By Garrett McInnis
As we parse through the lineup selected by Jurgen Klinsmann for the November friendlies, we at The Yanks are Coming think it’s a perfect time to debut a
new series of posts titled “The Top 23.” In essence, this will be a running tabulation of who we (the contributors at TYAC) think should be in the squad of 23 if the World Cup started today.
For clarification purposes, note that those notably injured are not included as they would not be eligible to play today. For this squad, that notably ruled out Stuart Holden, Eric Lichaj, and Fabian Johnson. Without further adieu, here’s the squad with their average ranking by their name…
1-Tim Howard: 1.25
There’s no surprise here. If the US squad is left without the services of Tim Howard, it’s going to be a scarily narrow path to Brazil in 2014.
2-Clint Dempsey 1.75
After years of lurking in Landon Donovan’s shadow, the past couple of seasons at Craven Cottage have established Clint Dempsey as the clear choice for best field player in the US pool. As Dempsey continues to shine at Fulham– the question really is no longer “Is he better than Landon Donovan?”– it is “Is he going to be the best US field player ever?”
3-Landon Donovan: 3.25
While Landon may not be the bell-cow that he was over the course of the last World Cup qualifying period, he’s still an integral piece of this team despite the belief by some (me being one of these people) that his best days are behind him. There are plenty of reasons that claim is debatable– but think of last night’s sitter he missed in the late stages of an MLS playoff game. When’s the last time you saw Landon miss a two-thirds open net one on one with a goalkeeper? Yup. Didn’t think so.
4-Brek Shea: 6.125
To say that Brek Shea has broken out in the past few months would be an understatement. He’s provided the US mens team with attacking width on the left side that hasn’t
been there in a while and his ceiling is higher than most youngsters in the squad. I’d be shocked (and severely disappointed) if he’s not a starter on the ’14 squad.
5-Steve Cherundolo 6.5
‘Dolo began to show his age in the last few friendlies against the athleticism of the Ecuadorian attackers, but his skill level is still high. He still offers us the
ability to attack with width from the back right and he’s one of our most sure defenders.
6-Jozy Altidore: 6.75
If Jozy can begin to score for the national team like he’s done recently for his club he will rapidly ascend up this list. Lord knows we need someone who can consistently put the ball in the back of the net. Physically he’s as gifted as anyone on our squad and he’ll be important going forward– so important that his ranking is naturally inflated becaue for now he’s all we have in the cubbard.
7-Timothy Chandler: 7.625
Much like Shea, Timmy Chandler looks like the future of US soccer. Obviously, as I’ve written about, many people have worried about him switching allegiances and playing for the German squad. At this time, it looks as though he’s happy to be playing for the American side and we’re happy to have him.
8-MB 90: 8
Bradley is an interesting case. He’s probably in our top 11 as far as ability goes, but he hasn’t started regularly for the US squad under Jurgen Klinsmann. Most of us think that will change as he continues to settle in at Chievo, which his recent 90 minute stints suggest is happening now. His tendency to play the safe ball may not sit perfectly with our new coach, but he’s still one of our best overall players.
9-Maurice Edu: 9.875
Mo has proven to be an up and down player in the US kit. His athleticism is unquestioned and his versatility will keep him in the squad.
The key for Klinsmann will be figuring out the place where Mo fits into his plan and also where Mo has a level of comfortability. Tough stuff.
9-Carlos Bocanegra: 9.875
Tied with Edu, I don’t expect this to continue. Right now, we need Carlos because we don’t know who the future is at center back. Regardless, his age is beginning to show and the lapses, while not
regular, are becoming more frequent. Captain’s future starting place is tenuous at best.
11-Juan Agudelo: 13.875
The future star. The answer. Or..the he next Freddy Adu. The guy who hasn’t scored for the US squad in over 7 months. His talent is not questioned, but when you can’t get club time (Damn you, Hans Backe!), it’s hard to see him drastically improving anytime soon. That said, it helps to train every day with one of the greatest ever, and a new club might make the problem worse. Heady questions and ones we don’t have answers to at this point. Still, we need scorers and he’s got the talent to be a force for the US going forward.
12-Oguchi Onyewu: 15.125
I never thought I’d see Gooch as sprightly and lively as he was against Ecuador after the knee injury prior to the World Cup. It was a revelation and a fantastic sign for the next 2-3 year period in US soccer.
13-Jermaine Jones 17
Finally settling back into regular playing time with Schalke, Jermaine is likely to get another look from Jurgen over the next few camps. It will be interesting to see how he fits in with some of the other German-American call-ups.
14-Danny Williams 18.5
A surprisingly assured debut from Williams has him poised to contribute over the next few years. His skill level is clearly higher than a lot of the contributors and while he’s not
a speedster, he played adequately on the wing for the US. His work rate really impressed those of us who didn’t particularly highly value his “skill.” Effort guys are glue guys.
15-Kyle Beckerman 19.75
The last camp performances were a bit of a struggle, but he’s performed surprisingly well since Klinsmann took over.
15-Sacha Kljestan 19.75
Sacha, unlike many of our midfield options, continues to be a creative option. That alone will get him continued looks. His exceptional form with Anderlecht makes his non-inclusion in the latest wave of friendlies a bit shocking.
17-Bill Hamid 20.325
There’s really not a solid option after Tim Howard, so why not go with the youngest option with the highest ceiling (because Earl Edwards is a 2018 guy, not a 2014).
18-Clarence Goodson 20.625
Goodson is a solid, if unspectacular option at center back. That alone puts him on the list. His areal abilities also make him an intriguing option on set pieces.
19-Alejandro Bedoya 21
Bedoya is a lot like Sacha but younger and more energetic. Unfortunately, he’s getting less playing time at Rangers and therefore is not developing as much as he could be.
His time back in the States has been very hit or miss…sometimes proving to be a dangerous offensive weapon for Philadelphia and other times struggling with knocks or fitness. Still offers a unique skill
21-DaMarcus Beasley 22.5
DMB surprised a lot of pundits and bloggeurs alike with his recent resurgence into the USMNT picture. Regular playing time in Mexico has him looking like a feisty and
intriguing option for Jurgen. It is really hard to believe he’s only 29.
Herc has been scoring for Puebla and the US is in desperate need of a poacher in front of the goal. His non-inclusion thus far by Klinsmann appears to suggest that the Kaiser is more interested in long-term solutions than stop gaps. We’ll see how quickly he changes his mind when qualifying gets dicey.
Even Jon Spector looked more self-assured after Klinsmann took over. His regular time with Birmingham hasn’t hurt his argument to be in the squad.
Those just on the outside: Omar Gonzalez(24.125), Brad Guzan(25), Edson Buddle(26.75), Mixx Diskerud(27), David Yeldell(27.325)
Those Injured (therefore removed): Holden and Lichaj(who had a score of 15.75)
Those receiving a singular vote (and therefore eliminated): Brad Davis, Rimando, S. Johnson, Ream, Parkhurst, Castillo, De la Garza
Garrett McInnis writes about the USMNT and Americans in the Bundesliga for The Yanks Are Coming. You should follow him on Twitter at @captainmcinnis, and tell him if you think leaving currently injured players out makes sense, is silly, or anything else you’d like to tell him.