May 12, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT
And then there were 10.
Or twelve, if you count listed forwards Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. In any event, the United States has a double-digit group of midfielders going all-out for a spot on Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster come June 2.
Let’s begin with the mainstays: no U.S. fan needed a crystal ball to see Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones making their way to Brazil, let alone this list. Toronto FC’s Bradley is the most complete player the Yanks having going right now, while Jones has given Klinsmann many reasons to remove him from the starting lineup — fouls, cards, giveaways — and the Besiktas loanee remains a fixture for JK.
Kyle Beckerman seems to be one of the points of contention for US supporters. The dread-locked middleman is capable of the sublime but also has been relatively consistent and reliable on the pitch. While no one is mistaking him for Xavi, he’s earned his spot here.
Julian Green makes the trip just weeks after formally switching his allegiance to the United States. Klinsmann sees something special in the 18-year-old Bayern Munich II man, and it was a moment of celebration when he chose America. Now he’ll try to lock down a 23-man spot at his tender age.
You can bet Maurice Edu‘s return to Major League Soccer has paid off for the former Rangers player, as the 28-year-old California was viewed as a fringe player at-best before coming back to Philadelphia this Spring.
No one will be surprised to see Graham Zusi‘s name on this list. A hero on both sides of the border after his big goals helped Mexico make the World Cup playoff match against New Zealand, Zusi is quietly going to be one of the biggest reasons the States fares well or poorly against Portugal, Germany and Ghana. One of the “new guard,” the 27-year-old has won titles at the NCAA and MLS levels.
Ale Bedoya has been a factor for Nantes this year, and plying his trade in Ligue 1 clearly helped make an impression on Klinsmann, while Mix Diskerud has been a leader for Rosenborg. 23-year-old Joe Corona has already made 110 appearances for Club Tijuana in Mexico, and is one of precious few Liga MX players on the list.
Finally: Brad Davis. The versatile Houston Dynamo mid can handle free kicks and distributes well from the outside. The 32-year-old has forced himself into the side by being very consistent despite getting a mere 14 caps since 2005.
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
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