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Which U.S. men have locked up World Cup roster spots?

Jun 12, 2013, 2:05 PM EST

FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIER-USA-PAN

I wrote last night that the United States national team has one leg and a couple of arms in Brazil. The facts scream “sitting pretty!:” Jurgen Klinsmann’s team has 10 points, about two-third of the way to the 15 or so needed. The team sits atop the six-team CONCACAF group. Three of five remaining matches are at home, where the United States is darn near unbeatable over the last decade.

So let’s just say it … the way the Seattle crowd said it last night … the United States is going to Brazil. Which most of us have been saying all along, anyway.

You know what that means? Time to begin perusing the U.S. player pool and debating who will be on the charter about this time next year.

Here are the players more or less locked in (assuming good health, of course.) As I assess it, 15 men are “in” for a roster of 23.

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard

Explainer: Nick Rimando is close, too, because he’s a willing No. 3. That is, he’s a veteran who can be relied on in a pinch, but still OK being the third guy. Otherwise, I think we all know this is a closed race; Spots 1 and 2 are lead-pipe locks.

DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Timothy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson

Explainer: You will see that a couple of center back spots remain open. Clarence Goodson is close to “lock” status for all his “been there, done that.”  So is Steve Cherundolo, although Brad Evans’ emergence, Johnson and Chandler’s ability to play right back and Cameron’s versatile capabilities along the back line all complicate the veteran’s chances of a third consecutive World Cup appearance.

MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (pictured), Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi

Explainer: There is ample opportunity here for guys like Sacha Kljestan, Stuart Holden, Danny Williams and, honestly, lots of others. Remember, Bob Bradley took eight midfielders to South Africa, and Klinsmann is likely do roughly the same.

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson

Explainer: As a contrast to the wide-open race for midfield spots, there’s not much room for elbowing into this group. Gomez has been absent in recent friendlies and qualifiers, but his versatility, his likeable personality and daily work ethic make him an ideal fit. Injuries or a precipitous loss of form would obviously open additional spots, although Dempsey and, now, Altidore would be given tons of latitude.

  1. mkbryant3 - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Man, after a master performance last night, I could read these articles all day long. No, the glow hasn’t worn off for me yet.

    However, I’d love to read a few schadenfreude pieces on the Mexicans struggles and their classless fan behavior. I know they are a better team that they have been showing, but it’s soooo nice to see them suffer.

  2. cdhoeger - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    So, the way you have it, we have 2 spots left for center backs, one spot left for another fullback, and 5 for midfielders. That means you believe all the strikers are done and dusted. I don’t disagree with anything you wrote, but it’s hard to imagine that there is so little chance that Terrence Boyd could make the roster. If his trajectory continues the way it’s going, then it’s hard to imagine him not pushing EJ or Herc for one of the final roster spots.

    • florean - Jun 12, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      Eddie has 11 goals in 16 qualifiers. You can play him up top or out wide. I think he’s just below Dempsey and Jozy as a lock. I think Boyd’s best chance is that the flexibility Eddie and Herc have to play wide creates enough space for him to fit in as a fifth forward. But he’s got to improve his game with the national team over the next few months, starting with the Gold Cup, to even have a chance.

      • cdhoeger - Jun 12, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        Except he isn’t even on the preliminary Gold Cup roster…so he isn’t going to be able to impress there.

    • randomhookup - Jun 12, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      Let’s not forget there is a very good chance that Aron Johannsson will be in the mix soon.

      Rosters like this are like battle plans … they don’t end up surviving first contact. Someone will be hurt, someone will be out of form, some new guy (or old guy) will be on the radar.

  3. bman0921 - Jun 12, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    How can I give this article credit when it doesn’t even mention Landon Donovan? The answer is I can’t.

    • mvktr2 - Jun 13, 2013 at 12:39 AM

      ‘IT’S INCREDIBLE!’

      That clip NEVER gets old. It’s like watching ‘the kick’ in the 85 iron bowl or the 79 sugar bowl goal line stand or …. well it’s just plain great! Thanks for sharing. I’d put LD’s odds at 90+% for being on the plane headed to Brazil. However I fully support his current exclusion, being in the Gold Cup, then being invited back into the full team. It’s important for team chemistry and the long range plan for success in Brazil. He’ll be back.

    • wfjackson3 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:07 AM

      Nobody asked you to give the article credit. Landon Donovan doesn’t deserve a mention in an article like this.

    • talgrath - Jun 13, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      LD hasn’t played for the USMNT yet this year, if he makes the Gold Cup final squad and if he does well there, he will go, but until he makes an appearance for the USMNT in competition his mention isn’t really genuine other than speculation.

  4. pjbowmaster - Jun 12, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    How in the HELL do you see Timmy Chandler as a lock to make the team? Were you born a crack baby? The guy has made exactly ONE appearance in an official match and was terrible! And I don’t think his commitment to the team has been fully established yet. He would have to start the last 4 Hex matches and be GREAT before I put him on the charter. If Donovan has to prove it why not this guy???

    • scottp11 - Jun 12, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      What kind of response is that? How could you think that’s an appropriate thing to say to someone’s message board that you are logged in to and read for news?

    • schmutzdeck - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:14 AM

      I don’t know if Davis was born a crack baby but what is your excuse for acting like a small male reproductive organ?

      Chandler is not a lock. His situation is similar to Donovan’s i.e. his fitness, form and commitment are in question. Like Donovan, should he prove he is back to his best both should be on the team. The USMNT would be better off if they were in form and committed but it is possible neither one will be.

      Tell you what PBM, I’m willing to bet your money that both will be in Brazil.

      Because in case you missed it, JK WILL have this team believing they can beat anyone whether Timmy C and LD are there or not. Frankly, in theory, a year away, no one is a lock to make Brazil because JK has spent all his time molding a team that can resist the loss of key players.

      And a year out anything can happen with injuries, loss of form and so on.

  5. ndnut - Jun 12, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    No way Chandler is a lock. Also, Landon isn’t even mentioned as close. Come on! If you will mention Williams and Kljesten, you should mention our all time leading scorer.

    • Steve Davis - Jun 12, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Honestly, I just do not know where Klinsmann is at this point re Donovan. It could happen. But I think it’s far, far from a done deal. (But it’s fair to point out that, yes, Donovan should have been mentioned)

    • wfjackson3 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:05 AM

      Landon is nowhere near a lock as he isn’t even on the roster right now. Being the all-time leading scorer doesn’t help win World Cup games. What has he done for us lately?

  6. pjbowmaster - Jun 12, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    If I was a little over the top with my banter please accept my apology. I meant no offense to crack babies……

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