Matt Besler

U.S. World Cup 2014 roster outlook: GOALKEEPERS AND DEFENDERS

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The goalkeeper position has been a given throughout the cycle, but just over one month before of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s pre-World Cup camp convenes, the defense is coming into focus, too. Perhaps the order of the depth chart isn’t as clear as in goal, where the position’s one (Tim Howard), two (Brad Guzan), and three (Nick Rimando) are indisputable, but the names on the tickets are becoming evident. We don’t know who’ll make it into Jurgen Klinsmann’s ideal 11, but we’re starting to get a good idea of the options.

In the wake of last week’s friendly against Mexico, here’s how we see the U.S. roster picture for Brazil 2014:

GOALKEEPERS

This is where I apply analysis to something that’s obvious. If you’re unaware that Tim Howard will be starting June 16 against Ghana, you probably don’t know who the U.S. number one is, let alone which goalkeepers will serve as backups. Sorry, but introducing Howard, Guzan, and Rimando’s beyond the scope of this post.

The goalkeeping situation is so clear, we don’t even bother with a bubble, but it’s probably worth mentioning who’d get called in should somebody get injured. Like the main roster, that picture is crystal clear. If one man goes down, the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson will get the call. D.C. United’s Bill Hamid waits in the wings’ wings.

  • Going to Brazil: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
  • On the bubble: none

DEFENDERS

There’s still an inordinate amount of incredulity about why Klinsmann’s using natural midfielders at fullback, but whether fans like it or not, the picture is pretty evident. Players like DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Evans are not only locked into the squad, they could start in Brazil. Critics may not see the virtues of Evans over somebody like Geoff Cameron, but Klinsmann does. As far as the final squad (and lineup) is concerned, that’s all that matters.

Not that there’s any doubt about Cameron’s spot, either. He’s a lock, as are Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and Clarence Goodson. We’ve added Michael Parkhurst to the group, too. Given his versatility, performances against South Korea and Mexico, and the gap between the Columbus captain and the rest of the list, Parkhurst’s likely to go.

As for the rest of that list, odds are nobody from “the bubble” makes it. That’s partially because of the versatility of players like Parkhurst and Cameron, partially because Fabian Johnson, a possible starter at left midfield, could also get time at left back. There just aren’t backup spots that need to be filled, and once you look at the needs at midfield and forward, the roster’s flexibility looks more likely to be used there rather than in defense.

  • Going to Brazil: DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Michael Parkhurst
  • On the bubble (zero-to-one spots available): Tony Beltran, Anthony Brooks, Edgar Castillo, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco, DeAndre Yedlin

MORE: Goalkeepers and defenders | Midfielders | Forwards

UCL FOLLOW LIVE: Lineups as Atleti looks to advance past Bayern

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27:  UEFA  Champions League trophy is seen ahead of the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Atletico Madrid heads into the Allianz Arena’s hornets’ nest with a 1-0 advantage and hopes for another UEFA Champions League final.

Diego Simeone’s La Liga powers will look to keep its advantage over Bayern Munich, in turn booting Pep Guardiola into Manchester without a UCL title in Germany.

To follow live, click here.

LINEUPS

Bayern Munich: Neuer; Alaba, Boateng, Martinez, Ribéry, Lewandowski, Costa, Alonso, Lahm, Vidal, Müller. Subs: Ulreich, Tasci, Thiago, Rafinha, Götze, Coman, Kimmich.

Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Luis; Gabi, Augusto, Koke, Saul; Griezmann, Torres. Subs: Moya, Savic, Lucas, Thomas, Carrasco, Correa, Vietto.

VOTE: What is the top moment from Leicester’s run to glory?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 17:  Leonardo Ulloa of Leicester City celebrates with team mates after scoring his team's second goal of the game from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on April 17, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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What a season (and no, it isn’t over).

Leicester City is the Premier League’s champion, a 5000:1 odds defying winner which has danced through the imaginations of many of the world’s underdogs.

[ SPORTSWORLD: Nothing comparable to Leicester’s win ]

We know how they got here, but an interesting question is which moment will live in your memory when you’re reminded of Leicester’s run?

Game 5 — Dyer win Derby in stoppage

It had been a remarkable early season for Claudio Ranieri‘s troops when the Foxes came back from a 2-0 deficit against Midlands rivals Aston Villa, and substitute Nathan Dyer capped off the 3-2 win in style.

Game 14 — Vardy sets a Premier League record

Ruud van Nistelrooy taking a backseat to Jamie Vardy was unfathomable even a month beforehand, but Vardy’s goal gave him a Premier League record 11-straight matches with a goal (and all in one season). Not bad for the man deemed too old by a 2.Bundesliga team.

Game 25 — Blowout at the Etihad

Certainly many had this date circled as the beginning of a downturn for Leicester, but Riyad Mahrez dazzled while Robert Huth scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 ride past Manchester City on the road. It was on.

Game 27 — Ulloa starts earthquakes

Leicester looked destined to somehow find a draw from a dominant performance when Leonardo Ulloa lifted the Foxes to a late win over Norwich, causing mini earthquakes at the King Power Stadium.

Game 34 — Chaos at King Power

A game easily categorized in short, insane outbursts, or just the name Jon Moss

Vardy sent off for diving ?!? Penalty to West Ham for what?!? Penalty to Leicester for what?!?

2-2 final.

Fellaini, Huth charged after clashing during PL game

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 01: Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United goes past Danny Drinkwater of Leicester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on May 1, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has charged Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini and Leicester defender Robert Huth with violent conduct after they clashed during a Premier League game at the weekend.

Fellaini reacted to getting his hair pulled by Huth by appearing to strike the defender with his elbow as they jostled at a set-piece during the 1-1 draw between the teams on Sunday.

[ MORE: Story of Leicester’s season, game-by-game ]

The incident wasn’t seen by the match officials but was caught on video. It will now be referred to a panel of former elite referees.

The charges were announced Tuesday. The FA said the players have until Wednesday to respond.

Ranieri says club won’t repeat as Premier League champions, will “continue to build”

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on May 1, 2016 in Manchester, England.
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Claudio Ranieri knows there’s difficulty ahead for Leicester City, albeit on a relative scale.

The Foxes are Premier League champions after Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Friday, and the Leicester boss is already being asked about a repeat performance.

[ MORE: Ranieri thanks Chelsea | Fans react in Leicester ]

With UEFA Champions League play next year and what is sure to be a tempting transfer market, Ranieri is being pragmatic in his approach. He says they won’t win the PL next season.

From Sky Sports:

“We want to continue to build,” he told SSN HQ’s Rob Dorsett. “When I came here, the project was to build a very good foundation and slowly, slowly to grow up together in three to four years to fight for the Europa League and slowly come to fight for the Champions League.

“Now the season is out of our project but of course, the foundation is very solid. We know very well we have to fight for the position but we want to do our best. I’m positive and I want to fight.”

You’ll probably say he’s continuing a pattern of being sly — lowering sunglasses — like a fox, as Ranieri started 2015-16 wanting 40 points, then the Top Four, before finally admitting the title was an option.

You think he’s going to claim he’ll repeat? You can cue The Who, because Claudio… we won’t get fooled again.