[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN] U.S. national team team Jurgen Klinsmann will need to finalize this weekend his roster for the upcoming World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. Over the next three days, Soccer America will update how things look from back to front, beginning with goalkeepers and defenders.
GOALKEEPERS.The one position where there has been little movement, not just with the starter but backups, is in goal, where there's little doubt who will be headed to Miami, where the USA will set up camp ahead of the trip to Costa Rica.
The pecking order remains No. 1 Tim Howard (Everton), No. 2 Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) and No. 3 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) -- and that's despite the fact Guzan and Rimando are having great years.
Guzan earned shutouts in the two qualifiers he started in March. He was Aston Villa's Player of the Year for 2012-13 and started the new EPL season with a sensational game in Villa's 3-1 win at Arsenal. Rimando was in goal as the USA won the Gold Cup, and he leads all MLS keepers with a 0.95 goals-against average.
Despite the arrival of 23-year-old keeper Spanish keeper Joel Robles from Wigan, where he played for Everton's new manager, Roberto Martinez, Howard, now 34 and starting his eighth year in goal for the Toffees, remains the Everton starter for the foreseeable future.
4 *Tim Howard
2 Brad Guzan
*Carrying yellow card.
DEFENDERS.The backline has seen a complete makeover in the last year. Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) and Matt Besler(Sporting KC)teamed up for the first time in a competitive match in March when they started in the 0-0 tie against Mexico at Azteca Stadium. DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla) was installed as the starting left back for the March qualifiers, and Brad Evans(Seattle Sounders)took over at right back for the Germany friendly on June 2 and is now Klinsmann's No. 1 choice there even if he doesn't play there for the Sounders.
Of the players who played on the backline in last year's World Cup qualifiers, Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg) and Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) started on the Gold Cup championship team and would be considered locks for the September qualifiers.
Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) started alongside newcomerJohn Brooks(Hertha Berlin)in the recent friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina, and his versatility makes him a sure choice in any Klinsmann squad.
Parkhurst is the one player who isn't playing at all -- he isn't even suiting up for Augsburg -- but he's another player whose versatility keeps him around -- at least in the short term. Klinsmann will need him as a backup as Besler, Cameron, Evans and Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim) all will carry yellow cards into the Costa Rica game.
Brooks has an upside that should keep him around but whether Klinsmann would consider starting him at Costa Rica or against Mexico remains to be seen. With Besler and Cameron both carrying cards, Klinsmann may call Brooks in as a backup for the September qualifiers. The German-American still needs to be cap-tied so that will be a factor as the USA moves through its final four Hexagonal matches.
Two other German-Americans, Timmy Chandler(Nuremberg) and Johnson, started the year as the first choices on the outside.
Johnson also started at left back for most of 2012 and has played there off and on in 2013, but his best position may on the left side of midfield. For what it's worth, he's back starting at left back for Hoffenheim after ending last season in midfield.
Chandler hasn't been in camp since being cap-tied in the 2-1 loss to Honduras in February. Injuries kept the out of the March and June qualifiers, and Klinsmann said others had since moved ahead of him, explaining his decision not to call him up for the Bosnia match -- quite a statement when you consider he brought in Tim Ream, who hasn't played for Klinsmann since October 2011.
Chandler began the Bundesliga season on the bench at Nuremberg, but he was back in the starting lineup by the third game, a 2-0 loss at champion Bayern Munich.
In Mexico, Gold Cup championsMichael Orozco Fiscal(Puebla) andEdgar Castillo (Tijuana) are both playing regularly though Orozco is now no higher than sixth on the depth at center back with Brooks' emergence and Castillo is no higher than third at left back but could get a call-up if Klinsmann wants cover in case Johnson is carded against Costa Rica.
World Cup dreams appear to fading for 2006 and 2010 World Cup veterans Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu and Steve Cherundolo. In the last year, Besler, Gonzalez, Cameron and Brooks have all moved ahead of Bocanegra and Onyewu in the middle, and recurrent knee problems have sidelined Cherundolo.
3 *Brad Evans
2 *Geoff Cameron
1 Timmy Chandler
6 Omar Gonzalez
4 *Matt Besler
1 *Geoff Cameron
1 Clarence Goodson
4 DaMarcus Beasley
2 *Fabian Johnson
*carrying yellow card.