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ASN Weekly Debate

Who Should Klinsmann Bring to the Qualifiers?

The United States men's national team is through to the World Cup, but two Hexagonal matches remain. Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon have a friendly discussion about which players should go.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
September 27, 2013
2:00 PM
Davis: Hey Ryan, the next round of qualifiers is coming up right quick. The United States has already qualified and Jurgen Klinsmann is at least $500,000 richer. Hooray! If you were him, what would you do with that money and what type of roster would you bring to Panama and Kansas City?

O'Hanlon: First, I would get a real haircut. Then, well, I'm not really sure I need to do anything after that. But I would see where my first-choice players are with their club teams—and leave all the ones that'd benefit from staying. Then, I'd fill in those spots with guys who have a chance at making the 2010 roster if anyone from my current first-choice roster gets hurt.

Davis: The 2010 roster? You'd probably need to spend the $499,900 that remained after the expensive haircut and tip on a time machine. Which would be a good use of money. That way, you could go back and prevent all the injuries to John O'Brien, the best American player ever.

O'Hanlon: I meant 2014 but must've said 2010 because that seems like the last time Josh Gatt, who is the best soccer player of all time, was good.

Davis: So, here's the problem: MLS will be in full swing, with plenty of teams pushing for the playoffs. (Sidenote: Wikipedia's MLS Cup Playoff page is impressively bare.) I can't see many of the league coaches letting their players go for meaningless games if their teams are in the hunt or even if their teams are already in but preparing. Which means you're looking to Europe. Which, I suppose, is fine, if a long flight. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think Klinsmann is going to have a whole lot of choice about the players he brings. Or am I underestimating his power here?

O'Hanlon: think you're underestimating it a little bit. If Klinsmann really wants a player on the team, he's probably getting that player. But the games don't really matter, so that maybe solves some tension—although I think it creates another, weird kind of tension. There'll be new roster spots open—but what if the guys who would've filled those new spots are also on playoff-challenging teams? They kind of get screwed over a little bit and miss their chance. And so that could lead to this strange roster of good players on terrible MLS teams and maybe some obscure European dudes, too.

Davis: Whatever. That's a silly answer. If you were Klinsmann, who would you want if you could pick anyone? I would take my top 23 guys. To me, there's enough depth with those players to be just fine during the World Cup. And I don't think you get that much out of seeing what other guys can do without the best players around. We probably know eight-ish starters in Brazil. I'd be much more interested in seeing those players develop more than trying to find a diamond in the rough in players 25-35 or whatever.

O'Hanlon: That was one of the only non-silly answers I've ever given, but oh well. If there are players Klinsmann wants to see more of but just hasn't been able to for whatever reason, he should call those guys in. It's what I would do after getting my hair cut. It seems kind of crazy to me to think that anything is set at this point. So much can and will happen over the next eight months, so why not get more players "acclimated" (or whatever word you wanna use) to playing in a real, competitive game for the U.S?

Davis: Because he's used 48 billion players during this cycle. The players are acclimated. He has—at least I would hope—a very clear understanding of where everyone stands at this point. And sure, things can change, but those things are not going to be Dax McCarty getting 20 percent better or Chris Wondolowski getting 20 percent faster. (Sorry to pick on you, fellas. Just examples.) Now is time for consolidation in the ranks, not this mindless expansion of the pool. There's a World Cup to win.

O'Hanlon: Here are some facts about the U.S. Men's National Team: Demarcus Beasley is the starting left back. Brad Evans is the starting right back. Clint Dempsey hasn't played a good game since he lived in England. Jozy Altidore wasn't starting for his club team and now doesn't have a manager. Getting a look at some younger player, who will be eight months better come June—guys like Chris Klute, Yedlin, Lichaj, Agudelo—seems like a prudent thing to do. If they're not good, they're not good! But at least you get a look. How the First 23 looks against Panama and Jamaica in October 2013 will mean nothing come Brazil. But if you get a good performance from one new player, then it was worth it.

Davis: Klute and Yedlin will both be in the playoffs, which we've already discussed. You really want to bring Juan Agudelo who has been hurt all year and is going to spend the second half of the EPL season sitting on the bench at Stoke? Great plan. If you were the national team manager, I wouldn't pay you enough to get a haircut, much less a time machine. Fine, bring in Lichaj, but only so people will stop talking about the fact that Klinsmann hasn't brought in Lichaj. (Maybe because he's not that good, but whatever; just details, brah.) The U.S. is going to do well or do poorly at the World Cup on the strength of its team, not its individual players.

O'Hanlon: I am going to protest the unfair conditions of this debate in court. (Apparently you can bring the 23 best players, but I have to worry about MLS playoffs.) My mom is a lawyer, and she used to cut my hair.

Davis: Whatever.

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon do this every week. Although maybe not next week. But you never know.

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