When Jurgen Klinsmann says “8 or 9” of the talented Americans taking part in the January camp will land on the World Cup qualifier roster for a trip into Honduras, we understand it’s a ballpark number subject to injuries or other fluid factors.
Still, it’s a number, one that gives us something to grab hold of and build some speculation around.
So let’s have some fun with an exercise that falls somewhere between forecasting and guessing, and look at which players might find their way that list.
Some fall under “no-brainers,” a guy like Graham Zusi, for instance. Others will be determined by performance in the ongoing camp and in the Jan. 29 friendly in Houston against Canada.
So here’s an early look at which “8 or 9” Klinsmann may ultimately name:
- GK Bill Hamid / or Sean Johnson: Because this will be a clear No. 3, and because at this point, these guys seem to remain interchangeable for purposes of the role (which amounts to “Break glass in case of emergency), it’s hard to make a distinction. (Klinsmann, by the way, recently talked about the need for taking a third goalkeeper on qualifier trips. Basically, what if Tim Howard is hurt in training a day before the match, or during pre-game warm-ups? In that case, they need a game-day backup, most likely for Brad Guzan.)
- CB Omar Gonzalez: If Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron and Clarence Goodson are healthy, then center back spots are filling quickly. Still, Klinsmann understands the need to begin blooding Gonzalez, so it seems smart to bring him on as many trips as possible. Perhaps this isn’t the best place to make the big change, but bringing the commanding Galaxy center back seems to make sense.
- DF A.J. DeLaGarza: This is where it all gets a little complicated; Assuming the first choice right backs and left backs are available (roughly speaking, Steve Cherundolo, Michael Parkhurst, Fabian Johnson and Timothy Chandler) ,then there’s little room for all those U.S. outside back hopefuls now in camp: Tony Beltran, Connor Lade, Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow. In that case, the back line may be full. If anyone makes sense, it’s the versatile DeLaGarza, who can play on the right or in the middle. (Then again, so can Michael Parkhurst.)
- MF Kyle Beckerman (pictured): He has slipped behind Danny Williams in the playing rotation, but Klinsmann loves the Real Salt Lake veteran’s professionalism and consistency in training, which keeps the collective intensity at high rev.
- MF Graham Zusi: Pretty much a no-brainer based on his rise in 2012 in the program. Not to mention that Zusi can play centrally or, as he has recently in the U.S. shirt, wide on the right.
- MF Mix Diskerud: It’s probably down to a choice between Benny Feilhaber and Diskerud. Feilhaber is slightly more attack-minded, with a better ability to pass through packed defenses. But Diskerud may be slightly more versatile, which helps.
- FW Juan Agudelo: Maybe this should come with an asterisk, since the Chivas USA striker isn’t actually in camp yet. He remains in Great Britain on a training spell – and questions linger about whether he will even return to the States or leave on transfer? But for this list, same difference I suppose.
- FW Eddie Johnson: The quality of competition is clearly better in this stage, but the Sounders striker was productive in two semifinal round appearances last fall. So, he’s earned it.
While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.
[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]
Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.
Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.
Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.
Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.
Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic
City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.
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The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.
CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.
Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.
MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.
The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.
[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]
Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.
Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.
Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.
[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]
ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.
The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.
Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.
Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.
According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.