The Twitter world being what it is, the bigger surprises in today’s U.S. national team roster announcement were relatively weak noodles in the big bowl of potential shockers.
We already knew – or strongly suspected based on their weekend Tweets – that Eddie Johnson was in and Dutch league scoring leader Jozy Altidore was out.
Those would have been jaw-droppers without early radar warning ahead of Monday’s roster announcement from U.S. Soccer. The Americans play at Antigua and Barbuda on Friday, then meet Guatemala on Oct. 16 in Kansas City to close out semifinal round World Cup qualifying.
So here are the talkers off Monday’s United States roster announcement; U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann spoke with reporters after Monday’s announcement via teleconference.
Sacha Kljestan gets the call. He’s been stuck in an uncomfortable place internationally since he mans a position of relative strength. As a central midfielder, he’s been stuck behind Michael Bradley and a host of others, even if some of them lean more defensive in their tendencies than Kljestan.
So, Kljestan has languished mostly unused by the United States through 2012, his appearance in the American win over Italy as the notable exception.
Klinsmann mentioned having dispatched assistant Andreas Herzog to watch Kljestan last week against Malaga in Champions League play; they were especially happy with the Anderlecht man’s increasing tendency to play balls vertically and not just side-to-side.
No Jose Torres. No one can say Klinsmann didn’t get the young man plenty of chances. And plenty of warnings, too, that he needed to be more aggressive and find more ways to impact matches in a more substantial ways.
(Update: A U.S. Soccer spokesman just informed me that Torres is injured; I was unaware.)
No Chris Wondolowski, no Terrance Boyd – but Johnson … and Alan Gordon!: Klinsmann said the choice to add Johnson and San Jose’s Alan Gordon was tactical. The coming matches against Antigua and Barbuda and then Guatemala are likely to be gritty struggles against teams that want to dig in defensively. Klinsmann figures that their aerial ability will come in handy as the United States will likely need to spread the stacked back as wide as possible and look to attack in wide areas.
Wondolowski scores plenty with his head but he’s not quite as big as the other two and cannot, perhaps, quite match their athleticism nor their ability in banging around for balls near goal.
Landon Donovan gets the call: There was good news all around Monday morning when Donovan’s knee (injured Saturday in the Galaxy’s loss) responded about as well as it could. When U.S. team officials spoke to Donovan on Sunday night, the plan was to have an MRI on Monday and then make a go-no go decision on the national team.
But according to Klinsmann, Donovan awoke Monday feeling even better than expected. So he cancelled the MRI and got on a plane bound for Miami, where players were arriving all day Monday.
Brek Shea is in: The FC Dallas man is hurt (mostly a combination of several smaller injuries) and still playing at 2011 level. But here he is, probably more a concession to a lack of choices in wide areas as much as anything else.
We’ll have more later on the Jozy Altidore situation.