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23 Spots

The Gold Cup Calls: USMNT Roster Predictions

Stuart Holden is nearly a given. But what about the rest of the Gold Cup roster? Jon Arnold takes a look at the deeper end of the U.S. player pool and punches 23 tickets to the regional championship in July.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
May 22, 2013
11:00 AM
It's a busy summer for the United States national team. The squad has five matches in the near future, and then the Gold Cup for three weeks in July. Jurgen Klinsmann needs to juggle bodies, evaluate talent, and field two talented teams.

“There are definitely some 50-50 cases for players that we moved toward the Gold Cup where we want to have a very strong roster as well, and we are very excited about that tournament,” Klinsmann said.

Decisions, decisions.

But that's why we're here. Without further ado, we present a rough framework for the Gold Cup roster.

No World Cup Qualifier for You
After the June 2 friendly against Germany, Klinsmann will reduce what will be a 26-man U.S. roster to 23 players for the World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama, and Honduras. Stuart Holden is headed straight for the Gold Cup, leaving two players who will miss out on the Hexagonal and likely play in the regional championship instead. It’s hard to see the forwards getting pared down. Brek Shea could be a candidate given his recent club inactivity, but Klinsmann likes to use him as an energy-injecting sub. Perhaps more likely is fringe national teamer Brad Davis getting pushed for his experience.

The other departure could come from the backline where Michael Parkhurst hasn’t seen much action at Augsburg because of injury and form issues. That said, he’s the only natural right back on the team. I’d be more inclined to send late camp addition Brad Evans to the Gold Cup where he can provide additional experience.

Davis, Evans, and Holden will miss the qualifiers but play on the Gold Cup. Now, let's fill out the rest of the team.

In a rather curious move, Klinsmann named six goalkeepers to his preliminary World Cup qualifying roster. Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are the undisputed No. 1 and 2, which means the other four will be fighting for the last spot. In all likelihood, the three who are left off the Hex roster will get their chance in the Gold Cup.

“We have some excellent backup keepers, starting with Nick Rimando, who’s playing an outstanding season for Real Salt Lake and has done great with us every time he’s come into our program,” Klinsmann said. “We’re also excited about the goalkeepers who come after him: Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, and Tally Hall.”

Based on this comment, Rimando is the favorite to win the third spot on the “A” team. But if Rimando (and Guzan for that matter) fail to see any action in the Hex matches, will they be given a start or two in the Gold Cup? It will be fascinating to see how the goalkeeping situation plays out.

GOALKEEPERS: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)

There’s actually a large group of second-tier fullbacks for the national team. Eric Lichaj could fit the bill but will probably get squeezed out by veterans working back to fitness—see: Cherundolo, Steve—and MLS players who have flashed potential, including guys like Tony Beltran and Steven Beitashour.

Center backs are a little less certain, though Carlos Bocanegra is still quick enough to keep up with the caliber of players the U.S. will face in the group stage. George John and Amobi Okugo are two MLS players who would be shrewd inclusions.

DEFENDERS: Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), George John (FC Dallas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Puebla)

The midfield is crowded as always. In addition to Holden, Klinsmann has mentioned Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Landon Donovan, and Mix Diskerud. This is a group fans might be comfortable seeing in a qualifier, which speaks to the depth the Americans have in the center of the park.

MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborgs), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Josh Gatt (Molde), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jose Torres (Tigres)

The forward pool will likely feature some hard-working domestic prospects. Fans want to see what Will Bruin and Jack McInerney do against bona fide international competition. Klinsmann name-dropped Aron Johannsson, saying they have a close eye on the new AZ man. It would be one thing if it was a flippant mention, but the impression is he’ll pursue the Icelandic-American forward.

FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union)

ON THE BUBBLE: Justin Morrow, Dax McCarty, Jeff Parke, Heath Pearce, Mike Magee, CJ Sapong, Alfredo Morales, Seth Sinovic, Benny Feilhaber

So have at it—do you agree with our projected roster? Who did we leave out? Let us know in the comments.

Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a writer based in Arizona and is ASN's CONCACAF correspondent.

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