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U.S. World Cup roster examination – Who is going to Brazil?: FORWARDS

Oct 16, 2013, 6:53 PM EDT

Compared to the overwhelming options in the center third of the field, this one is a relative piece of World Cup cake.

As three veteran players have done plenty to prove their worth, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann really has two questions to answer: First, does he take four or five strikers? And then, who are the extra one or possibly two (once we get past Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson, all of whom have their gold chip in pocket)?


(Estimated number of spot available: 4-5):

Start making plans, guys … you’re going to Brazil!: Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore Eddie Johnson

Dempsey may be struggling to make his mark on MLS, but he has a long and telling history of manufacturing big moments in the U.S. shirt. Don’t be afraid to buy the extra pair of flip flops, Deuce, you’ll be feeling the sand of Rio on those Texas toes.

source: Getty Images

So will Altidore, no matter how far he sinks into the swampy mire at Sunderland. Hopefully, all that gets better. But if it doesn’t, Klinsmann will not forget about Altidore’s fabulous summer, or that he put away four vital goals in final round qualifying, including back-to-back game-winners against Panama and Honduras.

Eddie Johnson scored some big goals this year, including the game-winner as his Americans clinched a World Cup berth against Mexico. (Can’t you still hear the Columbus crowd crowing: “Dos a cero!”) He is the most athletic of U.S. strikers and has great instincts and timing around the six, quite something to have at the ready when in need of a late goal. So he’s on the charter.

The really interesting thing is that Herculez Gomez would have been on this list just a few months ago. But a summer injury allowed Johnson to slip inside Gomez on depth chart, and now the Xolos de Tijuana man (uh … should it be “Xolos de Tijuana hombre?”) may have to hold off a late challenge from Aron Johannsson, 22, who looks to have tremendous upside.

“Upside” doesn’t get you on a World Cup roster, but two impressive performances in qualifiers last week and on Tuesday will move the Icelandic-Alabaman significantly in that direction.

For you Chris Wondolowski fans: I love the guy, and he represents MLS as well as anyone I have ever known. But I ask you once more, which guy do you subtract from this list? Until you can name that guy, this isn’t a debate.

On the bubble: Herculez Gomez, Aron Johannson, Terrence Boyd

Still in the conversation … but just barely: Chris Wondolowski, Juan Agudelo

(MORE: Where the goalkeepers of the U.S. player pool stand) 

(MORE: Where the defenders in the U.S. player pool stand)

(MORE: Where the midfielders in the U.S. player pool stand)

  1. braxtonrob - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    I wouldn’t be able to leave off Gomez, and Johannson has impressed me greatly, but Wondo is a WINNER, and winners win (doesn’t matter how).

    I think we need to find a way to take 6.

    • danielofthedale - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      What has Wondo won?

      • braxtonrob - Oct 16, 2013 at 10:32 PM

        “What has Wondo won?”


    • mkbryant3 - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      Wondo over Boyd in a heartbeat.

      • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:46 AM

        Boyd >> Wondo

    • rphillish - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:36 PM

      Wondo, really?
      Even if you believed in him, his Gold Cup ended any chance of getting in. He just can’t score against stronger teams.

    • mdac1012 - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:30 AM

      Come on! We have all been through this Wondo argument a million times. A nice guy, a very good MLS player, not talented enough to cut it against good international competition. As much as some people like the guy, it doesn’t change the reality that there is not one aspect of his game that is good enough to merit his inclusion on the team.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:47 AM

      Wondo can only score against small weak Concacaf teams. You’re delusional if you really think he should be in the national team.

    • majorsully - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:45 AM

      Johannson 100%, very impressed! Same for Diskerud, he is our ONLY truly creative, Attacking Mid of this bunch (not counting LD and Clint). Bradley is a #6 or Def Mid, whereas Jones & Beckerman play that role too, but more in goon/non-creative role!

      • nbcrollaround - Oct 23, 2013 at 4:57 AM

        I like Johannson and Diskerud, great players. I rate Johannson on a another planet than Diskerud.
        However, these guys come out of nowhere and they are the new face of American soccer?

        If I were picking my local six aside and Wondo were standing there with those two I;d have him first. He plays with heart, hes smart, and he makes very sneaky runs. You provide him with speedy wingers to provide great crosses and he will knock them in more consistently than the other two. He is a winner. He will find a way to hurt you at any chance he gets.

        But to me its about who’s hot at the time. Wondolowski has only 10 goals this season that leads a team 3 pts from making the MLS “play offs”. Mike Magee might be a better choice if you look at the numbers.

  2. jimmycrackcorn99 - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Boyd has only been able to shine in club play, I personally think Johannsson is the future and a great sub or replacement due to any possible injuries which may arise. Gomez won’t get a chance in the next two games in Europe, so maybe we will see him in spring 2014??

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:45 AM

      Boyd has only gotten 1 start and that was against Scotland last year, the rest of his appearances have only been in 20 min or less substitutions.

