[USA MEN] What do you take away from the roster U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann named for the World Cup qualifiers Sept. 6 at Costa Rica and Sept. 10 against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio? He has considerably more players to choose from than he did at the beginning of the year or even for the June qualifiers. Six September call-ups weren't even in the picture in June.
There were few surprises in Klinsmann's selections -- perhaps Michael Orozco over Clarence Goodson and Mix Diskerud over Sacha Kljestan -- except to say that by his own admission he had a lot of "50-50 calls" to make.
There were at least seven players who were in the team earlier this year without playing themselves out of the picture: Michael Parkhurst, Brad Davis, Jose Torres, Joe Corona, Chris Wondolowski, Goodson and Kljestan.
"It’s a very tricky and difficult selection," said Klinsmann in a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, "because there are a lot of players that deserve to be on this roster as well. Think about Clarence Goodson, Jose Torres, Sacha Kljestan, Joe Corona and many others that deserve to be there. The good part about all of our work over the last 6-8 months is we deepened our roster, we deepened our possibilities in selecting specific players and all the players not called into Costa Rica are still in the loop going forward."
With eight players in his 23 carrying yellow cards into the Costa Rica game, Klinsmann said others have been told they are on stand-by in case they need to be called in for the Mexico game as replacements for players who have been suspended.
Short- or long-term injuries would have excluded a half dozen players: Stuart Holden, Steve Cherundolo, Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez, Brek Sheaand Maurice Edu.
Only a couple of players -- notably German-Americans Timmy Chandler and Danny Williams -- have seen their stock fall this year. As Klinsmann noted, the huge change in 2013 from his first two years in charge is how much more competition he has than before. Of the 20 field players he called up a year ago for the twin qualifiers against Jamaica, only eight will be in Miami for the camp that opens Sunday.
And since the June qualifiers -- when the USA swept the three games -- six players without any prior appearances in the 2013 Hexagonal have played their way on the first 23: Michael Orozco, Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya, John Brooks, Aron Johannsson and, of course, Landon Donovan.
For another way to look at how much the picture has changed since June, every one of the unused field players from the June 7 game against Jamaica isn't in the 23 for the September qualifiers: Boyd, Corona, Holden, Davis, Parkhurst, Kljestan and Goodson.
Asked who has looked good since the start of the new European season, Klinsmann said, “I think when you ask that question, it takes us back to John Brooks with Hertha Berlin, Aron Johannsson with [AZ] Alkmaar and Alejandro Bedoya who had an amazing debut with Nantes against Paris St. German where he almost scored a goal. Michael Bradley has had an outstanding start to his season at Roma, Tim Howard as well [at Everton]."
For all the competition for spots on the 23-player roster, the starting XI for the Costa Rica game is almost set. The USA won its last three qualifiers to take control of the Hexagonal -- and takes a team record 12-game unbeaten streak into the Costa Rica game -- and Klinsmann hasn't changed up his lineup much when the USA has been winning.
He came out and said DaMarcus Beasley, who was suspended for the Honduras, is set at left back, and Fabian Johnson, who moved back to left back against the Catrachos, is "set in the left winger role, for right now."
That would leave the question of where to play Donovan if he starts. The only likely spots would be in place of one of the two starters who currently have fitness issues. Klinsmann said he expected Graham Zusi, who has played on the right side of midfield, and captain Clint Dempsey, the second forward, to be fully fit by next week -- and he even discussed Dempsey's 100th cap, which he'll earn in his next game.
All that leaves is and where to start Donovan -- in Zusi's place? -- the major talking point of the next week.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), *Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting KC) John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), *Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), *Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
MIDFIELDERS (8):Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), *Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), *Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), *Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)
FORWARDS (4): *Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), *Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
*Carrying yellow cards.