I wrote last night that the United States national team has one leg and a couple of arms in Brazil. The facts scream “sitting pretty!:” Jurgen Klinsmann’s team has 10 points, about two-third of the way to the 15 or so needed. The team sits atop the six-team CONCACAF group. Three of five remaining matches are at home, where the United States is darn near unbeatable over the last decade.
So let’s just say it … the way the Seattle crowd said it last night … the United States is going to Brazil. Which most of us have been saying all along, anyway.
You know what that means? Time to begin perusing the U.S. player pool and debating who will be on the charter about this time next year.
Here are the players more or less locked in (assuming good health, of course.) As I assess it, 15 men are “in” for a roster of 23.
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard
Explainer: Nick Rimando is close, too, because he’s a willing No. 3. That is, he’s a veteran who can be relied on in a pinch, but still OK being the third guy. Otherwise, I think we all know this is a closed race; Spots 1 and 2 are lead-pipe locks.
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Timothy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson
Explainer: You will see that a couple of center back spots remain open. Clarence Goodson is close to “lock” status for all his “been there, done that.” So is Steve Cherundolo, although Brad Evans’ emergence, Johnson and Chandler’s ability to play right back and Cameron’s versatile capabilities along the back line all complicate the veteran’s chances of a third consecutive World Cup appearance.
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (pictured), Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi
Explainer: There is ample opportunity here for guys like Sacha Kljestan, Stuart Holden, Danny Williams and, honestly, lots of others. Remember, Bob Bradley took eight midfielders to South Africa, and Klinsmann is likely do roughly the same.
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson
Explainer: As a contrast to the wide-open race for midfield spots, there’s not much room for elbowing into this group. Gomez has been absent in recent friendlies and qualifiers, but his versatility, his likeable personality and daily work ethic make him an ideal fit. Injuries or a precipitous loss of form would obviously open additional spots, although Dempsey and, now, Altidore would be given tons of latitude.