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Which U.S. men can go from Gold Cup to World Cup?

Jul 9, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT

Mix Diskerud of the U.S. directs his teammates during the second half of their U-23 international friendly soccer match against Mexico in Frisco Reuters

In terms of a competition, this ongoing Gold Cup is like an NCIS or Law and Order rerun for a lot of U.S. supporters: It’s just something on TV, and they’ll watch because there’s nothing better on.

But that doesn’t mean that the tournament doesn’t have a place in the bigger picture, that it can’t supply some pieces to the big puzzle.

The clear, important subtext of Gold Cup play for the United States is what it could mean for World Cup roster spots that will be announced in about 10 months. (Spots that will announced in about 10 months … and how about that!)

Yes, we’re being presumptuous – the United States is going to Brazil. Get on board … it’s great in here!

Players have worked their way into World Cup spots through this competition previously, and they will again.

(MORE: Gold Cup preview of United States vs. Belize)

For purposes of this exercise, we are going to take Stuart Holden and Landon Donovan off the table. They are going to the World Cup next year unless they fall completely off the table performance-wise. (Or, obviously, if they get hurt.)

Here then are the four men who have the best opportunity to play their way into a World Cup spot over the coming three weeks.

Mix Diskerud: Remember, this young man is just 22, so his best years remain ahead. Diskerud – who has gone from two “Xs” lately to just one – could be passed over for Brazil 2014 and still conceivably play big roles in two World Cups.

That said, he’s got the opportunity dangling now. Diskerud (pictured above) already looks like a Michael Bradley starter kit, a technically adept two-way midfielder, not really a holding man and not really a playmaker, but able to perform either role adequately at present. That versatility becomes useful when managers fill out roster spots No. 18 through 23 at a World Cup.

It’s on Diskerud to show Jurgen Klinsmann he deserves one of those spots over the next three weeks.

Brek Shea: The Stoke City man has already accomplished something with his bright 30 minutes last week against Guatemala, getting Klinsmann to take notice. Shea earned a Gold Cup roster spot with those 30 minutes, plus whatever he demonstrated in a few days of training.

A few more evenings with that kind of attacking desire on display, parlayed with the former FC Dallas’ winger’s natural physical ability, and the manager will be hard pressed not to assign Shea a seat on the charter into Brazil next year.

Jose Torres: Klinsmann is an optimist by nature. So if Torres can finally put on the kind of display the manager keeps asking of him, Klinsmann will be inclined to believe the Texas native will deliver more of the same going forward. But it must happen now!

Torres absolutely, positively has to lean into this one, pressing the attack and finding more ways to impact the game. Leave the safe passes to Kyle Beckerman and the center backs, already! Take on defenders. Change the angles. Open up the defense with some vision. Vary the attack to keep the defense off balance. All in all … just do more to put all that technical craft to better use.

Jack McInerney: Klinsmann knows what Chris Wondolowski can do at striker. He knows, more or less, what Will Bruin can do. Not so with McInerney, now getting his first up-close look from the manager. He’s got the opportunity to knock one of those guys aside in the depth chart ordering.

There are 10-15 U.S. goals out there through three group games, a quarterfinal, a semifinal and final – assuming this thing doesn’t fall off the tracks en route to the July 28 final at Soldier Field. If McInerney can get into the act a couple of times, putting those scorers instincts and that finishing proficiency to use at international level, he’ll make Klinsmann think hard about a roster spot next year.

  1. randomhookup - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Actually, it’s always been “Mix” with one x. People get confused, but he’s always used that spelling.

  2. talgrath - Jul 9, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    I would be shocked if Shea doesn’t go to the World Cup, if he didn’t i think it would only be due to his lack of club playing time recently due to injury. Shea is, in many ways, exactly what Klinsmann says he wants; a player that has little to no fear of getting his strikes or passes wrong, that isn’t afraid to take a risk and is both physically and technically proficient. I doubt Shea will start, but I’d expect him to be on the roster.

    Mix, i think, is very likely to go as well, he’s a good sub for someone like Michael Bradley or Graham Zusi in midfield (I expect that Klinsmann will use Donovan as a forward, thus why he isn’t mentioned here).

    McInerney I see as being less likely, he’s a bit too green; unless of course he either blows this one out of the water, scoring insane amounts of goals or there are some serious injuries.

    As far as Torres, I just don’t see him going to the World Cup unless he pulls of something extraordinary. He’s a good but not great midfielder and he has no goals and no assists in 21 matches in USA colors despite being an attacking/playmaker role when he has subbed in or started.

  3. player169 - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Torres had an assist in the last game i think, but that was about all he did. Right now, I think he is really far down on the pecking order. If it were up to me, he would be out of chances. I would say he has a 5% chance of making the World Cup roster and that could be generous. I think there are people out there that aren’t even dawning the US jersey that have a better chance of being on the WC roster…example = in form Mike McGee…

  4. rafibomb10 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    If Klinsi deploys Torres out wide like last night I am ok with that. If he tries him in the middle we will get the same performance we get from Sasha K. Not enough touches, too willing to go backward, gets lost in the game.

    Id love to see when we get the full team back together, blending Bradley and Holden together in the midfield. Those two together are just begging for Klinsi to bring back his 4-3-3, because they compliment each other so well. Put Donavon or Clint in that third spot for creativity, and that is one dangerous triangle midfield. Boom!

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