Roster Analysis

Terrence Boyd's Big Chance; Tim Ream Snubbed

What does ASN contributor Brian Sciaretta think of Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster for the friendlies against Scotland and Austria? We asked, and he answered. Here's what he had to say.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 11, 2013
6:01 PM
JURGEN KLINSMANN released his roster for the U.S. national team’s final games of 2013 today, and there is a lot to sort through in terms of how this squad fits into the big picture—including the 2014 World Cup. Here are my thoughts on the team the Klinsmann has assembled.

Landon Donovan’s absence
Landon Donovan has been dealing with an injured ankle for a while now, and he was left off this roster for these upcoming games. It is in the team’s best interest that Donovan returns to full health but his injury comes at a bad time.

Since Jurgen Klinsmann was hired in August 2011, Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey have yet to start a single game together. Team chemistry is very important to Klinsmann’s philosophy and not having the core together once is a cause for concern. The next opportunity will be in the spring during the only FIFA international date before the World Cup camp opens in May.

Johannsson and Brooks Could Shine
When John Brooks and Aron Johannsson made the decision to commit to the United States in August, it was a big deal. The two players could be impact players for the United States for years to come, and Brooks is a potential Bundesliga star.

Since then, Brooks has been injured and Aron Johannsson’s integration was slowed by the fact Klinsmann wanted to wrap up World Cup qualifying. The games against Scotland and Austria could see the two fast-tracked into the team’s core. Klinsmann knows what these two players are capable of and now will be the best chance to get them integrated into the team in preparation for Brazil. If both succeed, the team could have a pair of valuable weapons for the World Cup.

Timothy Chandler: An Uphill Battle
Timothy Chandler was once again left off the roster for the U.S. men's national team, and with only one FIFA date left between now and May, his odds of going to Brazil are microscopic. Klinsmann had always said that other players were simply playing better than Chandler but the truth is that Chandler has actually been playing well the past two months for FC Nurnberg.

So it seems as if there is something else with how Klinsmann views Chandler’s attitude—commitment, or perhaps his ability to be part of the team. Chandler is very talented but it proves that there are many other factors to consider when building a team.

Terrence Boyd's homecoming
Terrence Boyd is one of the more likeable American players, and a promising talent to boot. Despite his mostly German background, you can’t question his commitment or dedication to the U.S. national team. He is playing well this year for Rapid Vienna but he is in a dogfight to make the roster for Brazil next year. Since he was first capped in February 2012, Eddie Johnson has returned to the national team to score important goals in qualifying, and Aron Johannsson’s decision to represent the United States has only increased the competition.

Boyd isn’t out of the running for a roster spot but he needs to step up. He has yet to score for the U.S. but he will likely get a chance when the Americans play Austria in Vienna, the city where Terrence Boyd plays his club soccer. There is no better stage than next Tuesday for him to stake his claim for a ticket to Brazil.

Eric Lichaj makes his U.S return
One of more surprising picks for the roster was the inclusion of Eric Lichaj. Lichaj was once a favorite of former head coach Bob Bradley but he has failed to earn a call-up from Klinsmann until now. It is certainly better late than never for him but it comes at an interesting time.

Lichaj signed with Nottingham Forest to start the season and played well initially. But his performances in recent weeks have been lacking. He was even benched this past weekend in a 2-0 win on the road against Leicester City. So at a time when he needs to step up for Klinsmann, Lichaj will arrive in camp without any positive momentum. It will be a sign of mental strength if he can impress.

Spotlight will be on Clint Dempsey
Dempsey’s performances for the U.S. in the September World Cup qualifiers fell short of standard. He is still an important part of the team’s attack, and now that he has had several months of games to get back into stride, he will be expected to give the U.S. with momentum as it prepares for the World Cup. He was made the team captain earlier this year, he must now prove he can handle the pressure.

Biggest snub? Tim Ream
When Tim Ream was included on the roster for the August friendly against Bosnia, it was a puzzling decision since he was coming off an inconsistent season. Three months later, he is the team’s biggest snub from the roster after a solid few months for Bolton. If Goodson and Besler were also on this team, the case for Ream would be tough. But without Goodson and Besler, the fact Ream was left off is tough to understand.

The former St. Louis University star is playing his best soccer since he left the New York Red Bulls for Bolton. He is reminding everyone of the potential he showed in his rookie season in MLS, his passing is terrific, and he is an improved player now capable of even playing defensive midfield and right back.

Brek Shea is a mystery
It is hard to understand why Brek Shea was called up to this team other than a shortage of left-footed players. Once a promising American player in 2011, his foot injury slowed him down in 2012 and he is yet to regain his form in 2013. He’s occasionally playing for Stoke City’s reserve team but he doesn’t even appear close to earning minutes for the first team. It is a bleak situation and if Klinsmann needs a left-footed option, Brad Davis is likely a better bet after he played well in the final qualifier against Panama.

The potential is there for Shea, but even if he does well in these friendlies he will return to a bad club situation. I wouldn’t expect him to see significant minutes against Scotland or Austria. It’s probably a case of Klinsmann wanting to check in with Shea to see what is wrong.

That's what Brian thinks—now give us your take. You can use the Comments section below and/or create your very own U.S. — Scotland Starting XI. Even better—everybody who creates, and shares, a Starting XI for the Scotland match is automatically entered into a random drawing for a free ASN T-Shirt.

Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

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