Could the majority of United States roster for World Cup will come from … MLS?
Just four MLS men were in South Africa four years ago, but that number will rise dramatically this time around:
Major League Soccer had precious little representation in South Africa; only four players from domestic soccer’s top tier were named to Bob Bradley’s 23-man roster. It was wrapped into the domestic soccer zeitgeist of the moment.
Clearly, things have changed. Because that figure (percentage of MLS men who make up the World Cup roster) is about to get spun on its head.
The soccer snobs in domestic soccer’s fandom will surely be loath to hear it, but close to half the 23-man U.S. roster bound for Brazil (and perhaps more than half the starters) are sure to be men earning their keep in MLS.
Michael Bradley’s arrival in MLS (in Toronto … or haven’t you heard?) pushes the number past some point of critical mass. Not sure which one … but Bradley being the most important figure to the U.S. national team’s big summer coming up surely means a something.
Here are the MLS players who appear to be in dandy shape for making Jurgen Klinsmann’s final list of 23:
- Goalkeeper Nick Rimando
- Defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, Omar Gonzalez (pictured above) and Matt Besler
- Midfielders Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi and Kyle Beckerman
- Forwards Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson
Potential starters from that group? Gonzalez, Besler, Bradley, Donovan, Zusi and Dempsey barring injuries to others. Evans is the current top pick at right back, but who doesn’t get the feeling that Klinsmann is still looking for an upgrade there?
The cause-effect in this MLS heaviness on the next World Cup roster may require more examination. But it surely is somewhere between Major League Soccer as a more acceptable, respected province of quality soccer (for players like Dempsey, Bradley and Goodson) and the cyclical nature, with younger types who grew up in MLS and now have potential to be plucked by European clubs upon bright World Cup performance (players like Gonzalez and Besler).