22 May 2014

Reacting to the 2014 US National Team World Cup squad

(USA Today)
After a week and a half of training at Stanford University, Jurgen Klinsmann made the surprising move to announce his 23-man World Cup squad, 11 days before the FIFA deadline, Thursday afternoon.
And after looking at the roster below, I have mixed feelings.
Either Klinsmann is a complete mad man who is out of his mind, or he knows something that all the faux-pas soccer pundits claim, opting to put a more youthful squad on the field when the team kicks off their World Cup campaign June 16 against Ghana.
But the lack of experience could come back to haunt the US, and no one could provide more experience to a youthful squad than guys who played four years ago. 
I was upset when Clarence Goodson, Maurice Edu and Landon Donovan did not make the cut, but guys like DaMarcus Beasley and 18-year old Julian Green, who has only mad one cap in his national team history did.  However, this is where American fans are naive in the game of soccer.
The World Cup does come every four years, think about that. Think about how much a player's health, speed, touch and fitness could change in that span. After all Goodson and Brad Evans, a solid defender who also did not make the cut, were plagued with injuries for the past year, and Donovan went to Cambodia to find himself a little over a year ago.
Thus health and fitness for the omitted were in question, opening the door to a majority of newcomers to the team. In fact, seven players are returning from four years ago, including captain Clint Dempsey.
This is the magic of the World Cup cycle, players aren't as good as they were four years a go, youth comes and goes and players are evaluated on how they perform from their respected club, not just heroics against Algeria.  However, having a dozen players that have made less than 20 appearances for their country is concerning because that puts a team in risk of being thrown in the hornets nest. A nest that includes Cristiano Ronaldo and the entire German squad.
Sad there will be no Donovan to help attack the wing and whip in solid set pieces, but Klinsmann has put emphasis on raising new leaders such as Michael Bradley and Graham Zusi in the midfield while relying on Dempsey and Jozy Altidore up front.
It is an interesting move on Klinsmann's part with a shaky midfield and a majority German-born defense, but then again Klinsmann knows what it is like to perform well in the World Cup.

It's a shame we have to do it in those God-awful firecracker popsicle jerseys though.
The U.S. men’s national team will face Azerbaijan Tuesday at Candlestick Park, 7 p.m. on ESPN2 to begin the Road to the World Cup kickoff series before the team heads to Brazil.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Timmy Chandler(N├╝rnberg/Germany), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/France), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/Norway), Julian Green (Bayern Munich/Germany), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/Turkey), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/England), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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