlin and Mike Magee. Both have impressed immensely this season in MLS – the former a strong Rookie of the Year candidate and the latter a MVP candidate. What’s more is that Yedlin is a natural rightback and Magee is a proven striker that succeeds in high-pressure situations. Klinsmann should have given both players, especially Magee given his age and hot foot, a nod for these upcoming games.

Whether or not Magee finds his way into the USA’s lineup in the future is another question. But given the US has qualified and these next two games are there to get players back on track and test the waters, a Magee call-up would have fit in perfectly here. He did so much in just one season to change the fortunes of both LA and Chicago – it would have been fun to see if “Magic Mike” could perform for a USA pool that could almost always use more invention and scoring.

If Altidore and Dempsey can’t conjure any tricks in these next two games, which may well be given their poor play recently, Klinsmann and the US will wish they had some Magee up their sleeve.

NEXT UP: November 15 – Friendly: United States vs. Scotland, Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland. 3 p.m. EST, ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.
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