USMNT head coach Juergen Klinsmann of reacts during a friendly between Germany and USA on June 10, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. The US side won 2-1.
Simon Hofmann/Bongarts/Getty Images
By Alex Cooke
Jurgen Klinsmann has released his 23-man roster that hopes to defend the United State’s Gold Cup title in this summer’s CONCACAF tournament. Klinsmann opted for experience over form, featuring 17 players that were present for the 2014 World Cup, ten who have been on previous Gold Cup winning teams, and six from 2013’s Cup winning team.
After the win in 2013’s competition, the USMNT has cemented at least a playoff spot for 2017’s Confederations Cup in Russia, but a win this summer would guarantee a spot for the United States two years from now.
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In an interview with USSoccer.com Klinsmann said: “Winning it would qualify us for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, so putting the pieces together is very crucial. That’s why we came out with a roster full of quality, but also a lot of experience; players that are used to playing in the CONCACAF region and also younger players that came through the ranks over the last year that made a stamp on the senior National Team program. It’s an exciting roster, and obviously we have a chance to make some changes after the group stage if necessary. We put all of these things into consideration, and we believe we have a very, very strong group that can win this prestigious tournament.”
Overall I’m pleased with this selection and definitely think the potential starting XI is comprised of our most talented players available in each position, but it’s the back-ups that leave me scratching my head.
Under no circumstances should Chris Wondolowski be included in this team. Not because I think he’s necessarily a bad player (though his miss against Belgium still haunts me to this day), but because he’s had his time. He’s on the wrong side of 32, offers very little to our strike force that isn’t already there in Jozy or Johannsson, and just overall seems surplus to needs among our current strikers. I would happily trade the speed of Jordan Morris or the new hero Bobby Wood over the experience of Wondo – especially since he’s likely to see minimum playing time.
In the games immediately following the World Cup I was a very big proponent of suggesting Kyle Beckerman’s time with the national squad should be over – but his play during the historic defeat of Netherlands a few weeks ago really changed my mind. His play is nothing mesmerizing but he provides such a solid defensive presence in the midfield that it really gives other players the confidence to get forward knowing he’ll be there to help stop any counter attacks. Plus, he seems to get away with fouls more than any other player on our roster.
Including DeAndre Yedlin among the midfield instead of defense is something I’m glad to see; ever since his explosion onto the scene at last year’s World Cup I’ve thought he’d be better utilized in a more advanced position rather than his traditional right back spot. After his performance in recent friendlies it seems that Klinsmann is also seeing his potential as a forward as well – and given how successful he was at dribbling directly at and past Daley Blind against the Netherlands, opposing left backs better be prepared.
My projected starting XI and formation given the squad we’ve assembled would be a standard 4-4-2; with a backline consisting of Johnson, Brooks, Gonzalez, and Chandler; a midfield four of Zardes, Bradley, Beckerman, and Yedlin; and finally Jozy and Dempsey up top, with Dempsey playing a little deeper to offer support to both the midfield and Altidore.