USMNT Report: Final Shot for MLS Hopefuls

Latest call-ups include a list of hopeful USMNT players, who have a slim shot at making the World Cup roster
by Herb Scribner   |   Thursday, March 27, 2014

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

The United States Men’s National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann is giving MLS hopefuls yet another shot at making the squad before the World Cup camp is set.

On Tuesday, coach Klinsmann unveiled his 22-man roster for the upcoming friendly against Mexico on April 2. And because the exhibition match doesn’t fall on a FIFA date, the majority of the squad is packed with MLS players, who are just getting going in league action.

Here’s a look at the roster:

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

DEF: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

MID: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FWD: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

A glorified MLS All-Star team is going to get another chance to prove itself, much like it did against South Korea back in January. This time it’ll be against an always-dangerous Mexico side, which has rebounded after last year’s disappointing qualifying campaign in a weak CONCACAF region.

All eyes will be on Julian Green, the Bayern Munich standout who only weeks ago declared his allegiance to the United States over Germany. Green hasn’t been tested much at club level, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance in reserve matches and has been touted as a player to watch in Europe. He can play on the wing or as a striker, it’s likely he’ll slot into a striker role given the abundance of midfielders the Yanks currently employ and because the USMNT is in desperate need of a solid striker. And it wouldn’t be surprising if he got a decent amount of time on the field so Klinsmann could get a good look at him with the World Cup nearing. There’s a lot of hype surrounding Green, and this friendly will not answer the question of his potential but rather a good indication of whether he is 2014 World Cup ready or not.

DeAndre Yedlin will also be a player to keep an eye on against Mexico. As a natural rightback, Yedlin would be a nice fit with the current sad state of affairs in the USA backline, where midfielders like DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Evans and Geoff Cameron are getting the bulk of playing time. But Yedlin is still young, so he will need a breakout performance in the back to squeeze his way to Brazil and bypass Evans in Klinsmann’s rightback depth chart.

Some surprises were included with this lineup, like Maurice Edu, who hasn’t been in a USA kit for quite some time and despite his new Designated Player status with the Philadelphia Union, has a slim chance of even being in the conversation for Brazil.

Klinsmann is smart to bring Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman with this camp. Not only are they USA regulars who are likely headed to Brazil, but both have shown excellent form in the opening weeks of MLS play. They’re hitting all the right notes, and that should surely continue against Mexico. Beckerman in particular has been playing tremendous soccer for Real Salt Lake. With a good performance, Beckerman might be able to change Klinsmann’s mind when it comes to who gets the start in the defensive midfielder slots, maybe bypassing an aging Jermaine Jones for the more defensive role.

Despite all of this, the USMNT is still missing an important point when it comes to its latest roster. More than testing out players and getting the right guys for the job, the USA needs stability, chemistry and familiarity – all of which are missing again with this lineup. The fact that the North American based and abroad players have been separated so much during qualifying and friendlies means they are more like separate pools of players and when they get mixed together, problems ensue. There’s no glue holding the team together. This roster’s got somewhat of an advantage since most of these players compete in MLS – save for newbie Green and the LigaMX players. But in terms of being a solid team that knows what other players are going to do and can read situations the right way, this USA side is at a loss.

Winning against Mexico would be great for the Yanks, giving the team confidence with the final 75 or so days of World Cup preparation ahead. But more importantly, the US players have to prove themselves to Klinsmann and help him settle the debate on who he needs to bring to Brazil.

The clock is ticking. And for some of these players, it’s about to strike midnight.

NEXT UP: April 2 – Friendly: United States vs. Mexico, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. 8 p.m. EST, ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas.


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.