[USA MEN] How different this January camp was from the camp four years ago is reflected in the players whom Jurgen Klinsmann started against South Korea on Saturday. Six players would be considered locks to make the World Cup team -- and all but goalie Nick Rimando might start -- while four years ago just two players who started in the game that ended the January camp even made the World Cup team.
Chris Wondolowski might have begun the day as the longest of the longshots in the U.S. starting lineup at the StubHub Center, and all he did was score the two goals in the 2-0 win over South Korea. It still might not be enough, though, to make the final 23 as he faces stiff competition up front.
Brad Evans, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez all started the day as the No. 1 choices at their positions on the backline. And though neither exactly had outstanding games, Besler and Gonzalez did enough against two decent strikers, Lee Keun-Ho and Kim Shin-Wook, to remain the overwhelming No. 1 choices. Evans had the weakest game of the four backliners, though, and his starting job would seem the most seriously threatened as Geoff Cameron continues to hold down the right back job at Stoke City.
Graham Zusiwas in and out of the starting lineup in 2013 but made perhaps the strongest case to win a starting job with a solid game on the right side of midfield. Wearing the captain's armband, London Donovan looked very energetic and inspired and in much better shape than he had been in the fall when he was bothered by an ankle injury. While Donovan is still a man without a set position, he looked very comfortable in the role of the second forward he played at the Gold Cup and usually goes to Clint Dempsey, who is in England on loan from Seattle to Fulham.
Kyle Beckerman, Michael Parkhurst, Mix Diskerud and Brad Davis all entered the game with their World Cup hopes still alive but at something less than 100 percent. Beckerman has probably the best chance of going to the World Cup and moved closer to a shoo-in with a performance that makes him, for the moment, the backup to Jermaine Jonesat holding midfielder. Parkhurst demonstrated his versatility with an effective outing at left back and can look forward to the prospect of -- finally -- playing consistently now that he's left Augsburg for the Columbus Crew.
The problem for Diskerud and Davis is that they both needed to move the needle to strengthen their case. Of the two, Diskerud had the better game, but his case is hurt because his Norwegian club, Rosenborg, doesn't resume league play until March 30, three weeks after his MLS counterparts start their season. Davis had his moments against the Koreans but also some very sloppy play that would go punished by the opposition the USA will face in Brazil.
Of the two players off the bench with serious World Cup hopes, Clarence Goodsonremains all but assured of going to the World Cup as the fourth choice at center back behind Besler, Gonzalez and Cameron. (Young John Brooks' hopes, which looked so bright at the end of last summer, have dimmed as the season has progressed at Hertha Berlin.)
Eddie Johnson, whose goal against Mexico was the game-winner in the World Cup-qualifying clinching game, would be the player most threatened by Wondolowski's strong game, but he remains for the moment ahead of Wondo as an option at three or four positions. That could change, however, as more so than any of Klinsmann's regulars he'll need to get off to a strong MLS season in not the the easiest of circumstances with a move from Seattle to D.C. United, the worst team in the league in 2013.
In sum, probably nine of the players Klinsmann used against South Korea are at the moment likely headed to Brazil: Rimando, Evans, Besler, Gonzalez, Goodson, Beckerman, Zusi, Donovan and Johnson. When you add in Michael Bradley and Dempsey, who were not in camp, that means a minimum of 11 MLS players will probably be going to the World Cup. When you throw Parkhurst, Davis and Wondo (and perhaps Maurice Edu) into the mix, there's chance the majority of Klinsmann's Brazil boys will be MLS players.
Feb. 1 in Carson, Calif.
USA 2 South Korea 0.Goals: Wondolowski 4, 60.
USA --Rimando; Evans (Yedlin, 74), Besler (Goodson, 60), Gonzalez, Parkhurst; Beckerman, Diskerud (Feilhaber, 60), Donovan, Zusi (Alexander, 82), Davis (Gil, 75), Wondolowski (E.Johnson, 60)
South Korea -- Jung; Kim Jin-Su (Kim Taehwan, 79), Kim Ju-Young, Kim Kee-Hee, Lee Yong; Lee Ho (Lee Myung-Joo, 70), Park Jong-Woo, Kim Min-Woo, Go; Lee Keun-Ho (Lee Seunggi, 70), Kim Shin-Wook.