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Initial reactions: U.S. roster to play Costa Rica, Mexico in September

Aug 29, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

us soccer

The dust has hardly settled on United States head coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s roster selections for World Cup qualifiers at Costa Rica and against Mexico in September. That means it’s time for some gut reactions, categorized by player.

Landon Donovan: You had to know this one was coming. Donovan was the best player in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and his resurgence since rediscovering his passion for the game has been nothing short of remarkable. Klinsmann tried to keep the hype down when he talked to the press about Donovan during and since the Gold Cup, but Donovan was clearly a man on a mission to get back into a U.S. jersey in a meaningful game.

Clint Dempsey: Dempsey’s performances against two of the toughest opponents the U.S. will face in qualifying will go a long way toward evaluating his move back to Major League Soccer. The Seattle Sounders FC man hasn’t really made a stamp on any of the three games he has played for his new club, but it takes some adjusting for players once they join (or rejoin) the league, and he is still getting his match fitness back. But with Aron Jóhannsson on such a tear in the Eredivisie and Europa League, Dempsey’s chain could be shorter than ever this time around.

Aron Jóhannsson: Speaking of Jóhannsson, it would have been foolish not to call him in. The AZ Alkmaar man has scored five goals in seven competitive club matches in the young 2013-14 season. Assuming he gets more than nominal playing time, it will be interesting to see if he can turn top club form into goals on the international level, similar to Jozy Altidore‘s scoring streak last season at the same club.

John Brooks: After a solid showing against Bosnia-Herzegovina a couple weeks ago, Brooks deserves to get a shot in a competitive match. Not to mention, Germany could still swoop in for him unless he is quickly cap-tied. The 20-year-old looked at least as competent as Omar González, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start at least one of the games next month.

Brad Evans: This squad is thin on outside backs, which is probably the only reason Brad Evans is still on the roster. Steve Cherundolo is out with another knee surgery, and Timmy Chandler continues to be an enigma. Evans is a stopgap at best at the position, and he was exposed several times in the June friendlies and qualifiers.

Joe Corona: Probably the biggest surprise name of those left off the roster is Joe Corona. The winger showed well at the Gold Cup, and he has been called into several squads for meaningful competition. He is a technical and savvy player who is familiar with the Latin flair both U.S. opponents will bring, as he plays for Club Tijuana in Mexico. Alejandro Bedoya seems to have won a spot ahead of Corona, after completing a move to Ligue 1 side Nantes in the summer. Bedoya also had a solid showing at the Gold Cup.

Mix Diskerud: It’s continually baffling that Mix Diskerud gets called into the fold for the U.S. He played one good game at the Gold Cup, in the final against Panama, and looked average on every other occasion. Even Sacha Kljestan would have been a better choice.

What are your impressions of the roster? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

  1. interesting29 - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Don’t understand the confusion with Diskerud, he’s actually been making very good passes to players. Contrary, I think he only had one bad game in the Gold Cup, otherwise he had been solid I think. Also the last game with Bosnia, he made a run into the box.

    If we are to talk about anyone baffling included, it would have to be Eddie Johnson’s inclusion, given his game against Bosnia, certainly I thought JK would leave him out, yes he scored that one time, it was a good offset to the goal that he gifted Bosnia.

    • drewvt6 - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      I don’t get Liviu’s dislike for Mix. He does fantastic things in the midfield and is a great spark off the bench.

  2. Kyle Bonn - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Love the fact we’re probably going to cap tie Johannsson and Brooks. Probably a formality at this point, but still will allow everyone to breathe easier going forward.

    • danielofthedale - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      Aron has filed his one time switch, he can now only play for the USA. Even if they never play him in an official game he could never go back to Iceland. So he is in effect already cap tied

      • randomhookup - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:50 PM

        That’s the beauty of a “one time switch”… you can only do it one time. :)

  3. danielofthedale - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Like the first comment, I think Mixx has more than earned his call up. I think he was very good in the Gold Cup Final and was one of the best players on the team through out that tournament.

    I must disagree with @interesting29 about EJ. Did you see the goal EJ scored Sunday night? That is why I think he should be on this team now and in Brazil. There is not one player coming off the bench in the this player pool that is the threat to score with their head on free and corner kicks like EJ. He also have still has very good pace. Those two things make him a great late game sub if we are in need of a goal.

