Tuesday, March 19, 2013

USMNT Selection Thoughts

The United States squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers came out yesterday and along with some surprises the squad didn't look too different from recent times. With the addition of Brek Shea and DaMarcus Beasley back into the lineup the USMNT can stretch the field better than before.

                                     Klinsmann will lead an inexperienced US team against Costa Rica and Mexico.

Here is the full list of players selected:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa - 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire – 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake – 0/0) 
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake – 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City – 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby – 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes – 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla – 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake – 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma – 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana – 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor – 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 – 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht – 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City – 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City – 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar – 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna – 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur – 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos – 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC – 12/10)

The problem point for this United States squad is defense, but that is nothing new. 3 of the 6 defenders chosen for this squad have no senior team experience with the USMNT, but we are being asked to put our trust into them to make life on projected new number 1 keeper Brad Guzan. With Carlos Bocanegra not being selected I'm anxious to see if the new selections can show me something promising.

As stated before, Brek Shea and DeMarcus Beasley have been reintroduced into the squad. The spark that (I personally think) is need by the USMNT, Shea, will probably get a start in one of the 2 games coming up. I'm thinking it will be the Costa Rica game and Klinsmann will opt to go with a more experienced player in that spot for the Mexico game. Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, and Graham Zusi return in the midfield for the US, with many expecting Michael Bradley to be chosen as captain in the absence of Bocanegra, Howard, and Donovan (I have a lot to say about the captaincy, but I'll save that until it's announced).

                                                Brek Shea makes his return to the USMNT squad. Will he be a difference maker?

As for the forwards, they look as strong as can be for the United States with what Klinsmann has to choose from. You could make the case Wondolowski should have been selected, maybe Juan Agudelo also. But Klinsmann seems to be sticking to his guns, and that is admirable. Jozy Altidore has been inform for his club AZ Alkmaar, but hasn't shown that goal scoring prowess for the national team just yet. Clint Dempsey is going to be the focus of the two qualifiers, the US needs him to get going and score to ease some of the pressure off of the inexperienced defense. Clint may benefit from having a creative player on the wing in Shea reintroduced to the squad, but we will see if those two can link up or if we see another lackluster attacking display from the United States.

                                             Will Clint Dempsey find his scoring touch in the next 2 World Cup Qualifiers?

I see lots of problems arising for the USMNT, maybe not against Costa Rica, a game they should win. Against Mexico however the back line will be tested and it will be curious to see if the new boys can show some grit and composure or if they waiver and fall apart. The speed of Mexico will test the United States, as it always has, and the United States almost always has a problem when playing Mexico. The lack of a real field general for the United States could also be a problem, as there is no calming influence for when things go south quick that I can easily recognize on that squad at the moment. I expect the United States to come out of these next 2 games with 3 or 4 points towards qualifying. I see a 2-1 maybe 3-1 win over Costa Rica and a 1-1 or 2-2 draw against Mexico. The key is Clint Dempsey as it will be moving forward for the foreseeable future for the United States. When Dempsey is on his game, the US attack is formidable, when he is off there is no threat to score.

Did Klinsmann get the squad right? Who got snubbed? Who is your key player in this squad?

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