U.S. Copa Centenario roster: Klinsmann on his 50-50 calls

U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his 23-player roster for the Copa Centenario. He said there were a lot of 50-50 decisions, about whom he'd take to the Copa Centenario and specifically whom he'd start in goal.

He took Michael Orozco over Omar Gonzalez, Timmy Chandler over Edgar Castillo and Tim Ream, Perry Kitchen  over Danny Williams  and  Mix Diskerud and Chris Wondolowski over Jordan Morris to get down from 40 to 23 players. He also named Brad Guzan to start in goal over Tim Howard.

Three players who started as recently as two games ago in the World Cup 2018 qualifier against Guatemala -- Castillo, Gonzalez and Diskerud -- didn't make the final 23. The omission of Diskerud, who has started only seven of New York City FC's 13 games, was not a surprise, but Castillo and Gonzalez are  both playing in Mexico's Torneo Clausura final.

“Obviously when you get down and you decide on the final 23-man roster," Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer, "a lot of people always think about the players that are not part of it. It’s never against a player that is not there. They are very close, tight decisions to make, a lot of 50-50 decisions where you can argue or you can debate who should be on and who should be off."

Klinsmann said he believes he has assembled a very strong roster.

"We feel that these 23 players going into the very special Copa America really deserved to be on the roster," he added. "But it’s not against the players that are not on the roster. You want them all to do well. You want them all to be part of the inner circle, to be part of a big tournament, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision."

Perhaps the toughest choice was for the fourth forward, behind Clint Dempsey, Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes, who all started in the 4-0 win over Guatemala in Columbus, in place of Jozy Altidore, who is injured.

"We believe that players really played their way into that [Copa America] roster, and it’s difficult," Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer. "There are some situations that probably the fans will now discuss. Why not Jordan Morris and Wondo is in there? Well, because Wondo proves all the time that he just is so hungry for goals, and Jordan is on his way through the ranks coming up."

Guzan will be the starter in goal after splitting time with Howard in the first four qualifiers.

"That’s been communicated clearly to Tim and Brad," he said. "We believe that Brad deserves it. Brad, throughout the last two years, played very consistently and very solid with us. He had a very tough year with Aston Villa, there’s no doubt it, but he knows that, and for many, many reasons. But it’s also a different environment. Tim Howard finished a huge, huge chapter in his career with Everton Football Club. He’s always going to be a legend for Everton, and he did wonderful things with that club. But he wasn’t with us for a year after the World Cup, and he also lost his starting spot the last half of the year with Everton, so we think that in that moment Brad has a little bit of an edge and deserves it."

USA Copa Centenario Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, ENG), Ethan Horvath (Molde, NOR), Tim Howard (Everton, ENG).

Not picked: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 

DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin, GER), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, ENG), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt, GER), Fabian Johnson (Borussia M'Gladbach, GER), Michael Orozco (Tijuana, MEX), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland, ENG).

Not picked: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Ventura Alvarado (Club America, MEX), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey, MEX) Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, MEX), Eric Lichaj (Nott. Forest, ENG), Matt Miazga (Chelsea, ENG), Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG).

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes, FRA), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Hearts, SCO), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, GER), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).

Not picked: Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt, GER), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Danny Williams (Reading, ENG).

FORWARDS (4):  Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin, GER), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy).

Not picked: Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders).

26 comments about "U.S. Copa Centenario roster: Klinsmann on his 50-50 calls".
  1. cisco martinez, May 22, 2016 at 10:10 a.m.

    Is anyone surprised at what klinsmanns does? Miazga, Finlay, and Feilhaber all should be on this list and we should be omitting Chandler, nagbe, zusi, etc. Klinsmann is failing in developing or even bringing young talent. I'm not a fan yet of Miazga but the kid is playing back up in the EPL, we all know Klinsmann despises Feilhaber, and Finlay comes of the bench during US games and goes at defenders, puts them on their heels, etc.

