Thursday, May 22, 2014
The 2014 FIFA World Cup starts three weeks from today (!) and the U.S. men released their 23-man roster set to go to Brazil. The normally joyous occasion was marked by controversy as star midfielder Landon Donovan (the U.S.' all-time leading goal scorer) was surprisingly left off after appearing in the past three World Cups. We already knew that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had German balls of steel but this move certainly shows that he's not afraid to take a different approach than most.
I trust Klinsmann and his assistant coaches' judgment that Donovan wasn't in good enough form to make it (midfield is the U.S.' deepest position) and I just hope that this doesn't remain the main focus for everyone when they get to Brazil. Should the Americans lose (a near certainty), let's not pretend that simply having Donovan would have changed everything. Klinsmann will have to answer plenty questions about this subject tomorrow (as he should), but after that it's time to move forward with this group.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
After naming the 30-man preliminary roster on May 12, the following seven players have been released from the U.S. MNT’s training camp: forwards Terrence Boyd and Landon Donovan, midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu, and defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst. The seven remaining players have been placed on a standby list and are returning to their respective club teams.
The U.S. has three warmup matches stateside before things get real: they play Azerbijan next Tuesday in San Francisco (10, ESPN2), Turkey a week from Sunday (2, ESPN2) at Red Bull Arena then they close with Nigeria (the only team of the three also heading to Brazil) on June 7 (6, ESPN) in Jacksonville.
Ever since that nightmare draw for the U.S. in December, I have purposely not gotten my hopes up at all in terms of them advancing out of the group stage. It certainly could happen, don't get me wrong, but I just am leery of setting myself up for painful disappointment. I think it is as simple as seeing what happens in the U.S.' first match, vs. Ghana on June 16 (6, ESPN). If they win, great. If they tie or especially if they lose, goodnight. The best they can hope for vs. Portugal on June 22 (6, ESPN) is a draw while the final match vs. Germany on June 26 (12, ESPN) is all but guaranteed to be a loss. Got it? Let's go U.S.!