American Top 40: Projecting Klinsmann’s 2014 World Cup roster

December 31, 2013
(U.S. Soccer Federation)
(U.S. Soccer Federation)

With the World Cup approaching and Juergen Klinsmann weighing options for the 23-man roster, the Insider’s weekly roundup shifts from a long list of Americans competing in foreign leagues to players in contention for a ticket to Brazil this summer.

We’ll call it American Top 40 – 40 candidates for the coveted World Cup slots. Players are sure to rise and fall, drop off the list and resurface, until Klinsmann finalizes his choices in May.

Using a positional breakdown, we’ve created a depth chart of sorts. Keep in mind several players serve hybrid roles. For example, Geoff Cameron plays primary on the right side for Stoke City but is most comfortable in the center of the park (backline and midfield). Fabian Johnson prefers to attack but may be called to play on the backline. Landon Donovan can fill any midfield role or play withdrawn forward. Eddie Johnson is a striker in MLS but wide midfielder for the U.S. team.

The projections also take into account Klinsmann’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

With those disclaimers, here is our 23 on course for Brazil (and how they fared the past week), plus the 17 seeking to unseat them:

GOALKEEPERS

  1. Tim Howard (Everton): First-half red card in 1-0 loss to Sunderland was his first in 455 appearances in English league, domestic cup, Euro play and for U.S. national team. Missed 2-1 victory over Southampton. Next: Stoke City on Wednesday.
  2. Brad Guzan (Aston Villa): 90 in 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace, 90 in 1-1 draw with Swansea City. Next: at Sunderland on Wednesday.
  3. Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake):  MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. winter camp call-up.

DEFENDERS

Center back

  1. Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.
  2. Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.
  3. Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.

— Contenders —

John Brooks (Hertha Berlin): Winter break. 8 Bundesliga appearances. Next: at Eintracht Frankfurt on Jan. 25.

Michael Orozco (Puebla): Mexican Clausura opener at Pumas on Sunday.

Tim Ream (Bolton): 90 in 1-0 victory at Barnsley, 90 in 5-3 loss at Leicester City. Next: Middlesbrough on Wednesday.

Right back

  1. Geoff Cameron (Stoke City): 90 at right back in 5-1 loss at Newcastle, 90 at center back in 3-0 loss at Spurs.
  2. Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.
  3. Steve Cherundolo (Hannover): Winter break, 2 Bundesliga appearances since recovery from knee injury. Next: at Wolfsburg on Jan. 25.

— Contenders —

Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg): Winter break, 0 Bundesliga appearances. Next: at Borussia Dortmund on Jan. 25.

Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest): 90 in 2-0 victory over QPR, 90 in 2-1 victory over Leeds. Next: at Reading on Wednesday.

Timothy Chandler (Nurnberg): Winter break, 16 Bundesliga appearances. Next: Hoffenheim on Jan. 25.

Left back

  1. DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla): Mexican Clausura opener at Pumas on Sunday.

— Contenders —

Edgar Castillo (Tijuana): Mexican Clausura opener at Atlas on Saturday.

MIDFIELDERS

Defensive

  1. Michael Bradley (Roma): Holiday break. Next: at Juventus on Sunday.
  2. Jermaine Jones (Schalke): Winter break, 14 Bundesliga appearances. Next: at Hamburg on Jan. 26.
  3. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.

— Contenders —

Daniel Williams (Reading): 90 in 1-0 loss at Leicester City, 90 in 3-0 loss at Middlesbrough. Next: Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.

Maurice Edu (Stoke City): No Premier League appearances. In desperate need of a loan/transfer and playing time.

Left side

  1. Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim): Winter break, 12 Bundesliga appearances. Next: at Nurnberg on Jan. 25.
  2. Eddie Johnson (D.C. United): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.

— Contenders —

Brek Shea (Stoke City): 1 Premier League appearance. In desperate need of a loan and playing time. Began one-month loan with 2nd-tier Barnsley.

Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.

Jose Torres (Tigres): Mexican Clausura opener at Club America on Saturday.

Right side

  1. Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.
  2. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.
  3. Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes): Holiday break. Next: Nice in French Cup on Sunday.

— Contenders —

Joe Corona (Tijuana): Mexican Clausura opener at Atlas on Saturday.

Central

  1. Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders): Two-month loan to Fulham. Next: West Ham on Wednesday.
  2. Mikkel Diskerud (Rosenborg): Norway offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.

— Contenders —

Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht): Winter break, 17 Belgian appearances, 7 goals. Next: at Mechelen on Jan. 19.

Stuart Holden (Bolton): Late stages of rehabilitation for knee injury suffered last summer. Sentimental choice remains longshot for Brazil.

FORWARDS

  1. Jozy Altidore (Sunderland): 3 minutes in 1-0 victory at Everton, 90 in 2-2 draw at Cardiff City. Next: Aston Villa on Wednesday.
  2. Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar): Winter break. 11 goals in 18 Eredivisie matches. Next: NAC Breda on Jan. 18.
  3. Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna): Winter break, 7 goals in 17 Austrian Bundesliga matches. Next: at Admira on Feb. 14. (Serving red card suspension Feb. 7.)

— Contenders —

Herculez Gomez (Tijuana): Mexican Clausura opener at Atlas on Saturday. Returning from knee injury.

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): MLS offseason, awaiting U.S. camp call-up.

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · December 30, 2013