Today, Klinsmann named his roster for the next two friendlies - vs Costa Rica in LA (9/2) and vs Belgium (9/6) in, well, Belgium somewhere. When these games were announced initially, I assumed that we'd see a mostly MLS contingent here at the Home Depot Center vs CR and a European based side vs Belgium. But Klinsmann has clearly followed through with his decision to try to field the best team every time out when possible. Obviously, the roster will likely change some between now and next week, but the fact that I'll see Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey back in LA eight days from now is still rather shocking.
Tim Howard, Bill Hamid
CBs: Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Tim Ream, Michael Orozco
RBs: Steve Cherundolo, Timothy Chandler
LBs: Edgar Castillo, Heath Pearce, Zach Loyd
(Edit 8/29 - Pearce and Loyd out due to injury. Jonathan Spector called into camp.)
Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Kyle Beckerman, Sasha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Jose Torres, Robbie Rogers, Fabian Johnson, Jeff Larentowicz
(Edit 8/29 - Dempsey opting to stay in England because of back spasms and will join team before Belgium match. DC United's Chris Pontius called up.)
Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury
I refrained from breaking down the midfielders and forwards in terms of specific positions because no one really knows what Klinsmann has in mind (Jose Torres on the wing, Michael Bradley as attacking mid, huh?). Defensively, the positions are obvious.
Most of the players on this roster were also called up to the Mexico friendly. I'm a little surprised that Klinsmann didn't decide to bring in another set of prospects to look at. For the camp vs Mexico, he brought in 9 fresh faces that weren't necessarily in the current US fold. This time, only 2-3 guys will have a fresh tryout depending on how you look at it, and really only one completely new prospect (Fabian Johnson). Does that mean that if the World Cup were tomorrow, he would continue to pick Castillo, Orozco or Pearce? Is this what he thinks is our best lineup? That would be difficult to believe, or accept.
But what I find hardest to believe is the list of midfielders here. At the end of the last cycle, the one part of our team that seemed to be all set for Brazil 2014 was our midfield. But on this roster, Dempsey and Edu (and perhaps Donovan depending on where he will be used) are the only veterans of the bunch. Dempsey, it should be noted, will be coached by Klinsmann for the first time and it will be interesting to see how and where Klinsmann deploys him.
Jozy will also be in a Klinsmann camp for the first time and he is on a hot streak, having scored 5 goals in just 3-4 games for his new club.
Other first time call-ups to a Klinsmann camp include: Sasha Kljestan, Fabian Johnson, Jeff Larentowicz and Teal Bunbury. The two that US fans won't be as familiar with are:
Fabian Johnson - Born in Germany to an American serviceman, Fabian is a young, exceptionally skilled winger and fullback who can still decide between Deutschland or the US. There seem to be several of these eligible players in the German pipeline - defender Daniel Williams, etc.
Jeff Larentowicz - Looks like Klinsmann is giving strong MLS performers a chance too. I don't care for him at all, just as I didn't care for Beckerman, but Beckerman did do better than I expected. However, does this continual tryout of defensive mids mean that Klinsmann isn't that happy with our current crop - Bradley, Jones and Edu?
The Omitted, Forgotten, or Overlooked
It wouldn't be a post without a discussion on who's missing. I've categorized them below.
Bob Bradley's Brood:
Michael Bradley - Klinsmann actually came out with a statement saying that the reason Bradley was not selected was that 1) he needs to sort out his club situation before the transfer deadline next week and 2) hasn't been playing any matches. Up to Klinsmann's hiring, Bradley had been part of the core along with Howard, Donovan and Dempsey, so it will immensely interesting to see how this will play out. I still think he is the best defensive mid we have, but does he fit in Klinsmann's tactics?
Jermaine Jones - Omitted for the same 2 reasons as Bradley.
Freddy Adu - Possibly its because Freddy is still getting acclimated to the Union, but this is unclear.
Benny Feilhaber - He was also left off the roster vs Mexico, so perhaps Klinsmann just doesn't rate him highly.
Alejandro Bedoya - Perhaps it is because he has just moved to the Rangers, but it is strange that the initial reports had him called up to this camp.
Eric Lichaj - Likely another case of a possible impending transfer next week.
Ricardo Clark - Klinsmann also included Clark in his explanation for excluding Bradley and Jones. I didn't realize Clark was in a similar club situation as those two. And I didn't realize Clark was so indispensable that Klinsmann felt the need to give a reason for his absence.
DaMarcus Beasley - Didn't play vs Mexico, wasn't called up a 2nd time. Reports are that he's doing well in the Mexican league though. Hmm.
Edson Buddle - With Jozy back healthy, its a goodbye to Buddle.
Got Overlooked for Jeff Larentowicz!?!?:
Mikkel Diskerud - You would think this is the kind of creative talent that Klinsmann would love to try out.
Josh Gatt - Perhaps Klinsmann is waiting for this young attacking midfielder to get to his 20s first.
Omar Gonzalez - Uh oh. A young, strong, fast, athletic CB of the future getting overlooked for a game held right in his home stadium? Klinsmann was also recently at a Galaxy game to scout him firsthand. Is he not in Klinsmann's plans at all?
George John - Likely a case of letting this MLS standout CB get settled at Blackburn first.
Zak Whitbread - This is more puzzling. A strong performer on a EPL team should get a look over Ream or Orozco, at least.
Anyway, why this long post about a friendly roster? Because its Klinsmann's 2nd game. And because I'll be in the 4th row watching Howard and Dempsey do their thing. (Edit 8/29 - or not. craaaaap.)