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MLS to Brazil: World Cup hopefuls prepare for a day of reckoning after Week 4

United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann named 19 MLS players in his squad for the friendly against Mexico on Wednesday. Most of them will need to impress in order to further their World Cup ambitions before Klinsmann selects his roster next month.

San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski is one of several candidates trying to force his way into the World Cup squad.

Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images North America

Most of the World Cup hopefuls received an extra bit of impetus last week when Jürgen Klinsmann named his squad for the friendly against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz. on Wednesday.

Klinsmann selected 19 MLS players – including the belated invitation extended to Tony Beltran – for the final friendly before he convenes his training camp in May. The date against El Tri constitutes another step toward Brazil for some and presents a last-gasp opportunity for others to force their way into the squad.

Only a portion of them will find their way into the final 23-man group. No fewer than eight foreign-based players – goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Tim Howard, defenders DaMarcus Beasley (withdrawn by Puebla to preserve him for the Liga MX relegation fight), Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson, midfielder Jermaine Jones and forwards Jozy Altidore and Aron Jóhannsson – will make the trip unless injury strikes or something unforeseen alters their fortunes. Another handful of players – led by Nantes winger Alejandro Bedoya and now presumably including late arrival Julian Green – will likely join them.

Basic roster calculus further reduces the available slots. One goalkeeper – Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando, barring some radical change – will join the congregation to backup Howard and Guzan. The expected spine of the team – defenders Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, midfielders Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan and forward Clint Dempsey – gobbles up another five places. Brad Evans (omitted for this friendly due to a calf injury), Eddie Johnson and Graham Zusi will probably join them absent a decided shift from Klinsmann.

Everyone else – from Beltran through Chris Wondolowski on this roster to a couple of other domestic-based players still clinging to faint hopes omitted from it to the foreign-based options unavailable for this friendly – must compete for one of the precious few spots remaining. There is no time left to waste and no room for error.

It is not a concept lost on the players convened in Arizona, either. Beltran bolstered his unlikely bid with a solid display in front of Klinsmann in Real Salt Lake’s 3-0 win over Toronto FC on Saturday and received news of his roster spot from the U.S. coach himself. Zusi earned Player of the Week honors for his role in Sporting Kansas City’s 3-2 victory at Colorado on Saturday. Wondolowski scored yet again for the Earthquakes in the 2-1 defeat to New England. That brief synopsis only captures the highest points for a group of players who generally excelled over the weekend.

At this point, they cannot afford to relent. A date with Mexico awaits. It supplies the final opportunity to impress before Klinsmann decides on his training camp roster and set his course for Brazil over the next few months. And it is a opening they cannot squander.

UNITED STATES

Goalkeepers

Mar 8, 2014; Carson, CA, USA; Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18) heads out to the field prior to facing the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Fielding / USA TODAY Sports

Bill Hamid (D.C. United): two saves in United’s 2-2 against Chicago on Saturday – next match: v. New England on Saturday

Sean Johnson (Chicago): six saves in the Fire’s 2-2 at D.C. United on Saturday – next match: v. Philadelphia on Saturday

Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake): four saves in RSL’s 3-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

Defenders

Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake): 90 minutes, one late callup to the U.S. squad to face Mexico during RSL’s 3-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City): 90 minutes, one shot during Sporting's 3-2 victory at Colorado on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., v. Real Salt Lake on Saturday

Brad Evans (Seattle): omitted through injury for Sounders FC's 2-1 defeat to Columbus on Saturday – next match: at Portland on Saturday (removed from U.S. squad due to calf injury)

Clarence Goodson (San Jose): 90 minutes, five shots, one on goal during the Earthquakes’ 2-1 defeat to New England on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., v. Columbus on April 13

Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy): idle – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Chivas USA on Sunday

Michael Parkhurst (Columbus): 90 minutes in the Crew’s 2-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., v. Toronto FC on Saturday

DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle): 90 minutes in Sounders FC’s 2-1 defeat to Columbus on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Portland on Saturday

Midfielders

Houston midfielder Brad Davis prompted the Dynamo's only goal in the 2-1 defeat at Vancouver on Saturday.

