Geoff Cameron monitors Chelsea's Eden Hazard during Stoke City's FA Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge. (By Lefteris Pitarakis -- Associated Press) Geoff Cameron monitors Chelsea’s Eden Hazard during Stoke City’s FA Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge. (By Lefteris Pitarakis — Associated Press)

With the World Cup approaching and Juergen Klinsmann weighing roster options, the Insider’s weekly roundup examines U.S. players in contention for a ticket to Brazil this summer. I’ve called it “American Top 40″ – 40 candidates for the 23 coveted World Cup slots.

Using a positional breakdown, I’ve created a depth chart of sorts. Keep in mind several players serve hybrid roles. The projections also take into account Klinsmann’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

If I were choosing the lineup …

Howard in goal.

Cameron at right back, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler at center back, Fabian Johnson at left back.

Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones in holding midfield.

Graham Zusi on the right wing, Clint Dempsey in the middle, Landon Donovan on the left wing.

Jozy Altidore at striker.

Injuries, form and tactics will dictate change, both leading to the World Cup and between group matches.

The latest: The MLS-heavy U.S. squad returned to California after 12 days in Brazil and will begin preparations for Saturday’s friendly against South Korea at StubHub Center (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2, UniMas). Defenders Chris Klute, Shane O’Neill, Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic, plus goalkeeper Tally Hall, were dropped and returned to their clubs. Defender Michael Parkhurst was added to the roster. Why wasn’t Michael Bradley recalled as well? According to a USSF spokesman, Klinsmann and Bradley agreed it was best for him to get settled with his new club, Toronto FC. … Aron Johannsson hit the 20-goal mark (12 Eredivisie, 6 Dutch Cup, 1 Europa League, 1 Dutch Super Cup). … Jozy Altidore is going to Wembley with Sunderland on March 2 for the League Cup final against Manchester City. … Timothy Chandler, who scored for Nurnberg, would compete for the starting right back job in Brazil — if he were in good standing. It’s unclear whether he wants to play for the United States and whether Klinsmann would take him back. … In his second appearance with Sheffield Wednesday, Oguchi Onyewu scored the club’s second goal in a 2-1 FA Cup victory at Rochdale [video]. According to Soccer America, Gooch became the third American to score for five European clubs, joining Altidore and Gregg Berhalter. … Juan Agudelo, on loan to Utrecht after signing with Stoke City, debuted with a 32-minute effort during a 1-0 loss at Roda.

Changes: I’ve moved Fabian Johnson from left midfield to left back, opening a starting role for Landon Donovan on the left wing. Unless Jermaine Jones finds a new club soon, Kyle Beckerman and Daniel Williams might move up. Steve Cherundolo is also in danger of dropping.

Eye on: Onyewu and a pair of 20-year-olds, right back DeAndre Yedlin and midfielder Luis Gil, who are vying for their first caps Saturday against South Korea.

Our latest 23 on course for Brazil (and how they fared the past week), plus the 17 seeking to unseat them:


  1. Tim Howard (Everton): in the 18 but did not play in 4-0 FA Cup victory at Stevenage. Next: at Liverpool on Tuesday, Aston Villa on Saturday.
  2. Brad Guzan (Aston Villa): 90 in 2-2 draw at Liverpool. Next: West Brom on Wednesday, at Everton on Saturday.
  3. Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake): U.S. training camp.


Center back

  1. Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City): U.S. training camp.
  2. Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy): U.S. training camp.
  3. Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes): U.S. training camp.

— Contenders —

Michael Orozco (Puebla): 90 in 3-2 loss to Chiapas. Next: at Veracruz on Saturday.

John Brooks (Hertha Berlin): not in the 18 for 1-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. Next: at Nurnberg on Sunday.

Tim Ream (Bolton): 90 in 1-0 FA Cup loss to Cardiff City. Next: at QPR on Tuesday, at Ipswich Town on Saturday.

Right back

  1. Geoff Cameron (Stoke City): 90 in 1-0 FA Cup loss at Chelsea. Next: at Sunderland on Wednesday, Manchester United on Saturday.
  2. Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders): U.S. training camp.
  3. Steve Cherundolo (Hannover): not in the 18 for 3-1 victory at Wolfsburg. Next: Moenchengladbach on Saturday.

— Contenders —

Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew): U.S. training camp.

Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest): 90 in 0-0 FA Cup draw with Preston North End. Next: Watford on Thursday, Yeovil Town on Sunday.

Timothy Chandler (Nurnberg): 90 (goal in 24th) in 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim. Next: at Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

Nurnberg won for the first time this season after 11 draws and six defeats. It hit the framework 16 times in the first 17 matches [video].

Left back

  1. Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim): first 45 (hand injury) in 4-0 loss at Nurnberg. Next: Hamburg on Saturday.
  2. DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla): 90 in 3-2 loss to Chiapas. Next: at Veracruz on Saturday.

— Contenders —

Edgar Castillo (Tijuana): 90 in 1-0 victory over Morelia. Next: at Pumas on Sunday.



  1. Michael Bradley (Toronto FC): MLS training camp opened over the weekend.
  2. Jermaine Jones (Schalke): Seeking transfer, remains in limbo.
  3. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake): U.S. training camp.

— Contenders —

Daniel Williams (Reading): 90 in 2-0 loss at Ipswich Town. Next: Blackpool on Tuesday, at Millwall on Saturday.

Maurice Edu (Stoke City): On the brink of joining the Philadelphia Union.

Left side

  1. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy): U.S. training camp.
  2. Eddie Johnson (D.C. United): U.S. training camp.

— Contenders —

Brek Shea (Stoke City, on loan to Barnsley): scored in a 4-1 friendly at Dundalk (Ireland). Next: Blackburn on Tuesday, at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo): U.S. training camp.

Jose Torres (Tigres): last 45 in 2-1 loss to Pumas. Next: at Monterrey on Saturday.

Right side

  1. Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): U.S. training camp.
  2. Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes): 76 in 0-0 draw with Reims. Next: at Sochaux on Saturday.

— Contenders —

Joe Corona (Tijuana): not in the 18 for 1-0 victory over Morelia. Next: at Pumas on Sunday.


  1. Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, loan to Fulham): not in the 18 for 1-1 FA Cup draw at Sheffield United. Next: at Swansea City on Tuesday, Southampton on Saturday.
  2. Mikkel Diskerud (Rosenborg): U.S. training camp.

— Contenders —

Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht): in the 18, did not play in 2-0 victory over Club Brugge. Next: at Lierse on Friday.

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


  1. Jozy Altidore (Sunderland): 34 in 2-1 League Cup loss (3-3 aggregate; 2-1 PK victory) at Manchester United, 90 in 1-0 FA Cup victory over Kidderminster. Next: at Newcastle on Saturday.
  2. Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar): 90 (goal in 59th) in 2-0 Dutch Cup victory at Roda, 90 in 1-0 loss at PSV Eindhoven. Next: Groningen on Saturday.
  3. Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna): Winter break. Next: at Admira on Feb. 14. (Serving red card suspension Feb. 7.)

— Contenders —

Herculez Gomez (Tijuana): 64 in 1-0 victory over Morelia. Next:  at Pumas on Sunday.

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): U.S. training camp.