It’s not that we don’t believe U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann when he says no one has a spot guaranteed for World Cup 2014. But, seriously … if he’s not taking guys like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, then it’s only because they are injured… or because Klinsmann got some of that bad chicken going around and it seriously impaired his judgment.
So how about we compromise with this: Some people are less “not guaranteed” than others?
Here, then, is a position-by-position look at which U.S. men in the player pool have a right to feel comfortable about their chances of landing one of those 23 golden roster spots for Brazil.
Barring injury or an implausibly sharp drop in form, these guys will be on the charter out of the United States and into South America next June:
Start making plans, guys … you’re going to Brazil!: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando
Debate all you want about whether Brad Guzan has pulled ahead of longtime incumbent Tim Howard. That’s fine. But it’s not a debate for Klinsmann – and only his opinion count. The manager has been very, very clear that this is Howard’s job pending further notice. Either way, both ‘keepers are going to Brazil.
I know it looks a little surprising to see Rimando’s name on the “Made it!” list. Especially given that Chicago’s Sean Johnson and D.C. United’s Bill Hamid, young and talented, both, have been summoned so frequently over the last two-plus years. But Klinsmann has been clear on this, too: he wants an experienced hand as his back-up to the back-up, so there will be none of this “Take a youngster for the experience” business.
The manager’s reasoning is sound: Let’s say Howard gets hurt or gets ejected, hardly unheard of. The team is fine for the following contest with Guzan starting; everybody would fill OK about the Aston Villa man, who did the business with outstanding composure when Howard was hurt in those critical March matches against Costa Rica (in snowy Denver) and in a shutout at Azteca Stadium. But the backup on that match day would be … Hamid or Johnson?
Again, both are talented, but still flawed, with occasional positioning quirks or mental gaffes. Their time may come, but it’s not going to be in Brazil.
Still in the conversation … but just barely: Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid