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Now that we know the U.S. opponents, which 23 players should Jurgen Klinsmann bring to Brazil?

Dec 6, 2013, 2:20 PM EDT

Michael Bradley, Tim Howard AP

Surprisingly, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann never asks the media for their thoughts on which 23 players he should take to Brazil next year; as we keep saying, these 23 golden invitations mean absolutely everything to any professional soccer player.

But … if Klinsmann ever does get stuck and needs an extra opinion, by gosh, we’re ready.

Here’ who we would like to see on the United States 23-man roster next year in Brazil.

Goalkeepers (3):

Quick explanations: This is the easiest position to pick. These are the guys, barring injury, going to Brazil. Klinsmann has said so with his selections all along; no reason to believe anything will change.

Defenders (8):

  • Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, John Brooks, Brad Evans, DaMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, Steve Cherundolo

Quick explanations: Besler and Gonzalez are the starters, with Brooks likely to push them and Cameron ready to jump in (at this or a number of other positions). Any injuries to the center backs and Michael Orozco gets the call.

Next guy up: Edgar Castillo, who can provide some late-game push up the left flank.

Midfielders (8):

  • Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, Kyle Beckerman, Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud

Quick explanations: Yes, Brek Shea. He provides a skills set otherwise lacking in the U.S. pool. And, no, no Alejandro Bedoya; he needed to do more with those recent starting opportunities. Note that Johnson finds himself as a midfielder; we all know he can play left back or right back (started there against Mexico in the qualifying clincher, in fact). Same goes for Cameron above; he’s a similarly interchangeable part. In terms of performance and ability to fill various roles, Sacha Kljestan and Diskerud are virtually inseparable.

Next guy up: Sacha Kljestan, who provides the same great utility as Diskerud.

Forwards: (4):

Quick explanations: This one more or less sorts itself out. Johannsson’s rise happened at a time when Herculez Gomez was trying to get healthy; here is a case where timing is everything.

Next guy up: Herculez Gomez, assuming he can get healthy.

  1. dws110 - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Brad Evans v. Cristiano Ronaldo. Think about that for a bit. Then come back and tell me when you crawl out from under your bed.

    • perrinbar - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      Evans comes along as a utility player. Pretty sure Cherundolo would be starting with this lineup.

      • dws110 - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        I don’t know, Klinsmann’s been pretty consistent in saying that it’s Evans’ spot to lose. Maybe this draw changes his mind, maybe not. Seems like Cherundolo’s fallen pretty far on the depth chart, I’d be surprised to see him on the 23 over someone like Lichaj.

      • htowngooner - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        I think Cherundolo’s a long shot, he’s been out for too long, and Klinsi will probably go with what’s worked through qualifying. Plus, he loves Orozco

      • bear06 - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:42 AM

        @htowngooner: Klinsmann has called up Orozco because he has done really well with Puebla this year, but he’s a long shot to make the WC roster.

    • josephurban - Dec 7, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      There is always a chance that Ronaldo may catch a cold !

  2. redbaronx - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I hope Herculez Gomez is healthy and gets to go. I’d rather take him over Eddie Johnson as a backup striker.

  3. dfstell - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Honestly….we’re going to be doing a lot of bunkering-and-countering. We’ll play with Ghana, but against Portugal and Germany, we’re going to be pushed way back and trying to steal goals on the counter.

    We’re going to need guys who can head away crosses and we’re going to need guys who transition FAST to attacking. I predict we’ll all have a new appreciation for Omar Gonzalez after this tournament. I think Brek Shea is a good call too. We’re going to need someone who is speedy and direct to steal a goal for us.

    I suddenly think I want much better fullbacks than Evans and Beasley too. Those guys aren’t going to be attacking at all. They’re going to be pinned back and defending guys like Ronaldo, Ozil, Nani, etc…. I’d rather have Cameron playing right back.

    • talgrath - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      I don’t think there will be as much countering and bunkering as you think; Klinsmann hasn’t shown a particular taste for that sort of play; the USMNT will come out swinging, and they will need to do so if they have a chance of winning. If the USMNT let any of these teams get too comfortable, their opponents will score, leaving the team chasing the game. To win in this group you will need to play aggressively to have any chance.

