5 Youngsters Who Could Make a Late Push for a Place in USA World Cup Squad
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is only five months away and United States men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has already said that he has 14-16 players in mind for the final roster.
With another 20 or so players in the mix, competition for a spot on the World Cup team will be fierce, especially among the veterans who realize this is their last realistic shot to play in the world’s greatest tournament.
Here are five U.S. youngsters who could still make a push.
Julian Green is only 18 years old, but has already made a cameo for German giants Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
The German-American has played with the German youth teams, but Klinsmann has been in contact and a spot on the U.S. roster for the World Cup is not out of the question. Green is still undecided on which senior international side he wants to represent, but if Klinsmann convinced him to represent the U.S., it would be a major coup.
The talented attacker could be a presence for the U.S. off the bench in the 2014 World Cup and a dominant attacker for the Americans for years to come.
Sean Johnson is 24 years old, but that is still very young for a goalkeeper. In the last two years, Klinsmann has used four goalkeepers—Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando and Johnson.
Howard, Guzan and Rimando are the unmistakable Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in that order, but Johnson could find himself on the roster in one of two ways. First, one of the three goalkeepers ahead of him could get injured. Second, if Klinsmann decides that the U.S. net is well-stocked with Howard and Guzan, he could opt to look to the future and bring Johnson instead of Rimando.
It would be incredibly unfair to Rimando, who has deputized well in the U.S. net when needed, but both Rimando and Howard are 34 and after 2014, the U.S. will need a solid back-up to Guzan.
DeAndre Yedlin is only 20 years old and just finished his rookie season with the Seattle Sounders. Still, the position at right-back is uncertain and Yedlin did survive the January camp cut, unlike other promising youngsters Chris Klute and Shane O’Neill and MLS veterans Tally Hall and Seth Sinovic.
With Brad Evans, Geoff Cameron, Michael Parkhurst and others in the hunt, it’s a long shot, but a plausible one.
Many U.S. fans would like to see John Anthony Brooks on the U.S. roster for more than one reason. He’s big, talented, experienced in Europe and, finally, playing in the World Cup would cap-tie the dual international to the U.S.
Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez appear to be the U.S.’s No. 1 and No. 2 center-backs with Geoff Cameron, depending on what position he plays, in the mix. The battle for the final roster spot at center-back will likely come down to Brooks, Clarence Goodson and Michael Orozco.
Brek Shea is a divisive figure among U.S. fans, but the 23-year-old is clearly a Klinsmann favorite and has repeatedly shown an ability to break open games as a late substitute.
His lack of possession skills and poor defending make him of little value over 90 minutes, but his willingness to run at defenders has helped the U.S. find late goals against Mexico (twice), Costa Rica and Panama.
Joe Corona has attacking talent coming out of his ears, but has struggled to find playing time at club side Tijuana over the past year.
Will Packwood is back from a horrifying leg injury suffered last year and could be a dark-horse candidate as a backup at right-back.
Josh Gatt is just finishing his recovery from an ACL tear. A hot start at Molde this season could put him back in the mix.
20-year-old Luis Gil made the final roster for the U.S.’s January camp, but with so much depth and experience in the U.S. midfield, it’s a long shot.
A quick start at Eredivisie side Utrecht could possibly see Juan Agudelo get called in, but it would probably have to be paired with an injury to Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson or Aron Johannsson.
A lot of U.S. fans would assume that Terrence Boyd is a lock for a roster spot, but with Altidore, Johnson and Johannsson, it’s hard to believe Klinsmann wants four forwards for his single-striker formation. Boyd is no doubt a good player, but he’ll probably have to leapfrog another U.S. forward to get on the team.
Paul Arriola and Greg Garza are two American youngsters with Liga MX side Tijuana. They’re both talented, but both face a fight at Tijuana for playing time, let alone with the USMNT.
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