Feb 4, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT
With just a few friendlies to go between now and earlier June when the U.S. national team fly down to Brazil for arguably their toughest ever World Cup group campaign, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has revealed he already knows his core of starters.
Earmarking five names already inked into his starting XI in Brazil this summer, Klinsmann didn’t beat around the bush when broaching the topic of who he thinks will be starters at World Cup 2014.
Speaking to Scott French from MLSsoccer.com, Klinsmann stated that he already knows the five players the USA’s World Cup bid will be built around as they aim to make a splash in Brazil this summer.
Of course he did also note that things could change, but right now the USA’s head coach revealed who he expects to excel in Brazil and be the go-to guys for the Nats.
Here’s what Klinsmann had to say on the USA’s spine, following the month long January camp:
“I think Jozy [Altidore], once he’s keeping his playing rhythm and the quality he has, is our number one center forward that we have, and Clint [Dempsey] is the player behind him. We often talk about the spine of our team, which starts with Timmy [Howard] and then goes through midfield with Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, and then Clint and Jozy. I think this is something to build around. A lot of players that around these guys prove more and more their qualities, and they push for the starting spot and others push for getting into the roster at the end of the day.”
Do we agree with having these five players as the USMNT’s core?
There sure to be quite a few question marks surrounding at least four of these players, as these mainstays for the U.S. national team have gone through turbulent times in the last few months. Altidore has only scored two goals since his big money move to Premier League side Sunderland last summer, Dempsey has spent large spells out injured since his lucrative switch back to MLS with Seattle and then struggled a little on loan with Fulham this MLS offseason.
As for Bradley, he wasn’t playing regularly at AS Roma through no fault of his own, and has moved back to play at Toronto FC, while Jones has struggled to make an impact for FC Schalke in Germany and has joined Turkish club Besiktas on loan.
The only player from Klinsmann’s ‘core five’ who isn’t in a fluid situation right now is Howard, as the 34-year-old ‘keeper is as solid as ever for Everton in the PL.
By naming these five players as definite starters that the team will be built around in Brazil, will Klinsmann diminish the drive of his other players trying to getting in the starting XI? Or fuel it?
It could be looked at either way, but players such as Omar Gonzalez, Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi could be feeling a little miffed about being left out of the core group of players Klinsi referred too. Throw youngsters like Aron Johannsson into the mix who are looking to oust Altidore from the starting lineup, and you have a squad brimming with options outside the ‘core five.’
But, as we mentioned, with so many of Klinsmann’s key players going through transitional stages in their careers and struggling for form, should the USA really be relying on Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley and Jones to be the main men in Brazil this summer?
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