      • josephurban - Dec 7, 2013 at 7:34 AM

        I agree. All three of these teams will score goals against our only average defense. We will have to outscore them to have any chance of winning.

  4. jay1934 - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    I can’t believe Johansson is one of your picks. He hasn’t shown much potential. There’s so many proven players who haven’t even been chosen. What about Mike McGee of Chicago, the MLS player of the year? Klinsman has his favorites. I don’t know how Johansson got to be one of them. Hope they fail quickly.

    • dws110 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:09 PM

      Mike McGee at the World Cup? Yeah…about that.

    • mvktr2 - Dec 6, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      ^I gave him a thumbs up out of pitty.

    • danielofthedale - Dec 6, 2013 at 7:19 PM

      You must not have watched Aron play. He has already scored close to 15 goals for AZ. Has shown to be dangerous when playing for the US. Is the type of guy you want coming on late to test a back line.

    • bear06 - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:40 AM

      Have you been living under a rock this year jay1934? Johannsson is one of the best young forwards that the U.S. has besides Altidore, and he’s only going to get better and better.

  5. ginog04 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Im not that impressed with Kyle Beckerman either…

  6. ginog04 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    “We’ll play with Ghana” fast,strong, good ball hamdlers… yeah we’ll play with em but we need to be very carefull.

  7. awhayes - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    I’d drop Beckerman in favor of Benny Feilhaber. I know he hasn’t had much MNT duty lately but with Feilhaber, you’re always one touch pass from a goal. He could be a valuable late sub when we’re losing 1-0 to Germany or Portugal. In the end I’m guessing Klinnsmann opts for Bedoya or Klejstan over Beckerman due to their experience in Europe (given 2 of first 3 opponents European).

    I also think we should all be on the watch for a random guy who doesn’t seem to be on the radar right now – like Julian Green (and maybe Holden). I know Greene’s only 18 but he just got into a Champion’s League game – the talent is obvious and Klinnsmann has proven to be adept at snatching German guys with US ties.

    • bear06 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:36 AM

      Feilhaber isn’t making the U.S. MNT. Also those German guys with U.S. ties are Americans.

  8. wrdtoyrmama - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Seems to me the US strongest backline would be RB Cameron, Omar/Besler, LB Fabian Johnson. US has plenty in mf, and putting Johnson at LB would give them a strong attacker, and a bigger physical presence than Beasley.

    Advancing is not impossible here. The US is arguably better than 4 years ago, Ghana and Portugal are not.

    Portugal struggled to qualify, and it took Ronaldo (who’s never had a great Cup) to get them through against a mediocre Sweden. This match is the crucial middle one, played in the afternoon in the jungle of Manaus.

    Ghana struggled to qualify, Essien older, Boateng plays every other week with a bum knee.
    US will be jacked to get revenge for the Black Stars booting them the last 2 Cups, and a full points here sets them up well for the Portugal match.

    Then finally Germany, clearly one of the favorites, but the Germans may not need the last match, and the US should be highly motivated to give their German born manager a positive result.
    If the US needs a draw, the Germans play their 2nd team, the US ought to be able to get the draw.

  9. mknow406a - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Beckerman is a great MLS player, but the international game is a different creature. I see match-ups with Ronaldo and Ozil, and being brutally honest, Beckerman is simply way too slow to be able to deal with them. Danny Williams, if he stays healthy, will knock Beckerman out of the 23. Williams is simply more athletic at this point… and recovery speed, if only for covering for somebody else, will be vital in this group. Eddy Johnson is solid off the bench for an aerial presence, but Boyd is a better all around striker. If Altidore goes down, a Boyd-Johansson combo would be the best second choice. Eddy Johnson is a once trick pony. He has a straight ahead, change of pace, step over. If defenders don’t bite, like against Scotland, he goes nowhere. Johansson and Boyd each move to space, support and create chances for themselves and others. Eddy should be included but only to come off the bench to be a set piece threat . So if both Boyd and EJ go, who then misses out… it will be one of the defenders. There is no need for Cameron, Evans and Cherundolo at RB… if Cameron is to be a center back, then Goodison stays home. There is no need for 5 center backs, or 3 right backs depending on how you want to group it. There are already plenty of guys in that group that can cover other positions if needed in a pinch.

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