Featured, March 2014, USMNT

USA vs. Mexico Roster: American Dream and Julian Green

Maurice Edu has helped revitalize Philly's midfield. Now he gets one last US roster shot.

Maurice Edu has helped revitalize Philly’s midfield. Now he gets one last US roster shot.

Neil W. Blackmon

Jurgen Klinsmann’s European-based contingent had their final run-through before the 30 man send-off series roster is selected in just over a month, falling 2-0 to an inspired Ukraine in Cyprus. Now, it’s the American-based players turn, with Mexico waiting in the wings in Glendale next week. Julian Green of Bayern Munich, now tied to the United States in a remarkable display of FIFA efficiency (credit the US federation, too), will join Klinsmann’s team of US and Mexico-based players as well. For many, the short camp and match against El Tri represent a final opportunity to impress Klinsmann enough to warrant serious World Cup final roster consideration. That’s motivation enough; but there’s also the matter of continuing the US success over Mexico that has marked the second half of this World Cup cycle. After the poor display in Ukraine, the US could use a win to build confidence.

Here’s the roster, followed by some quick thoughts on my end:

Goalkeepers: (3)Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

Midfielders(7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards(4): Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Debate about it is heated- but Julian Green absolutely can make the World Cup team.

Debate about it is heated- but Julian Green absolutely can make the World Cup team.

Short Corners:

— Worth repeating what was written at TSG yesterday regarding the Maurice Edu call-up. This is a very big opportunity for Edu. That he’s back in the fold suggests Jurgen knows he needs a CDM with some pace and athleticism to call upon in this group. The thinking here is that while Danny Williams did a fairly decent job in a cameo in Cyprus, Edu would be preferable. He has World Cup experience, appears to be playing well in Philadelphia’s revamped midfield, and would allow the US to take a few more risks in games where it is called for– see, Germany, Recife. Edu’s performances vs. Mexico have been, historically, a bit of a mixed bag, but his performance in the US draw at the Azteca was magisterial. Big camp and match for him.

— Julian Green will be here, thanks to FIFA efficiency and Bayern Munich generosity. There’s a debate about whether Green should be seriously considered for this World Cup roster–this Grantland piece by Noah Davis, who I respect a great deal, suggests he should not go to Brazil, and MLS has podcasted the issue to death– but the reality is if Green can help Klinsmann he’s going to get his chance. Yes, playing in the 4th division of Germany isn’t exactly top-flight MLS competition. But good is good. And the US needs versatility in attack and it needs goals. Green can provide both, and with Altidore mired in what is now a fifteen game scoring drought in England, what does Klinsmann have to lose? Throw in the fact that opponents will have very little film of Green (think Landon Donovan, 2002, but with even less to work with), and the fact is that Green has a chance to make the team. He can increase that chance with a good camp and match.

Michael Orozco might be World Cup bound if Parkhurst stumbles...

Michael Orozco might be World Cup bound if Parkhurst stumbles…

— Brad Evans is in the camp but I’d be very surprised if he plays. Even Evans admits his first priority for the time being is getting back to match fitness and playing in Seattle. Evans has done enough to get invited to the 30 man Send-Off Camp anyway– this camp can only aggravate his injury.

—  Defensively, I’d suggest that the Send-Off camp will absolutely involve the following locks: Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson (midfield!), DaMarcus Beasley, Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron. That basically leaves two spots open for defenders. Michael Parkhurst should earn “Shot A” at being on the team- largely because he offers flexibility but also because, despite his lack of elite-level talent, Parkhurst is the most reliable of a host of options. That said, don’t write off Michael Orozco. He’s acquitted himself well for the US this cycle, and despite his diminutive stature, the US might decide it needs a CB who offers more than mediocre distribution. Of the Mexican-based defenders not named Beasley, Orozco has the best shot at Brazil.

— Finally, Chris Wondolowski needs to show something and it needs to be in the match, not the camp. It’s one thing to dominate lousy Gold Cup competition, but quite another to impact proceedings in a Group of Death. A second-consecutive good match performance against a World Cup nation would go a long way to making the argument in favor of inclusion for Wondolowski. 

The comments, as always, are yours.

Neil W. Blackmon