Roster in place, Juergen Klinsmann plots course for Americans at World Cup


Defenders Michael Bradley, left, and Matt Besler will play significant roles for the American squad at the World Cup. (Associated Press)

Every Monday for eternity, The Post will publish a soccer package in the Sports print edition. Online, it is re-purposed for the Insider. Some items are geared toward casual sports fans who read the print edition and do not necessarily follow the blog. Some material has appeared on the blog previously. Last week’s prime topic was Norwegian-based U.S. midfielder Mix Diskerud. Today’s work:

While the public debate about Landon Donovan rages on, Juergen Klinsmann has moved on. He has assigned the 23 seats for the flight to Brazil in two weeks, and barring injury, will not make any changes. For better or worse, this is his squad.

Although Klinsmann probably will not announce his starters for the World Cup opener vs. Ghana on June 16 until an hour or so before kickoff at Arenas das Dunas in Natal, the roster picks provide insight into his preferred lineup.

He will reveal additional clues in three tuneups: Azerbaijan on Tuesday in San Francisco, Turkey on Sunday in Harrison, N.J., and Nigeria on June 7 in Jacksonville.

The goalkeeping position is easy: Tim Howard remains atop the depth chart, with Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando in reserve.

Klinsmann’s decision to cut Brad Evans and Michael Parkhurst while retaining inexperienced DeAndre Yedlin — while suggesting Geoff Cameron’s best position is in central defense — indicates Timothy Chandler will start at right back. Cameron played wide for Stoke City in the English Premier League, but his size, strength and range are more suited for the middle. Chandler, however, has not made a U.S. appearance in more than a year.

Cameron’s inclusion in central defense would probably bump Omar Gonzalez from the lineup and form a partnership with Matt Besler, Klinsmann’s most steady back for more than a year. John Brooks, one of five German Americans selected by the German-born coach, provides depth.

Left back remains foggy: Fabian Johnson is most comfortable in midfield but said he believes he will play in the back. DaMarcus Beasley, a midfielder turned defender, is the other option.

Defensive midfield is settled, with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones in the lineup and Kyle Beckerman at the ready. The right side of midfield seems clear cut as well, with Graham Zusi backed by Alejandro Bedoya.

With Donovan out of the picture, the left side is complicated. If Johnson plays on the backline, Klinsmann would choose from Beasley; Brad Davis, a superb crosser with limited technical skill; Julian Green, an international novice; and Aron Johannsson, a natural forward with great feet.

Captain Clint Dempsey seems certain to start in an advanced central midfield role or withdrawn forward. Mix Diskerud is the understudy.

Jozy Altidore is the incumbent striker, but after a dreary season with Sunderland in the Premier League, he will need to rediscover his form. Johannsson is coming off a brilliant campaign with AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands, while Chris Wondolowski, MLS’s most prolific scorer over four years, is an ideal sniper for late-game situations.

“We really need to win this game,” Klinsmann said of the Ghana opener. “Having made that decision [about the squad], now we can focus on the starting 11. It gives the players a very clear picture of what is going on. It’s exciting we have this part crossed off, and now the players know their individual case and we can move forward.”

*Days until World Cup: 17

*Brazil’s starting tandem in central defense for the World Cup will become teammates on the club level, as well. David Luiz is about to join Thiago Silva at Paris Saint-Germain in a transfer from Chelsea for an estimated $70 million – a world record for a defender.

*Germany’s midfield injury issues continue to mount as Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender was ruled out with a hip injury. His twin brother Sven was previously scratched. Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger is recovering from a knee ailment.

“I am embarrassed. This is my country and I love it and we shouldn’t be transmitting the image abroad”

– Former Brazilian superstar Ronaldo, in a Reuters interview, on incomplete stadium and infrastructure projects and exorbitant spending.

*Advanced tickets sales for U.S. friendlies: 20,000 for Azerbaijan on Tuesday in San Francisco; nearing a sellout of 25,000 for Turkey on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey; and 32,000 for Nigeria on June 7 in Jacksonville. Ticket count for two events in the Washington area: 15,000 for Thursday’s friendly between Honduras and Turkey at RFK Stadium and 37,000 for the June 7 doubleheader featuring Spain vs. El Salvador and D.C. United vs. Columbus at FedEx Field.

*Reigning champion Spain has chosen Catholic University as its D.C. training venue, June 3-5. Sessions are closed to the public. Coach Vicente del Bosque has delayed finalizing his 23-man squad until closer to FIFA’s June 2 deadline, buying time for Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa to recover from a hamstring injury that he aggravated in the Champions League final Saturday. Spain’s first World Cup tune-up is Friday against Bolivia in Sevilla.

*Michael Seaton, D.C. United’s 18-year-old forward from Central High School in Capitol Heights who is on loan to third-division Richmond, was summoned by the Jamaican national team for friendlies against Serbia, Switzerland, Egypt and France.

*The Washington Spirit (3-4-1) will play a holiday matinee against the NWSL expansion Houston Dash (1-6-1), starting at 4 p.m. at Maryland SoccerPlex.

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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