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A majority of Klinsmann's Brazil boys might be MLS players
by Paul Kennedy, February 2nd, 2014 12:38AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, mls

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[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 Zusi was 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 Jones at 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 Goodson remains 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.
Att.: 27,000.


10 comments
  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 7:40 a.m.
    How can Eddie Johnson be ranked ahead of Wondo? Just look at their MLS performances last two years. Look at their body of work last four years. And Seattle, who knows EJ best, dumped him. Besides Wondo is an end-to-end forward, and a real class act, worth having on the squad for his upbeat personality alone.

  1. Eric Schmitt
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 9:19 a.m.
    EJ's size, strength, and versatility all put him ahead of Wondo, in addition to his proven ability to score against a variety of strong opponents. I like Wondo, but EJ is more valuable to the team.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 9:39 a.m.
    Neither will be starters. At best they are behind Altidore,Johannson and Dempsey.Even Donovan if deployed as a forward would be ahead of them.The extra forward would have to be able to make an impact off the bench.So far,that's EJ.

  1. Will Murphy
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 10:50 a.m.
    Strength and presence are important, but listen up boys and girls... Goals win games. Wondo is a sniffer, always able to find the back of the net. That will be key to get results against strong opponents like Portugal and Germany. Skill and ability may look pretty, but an ugly (or from nowhere) finish is vital for the US to have any chance of progressing.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.
    Quite evident in the Korea game, was the faster ball movement, release from pressure, and keeping it simple. the overall performance, execution and contribution to the team effort was much better. IMHO,i.e., EJ is gifted, but I question his focus and consistency. For me, Zusi showed that he can deliver the goods individually and execute. NOTE: and for all the bloggers that give Dempsey a pass; he's talented, but seldom shows up; his time has passed.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.
    Wondo is a natural finisher, just look at his last 4 seasons at San Jose. Does he deserve a shot at brazil, I'd still say at the moment he hasn't either had offers to play at a higher level or isn't good enough for it? Johnson, altidore, johanson have all played at a higher level and played well at times, yet wondo scored two against S. Korea? No one is talking about what agudelo did against Argentina and he's now in England and not getting looked at for brazil.

  1. Jake Lammi
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 2:31 p.m.
    Wondo is too slow and can't really create his own chances. He's never really been looked at by any club of significance in Europe. He is a decent finisher in a mediocore league, nothing that impresses all too much. If Klinsmann is taking 4 out and out strikers they will be Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Johannson, and Terrence Boyd. Those are probably the best 4 choices at the moment.

  1. Zoe Willet
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 5:16 p.m.
    What? No mention of Beasley for the back line? To me, Beasley and Gonzalez are locks, at right there are several excellent candidates.

  1. James Madison
    commented on: February 2, 2014 at 7:48 p.m.
    Johnson's deficiency is that he is not as good as he thinks he is. He lacks a first touch and plays for himself, not the team. I would take Wondo over him 7 days a week. Jones is, like Mastroeni was, a send-off waiting to happen, only more so. Beckerman should be "on the boat" instead.

  1. Robert Heinrich
    commented on: February 3, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.
    I agree with you James. There were 2 or 3 times in the South Korea game where EJ received the ball, was pressed, and instead of making the simple pass to retain possession, tried to dribble himself out of trouble 30-40 yds from goal and lost the ball. He doesn't "get it" and, while he's a gifted athlete (superior to Wondoloski), I would consider him a liability on the squad for his lack of soccer intelligence. The speed of decision making in the top Euro leagues is markedly faster than MLS and that, more than anything, might be the downfall of this team in Brazil. Make a poor decision and, just like that, you're down a goal. This was commented on during the game and has to be a big worry for Klinsmann: the speed of play will be much more than these guys are used to.


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