  3. hildezero - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Hey Steve,

    I find it very important to add Agudelo into that list. Here’s why: Jozy is not playing well right now with Sunderland AFC. They’re on track to go down as one of the worst teams in Barclays Premier League history. Jozy needs to step up before it’s too late. By too late I mean that Sunderland is gonna get relegated and Jozy will probably go down with them. Can you imagine the US Soccer’s top striker playing in the FL Championship? That would be tough for Jozy which brings in Agudelo into the conversation. Agudelo is set to report to Stoke City in January. If Agudelo breaks through in Stoke, that would put a lot of pressure on Jozy. While Jozy would be playing in a relegated club with difficulty to score goals, Agudelo would (probably) be scoring goals in a mid-table club. Don’t be surprised if you’re forced to put Agudelo in the “you’re on your way to Brazil” list when April/May comes around.

    • danielofthedale - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      Even if Sunderland go down, Jozy will not have played in the Championship as that season will not start till after the World Cup. And Sunderland’s woes have almost nothing to do with Jozy, if you watch the games you can see he is holding up will, making good passes and getting into dangerous areas he is just not getting any service to take advantage of it. I see no way a healthy Jozy is not starting for the USA come Brazil.

  4. danielofthedale - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    I would bring both Johannsson and Boyd along with the top three. I would not be shocked at all if Johannsson is the second best Striker the US has by the summer even if he is not a starter and Boyd seems to be a really good hold up and distribute player. I know he has two assist in big games and seems to set up at least one or two quality chances for others each game he plays even in limited time.

    Gomez I think time might have caught up to him and Wondo is just not cut out to do anything but miss chances at the highest level.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:48 AM

      Well said!

  5. talgrath - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Johansson and Gomez have to be the frontrunners of the bubble players. Hercules Gomez has come through big for the US in the past,and he still has plenty left in the tank, even if it isn’t always pretty. Every time Johansson touched the ball the last two games he showed the sort of football Kilnsmann wants to play, aggressive, attack-minded passes and shots that weren’t afraid to be ambitious. I would be shocked if Johansson wasn’t on that plane for any reason other than injury.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:50 AM

      Johannsson isn’t really a bubble player. There is a reason why JK worked hard to convince him to switch to the U.S. MNT.

      • jimmycrackcorn99 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        Agreed 100%. JK is making him earn the trip, you cannot send the message that he is a shoe-in.

      • talgrath - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        I agree, but the article calls him one, thus why I mentioned him as such.

  6. hildezero - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    I agree with you, but I’m mainly talking about Agudelo here. If Sunderland does get relegated, sure they wouldn’t technically be considered a Championship club before the World Cup starts, but Klinsi doesn’t care about. He just cares about his players getting minutes and performing well for their clubs in the highest level. If Agudelo can accomplish that, uh oh… o_O look out, Jozy…

  7. player169 - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    I was definitely of the mindset that Wondo was a useful sub for specific situations, but with the emergence of Johansson, i don’t think he makes the trip. I think Johansson takes the last of 4 striker spots. Donovan can play the striker role if need be…as can a couple others, so any other strikers would be duel role guys from midfield….

    • braxtonrob - Oct 16, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      Good points!

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:53 AM

      Wondo isn’t even close to making the roster so you really shouldn’t have had the mindset that Wondo would of been a useful sub for specific situations.

  8. majorsully - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:48 AM

    Johannson 100%, very impressed! Regarding the Mids, same for Diskerud, he is our ONLY truly creative Attacking Mid of this bunch (not counting LD and Clint). Bradley is a #6 or Def Mid, whereas Jones & Beckerman play that role too, but more in goon/non-creative role!

    • braxtonrob - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:47 AM

      Jones and (especially) Beckerman CANNOT play that role effective enough at the international level.

      This is not a track meet. DeMerit would be superb in that role, however. God knows the centerbacks will need REAL help come World Cup time.
      Either shore up the defense with conviction or prepare to see your national team carved up when it counts, next summer.

      • bear06 - Oct 18, 2013 at 2:24 AM

        Jones can play that role effective at the international level. There is a reason why he plays for a big German Champions League club in Schalke. You seriously don’t know what you’re talking about.

        Demerit? Really?!? Did you forget that he got carved up against Ghana in the 2010 WC?

      • braxtonrob - Oct 18, 2013 at 3:30 AM

        I saw an overrated Bocanegra unable to help DeMerit, and … I witnessed the world’s most overrated GK’r come flyin’ out of his box (twice) as if HE was the center back.

        I PLAYED, at a high level. I promise you, I (think I) know EXACTLY what I’m talkin’ about.

      • bear06 - Oct 19, 2013 at 2:31 AM

        FIFA 14 doesn’t count.

      • braxtonrob - Oct 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM

        @bear, How sad for you, not to be able to understand the game you so dearly love.

      • bear06 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:08 PM

        I feel sorry for you that you’re so ignorant about the beautiful game. Did you just start watching football/soccer?

  9. px2ug - Oct 17, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    I think because of Johannson, Wondo won’t make the cut. Jojannson is everything Wondo is and more plus he is younger.

    • bear06 - Oct 18, 2013 at 2:25 AM

      Even Boyd and Gomez is ahead of Wondo.

      • bear06 - Oct 18, 2013 at 2:25 AM


      • braxtonrob - Oct 23, 2013 at 7:43 PM

        Do you have any other excuse for your poor grammar?

      • bear06 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        It looks like you need some glasses braxtonrob.

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