  2. Scott Johnson replied, May 22, 2016 at 11:27 p.m.

    While I may guilty of being a Timbers homer...Nagbe deserves his spot. He does something nobody else on USMNT does well; shepherd balls up the field against midfield pressure without getting stripped every last time.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 23, 2016 at 11:35 a.m.

    I'm a RBNY fan and not a fan at all of JK (so I'm about as pro-Miazga as it gets) but I don't have a problem with Miazga not going. He's played one and a half games in the last six months. Some of JK's other choices are highly questionable though.

  4. Goal Goal, May 22, 2016 at 11:20 a.m.

    Is there some reason JK feels Bradley can't be replaced?

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, May 22, 2016 at 1:46 p.m.

    Bradley is an excellent holding midfielder.

  6. R2 Dad replied, May 23, 2016 at 12:14 a.m.

    If Bradley was such an excellent holding midfielder, he would have been playing there for the past 3 years. But he hasn't. He's been an attacking midfielder, and has been marginal as such. Now we have Nagbe, who is a real AM--when does he get to play? JK has been beholden to a certain subset of players to the detriment of the overall program.

  7. Lewie Stevens replied, May 23, 2016 at 10:12 a.m.

    Bradley at holding mid. I've always thought that this is his best spot but Jones/Beckerman seemed to have this slot. Now put Nagbe at attacking mid and drop Bradley to Holding. Question is - will he stay there?

  8. Cory Leonard, May 23, 2016 at 7:28 a.m.

    Bradley IS an excellent holding mid. It's not his fault JK thinks he needs to be playing AM. He can only do what his coach allows him to.

  9. Eric Shinn, May 23, 2016 at 8:51 a.m.

    I'm sorry, but Wondolowski over Morris and Orozco over Miazga and Beckerman and Jones over...well...anybody....are all just idiotic decisions. He's picking the past over the future of the program, when the past wasn't that successful to begin with.

  10. Wooden Ships replied, May 23, 2016 at 9:18 a.m.

    I agree Eric.

  11. Alex Petri, May 23, 2016 at 9:02 a.m.

    If it's "so important" for the young players to get the experience of a meaningful tournament like the Olympics, why wouldn't the US use this opportunity to give some young guys exposure. Even mostly watching from the bench would theoretically benefit guys like Morris and Miazga (and many others).

    Wondo? Chandler? Beckerman? ...He at least deserves a spot, but how does having 3-4 aging veteran holding midfielders help this team grow? At the very least, quit BSing about the importance of the Olympics if you're gonna waste this opportunity.

  12. Wooden Ships replied, May 23, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    Agree with your assessment Alex. Seems that its the same old same old. Where is the risk in putting to pasture players that don't figure in 2018, during the Copa?

  13. Jake Lammi, May 23, 2016 at 9:36 a.m.

    Bradley is not an "excellent" player, he is a good player at best. If he was excellent, he would still be applying his trade with a solid European club. He couldn't even manage any playing time with Villa, a mediocre squad in the prem at the time. The U.S needs to move forward. They need to get the youth experience NOW. Out with Jones, Beckerman, Zusi, Dempsey, Wondo, Howard, Guzan and even Besler (there are better options at CB now, and will be coming up in the next couple of years). Move forward with growing pains now.

  14. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 23, 2016 at 11:37 a.m.

    I don't think that's right. MB was earning 850k Euros at Roma and now earns $6m. Do you think that might have something to do with why he's in MLS and not in Europe? I do and I don't blame MB or anyone else for taking as much money as they can get. Careers are short!

  15. Wooden Ships replied, May 24, 2016 at 4:57 p.m.

    Have to agree with you FPGN.

  16. Allan Lindh, May 23, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    Fire the clown now.
    This isn't funny anymore.
    And the idiots who aren't firing him
    Fire them too

  17. Kevin Sims, May 23, 2016 at 10:25 a.m.

    We can all argue, and should, about the players selected. Even though we are on the outside and are not familiar with training quality or team-building presence or versatility or fitness matters or personal matters or chemistry with fellow players ... we ought to engage the debate to show our enthusiasm for the USA. However, I think the chatter about players who are the future and thus should be selected misses the point: this tournament is now and is not a development stage. The players who give the USA the best chance to be at its best right now should be selected. To suggest a player that is the future should play now seems odd ... those players should play when they arrive among the best. They have numerous professional opportunities to make that case.

