WHO GOES TO RUSSIA?
Who will Klinsmann select for the final game of 2012?
So with the USMNT game against Russia fast approaching, let's look at a potential roster.
Now this roster is now what I think Jurgen Klinsmann will do, it is what I would do if I were him. Now it's hard to make predictions yet since we do not know the results of the MLS playoffs and that does affect player availability.
I also think that with the playoffs starting in Mexico, Edgar Castillo, Herculez Gomez, and Joe Corona won't get the call.
But I'm going to give it my best shot.
Now, I think this game will be mostly regulars since it the last FIFA date prior to the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying. As we saw from the last round, this team needs work. I do think, however, there will be a few new players called up.
In goal, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are the first two choices. Nick Rimando has been great recently for Real Salt Lake and I believe they will advance past Seattle. Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson have been shaky as of late but one player who has been solid is Honefoss keeper Steve Clark who is likely to win Tippeligaen goalkeeper of the year.
In defense, I think Klinsmann will bring new faces. The situation in central defense is not good right now as Oguchi Onyewu, Tim Ream, and Clarence Goodson are all struggling this season. One player who would be wise to look at is Hertha Berlin's John Anthony Brooks who has emerged as the team's starter. The gifted teenager is one of the best prospects in the US system and he can play in an area of need.
Another player who likely won't get called in but should be on the radar is Seb Hines who is now starting at promotion-favorites Middlesbrough again. The English-born American would need to file his one-time switch to play for the United States but he has said he would do that if asked. With both Hines and Boro playing well, he could catch the eye of Klinsmann again.
Moving to the midfield, the usual callups make sense. Michael Bradley and Danny Williams look like a terrific pair in central midfield. One player who could emerge as a dark horse is Conor O'Brien who is having a very solid season in the Danish Superliga with Sonderjyske. He is strong on both sides of the ball and is very possession oriented.
On the wings, Josh Gatt could make his international debut. The speedy Michigan native was called up in September but had to withdraw because of injury. With Klinsmann still needing flank play, Gatt seems to fit the needs of the team.
Landon Donovan has been a mystery so far with the team and his interest in international soccer is unclear based on recent interviews. LA is on the ropes in the playoffs and if they are eliminated, I can see Donovan sitting this game out and not making the long trip to Russia.
One regular who I do not think will get called up is Maurice Edu who is simply not playing right now for his club Stoke City. He's not even making the bench these days and he appears far from playing time. Like Onyewu's situation, if Edu isn't playing a callup just is not in the cards.
At forward, the big question is Jozy Altidore whose relationship with Klinsmann has deteriorated. Normally calling him up would make sense but since it was revealed as of earlier this week that the two haven't spoken in quite some time, a callup is unlikely.
With Terrence Boyd playing well and Chris Pontius now healthy and playing well, some difficult choices will have to be made.
With all that said, here is my 23 roster for the Russia friendly
John Anthony Brooks
Matt Besler (Pending Kansas City game)
Graham Zusi (Pending Kansas City game)
Eddie Johnson (Pending Seattle game)
Chris Pontius (Pending DC United game)
Other players in the mix: