Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 Brazil WC US Roster Prediction - Feb 2014

This is my 5th prediction for US Soccer's 23 roster spots for Brazil 2014.  (Previous predictions, for the record: July 2010, June 2011, January 2012, and January 2013).

Tim Howard (S), Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando

In the mix: Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson

One of 5 players than Klinsmann has penned into his Brazil starting lineup is of course Howard.  In this cycle, Guzan has shown that he deserves to be #2.  Klinsmann seems to prefer Rimando, who started so capably through last year's Gold Cup, over young guns in Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid for the last GK spot.  Rimando is 35 though, so it may be of some benefit to bring a young gun along for the ride.

Omar Gonzalez (S), Matt Besler (S), Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron

In the mix: Oguchi Onyewu, John Brooks, Michael Orozco, Maurice Edu, Tim Ream?

In my first 3 predictions, I didn't include Bocanegra, figuring he'd be too old by 2014 (35!).  And yet, Klinsmann started him game and after game as his captain.  I finally relented and added Boca to my last prediction in Jan '13.  Days later, in the first game of the final WC qualifying round, Boca was relegated to the bench in a shocker, never to see the field for the US again (besides a well-deserved testimonial, I hope).  He didn't even sniff a spot for the Gold Cup when we sent our B team.
Besler and Gonzalez both emerged out of the '13 January camp as starters, and both may get the nod come June.  Goodson and Cameron have been used often by Klinsmann over the last 2 years and it would surprise me if either were excluded.  Cameron also provides cover as a RB, seeing that he plays there for his club.  Gooch has been making some noise in recent weeks, but is it loud enough to catch JK's attention?

Fabian Johnson (S), Brad Evans (S), DaMarcus Beasley, Timothy Chandler

In the mix: Michael Parkhurst, Edgar Castillo, Eric Lichaj, Michael Orozco, Steve Cherundolo

The starting LB battle is really between Fabian and DaMarcus.  I gave Fabian the start just for kicks.  He could very well slide up to LM and partner with Beaz up the left.  Brad Evans was the RB starter the majority of our A team's games in '13, but I shudder a bit thinking of Ronaldo bearing down on Evans on the left side.  Chandler seems to be in the doghouse now, but our RB pool is extremely shallow.  Sadly, Dolo just can't get healthy and time is working against him anyway.  Parkhurst and Castillo have been useful to Klinsmann in this cycle, but not preferred.  Lichaj was brought in at the end of '13, and may still be on JK's radar.  (I'd much prefer to take him instead of Evans).  And again, Cameron may very well slide over and start at RB.

Central/Defensive Midfielders:
Michael Bradley (S), Jermaine Jones (S), Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu

In the mix: Danny Williams, Stuart Holden (not really but I just wanted to include him), Dax McCarty

This is the one position that's the most set in stone.  JK actually views this position as a two-way role, a box-to-box midfielder, if you will.  Two of Klinsmann's core players include Bradley and Jones.  Beckerman is clearly his favorite if either went down with injury.  The only question is whether Klinsmann needs a 4th player of this type.  I think Edu has the versatility to also fill in at CB, if needed.  Given the attacking prowess of our group opponents, I think JK uses this extra midfield spot to shore up defensively.

Attacking Midfielders:
Clint Dempsey (S), Landon Donovan (S), Graham Zusi (S), Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud

In the mix: Sasha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Jose F Torres, Brad Davis, Benny Feilhaber, Mike Magee

According to Klinsmann, Dempsey is really the only lock to start here, and he really could be considered a forward since he'll play just under Jozy.  Zusi emerged in Jan '13 camp as a capable fill-in on the right during Donovan's absence and started the majority of the A team's games last year.  I'm thinking Klinsmann will ultimately decide to start both players on the wings, while Brek, EJ and Fabian provide the depth out wide.  Diskerud edges out Kljestan as Clint's backup.  There's a slew of names that are in the mix, so much will depend on who's in form come May.

Jozy Altidore (S), Aron Johannsson, Eddie Johnson

In the mix: Chris Wondolowski, Terrence Boyd, Juan Agudelo, Herculez Gomez

Klinsmann reiterated that Jozy's got his spot locked up (although I'm not sure why if he's unable to score in club play), while young Aron Johannsson's speed and skill earns him a place as well.  EJ has found some usefulness to JK often as a change of pace attacker off the bench.  Wondo may have to go on a tear in the MLS to get a real chance, while Boyd and Agudelo have opportunity to make their mark in Europe the next few months.  As we saw last WC (Findley!?!, Buddle!?!), strikers just need to get hot at the right time.  Speaking of '10 WC forwards, whatever happened to Herculez?  He was our de facto starter in '12, then went AWOL.

Starting Lineup: