USMNT Report: Klinsmann Narrows US Roster

Late last week, USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann cut his January camp roster to 22 men
by Herb Scribner   |   Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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

The United States Men’s National Team’s high roster numbers were cut a bit short last week, as manager Jurgen Klinsmann reduced his 26-man training camp to just 22.

Here’s the 22-man roster Klinsmann will complete the January training camp with:

GK: Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEF: Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Harrington (Portland Timbers), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)

MID: Eric Alexander (Red Bull New York), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Dax McCarty (Red Bull New York), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

FWD: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)

Cut: Chris Klute (Colorado Rapids), Chance Myers (Sporting KC), Shane O'Neill (Colorado Rapids), Seth Sinovic (Sporting KC)

Added: Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew)

One of the most notable changes to this roster is Klinsmann thinning out the defender pool, sending 4 natural defenders back stateside to their clubs. Seth Sinovic’s removal is disappointing, as the Sporting KC product showed well in the 2013 MLS Cup and would have filled in nicely as a natural leftback. Klute and O’Neill are young, so they’ll have more chances in the future. Given their inexperience at the senior level of international soccer, their dismissal isn’t unexpected.

Eric Alexander, Michael Harrington and Luis Gil though are surprising locks for this upcoming friendly. They’ve all been decent players in MLS, so it’s impressive to see them do well in the national team camp. Harrington is a natural defender and he’ll bring some of that marking experience to this team.

And, luckily for USMNT fans, DeAndre Yedlin and Mike Magee didn’t fall short of their impressive resumes in training camp. Both made it to this last phase of the camp, and should see several minutes of playing time against South Korea. Magee, if he’s kept his scoring touch and ability throughout the camp, might sneak his way into the USMNT World Cup roster as a striker they surely need.

Most of the players remaining on the roster, though, aren’t shocking. Donovan, Beckerman and Rimando should create a solid spine for the USMNT, with Brad Davis and Graham Zusi on the wings to provide extra help in attack.

But when looking at this roster, especially now with the cuts, you can’t help but notice this is about the equivalent of an MLS All-Star team. The fact that we’re about 4 months away from the World Cup and Klinsmann is testing these players is admirable, but it could prove to be a waste of time in the long run. Given the depth and strength already of the USMNT midfield, Alexander, Gil and McCarty are extremely unlikely to sneak into the World Cup team. Same for Harrington and Parkhurst, who can perform well in MLS but aren’t necessarily international level players.

And that’s the biggest problem with these USMNT lineups that have come through in the past year or so – they aren’t world class or on the same level as many other international squads, like ones they’ll surely face in Brazil for the World Cup. The USA will also likely start a handful of players who have converted from their natural positions (Beasley, Evans, etc) into what is needed to complete the formation. And if a player hasn’t been converted, he’ll be playing with one who has, which can throw off the chemistry, positioning and structure of the American side.

It’s understandable that Klinsmann wants one last look at players he’s overlooked. And without this kind of camp, strong players like Yedlin and Magee might not have received a call-up. For those reasons, this camp makes sense.

But there-in lies the rub – Klinsmann waited too long to make these selections. Only 4 valuable months of training are left before the world’s biggest tournament, and this USMNT is made mostly of MLS regulars who won’t make it to Brazil in the summer. Players like Harrington, Gil and Alexander have little use being apart of this team today. They’re average MLS players that would do better being brought in during the Gold Cup or other friendlies after the World Cup.

The final test of the past 4 years and Klinsmann’s regime is just about here, and instead of reviewing all the material during the last year, it feels like Klinsmann’s USMNT is staying up late with Red Bulls and cramming everything in at the last minute.

The problem with cramming is that it seldom works well, and even when it does it often only garners a passing grade.

Finals are in a few short months; let’s hope the US did their homework correctly.

NEXT UP: February 1 – Friendly: United States vs. Korea Republic, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. 5 p.m. EST, TBD.


UMass Amherst
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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.