Thursday afternoon Juergen Klinsmann announced a twenty-four man squad for the two US friendly games against Costa Rica and Belgium. As usual, there were surprise inclusions and exclusions, but none of them had to do with goalkeeping or Landon Donovan. Tim Howard will be in goal. After recovering from a hamstring injury, Bill Hamid of DC United has also be retained from the team that drew with Mexico 1-1 in Philadelphia two weeks ago. Donovan will be in the team until he asks not to be.
With well-regarded FC Dallas defender George John on his way to Blackburn Rovers, Klinsmann summoned his now former teammate Zach Loyd. Heath Pearce, Clarence Goodson, and Timmy Chandler will be new faces in the camp. Chandler has stirred up the most excitement, because of his youth, speed, and Bundesliga experience. With a veteran like Steve Cherundolo to help ease him into the team, Chandler looks like one of the brightest defensive prospects coming along.
Goodson had to pull out of the Mexico game with a minor injury, but has returned to fitness and has been playing for Brondby in Denmark. Pearce comes in as another contender for the left back spot. He hasn’t won it in several years of trying, but Klinsmann has to leave no stone unturned. To that end, Edgar Castillo is back after receiving poor reviews in a nervous performance.
Excluded from this team will be defensive midfielders Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, and Jermaine Jones. Klinsmann told the US Soccer web site, “All three of these players are trying to sort out their club situations, and the deadline for transfers is a week away. They have also not been playing matches, so for these reasons we decided to select different players for this roster.” With three midfielders left in Europe to sort out their futures, Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz comes in as cover for Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu.
As for the different players Klinsmann alluded to, he found yet another German-born American to add to his roster. Fabian Johnson, a left sided player who can play in midfield and at the back, comes in from Hoffenheim. He has received solid reviews after being part of several German age specific teams as recently as two years ago. Sacha Kljestan has been rewarded for some good performances at Anderlecht. Clint Dempsey also returns after being rested earlier in the month.
The young attacking players who did well against Mexico have also been retained. Brek Shea, Robbie Rogers, and Juan Agudelo combined for the US equalizer. They should get ample opportunity to show the manager they should stay in the team. There was a surprise summons for Teal Bunbury, who showed great potential last year with Sporting Kansas City, but has only been impressive in short bursts this year. Klinsmann clearly wants a closer look. Jozy Altidore, with five goals already for AZ Alkmaar will also compete for a spot up front.
Among the unimpressive players brought in this time will be Jose Torres, Tim Ream, and Michael Orozco Fiscal. All are playing with their clubs and will at least fill out full side scrimmages, but none should feel their places are secure.
The group of players left out, not including the three holding midfielders, has some youth and some experience. Klinsmann has not explored Norway yet for talent. Mikkel Diskerud and Josh Gatt will certainly be in the Olympic setup, but perhaps Klinsmann is waiting for the January camp to meet them. Jonathan Spector has worked his way into Birmingham City’s team and the Blues just qualified for the group stages of the Europa League. DaMarcus Beasley has also been dropped after arriving late to the Mexico camp due to a passport issue. He has been playing well for Puebla and should not be discounted going forward. The others include forward Herculez Gomez, midfielder Alejandro Bedoya now of Glasgow Rangers, Freddy Adu, and defender Eric Lichaj. That illustrates the depth of the pool with other players trying to at least gain consideration. We’ll see what this group can accomplish.