    With both LB and RB looking like the weakest areas right now, is there any shot that one of the young guys like Yedlin at RB or Garza at LB getting some looks before the World Cup. Or is the more prudent thing to do is stick with the guys you know and hope they just done make a mistake that sinks us?

    • dreadpirate82 - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      I’m with you on Mix. I’ve been impressed. He may be more of a sub in this cycle, but I like what he brings to the table.

      I’m somewhere in between on Eddie. Watching the match on TV Sunday night, I was wondering why he wasn’t leaving a mark on the game. Two minutes later, he heads that ball home. He’s a bench guy with this team, but he could be valuable. His spot is not safe for Brazil, so he will need to keep producing to get there. I think he will.

      The timing of Zusi’s recent injury makes that right wing starting spot a much easier decision. He looked great on Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League, but you have to think Donovan has that wide spot on the right, with Fabian on the left. I was initially looking for Donovan and Zusi interchanging at those spots (as Zusi and Kamara sometimes do at SKC). That was before Fabian’s emergence in the midfield.

      Starting Brooks seems like a stretch, but maybe he’ll be capped with a late substitution to provide more defensive support.

  4. ireneanddanny - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Agree with @interesting29 and @danielofthedale. Diskerud played well in the Gold Cup, he’s earned the call up. Plus, compared to the other CM’s, he’s the only real attacking CM. Along those lines, Beckerman, while he played well in the Gold Cup is redundant with Bradley and Jones ahead of him, he probably could’ve stayed home with Corona, then maybe Kljestan taking his place.

    • pstevenson1082 - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:26 AM

      Diskerud is probably going to Brazil because of the reason you stated. Sacha Kljestan has made tremendous strides in his game…. His team has even qualified for Champions League but I’m not so sure he’s going to make the team unless his team makes a miracle run and he plays well. Kljestan is a more decorated Beckerman but doesn’t have the physical presence. JK likes Beckerman. While it may be unfair, Kljestan may be the odd man out.

  5. awhayes - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    I do like cap-tying Aron Johannsson now. That kid will be a beast and an important player at next year’s World Cup. He’s that good.

    Diskerud should absolutely be on this team. He is one of few US players with true touch. My guess is that he’ll be super impressive playing with Donovan/Dempsey/Zusi/Bradley at the same time and not second tier US players. I’m not sure about Bedoya because he disappears for long stretches in games – though he seems to connect well with Donovan. I think Corona has more upside.

    The biggest snub here is Michael Parkhurst. That guy does nothing but defend effectively. It’s a bit unnerving that for right back we have one guy who is not a defender at all (Evans) and one guy who much prefers playing in the middle (Cameron). And at left back we have 2 guys who aren’t defenders (Beasley, Castillo). While Beasley has done a decent job back there, Castillo has openly admitted he doesn’t like playing defense. JK should just find some guys who actually play those positions.

    • randomhookup - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      There’s no need to “cap tie” Aron. He can never play for Iceland again. Once the papers are approved, that’s it.

    • wfjackson3 - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:04 PM

      Your comment about Mix feels like a copout to me. Creative and technical players are supposed to make the players around them noticeably better, not the other way around.

      I am with Liviu on this one. I don’t think Mix has really progressed at all since he started getting called up. I would have left him out.

      • awhayes - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:38 PM

        That’s not true. When you’re playing with guys who don’t read the game as well or who can’t execute like the better players it’s hard to make them better. Mix has vision that other players don’t. I’ll admit that he hasn’t played lights out so far but he’s made plays and specifically had passes that special players make – and JK has seen that.

      • wfjackson3 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:01 PM

        I just want to make sure I am hearing you correctly. Are you saying that Dempsey and Altidore and Bradley and EJ and Fabian and Jones do not know how to make a run? Because I haven’t seen Mix making a single one of those players better.

        More to the point, would you dispute that Mix basically looks like the same player as he did in the Russia game?

      • awhayes - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:09 AM

        Mix has barely played with Dempsey, Altidore, Bradley, Fabian or Jones. Mix came up mostly for the Gold Cup when none of those guys were involved and there were different starting lineups for each game. And, not sure which Russia game you watched but Diskerud had a fantastic crunch time goal that secured the tie. He belongs.

      • wfjackson3 - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        I didn’t say he wasn’t good. I said he hasn’t improved since then. Everyone else, with a few exceptions, has been constantly getting better.

