October’s USMNT Call-Ups: Analysis & Opinion

The USMNT play two more friendlies this coming month.  They’ll meet Honduras at 6 pm ET on October 8 in the heat of the Miami sun.  They’ll meet Ecuador three nights later at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.  Here are the roster call-ups:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION 
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

The announcement of each Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT training roster has become as interesting as the matches themselves.  Klinsmann has been honest that he is spending the initial six months of his tenure experimenting with various players in various roles and rotating in a group of coaches in order to build a stable bench for the start of next year’s World Cup qualifying campaign. While his combination of players and coaches has yet to yield a victory, they have provided the US supporter with an excitement sorely missing from the tail end of the Bob Bradley era.

October’s roster shows that Klinsmann is both making discoveries and hungry for more production up front.

First, who’s not here?  Stuart Holden has been forced to have a second knee surgery and will miss the next six months of his EPL campaign at Bolton.  Eric Lichaj, a defensive standout for Bradley during the Gold Cup, is not expected to return from hip issues until early in 2012.  Jose Torres, logging huge minutes for Klinsmann early on, is on a similar timetable as he recovers from foot surgery.

Now who’s there.

GK: Klinsmann will have Tim Howard and Howard’s rumored-to-be chosen successor Bill Hamid manning nets.  (Nick Rimando, the Salt Lake star, will once again be the third keeper.)  Hamid’s birth date is sort of staggering: November 25, 1990.  1990?  Hamid will be only 27 years old when the USA sends their side to Russia in 2018.  He’s on the path to being the future at the position and any time he can get in net with be beneficial.

DEF:  In the absence of Lichaj, Klinsmann seems to have settled on the usual suspects of Bocanegra, Chandler, Cherundolo, Ream, Spector and his seeming discovery Orozco-Fiscal.  The disappointing efforts of Edgar Castillo have slid him below Oguchi Onyewu on the defensive depth chart.  Gooch has surprisingly rejoined the national side but one finds it hard to believe we’ll see him on the pitch for meaningful minutes in either of these matches.  Clarence Goodson was also bypassed by Gooch.

MID: Kyle Beckerman may be the best option the US has in terms of holding midfielders and his captaincy with RSL infuses leadership the back line desperately needs.  Michael Bradley has started wonderfully in Italy and Maurice Edu is finally able to contribute since Bradley’s pops was sent to Egypt to wax the Sphinx.  Clint Dempsey is still the best American player in the world and Brek Shea is quickly becoming the star of the Klinsmann era, attacking vigorously off the left flank.  As for Danny Williams and Jeff Larentowicz, your guess is as good as mine as to how they’ll fit in with this group.  But if goal production is Klinsmann’s top priority, I’d contest Benny Feilhaber deserves an opportunity.

FWD: Landon Donovan is finally assuming a role as a strict striker, joined by Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo.  DaMarcus Beasley is taking a roster position that would be better allocated to anyone not named DaMarcus Beasley.  And while he’s tried Chris Wondo and Robbie Rogers in attacking positions, finally Klinsmann is giving Sporting KC striker Teal Bunbury a shot to score some goals for the national side.

OVERALL:

  • I’m hoping to see Klinsmann at least experiment in the coming months with running Dempsey and Donovan up front.  They are both going to be heading into the twilight of their footballing days come Brazil and using them for an extensive duration in the midfield might be a pipe dream.
  • Timmy Chandler should not be moved around to compensate for injuries or experiments  Whatever his natural position is, leave him there.  Move the other pieces.
  • Brek Shea should start.  Until he loses the energy he’s shown.
  • The goal must be goals.  Whatever Klinsmann has to do to instill an attacking spirit into a group that lacked one for the better part of four years, he must do it.  The US need individuals up front who view their task on the pitch as putting the ball in the net.  They need that coached into them.
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