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MLS’s best ‘not selected’ U.S. squad (a.k.a., the all-snub team)

Mar 27, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

Benny Feilhaber-2

Consider this our attempt to pick the biggest snubs, but with Jurgen Klinsmann calling up 22 North America-based players for next week’s camp in Arizona, it’s difficult to identify many players who were wronged. Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber, who played so well for Peter Vermes during the 2013 Major League Soccer postseason, is the obvious name, particularly considering his place at the 2010 World Cup. Looking at the list of players that were called in, however, it’s hard to say Feilhaber should have clearly been chosen over Maurice Edu (who Klinsmann may just want to look at) or Luis Gil (an important part of the next cycle).

Nobody was really expecting the likes of Mike Magee or Dax McCarty to make a late push for this team. With Klinsmann having cycled through so many players during his tenure, we had a good idea of where everybody stood before Wednesday’s announcement. When U.S. Soccer announced the invites for next week’s camp, most of the surprises (Edu) were in the team, not out.

(MORE: Position-by-position: Breaking down the U.S.’s squad for Mexico)

In lieu of some legitimate controversy, let’s have some fun. Let’s look across Major League Soccer, take inventory of the U.S.-eligible players, and ask what a 23-man roster would look like if we were limited to Klinsmann’s snubs. Consider it a quick, accessible way to see how big the step down is from next week’s 22-man team, but also consider it a light, mostly meaningless way to highlight that divide.

At some positions, the picks were obvious. There isn’t a ton of U.S. depth at forward and wide midfield (at least, not in Major League Soccer). The team runs deeper in central midfield, but the choices still weren’t difficult.

In defense, however, there were a number of legitimate snubs, particularly in the middle, where one starter from the 2010 World Cup couldn’t even make our bench.

(MORE: Players who need to impress in next week’s U.S. national team camp)

Goalkeepers: Jon Busch (San Jose Earthquakes), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA)

Hall and Kennedy were easy choices, though picking Jon Busch over Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls) felt like a toss-up. Robles has been getting some deserved press for some great early season saves, but Busch’s performance throughout the 2013 season was overshadowed by the Earthquakes’ fall from first. The team finished with fewer goals allowed than in its 2012 Supporters Shield-winning season.

Others on the notepad: Robles; Troy Perkins (Montréal Impact)

source:  Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Carlos Bocanegra (Chivas USA), Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), George John (FC Dallas), Chris Klute (Colorado Rapids), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), Kofie Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo)

The central defense may be the strength of our hypothetical team, with the league’s embarrassment of riches reflected in the All-Star caliber players left on the notepad. Even at right back, a player like Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams can’t get into this team, though he is every bit as useful as (just different from) Ashe and Beltran. We gave those two the benefit of the doubt based on participation in previous U.S. camps, though that rule went out the window when we vaulted an improving Sarkodie over a number of players who have gotten Klinsmann’s call.

Others on the notepad: Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Michael Harrington (Portland Timbers); Drew Moor (Colorado Rapids), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City), Williams

Midfielders: Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago Fire), Justin Mapp (Montréal Impact), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Shea Salinas (San Jose Earthquakes), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

The fact that Mapp and Salinas are the only wide players in this midfield speaks to the lack of depth in those spots. Where quality options like Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo) and Luis Silva (D.C. United) can’t crack this team, Salinas and Mapp might be starters (in that game well never play). It’s not that they’re bad players – they immediately went into the notebook as I was compiling this team. It’s more that there’s very little competition at their spots.

Others on the notepad: Clark; Silva

(MORE [Soccerly]: Red, White, Blue & (Julian) Green)

Forwards: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)

Steven Lenhart? Noooo, the internet says, but the man is a legitimately useful player, part of the reason he has four major team honors on his résumé. He might not start for this team, but he’s a great option to have late. Same goes for Gordon, though the starters are pretty clear. Magee playing off Bruin is a combination that would thrive in a down Gold Cup.

Others on the notepad: C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City).

  1. dws110 - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    I am convinced that Dan Kennedy would be the USMNT #1 but for Chivas. They’ve been so bad for so long that Kennedy’s brilliance was overshadowed by the comedy stylings of his alleged defenders. No other American GK faces so many 1v11 tests as Kennedy does.

    • nappy25 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      You’ve obviously never seen Aston Villa play.

      • mikeevergreen - May 16, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        My question about them is this: When does Guzan bolt them for another team?

      • nappy25 - May 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        @mikeevergreen Maybe when a Europa League qualtiy team calls he would probably leave.

    • bear06 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Lol Wut?!?

  2. mdac1012 - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    Yes Dan Kennedy is hurt by being at Chivas, but in no way would he be the U.S. number one, even if he was at a different club. At best he would be competing for a back up spot.

    Benny Feilhaber has had a nice resurgence. He is not going to Brazil, but if he keeps playing like he has, Benny is going to earn himself another call up.

    As a Red Bull fan I love Dax McCarty, he is a grind it out, 110% on every play type of player, but he is not an international player. He flat out doesn’t have the foot speed or overall skill to be effective on the international level.

    Speaking of lacking talent, the only way Steven Lenhart belongs at a U.S. National Team game is if he buys a ticket.

    • midtec2005 - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      I agree that Lenhart doesn’t have the raw talent for the international level. But I think he might make up for that in other ways. Toughness, hard work, etc….

      • bear06 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:35 PM

        Not really. He’s a thug and if MLS had more skilled players he wouldn’t even be in the league.

    • bear06 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      At best he would be competing for the 3rd GK spot but Rimando has shown that he’s the best MLS GK.

      Feilhaber’s chances of getting called up are pretty much over since this camp will be the last chance for some of the fringe MLS players to impress and get in the 30 man preliminary WC roster in May.

      I agree with you on Lenhart haha!

  3. chadmoon1 - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Matt Hedges and Andrew Jacobson of FC Dallas should get a look at some point for the USMNT. But not now.

    • mikeevergreen - May 16, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Kellyn Acosta, too.

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