U.S. Cup Roster Still Uncertain on Defense
Seattle Sounders' Clint Dempsey signs autographs after an MLS soccer match against FC Dallas, Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in an MLS soccer match in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan speaks with reporters during a news conference in Carson, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Donovan's teammate English soccer star David Beckham will play his final game for the team in the MLS Cup next month. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
New York — In a sign U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is unsettled on his defense a month before the World Cup, the Americans selected the mostly untested trio of John Brooks, Timmy Chandler and DeAndre Yedlin on Monday for their 30-man preliminary roster.
Chandler, a speedy right back with Nuremberg in Germany, made his U.S. debut in 2011 and balked at playing in 2012 qualifiers. He has not appeared for the Americans since February 2013, when he made his first competitive appearance at Honduras in the opening match of the final round of qualifying.
“I think he’s a player who can make a difference, if he’s on his highest level,” Klinsmann said.
Yedlin, 20, has made just two international appearances, as a late second-half substitute this year in exhibitions against South Korea and Mexico. Brooks, 21, made his debut in August and has just three appearances, in exhibitions against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria and Ukraine.
Klinsmann also selected 18-year-old winger Julian Green, who made his national team debut last month. He is among a group of German-Americans on the roster that includes Brooks, Chandler and Fabian Johnson; midfielder Jermaine Jones; and forward Terrence Boyd.
“We have two huge talents,” Klinsmann said of Green and Yedlin. “It will be interesting to see now how they take that challenge because, obviously, they don’t have the experience like other players have.”
Klinsmann omitted several veterans, a group that includes forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder Sacha Kljestan. He selected 11 defenders, 10 midfielders and six forwards who will be evaluated during a two-week training camp that opens Wednesday at Stanford, California. He must submit a 23-man roster to FIFA by June 2, and most teams take eight defenders, eight midfielders and four forwards.
Half the players are from Major League Soccer, with four each from England’s Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga. Two are from Mexico’s league and one apiece from Austria, France, Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.
Part of Klinsmann’s thought process will be deciding whether Geoff Cameron is a right back or central defender, and whether Fabian Johnson is an outside back or a midfielder.
“There is going to be a lot of competition. That’s why Jurgen is bringing in 30 rather than cutting it down to 23 right away,” said defender Michael Parkhurst, who joined the Columbus Crew this season after an unsuccessful stint in Germany. “I don’t know going into camp right now if I’m fighting for left back or right back.”
In a sign of the lack of progress among youth players, Mix Diskerud and Boyd were the only selections from the 20-man group on the under-23 team that failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
The 30-year-old Johnson, a member of the 2006 U.S. roster but among the final cuts in 2010, scored five goals in qualifying for the 2014 tournament: two in a 2-1 win at Antigua and Barbuda in October 2012, the second goal in the 2-0 victory over Panama last June in Seattle, and the first in the clinching 2-0 win over Mexico last September at Columbus, Ohio.
“It was a very difficult decision based on what he’s done with me the whole time, and not now having that chance at the last moment then is a very tough one on him,” Klinsmann said.
Johnson has not scored in eight games this season with D.C. United.
“While I am disappointed,” Johnson said in a statement, “I respect coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision.”
Others in the group left off included defenders Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco and Tim Ream; midfielders Brek Shea, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Torres and Daniel Williams; and forwards Herculez Gomez and Juan Agudelo.
Shea scored the only goal last summer in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final against Panama.
As the Americans prepare for their seventh straight World Cup appearance, another interesting competition could come at forward. While Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore appear to be likely starters, Klinsmann said he views Landon Donovan as a striker, and the group going to camp includes Boyd, Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski.
Ten players were on the 2010 preliminary roster, including a pair trying for their fourth World Cup: Donovan and left back DaMarcus Beasley.
Five players did not appear in any of the 16 qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup: No. 3 goalkeeper Nick Rimando, along with Brooks, Green, Wondolowski and Yedlin.
The Americans play exhibitions against Azerbaijan on May 27 at San Francisco; Turkey on June 1 at Harrison, New Jersey; and Nigeria on June 7 at Jacksonville, Florida. They travel the following day to their base camp in Sao Paulo.
At the World Cup, they open against Ghana on June 16 at Natal, face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal six days later in the Amazon rain forest city of Manaus and close the group stage against Germany on June 26 at Recife.