KRIS LINDSAY - Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Jurgen Klinsmann released a 30 man roster on Monday, to be reduce to 23 players by June 2nd. Here is an early reaction to the roster release.
1. Thank the Heavens for Timmy Chandler
Say what you want about his attitude, the way in which Chandler spoke of his break, or needed to organize his thoughts Donovan-style. What Klinsmann added to his arsenal was someone that has the experience of going toe to toe against the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Jefferson Farfan, and maybe most importantly, Marco Reus.
The US now have two right backs (Chandler and Geoff Cameron) that play in two of the top leagues of the world, going up against wingers of world class talent. The biggest test against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany will not be the interior strikers. Helder Postiga doesn't strike fear into the heart of anyone. Germany are still looking for a true striker. They have 35 year old Miroslav Klose, and youngster Kevin Volland on their preliminary roster, neither of which should be impossible tasks for even a young pairing of centerbacks.
The difficulty will be going up against the wings, where the USA will have to go up against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world at the moment, Marco Reus, Thomas Muller, Andre Ayew, and Kwahdwo Asamoah. The list could go on.
You could argue that the match up with Ghana will not be a game that will be decided on the wings, relying heavily on the control of the midfield, but the defensive midfield at the moment seems to be one of the strengths of this US team.
The question will be where to play Timmy Chandler. If Geoff Cameron ends up playing alongside Matt Besler, than Timmy Chandler would play on the right side. If Cameron plays right back on June 16th against Ghana, does Chandler play on the left? Or does Klinsmann start Beasley there?
As of now, it's not even a sure thing that Chandler walks into this lineup and even ends up on the plane to Brazil. I don't know if Klinsmann can risk letting that knowledge of the German National team players go anywhere else but Brazil.
2. There is too much being made of Eddie Johnson being left off the roster
The forwards listed from Jurgen Klinsmann were Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Aron Johannsson, Chris Wondolowski, and Terrence Boyd. How many will be going to Brazil? Jozy, Donovan, and Clint are locks. They could have printed their tickets to Brazil at the close of the World Cup in South Africa.
The battle is between Johannsson, Wondolowski, Boyd, and just for fun, let's throw in Eddie Johnson. Does Johnson separate himself from the rest of the group as the "next best"? An argument could be made that he should have been in the preliminary roster over Wondolowski, but certainly not over Boyd and Johannsson, who have been consistent in their seasons this year.
There may only be four forwards going to Brazil, and with as much help as the defense needs, Klinsmann can't afford to take a fifth.
Another factor to consider was that Klinsmann liked to play EJ on the right in the midfield, a place that has been occupied by several other viable options.
Could Eddie Johnson have contributed to this lineup? Possibly. Was that possibility enough of a reason to include him in the lineup? Klinsmann didn't seem to think so.
3. Get out your popcorn, the battle for the defensive midfield will be good.
Klinsmann selected four players that will battle it out for the starting position in the defensive midfield, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Maurice Edu.
It's a foregone conclusion that Michael Bradley will occupy one of the spots in the defensive midfield, possibly playing a little bit higher up the field. The question that has been quite the debate among fans, blogs, and forums has been: Who will be paired up along side him?
18 months ago, most would have laughed at the thought of Kyle Beckerman making the plane trip to Brazil, but would have caused a riot if they knew he was being considered to potentially start a game at the World Cup. The Real Salt Lake midfielder has not only impressed on the international scene, but has given Klinsmann the dilemma of starting Beckerman or Jones with Bradley.
Beckerman really showed his ability when he joined Bradley in the midfield in the friendly against Mexico, where the two players were able to dominate the midfield and disrupted a lot of what Mexico was trying to do going forward.
Jones offers a bit more speed, tenacity, and more box to box prowess, while Beckerman has been crisp with his passing, precise with his tackling and absolutely impeccable in his ability to step into passing lanes and disrupting the opponents midfield.
Ghana will provide a difficult test for the defensive midfield, with players like Kevin Prince-Boateng and Michael Essien creating an absolute battle in the center. Control of the midfield will be the difference in the game against Ghana, which most consider to be the must win match for both teams.
Expect all four defensive midfielders to make the trip to Brazil. It will be up to Klinsmann to make sure that the pairing is set in stone on June 16th, with the pairing having ample time together to mesh, regardless whether it be Bradley-Beckerman, or Bradley-Jones.