Andrew Richardson / USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake): 90 minutes, one ASSIST, one shot on goal in RSL's 3-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

Michael Bradley (Toronto FC): 90 minutes, two shots in TFC’s 3-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Columbus on Saturday

Brad Davis (Houston): 90 minutes, one ASSIST in Houston’s 2-1 defeat at Vancouver on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., v. FC Dallas on Saturday

Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): idle – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Chivas USA on Sunday

Maurice Edu (Philadelphia): 90 minutes, three shots, one shot on goal in the Union’s 1-1 draw with Montréal on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Chicago on Saturday

Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City): 90 minutes, one GOAL, one penalty conceded in Sporting's 3-2 victory at Colorado on Saturday – next match: v. Real Salt Lake on Saturday

Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake): 90 minutes, two shots, one GOAL in RSL’s 3-0 victory over Toronto FC – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): 90 minutes, one GOAL, two ASSISTS, one Player of the Week honor earned in Sporting’s 3-2 victory at Colorado on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., v. Real Salt Lake on Saturday

Forwards

Clint Dempsey (Seattle): suspended for Sounders FC’s 2-1 defeat to Columbus on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., at Portland on Saturday

Eddie Johnson (D.C. United): 90 minutes, three shots, two shots on goal in United’s 2-2 draw with Chicago on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., v. New England on Saturday

Mike Magee (Chicago): 90 minutes, two shots in the Fire's 2-2 draw with D.C. United on Saturday – next match: v. Philadelphia on Saturday

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose): 90 minutes, five shots, one GOAL in the Earthquakes’ 2-1 defeat to New England on Saturday – next match: v. Mexico (international friendly) on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., v. Columbus on April 13

AUSTRALIA

New York midfielder Tim Cahill limped off inside the first half-hour with a hamstring knock in the Red Bulls' 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Sunday.

Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports

Tim Cahill (New York): 29 minutes, one shot on goal, one hamstring-enforced substitution in the Red Bulls' 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Sunday – next match: at Montréal on Saturday

BRAZIL

Júlio César (Toronto FC): 90 minutes, two saves in TFC’s 3-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake on Saturday – next match: at Columbus on Saturday

COSTA RICA

Jairo Arrieta (Columbus): 28 minutes off the bench in the Crew’s 2-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday – next match: v. Toronto FC on Saturday

Waylon Francis (Columbus): 90 minutes, one shot in the Crew’s 2-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday – next match: v. Toronto FC on Saturday

Giancarlo González (Columbus): 90 minutes in the Crew’s 2-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday – next match: v. Toronto FC on Saturday

Roy Miller (New York): 90 minutes, one shot in the Red Bulls' 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Sunday – next match: at Montréal on Saturday

Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake): 90 minutes, three shots, two GOALS in RSL's 3-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

Rodney Wallace (Portland): omitted through injury (knee surgery) for the Timbers' 2-1 defeat at FC Dallas on Saturday – next match: v. Seattle on Saturday

ENGLAND

Toronto FC forward Jermain Defoe picked up a left hamstring injury during the Reds' 3-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Tom Szczerbowski / USA TODAY Sports

Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC): 62 minutes, two shots, one potentially troublesome left hamstring complaint in TFC’s 3-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on Saturday – next match: at Columbus on Saturday

HONDURAS

Victor Bernárdez (San Jose): 90 minutes, one shot, one shot on goal in the Earthquakes’ 2-1 defeat to New England on Saturday – next match: v. Columbus on April 13

Boniek Garcia (Houston): 71 minutes in the Dynamo’s 2-1 defeat at Vancouver on Saturday – next match: v. FC Dallas on Saturday

Marvin Chávez (Colorado): unused substitute in the Rapids’ 3-2 defeat to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday – next match: at Vancouver on Saturday

Jerry Bengtson (New England): omitted from the squad for the Revolution’s 2-1 victory at San Jose on Saturday – next match: at D.C. United on Saturday

Johnny Leverón (Vancouver): unused substitute in the Whitecaps' 2-1 victory over Houston on Saturday – next match: v. Colorado on Saturday

IRAN

Steven Beitashour (Vancouver): 90 minutes in the Whitecaps' 2-1 victory over Houston on Saturday – next match: v. Colorado on Saturday