  6. interesting29 - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    I will agree and give you that EJ is a speedster, but can you really put him on the pitch and hopefully he won’t make a mistake and lose balls, the fact that he scores versus an MLS team is like playing the minnows of CONCACAF. Just like Wondo scored, but even going against an okay defensive Bosnian line, he lose balls easily, and his decision making needs to be questioned. His technical skills are too deficient when he tries to do one on one, he eventually loses.

    • pstevenson1082 - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:29 AM

      If this was my team…. Boyd would be on the roster and EJ would remain a MLS player…. It’s sad that he never reached his potential.

  7. talgrath - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    I’m not suprrised by Corona’s call up at all. Unlike Bedoya, Corona puts the ball in the back of the net from midfield and is always doing what Klinsmann urges his players to do, play faster and have fun with it. Did you forget this little gem?

    Bedoya, by contrast, never looked all that good for the USMNT, at least under Klinsmann’s regime. Sure, Bedoya can put in good service, but he always seemed to slow down the attack when he got the ball and even when he seems to have space for a shot, he never takes it. Personally, I’d take Joe Corona any day over Bedoya.

    • talgrath - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      Whoops, I thought Corona got the call up and not Bedoya, nevermind. Color me surprised as well.

  8. hildezero - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    I like Evans, but he doesn’t deserve a call-up.

  9. mfmaxpower - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    I’ll take Mix over Kljestan every day.

    With Kljestan we know what we’re getting, which is to say, at the international level at least, a nonstellar back-up’s back-up.

    Mix has had his sub-par showings for the USMNT but he offers two big things that Kljestan doesn’t: plenty of potential, and an ability to influence our attack from center midfield that not many others on our roster have.

    • pstevenson1082 - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:38 AM

      Well… Kljestan has Champions League matches to prove that he should be the back-up CM. He had a decent game against Bosnia but JK needs to see more. Pretty sure he’ll be watching. Kljestan is more Beckerman than Diskerud and JK likes Beckerman A LOT.

  10. jaxfootballing - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Ditto to the “I’ll take Mix over Kljestan every day.” comment. As awhayes noted – “He is one of few US players with true touch”

    I have seen an ‘expected’ starting lineup of potentially “Tim Howard; Brad Evans, Omar González, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones; Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson; Jozy Altidore.” These are the guys that JK seems to like are his 1st choice squad for now.

    One could say that Zusi could start and LD be his replacement depending upon output/fitness.
    Mixx seems to me to be able to play a similar role to Dempsey with an eye toward creativity and willingness to have a blast at goal. I hope that Cameron would be able to get some minutes as he should be able to outplay Jones if he is given the opportunity. Same thing with Brooks (who needs to get into the CR game) as he may be able to outplay either Gonzales or Besler….Competition is generally a good thing!!

    It would seem like Joe Corona has more longer term upside than Bedoya as he has a more well rounded game.

    Should be an interesting next 6 weeks or so to see how the different combinations and absolute desire to finish top of the group work out for JK/USMNT.

    • ireneanddanny - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      And it’s great that we’re having this discussion with Shea, Boyd, Corona, Wondo, Kljestan, and Goodson all missing out for these qualifiers, but still in the mix for Brazil provided they deliver good seasons. There’s actual depth in the player pool!

  11. hildezero - Aug 30, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    I agree with you. I can’t remember when was the last time people were so into discussing players that shouldn’t be there and players that should be there. Klinsy has really given a chance to the veterans. Has checked out some youngsters. Believed in MLS. Made Americans that play in Europe to earn their spot with the national team. Also, scouting American players through out the world. US Soccer definitely now have a deep player pool.

  12. paxonst - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    The reason why Diskerud was called in over Kljestan is because he’s a two-way player. Kljestan is a liability defensively, and he hasn’t shown much going forward. I like Shea, but he’s not getting much playing time with his club team. Interested to see if Dempsey still has the “fire in his belly” since moving to MLS. Looking for Donavan to have a big impact in these qualifier, especially against Mexico. The Costa Rica match will be a very tough game. I’m predicting a 1-1 draw, which would not be a bad result.

  13. boscoesworld - Aug 30, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    I suppose one of the most technically and tactically sound players in the pool shouldn’t be on this team according to the author. Mix had about one bad half in the Gold Cup. His vision of the field is second only to Michael Bradley in this pool. Eddie Johnson is lazy IMO and should have been left home. If he is anything but a late second half sub I would be surprised. He holds up more attacks than Easy Company in WWII.

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