Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced the USA roster for this summer’s FIFA World Cup with one surprising name left off the team. Landon Donovan did not make the final cut for the trip to Brazil. Donovan admitted recently that the higher level practice over 12 days was more than he could handle. This announcement showed that the 32-year old is no longer the same player he was just last year during the United States Men’s National Team’s (USMNT) run to win the Gold Cup.
The goalkeepers announced for the USMNT are strong. Tim Howard is the likely starter for the squad, unless a catastrophic injury keeps him out of the lineup. Guzan and Rimando are capable backups for Howard, who will have a tough road ahead of him in group play. The keepers from the US will be under constant fire from Germany and Portugal when the tournament starts. Facing off against the number 2 and 3 teams in the FIFA World Rankings will not be easy for the USA. The game against Ghana will not provide any rest for the goalkeepers either. The US has struggled against the Ghana National Team in the past and will enter the game with the understanding that it will not be a cake walk for them.
The group of defenders Klinsmann picked is led by DaMarcus Beasley. The defenders will be tasked with keeping opponents from taking shots on their keeper. There was speculation that Beasley would not be selected for the team along with Donovan. After an apparent injury that could have kept Beasley from his fourth tournament, the defender bounced back to secure a spot with the squad. Right back DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders was a surprise addition to the team. The 20-year old is fast, and Klinsmann may feel that the youngster is the only player who can match up with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo to give the USMNT a fighting chance. Yedlin is sure to be one of the future faces of US soccer and his addition by Klinsmann may be the coach looking past this summer’s tournament and towards the 2018 World Cup.
At the midfield position, Team USA is strong with veterans. The familiar dreadlocks of Kyle Beckerman will be flying at the FIFA World Cup along with Brad Davis. Davis was another surprise pick by the head coach to the roster. The veteran midfielder is only a bit older than Donovan. The biggest surprise selection at the midfield position was the inclusion of Julian Green. Green received his first and only cap for the USMNT during the April friendly against Mexico. The 18-year old striker is another of Klinsmann’s picks that could cause the coach criticism if the team does not perform well. Green is a strong player with loads of potential.
The scoring threats from the US at the forward position are led by Chris Wondoloski and Clint Dempsey. The forwards will be under a microscope during the tournament without the foot of Donovan on the team. While Wondoloski equaled Donovan’s 5 goal performance during the Gold Cup, a number of the forward’s strikes came against inferior opponents. Concern is Wondoloski may struggle during play against the teams in the Group of Death and the hope for the United States may rest on the shoulders of Dempsey.
While Donovan was not picked for the USA team, the 32-year old has remained profession. Missing out on his fourth straight FIFA World Cup, Donovan sent a message on Facebook to his fans and brothers who made the squad. The hopes the US fans seeing a brilliant moment from Donovan in a must win game may not be totally dashed for the 2014 tournament. There is still a chance the face of American soccer may still don the red, white and blue to take the pitch this summer. While the roster has been announced, it does not need be turned into FIFA until June 2. If a player is injured during practice or in the next friendly on June 1, the door could open for Donovan. Until then, fans can relive the forward’s game winning goal against Algeria from the 2010 tournament.
Commentary by Carl Auer