Skip to content

Jurgen Klinsmann names five key players USA will build World Cup squad around. Do you agree?

Feb 4, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

US national football team head coach, Ge

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, 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.

(MORE: Can Geoff Cameron bump Brad Evans as first choice United States right back?)

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?

  1. greej1938l - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Wait where’s Freddy Adu?

  2. konmtu - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Altidore, yes. Just because the team he is on isn’t or doesn’t play to his style doesn’t mean he’s not the best striker for the USMNT.

    Bradley, yes. He’s world class regardless of what his situation was at Roma. He’ll show through at TFC.

    Howard, yes. Obvious.

    Dempsey, not necessarily. He’s ultra-competitive but really hasn’t shown he’s deserved it since the move to Seattle. Klinsmann would get more from him by slighting him to maybe re-kindle that fire.

    Jones, hell no.

    I think in time Besler, Omar, and Cameron can make their cases. Definitely in the next WC cycle, they’ll have to be considered the core.

    • bear06 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:17 AM

      Bradley is a very good player but he’s not definitely not world class. A world class player is a top 5 player in the world in his position.

  3. livereds - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    JK said the “spine” of the team. These aren’t the core 5. He is referring to fact that the human spine is int he center of the back and, thus, these players will be playing down the center of the pitch. What’s telling about this comment is that there are two players that play down the center of the pitch, the central defenders, and he didn’t name Besler or Gonzalez as those guys. That means that those two positions are wide open and I think he’s taking a good look at Cameron and, possibly, Brooks if he can get a game at Hertha.

    • bear06 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      Yeah, it looks like Brooks might be returning this weekend from his minor knee injury.

  4. boscoesworld - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    I would agree with Jozi, Bradley and Howard. The other two are in pretty bad form right now.

    • birgitcalhoun - Feb 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      Jozy’s form may be there. But where are the results?

    • siris46 - Feb 4, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      I love Bradley but how can he be in good form? He hasnt played a game since Dec. 22 and only played 11 games in Serie A this season, most of those coming in as a sub.

  5. birgitcalhoun - Feb 4, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Isn’t Altidore subject to huge questions. Dempsey is also only coasting. I agree not to jump the gun on replacing anybody who has done well in the WC play-offs. But if people like JA and CD are really not proving their spot the way Klinsmann has placed them, there need to be second thoughts.

  6. wandmdave - Feb 4, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Isn’t he basically saying that is what he has done. Every other position on the field has been in flux this cycle except those 5. He is just describing what he has done which isn’t exciting. Mountain out of a mole hill.

    • bear06 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:05 AM

      You’re an idiot.

  7. Gr8JohnL - Feb 4, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    I don’t trust JJ… a dirty player who could see red and cost you in the WC.

    • bear06 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:04 AM

      You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Jones is not a dirty player and he has had 0 red cards with the U.S. MNT.

      • tomcatfl - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        No reds, perhaps. But he accumulates yellows and could be in danger of a suspension even in a short group stage. That being said, and acknowledging his mistake rate, he’s still our second best holding midfielder, after Bradley and ahead of Beckerman IMO.

        (Arguably Cameron would also be ahead of Beckerman if JK wanted to play him there, but probably needs him too much on the back line.)

        The question is whether we should start with two holding midfielders, or, say, go 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield with just Bradley in the back. Might depend on the matchup, to be sure.

      • bear06 - Feb 7, 2014 at 12:07 AM

        IMO it’s best if JK stays with two holding midfielders because of our inexperienced backline.

      • tomcatfl - Feb 7, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        Against Germany, bear is probably right that we need to have two holding mids. Against Portugal, I just haven’t seen them enough to know how deep they go to judge, but quite possibly there, too. Against Ghana, I’d really like to see a more aggressive formation.

        I just don’t really like any of the options for second holding mid that much. Beckerman-slow, bad outlet passer; Jones-inconsistent, too many yellows; Diskerud-inexperienced. Cameron might be the least objectionable, but I’d rather see him at right back, where I like him better than Evans, etc.

  8. The Artist Formally Known as Ngeisler - Feb 4, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Agreed with above– what the hell is Jermaine Jones still doing in such high standing? Guy is just a machine for turnovers and bad cards.

    • bear06 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:03 AM

      Jones is a quality player and has had 0 red cards for the U.S. MNT.

  9. elgallo2001 - Feb 4, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    Jones is a bit of a surprise. But the rest is really what we got. Landon has to be a key figure still. This WC will give a chance for some young guys to make a name, or disappear. Maybe Fabian Johnson, Geoff has looked great at Stoke this season, maybe Aaron comes on and surprises with a goal??

  10. banksofthetrent - Feb 4, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Div 1 players embarrassed Dempsey tonight in the cup, he is shocking.

  11. jucam1 - Feb 4, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    If JK is hanging his hopes on the most overrated US player ever aka Altadore then he might as well book his flight back after Germany, Portugal, and Ghana beat his team. JA is awful, just ask all the Sunderland fans. I hope JK uses this cup as a way to see which young guys he can count on for Russia ’18. The USMT will not get out of its pool, but seeing what you have for ’18, and preparing the young guys to be truly competitive then has to be Jurgen’s goal! Bradley is the only true useful international the USMT has outside its goalies, but he won’t be around for Russia, Jurgen needs to focus on developing the team for ’18, when hopefully they will be competitive against real WC contenders and not just the usual weak Concacaf competition that they face and use as a measuring stick. To be a real WC competitor Jurgen needs to develop the young guys now, get them out of the weak MLS and in to real leagues in LatAmn and Europe so that in ’18 the USMT will be a legit team that has a shot to win the Cup. It’s a long term strategy, but its the only way for the team to be a true competitor for the Cup

    • handsofsweed - Feb 5, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      Wow. You are going to have an unimaginably embarrassing, painful and frustrating summer. You deserve it.

  12. braxtonrob - Feb 4, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Scary. I expect people to continue to support Howard (despite the fact that WC Champions start at GK’r, and we should be discussing Guzan’s readiness).
    But, to continue to have Jermaine Jones that high in esteem (at this point) is just scary.
    Personally, I’d replace him with Feilhaber in a second. (Not to mention the other possibilities.)

    • bear06 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:02 AM

      Replace him with Feilhaber? He isn’t even close to making the WC squad let alone taking Jones’ starting spot.

      • braxtonrob - Feb 5, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        Actually, he is “close”, as inside analysts mentioned just last month.
        Why do you think he’s been taking another long look at him.

      • bear06 - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:34 AM

        Last month? Feilhaber came in as a sub against South Korea last weekend and didn’t impress at all. The next time I can see him getting called up again is in April if the rumors of playing Mexico is true because it will be an all MLS/Liga MX roster, but his chances of making the WC roster are very slim.

  13. braxtonrob - Mar 15, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    I’m gonna laugh at you when Klinsmann picks him for the 23. (And you’re gonna thank me when he actually plays him.)

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

PST Extra: Analyzing transfer deadline day