Juergen Klinsmann (By Richard Drew -- Associated Press) Juergen Klinsmann (By Richard Drew — Associated Press)

Let’s get real: We can argue all day about Juergen Klinsmann‘s roster options. And Klinsi can insist that fringe contenders have hope of going to the World Cup. But truth be told, the 23-man squad is almost set. Sure, sudden drops in form and injuries would alter the equation, but Klinsmann has a very good idea who will board the flight to Sao Paulo on June 8.

Throughout his tenure, Klinsmann has emphasized the importance of competition at every position. Ahead of the World Cup, that philosophy loosely translates into two players at every field spot. With a 4-2-3-1 formation in mind, here’s how I believe it looks:

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando.

Right back: Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans.

Left back: Fabian Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley.

Center back 1: Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson.

Center back 2: Omar Gonzalez (Cameron).

Defensive midfielder 1: Michael Bradley (Cameron).

Defensive midfielder 2: Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman.

Right midfielder: Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya.

Left midfielder: Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson (F. Johnson).

Central midfielder: Clint Dempsey, Mix Diskerud (Donovan).

Forward: Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson (E. Johnson).

That’s 21 players, leaving just two open slots. Would Klinsmann select an extra forward, Chris Wondolowski or Terrence Boyd? Michael Parkhurst as cover at both right back and left back? Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea or Daniel Williams for midfield depth? Another center back?

Those who don’t make the cut aren’t out of the picture: Each country must submit a 30-man provisional roster to FIFA by May 13. Klinsmann will open training camp around May 14 on the West Coast. The deadline for the 23-man list is not until June 2. So injuries suffered in camp could prompt changes before June 2. (It’s unclear whether Klinsmann will invite more than 23 to camp.) A team wishing to replace a player seriously injured after June 2 (and at least 24 hours before the opener) may select anyone — the replacement does not have to come from the 30-man list.

The latest: A miserable weekend for Americans abroad. Jones (groin, out two weeks), Timothy Chandler (knee, 2+ months), Eric Lichaj (unspecified ailment), Oguchi Onyewu (calf, out indefinitely), Shea (illness) and Johannsson (groin) were sidelined. Dempsey, Bedoya and Steve Cherundolo weren’t in the 18. Kljestan, Fabian Johnson and Jose Torres didn’t play. The only victorious club with a World Cup contender on the field this weekend was Tijuana. … Johnson, out of contract this summer, will leave Hoffenheim at the end of the Bundesliga season, the club announced. … Juan Agudelo scored a fine goal for Utrecht. … The USSF is close to finalizing an early April friendly against Mexico in greater Phoenix. Still no official word on the three send-off matches in late-May/early June.

Changes: Tim Ream jumps ahead of John Brooks, who has been inactive with Hertha Berlin because of injury.

Eye on: Agudelo.

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


  1. Tim Howard (Everton): 90 in 1-0 loss at Spurs. Next: Crystal Palace on Wednesday, Swansea City in FA Cup on Sunday.
  2. Brad Guzan (Aston Villa): 90 in 2-0 loss to West Ham. Next: at Cardiff City on Tuesday, at Newcastle on Sunday.
  3. Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake): MLS preseason.


Center back

  1. Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City): MLS preseason.
  2. Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy): MLS preseason.
  3. Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes): MLS preseason.

— Contenders —

Michael Orozco (Puebla): 90 in 1-0 loss to Chivas. Next: at Cruz Azul on Saturday.

Tim Ream (Bolton): 90 in 2-2 draw with Bournemouth. Next: Burnley on Tuesday, at Millwall on Saturday.

John Brooks (Hertha Berlin): not in the 18 for 3-0 victory at Hamburg. Next: Wolfsburg on Sunday.


Right back

  1. Geoff Cameron (Stoke City): 90 at center back in 2-2 draw at Southampton. Next: Swansea City on Wednesday, at Manchester City on Saturday.
  2. Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders): MLS preseason.
  3. Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew): MLS preseason.

— Contenders —

Steve Cherundolo (Hannover): not in the 18 for 2-0 loss at Schalke. Next: at Mainz on Friday.

Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest): not in the 18 (injured) for 1-1 draw at Blackpool. Next: at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday, Leicester City on Saturday.

Timothy Chandler (Nurnberg): 10 minutes (injured)  in 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich. Next: at Augsburg on Sunday.

Left back

  1. Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim): in the 18, did not play (recovering from hand surgery) in 1-1 draw at Freiburg. Next: Wolfsburg in German Cup on Wednesday, Stuttgart on Saturday.
  2. DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla): 74 in 1-0 loss to Chivas. Next: at Cruz Azul on Saturday.

— Contenders —

Edgar Castillo (Tijuana): 90 in 2-1 victory over Monterrey. Next: at Santos Laguna on Friday.



  1. Michael Bradley (Toronto FC): MLS preseason.
  2. Jermaine Jones (Besiktas): not in the 18 (injured) for 2-1 victory at Gaziantepspor. Next: at Kasimpasa on Tuesday, Bursaspor on Sunday.
  3. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake): MLS preseason.

— Contenders —

Daniel Williams (Reading): 65 in 2-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday. Next: at QPR on Sunday.

Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union): MLS preseason.

Left side

  1. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy): MLS preseason.
  2. Eddie Johnson (D.C. United): MLS preseason.

— Contenders —

Brek Shea (Stoke City, on loan to Barnsley): first 45 in 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town. Next: at Doncaster on Saturday.

Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo): MLS preseason.

Jose Torres (Tigres): in the 18, did not play in 1-1 draw with Santos Laguna. Next: at Chiapas on Saturday.

Right side

  1. Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): MLS preseason.
  2. Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes): not in the 18 for 2-1 loss to Lyon. Next: at Nice on Saturday.

— Contenders —

Joe Corona (Tijuana): 13 in 2-1 victory over Monterrey. Next: at Santos Laguna on Friday.


  1. Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, loan to Fulham): not in the 18 for 2-2 draw at Manchester United. Next: Liverpool on Wednesday.
  2. Mikkel Diskerud (Rosenborg): Norway preseason.

— Contenders —

Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht): in the 18, did not play in 2-2 draw at Kortrijk. Next: Mons on Sunday.

Stuart Holden (Bolton): Late stages of rehabilitation for knee injury suffered last summer.


  1. Jozy Altidore (Sunderland): 90 in 2-0 loss to Hull City. Next: at Manchester City on Wednesday, Southampton on Saturday.
  2. Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar): not in the 18 (injured) for 2-1 loss at Go Ahead Eagles. Next: Utrecht on Saturday.
  3. Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna): Served red card suspension against Austria Vienna. Next: at Admira on Sunday.

— Contenders —

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): MLS preseason.

Herculez Gomez (Tijuana): 61 in 2-1 victory over Monterrey. Next: at Santos Laguna on Friday.