The USMNT roster for the game against Mexico on Wednesday, August 10th at 8:00 PM CST has just been announced by new coach Jurgen Klinsmann. There were a few surprises for me, but a lot of names I was expecting to see as well. Follow me after the break for the roster and some thoughts...
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION -
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), José Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (5): Freddy Adu (Benfica), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Honestly, I expected this roster to be a bit more youth and MLS heavy than it is. The reason for this is that many European leagues are playing their last friendlies as their seasons are fast approaching. The English Premier League for example, kicks off on August 13th. So for those wondering where Clint Dempsey's name is, it is likely he was not called up so he could prepare for the new Premier League season.
Goalkeeping choices surprised me a bit. Obviously, Tim Howard is the top US choice, as he has been for a few years now. However, with the friendly just 3 days before Everton faces Tottenham, I am surprised to see him on the list. It could be that we want to field a strong team for some revenge for the Gold Cup loss, but I would have expected that more out of Bradley. I think the main objective for Jurgen is to field a side that gives him the best look at our current talent pool so he can begin making decisions, regardless of who the opponent is. Hamid is a bit of an odd choice too. I know I am a bit biased being a Fire fan, but I would have expected to see Sean Johnson before Hamid. Or how about a MLS veteran (Kevin Hartman, etc.)? It will be interesting to see how much of a role Tim plays in the game with the European season so close.
Defenders selected are pretty straight forward. Timmy Chandler impressed in his 1st cap against Argentina, so I am excited to see how his 2nd appearance goes. It's also interesting to see Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco Fiscal selected. It's good to see some fresh selections being looked at vs. the mostly set lineups Bradley employed. Jurgen obviously has a good idea of who the studs are, but the more variety of other players he looks at, the better I think, especially for the younger players.
Midfielders surprised me a bit with Clark and Torres selected. Torres I can see. Many fans were calling to see him more under Bradley's regime. Clark fell out of favor after a bad 2010 World Cup. Clearly Jurgen is willing to give him another look. If he sees action, let's hope he does better this time around. Brek Shea is an intriguing pick as well. He has really come into his own of late after moving from the back to midfield for FC Dallas this season. His appearance last fall vs. Colombia was a bit shaky, but if he keeps his current form, he will hopefully feature well vs. Mexico. And Beckerman is kind of an odd pick to me. He has had a handful of caps, but none since 2009. Still, it's good to see MLS getting some USMNT looks. I hope Jurgen has some sort of dress or hair code. Maybe Beckerman would have to cut that awful hair of his then.
Forwards probably surprised me the most. It's good to see Adu continue to get looks, let's hope that his progress continues and that his recent Gold Cup performance wasn't a fluke. He is still young and has much time to grow. DaMarcus Beasley, former Fire player and current Puebla member, is back on the national scene. He was used sparingly in the 2010 World Cup, but it will be good to see him get some action again. Sitting at 93 senior caps, he is getting close to the century mark. The other surprise for me is Edson Buddle. He was the hot, go to guy for Bob Bradley for awhile. Then his performance went down and he fell out of the "flavor of the week" category. Buddle then left MLS and headed to FC Ingolstadt. He does have 3 goals in 17 appearances for FC Ingolstadt, so maybe he is beginning to find his groove again. I wonder how much, if any, playing time he will get vs. Mexico.
In the end, I like the lineup overall. Of course there will be your mainstays, but it's nice to see some unconventional picks. It's the first move away from a Bradley lineup, and let's be honest. If Jurgen came in and put the same lineups out, what point would there have been in changing coaches? Another thing to consider is how good it will be to have true battles for positions again. Obviously, guys like Tim, Clint, Landon, Boca, and Cherundolo are not going to be benched or not picked. But, if they know young guys are battling below them, it will hopefully push them all the harder. And for the positions not really locked up, the open competition will be even better. When is the last time that there was a true feeling of winning your position in the US camp under Bradley? The answer is awhile. One of Jurgen's quotes regarding the lineup definitely is encouraging:
"One of the goals of the roster for this game and moving forward is to create competition at each position... There are many players who are established as well as many players who will get opportunities, and we want there to be a healthy contest for spots on the roster. We will get a good look at where each player is as quickly as we can during the short time in camp, and we will finish with an exciting game against Mexico."
Jurgen was brought in to bring change, and he is not afraid to up the competition level from the get-go. August 10th can't come soon enough for this USMNT fan.