[USA MEN] Jurgen Klinsmann wasn't afraid to shake things up nor try out players at different positions in the World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign that resulted in the USA clinching a berth in next year's finals on Tuesday night. Only one player, captain Clint Dempsey, played every game, and Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud, who made key contributions on Tuesday night, became the 37th and 38th players Klinsmann used in the 2014 World Cup qualifying. Some trends emerged over the last 15 months ...
SHORT-TERM TURNOVER. Klinsmann never started
the same lineup two games in a row in qualifying and, not surprisingly, often shook up his lineup between games during double fixture weeks.
Klinsmann made seven positional changes for
Tuesday's game against Mexico from the team that started Friday night at Costa Rica, and only two of them were dictated by yellow-card suspensions.
The closest thing to a consistent
lineup Klinsmann had was for the three June qualifiers when only three one-game changes were made for suspensions to Graham Zusi and DaMarcus Beasley and a concussion to Jermaine Jones.
LONG-TERM TURNOVER. There has been huge
turnover in the team between last year and this year. Only three players -- Tim Howard, Eddie Johnson and Dempsey -- who
started the 3-1 win over Guatemala that clinched a berth in the Hexagonal were in Tuesday's starting XI that clinched a berth in the World Cup finals.
Players like Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Danny Williams, Maurice Edu and Herculez Gomez all were regulars during the semifinal round of qualifying but now find themselves out of the current national team
picture because of injuries or form or age.
GOLD CUP EFFECT. One cannot emphasize enough how important the 2013 edition of the Gold Cup turned out to
be. It was viewed beforehand as an inconvenience on the international calendar or a waste of time, given the number of first-team players the five Hexagonal teams in the tournament were resting, but
it was the single most important factor in adding to the depth of U.S. squad.
Four of the players Klinsmann used Tuesday night had not even been called in for the June qualifiers, but his
confidence in them grew or was renewed based on their play at the Gold Cup.
Landon Donovan, who had played in qualifying since June 2012, was
trying to play himself back into Klinsmann's good graces. Kyle Beckerman, a Klinsmann favorite, had nevertheless made just one cameo appearance -- in stoppage
time of the Snow Bowl against Costa Rica -- in the Hexagonal. Bedoya and Diskerud, it is safe to say, wouldn't be in the picture but for what they showed Klinsmann at the Gold Cup.
PROBLEM POSITIONS. Lineup changes weren't just dictated by injuries, they were also made because of continuing instability at the four outside positions.
started seven different players at right back in 14 qualifiers -- five in the eight Hexagonal matches -- and five different players at left back. Since going with wide midfielders in the second
Jamaica game in 2012, Klinsmann has used four different right midfielders and five left midfielders.
With Donovan back in the picture, Klinsmann has plenty of options at the outside
midfield positions. The big question marks remain the two outside back positions.
VERSATILITY. Klinsmann has used three players at three different
Geoff Cameron broke in at center back in 2012, moved to right back for the March qualifiers and then played in midfield as an injury
replacement for Jones and Michael Bradley.
Fabian Johnson started out at left back, seemingly found a home
at left midfield when he returned from injury after DaMarcus Beasley slid into left back in March, but he started at right back Tuesday night before going off
at the half with a hamstring injury.
Eddie Johnson started on the left side of midfield after earning recall in October 2012, played at right
midfield and left midfield in the June qualifiers and was starting up front Tuesday when he scored his winning goal.
It is safe say that Cameron and the two Johnsons should be on the
plane to Brazil next year.
U.S. Qualifying Appearances:
12 Tim Howard
2 Brad Guzan
5 Steve Cherundolo
2 Geoff Cameron
1+1 Michael Parkhurst
1 Timmy Chandler
1 Michael Orozco
1 Fabian Johnson
8 Omar Gonzalez
6 Clarence Goodson
5+1 Geoff Cameron
5 Matt Besler
4 Carlos Bocanegra
6 DaMarcus Beasley
5 Fabian Johnson
1 Jose Torres
1 Michael Parkhurst
1 Carlos Bocanegra
0+1 Oguchi Onyewu
8+2 Graham Zusi
1+2 Eddie Johnson
1 Jermaine Jones
1 Alejandro Bedoya
0+1 Joe Corona
0+1 Brek Shea
10+1 Jermaine Jones
10 Michael Bradley
4+1 Danny Williams
3+4 Maurice Edu
2+2 Geoff Cameron
4 Eddie Johnson
3 Fabian Johnson
2 Herculez Gomez
1 Landon Donovan
0+3 Brad Davis
0+3 Sacha Kljestan
0+2 Edgar Castillo
0+2 Brek Shea
0+1 Joe Corona
0+1 Kyle Beckerman
14 Clint Dempsey
7+4 Jozy Altidore
6 Hercules Gomez
3 Landon Donovan
1+2 Eddie Johnson
0+1 Alan Gordon
0+1 Stuart Holden
0+1 Mix Diskerud
0+1 Aron Johannsson
+appearances as substitutes.