As the US enters the final round of WC qualifying - the 10 games of the Hexagonal (6 team group), where top 3 advances automatically and 4th place plays a home/away vs Oceania champion - this is my best guess into Klinsmann's mind come WC 23 man roster selection time in 2014.
Tim Howard (S), Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid
In the mix: Sean Johnson, Nick Rimando, Tally Hal
Currently at 84 caps, Howard will eclipse the 100 game mark likely before Brazil. It is probably his last WC, but there is still no clear cut young keeper in waiting that will supplant him post-'14. Guzan will definitely be the backup. In my gut, Bill Hamid will earn the nod over Sean Johnson, who is currently Klinsmann's 3rd string.
Carlos Bocanegra (S), Geoff Cameron (S), Clarence Goodson, Omar Gonzalez
In the mix: Tim Ream, Oguchi Onyewu, Zak Whitbread, Matt Besler, George John, Maurice Edu
This is my 4th Brazil prediction but the first time I'm including Bocanegra. Yes, he'll be 35 and slower than ever. But with a year and a half to go, he's still Klinsmann's first choice for starter and captain amidst all the uncertainty at CB. Omar finally forces his way onto Klinsmann's squad with a unparalleled CB play in the MLS. If Cameron and Gonzalez prove themselves reliable through the Hex however, Boca might find himself replaced by youthful speed come June '14. CBs in England - Ream and Whitbread just have not made the right impression on Klins. Onyewu might have wasted his last shot. Also worth mentioning, Maurice Edu has been given a look back at CB as well.
Fabian Johnson (S), Timothy Chandler (S), Steve Cherundolo, Eric Lichaj
In the mix: Michael Parkhurst, Edgar Castillo, Alfredo Morales, Jonathan Spector, Michael Orozco Fiscal, AJ DeLaGarza
Timothy Chandler could get cap-tied as soon as the 1st game in the Hex. If so, he will probably be the starter at RB in Brazil alongside his German-born compatriot, the long awaited LB savior of US Soccer, Fabian Johnson. Cherundolo might still be the most reliable bench option we have, even at 35. I'm taking a big risk on listing Lichaj, whom Klinsmann has shown little to no interest for, instead of his regular backup rotation. Otherwise, Parkhurst would probably be the first call.
Michael Bradley (S), Danny Williams (S), Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu
In the mix: Kyle Beckerman
Given that Klinsmann will probably choose to play no less than 2 and sometimes even 3 of these 4 players above at the same time, all four naturally defensive midfielders will probably make the team. If you're counting, that's also 4 German-born players, so far.
Landon Donovan (S), Brek Shea (S), Sasha Kljestan, Graham Zusi
In the mix: Josh Gatt, Mix Diskerud, Jose Francisco Torres, Stuart Holden, Benny Feilhaber, Joe Corona, Robbie Rogers, Brad Davis, Alejandro Bedoya
Toughest group to predict by far. Nobody should dare predict that Donovan won't be on the plane until it actually happens. But the fact that he's decided to not join the team for the first game of the Hex is worrisome, if for no other reason than losing the respect of European-hardened teammates. Zusi has emerged as Klinsmann's go-to backup on the right side, while I believe that Shea will get his act together in time to claim the starting left side. Kljestan adds a 2nd consecutive great club year to barely beat out Torres and Diskerud. Holden just can't be counted on until after he emerges from his last competitive game in May 2014 injury free.
Clint Dempsey (S), Jozy Altidore (S), Hercules Gomez, Terrence Boyd
In the mix: Eddie Johnson, Juan Agudelo, Edson Buddle, Teal Bunbury, Chris Wondolowski
Dempsey starts. Jozy and Hercules battle each other for the other spot. Boyd beats out all the MLS options for the bench and becomes Klinsmann's 5th German-born convert in Brazil.
Predicted Starting Line-up