USA-Iceland Preview: Klinsmann begins auditions

The most inexperienced squad of players in a January camp since the strike camp of 2005 will get down to action when the USA hosts Iceland Sunday in the first of two men's friendlies it will play at StubHub Center (TV: ESPN2, UniMas, UDN, 3:45 p.m. ET). Ten uncapped players -- David Bingham, Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani, plus seven under-23 players -- are joined by six players who earned their first caps in 2015 in Jurgen Klinsmann's squad of 26 players.

1. Auditioning a replacement for Jermaine Jones.

Just five starters from the Trinidad & Tobago game in November are in camp, and one of them -- Jermaine Jones -- is possibly suspended for the two-game series against Guatemala in March, so finding a midfield partner for Michael Bradley will be the top priority. Jones is in camp while he tries to find a new team -- he'l need to find a new club that is playing soon to complete his six-game suspension before the March qualifiers -- but Klinsmann must consider auditioning a possible replacement for March, if not the rest of the year.

Darlington Nagbe
wasn't used centrally in his two brief appearances in November, but his deployment there for the Portland Timbers may have turned his career around and certainly helped them win their first MLS championship. Nagbe's work on the ball is something the USA needs desperately to complement Bradley. It remains to be see, though, what exactly Klinsmann has in mind for Nagbe whom he clearly wants to groom for a bigger role.

Klinsmann could also give playing time in central midfield to one of the Columbus Crew SC midfielders, Will Trapp, the U-23 captain, or Tchani, or Perry Kitchen, who has been looking for a new team.

2. New focus on goalkeeping situation.

The U.S. goalkeeping situation has been straightforward in recent years. Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando were 1-2-3. During Howard's sabbatical, Guzan was No. 1 and Rimando No. 2.

Now, Howard is contemplating a return to MLS after 13 seasons in England, Guzan is on the bench at Aston Villa and Rimando is seemingly out of the picture. With Bill Hamid out with a knee injury, three keepers who didn't even rank in the top 5 at the end of last year are vying to start against Iceland: Sean Johnson, Luis Robles and Bingham, who have six caps between them.

Does Johnson, Robles or Bingham have a future in the U.S. goal? Probably not. The group of U-23 keepers -- not in camp -- is one of the deepest the USA has had in years: Ethan Horvath, Zack Steffen, Cody Cropper and (if he changes his mind again) Jesse Gonzalez.

3. Last chance for the U-23 reinforcements.

The USA faces Colombia in a two-game playoff series in March with a berth in the Olympics on the line. Several fixtures in Andi Herzog's U-23 lineup -- Jordan Morris, Jerome Kiesewetter and Trapp -- are in camp.

But this is the first serious look for Kellyn Acosta, Tim Parker and Brandon Vincent and the games against Iceland and Canada next Friday will be their one chance to impress Klinsmann and Herzog.

OPPONENT. Iceland, which has qualified for Euro 2016, is without most of its first-line players, who play in major European leagues. The squad it took to Abu Dhabi for matches against the Finland and UAE and has brought to California includes only three players -- defenders Birkir Mar Saevarsson and Ari Freyr Skulason and forward Kjartan Finnbogason -- who started in the 2-2 tie with Latvia in October that clinched Iceland's first-ever berth in a major championship.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
DEFENDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Michael Orozco (Tijuana/MEX), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders)
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City), Jermaine Jones (unattached), Perry Kitchen (unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart/GER), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Khiry Shelton (New York City), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy

Iceland Roster:
GOALKEEPERS: Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson (Breioablik), Ogmundur Kristinsson (Hammarby/SWE).
DEFENDERS: Birkir Mar Saevarsson (Hammarby/SWE), Ari Freyr Skulason (OB/DEN),
Hallgrimur Jonasson (OB/DEN), Jon Guoni Fjoluson (Sundsvall/SWE), Hjortur Hermannsson (PSV/NED),  Diego Johannesson (Real Oviedo/SPA).
MIDFIELDERS: Arnor Smarason (Hammarby/SWE), Runar Mar Sigurjonsson (Sundsvall/SWE), Guomundur Porarinsson  (Nordsjaelland/DEN), Kristinn Steindorsson (Sundsvall/SWE), Aron Elis Prandarson  (Aalesunds/NOR), Aron Siguroarson (Fjolnir), Aevar Ingi Johannesson (KA).
FORWARDS: Eiour Guojohnsen (Shijiazhuang Ever Bright/CHN), Kjartan Finnbogason (Horsens/DEN),  Garoar Gunnlaugsson (IA).
10 comments about "USA-Iceland Preview: Klinsmann begins auditions".
  1. beautiful game, January 29, 2016 at 10:45 a.m.

    Robles is a good keeper, but his distribution is a joke. As for Zardes, I've seen him enough, physical & technical, but low soccer IQ. As for Jozy, coach K keeps calling him up and everyone is still waiting for a solid performance.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, January 29, 2016 at 3:04 p.m.

    Agreed I w and Dan. I don't really expect JK to change much this year. Will Kreiss be able to get through to him, or will he try to wait him out. Ramos doesn't seem to have a managers personality. With JK, I just can't understand why he insists on Altidore, Zardes, Bradley attacking mid, etc., etc. It takes moments, not months and years, to determine soccer smarts. My summation then has to be, he too lacks smarts. We better make a switch because qualifying for Russia is doubtful-if more of the same.

  3. BJ Genovese replied, January 30, 2016 at 3:31 p.m.

    You consider Zardes as technical?

  4. Dan Phillips, January 29, 2016 at 2:27 p.m.

    An please, do not play lazy, Jozy Altidore. enough of this bum already!

  5. Stuart d. Warner, January 29, 2016 at 4:52 p.m.

    Please, please, let us not see Jermaine Jones on the field. Apart from the fact he cannot play against Guatemala, it is time to find out who among our younger players is up to the task. Please no Altidore. And please sometime soon bring in Christian Pulisic: this boy can play.

  6. Allan Lindh, January 29, 2016 at 6:21 p.m.

    Benny Feilhaber. No one even mentions his absence. We have no one in midfield worth a on the ball, and that egotistical p...k Jurgen Littleman won't even give him a look. And with our performances the worst in decades, that clown keeps his job. But then I would have fired him when he didn't pick Donovan, so it ain't my fault he's still screwing up the USMNT.

  7. Wooden Ships replied, January 30, 2016 at 11 a.m.

    Allan, the only thing I can think of with Benny, is that he doesn't fit JK's style of play. He's too skilled. As long as he insists on Jozy up top there isn't need for a skilled and creative center mid. That's also why MB still plays where he does. It's disappointing to think after what, 5 years, that Jurgen hasn't transitioned to possession with two forwards and players that can consistently find feet. Then, not let it bounce away like a ping pong ball. By now he should have rostered players, with technical over athletic. And, I'm sorry, but a proud homegrown sounder isn't the best move for Jordan and the USMNT, if Jordan's desire is ever to be at a top international level. And, I do think he has that potential.

  8. BJ Genovese replied, January 30, 2016 at 3:35 p.m.

    Did you follow Benny's comments during his MLS press week interview?? If not google it and that will shed some light on Benny's future in the national team while JK's tenure.

  9. Wooden Ships replied, January 30, 2016 at 6:14 p.m.

    I saw it BJ and yes it does. I'm not optimistic if its more of the same.

  10. Dan Popp, January 29, 2016 at 8:18 p.m.

    @socceramericadaily- Jordan Morris is no longer "unattached". He is a proud Homegrown Sounder, thank you very much.

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