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U.S. World Cup 2014 roster outlook: GOALKEEPERS AND DEFENDERS

Apr 9, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

Matt Besler

The goalkeeper position has been a given throughout the cycle, but just over one month before of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s pre-World Cup camp convenes, the defense is coming into focus, too. Perhaps the order of the depth chart isn’t as clear as in goal, where the position’s one (Tim Howard), two (Brad Guzan), and three (Nick Rimando) are indisputable, but the names on the tickets are becoming evident. We don’t know who’ll make it into Jurgen Klinsmann’s ideal 11, but we’re starting to get a good idea of the options.

In the wake of last week’s friendly against Mexico, here’s how we see the U.S. roster picture for Brazil 2014:


This is where I apply analysis to something that’s obvious. If you’re unaware that Tim Howard will be starting June 16 against Ghana, you probably don’t know who the U.S. number one is, let alone which goalkeepers will serve as backups. Sorry, but introducing Howard, Guzan, and Rimando’s beyond the scope of this post.

The goalkeeping situation is so clear, we don’t even bother with a bubble, but it’s probably worth mentioning who’d get called in should somebody get injured. Like the main roster, that picture is crystal clear. If one man goes down, the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson will get the call. D.C. United’s Bill Hamid waits in the wings’ wings.

  • Going to Brazil: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
  • On the bubble: none


There’s still an inordinate amount of incredulity about why Klinsmann’s using natural midfielders at fullback, but whether fans like it or not, the picture is pretty evident. Players like DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Evans are not only locked into the squad, they could start in Brazil. Critics may not see the virtues of Evans over somebody like Geoff Cameron, but Klinsmann does. As far as the final squad (and lineup) is concerned, that’s all that matters.

Not that there’s any doubt about Cameron’s spot, either. He’s a lock, as are Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and Clarence Goodson. We’ve added Michael Parkhurst to the group, too. Given his versatility, performances against South Korea and Mexico, and the gap between the Columbus captain and the rest of the list, Parkhurst’s likely to go.

As for the rest of that list, odds are nobody from “the bubble” makes it. That’s partially because of the versatility of players like Parkhurst and Cameron, partially because Fabian Johnson, a possible starter at left midfield, could also get time at left back. There just aren’t backup spots that need to be filled, and once you look at the needs at midfield and forward, the roster’s flexibility looks more likely to be used there rather than in defense.

  • Going to Brazil: DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Michael Parkhurst
  • On the bubble (zero-to-one spots available): Tony Beltran, Anthony Brooks, Edgar Castillo, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco, DeAndre Yedlin

MORE: Goalkeepers and defenders | Midfielders | Forwards

  1. imagreatguy76 - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    I think you’re spot on here. Although you have to begin to wonder about Evans if doesn’t see the field soon…

    • josh907 - Apr 9, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      It’s interesting the author is including Fabian Johnson as a defender. He is usually listed as a midfielder for Klinsman and everyone knows we lack fullbacks and Johnson can cover there. But the question is if Klinsman play him there a few times in the three friendlies to see if he can play LB. .

      • gra42 - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:09 AM

        It’s because the best soccer the USMNT has played, maybe ever, happened in the 5-6 games Johson started as fb in JK’s 1st 2 years as coach. Even Jozy and Jones looked good in those matches. We had more possession than usual, the midfield strung more passes together than we typically do, the forwards got goals before the games got desperate. Even the one big match we lost to Brazil a couple of years back wasn’t as bad as it looked on the scoreboard; we could have easily put in a couple of more. That’s the difference a fb who can push up and hold the ball, and make the other teams mids and dbs chase can make. The match we played in Italy that we won 1-0 against a team made up of @8 of their Euro Cup starters is another example.

  2. elgallo2001 - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    I’d say bring Yedlin over Beasley. He’s more of a game changer… I think we are going to need that.

  3. markburst - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    I think DeAndre Yedlin will go to Brazil in front of Evans. Yedlin is a natural right back and I think he is playing well now, and his potential is off the charts. I think he is only 19… If he shows well in Brazil he may never make it back to Seattle. He is very fast and his play on the ball is better, with every match he looks more dangerous. With Beasley on the other side, they can really widen the field and they will need too in order to crack the opponents defense.

  4. godsholytrousers - Apr 10, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    I like Yedlin for the pace he brings. Only Beasley can match his pace on the backline. Who would he bump? Evans.

    Evans is able to play more positions, but he hasn’t been playing in MLS.

    • chadmoon1 - Apr 10, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      If it’s between Yedlin and Beasley, you take experience every time. So Beasley is the easy choice there. Brad Evans isn’t playing because he is injured. If he gets back soon and rounds into form, then I take him over Yedlin too.

      Yedlin, I believe, is for the next cycle. He takes Beasley’s spot.

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