Gold Cup Duo
JOHN BROOKS (Hertha Berlin, 23). Brooks started at the Gold Cup with Ventura Alvarado, and Klinsmann's decision to stick with the young duo came in for heavy criticism after the USA fell to Jamaica, 2-1, in the semifinals. Brooks' summer commitments and injuries kept him out of the Hertha Berlin lineup for a good part of the fall, and by the end of the national team's fall campaign, he had for the first time been dropped to the U.S. under-23s. But he finished the first half of the Bundesliga season strongly, winning back his starting job at Hertha, which is contending for a Champions League berth. There was even a report that Bayern Munich inquired about Brooks before he re-signed last weekend with Hertha.
VENTURA ALVARADO (Club America, 23). Alvarado debuted on the national team last March after breaking into the starting lineup at Club America for its 2014 Torneo Apertura title run, but by the end of the year he was back on the bench at America. In between, he formed the USA's center-back partnership with Brooks, playing on his preferred right side. Alvarado began the year back in the America lineup at right back, but only because Mexican international Paul Aguilar is injured.
MATT MIAZGA (Chelsea, 20). After just one full season as a starter for the New York Red Bulls, Miazga was transferred to Chelsea for a transfer fee reported to be $5 million. The English club had been tracking Miazga, who had an excellent Under-20 World Cup tournament in New Zealand. He moved up quickly to the U-23s and debuted against St. Vincent & the Grenadines in World Cup qualifying November. That cap ties Miazga, born to Polish parents, to the USA.
CAMERON CARTER-VICKERS (Tottenham, 18). Started alongside Miazga on the U-20s and later with the U-23s and never looked out of place, considering he was three years younger than his partner. CCV, the son of former NBA player Howard Carter, spent the fall captaining the Spurs' U-21s, and Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he's ready to move on up to the first team as potential cover for its run for a top four place in the EPL.
STEVEN BIRNBAUM (D.C. United, 25). Suffered through a sophomore slump with D.C. United after earning his first national team cap in January 2015, but Klinsmann remains high on him. Birnbaum justified that confidence with an assist on the tying goal against Iceland and the last-minute winning goal.
MICHAEL OROZCO (Tijuana, 29). Orozco is a player you forget about but keeps popping back up on the national team. He endeared himself to Klinsmann by scoring the winning goal in the USA's first win over Mexico at Azteca Stadium in 2012. He's mostly played at center back and Klinsmann has used him on the outside, like in the second half against Iceland when he scored the tying goal.
Four for the Copa Centenario? Besler, Gonzalez, Brooks, Miazga.