  18. VIC Aguilera, May 23, 2016 at 10:28 a.m.

    Does it matter, Mexico is the home team anyway.

  19. Daniel Clifton, May 23, 2016 at 10:44 a.m.

    I don't pretend to understand the choice of so many old guys. Klinsmann does not back up his talk with action. He should have this roster packed with young guys so they can get experience. Bradley should be playing the holding midfield position, but I guarantee you Klansmann will not make that obvious change. Nagbe should be starting. He will play Jones and Bradley together in the midfield. He will probably play our best midfielder now, Fabian Johnson at left back. I find it difficult to watch this team the way Klinsmann runs it. I agree with Allen, the guys or guy who hired Klinsmann first will have to go before Klinsmann is gone. I would agree that the veterans should be on the roster I they are the better player and the team is playing well. That is not the case and it so why I don't agree with the choice of so many older players who are not getting it done.

  20. j bapper, May 23, 2016 at 11:20 a.m.

    Same old story... he hangs on to these aging, past their prime players instead of injecting some youth and pace into the team. I truly can't believe we're seeing Beckerman, Jones, Wondoloski, and Zusi still in the team. The teams we face have to laugh when they see those guys on the field. Starting team should be: Howard - Yedlin - Besler - Cameron - Fabian - Bedoya - Nabge (AM)- Bradley (HM)- Pulisic - Dempsey - Wood.

  21. Allan Lindh replied, May 24, 2016 at 12:49 p.m.

    I agree bapper. That is the core lineup we should have been fielding for some time. Have to give a back line and holding mid time together. Littleman's massive ego blinds him to the reality that you have to pick your best 11 and let them play. This continual fiddling is just madness, and won't end until he is gone. Experiments should be at the margin, not turning over the entire lineup.

  22. beautiful game, May 23, 2016 at 12:24 p.m.

    Zardes brings nothing to the table...this player has reached his peak and won't get better.

  23. beautiful game, May 23, 2016 at 12:28 p.m.

    Bradley's game has descended quite a bit...ever since leaving Roma, his been marginal at best. As for the selection of 32+ year olds...not a good idea when these guys are going to be too old at WC 2018.

  24. John Soares, May 23, 2016 at 2:01 p.m.

    Not a JK fan.....but, in this case I "kinda/sorta" agree with (most) his choices. This is a major tournament and the time to play at our highest level possible. Puerto Rico was a... test new players, try new "tricks" and different positions. The Centenario should be treated as a WC, not a testing friendly.

  25. Ric Fonseca replied, May 23, 2016 at 2:41 p.m.

    Goodness gracious me!!! The last comment with lots of sense! Thanks John Soares, my sentiments, but for the sakes of me, why so much agonizing over JK's selection? I know he's not everyone's best and favored coach, but in my 45 years-long experience, criticism of a head coach will never cease, so play on I say. John put it succinctly: "The Centenario should be treated as a WC, not a testing friendly...(sic") and while I agree, I believe everyone's favorite coach, Senor JK said it on many occasions, this is an opportunity for him to put some of the new guys to a test since PR was nothing but a tune up... and help out the Puerto Rican side in their developmental stages. We'll see just how some of the guys work out in the coming days, meantime PLAY ON!!!

  26. Wooden Ships, May 24, 2016 at 5:10 p.m.

    John and Ric, I must disagree with you in regards to treating this as a World Cup. As hosts, we need to have excellent surfaces, lodging and facilities. From fielding a team sure, but are you expecting different play from us while continuing with most of the same team from Brazil and Gold Cup? You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result! With this group in meaningful games against quality opponents have we ever even held 30% possession? That's where an infusion of more technical-skilled players is needed. For the Centenario!!! I wanted to see a recognition from the coaches that what we've been doing isn't sufficient. There's no chance in hell we can win this. So, what will we have gained by watching the same movie an umpteenth time?

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