Ream in USMNT action.

Five players who could make late charge into USA’s World Cup squad


First off, let’s start by summarizing that the U.S. national team squad looks in pretty good shape and hugely predictable ahead of Jurgen Klinsmann’s announcing his 30-man roster on or before May 13.

However, as always seems to be the case, players hit form at the right time of the season for their club and will be invited into the pre-tournament camp as part of the initial squad.


It remains to be seen if that is the case before the 2014 World Cup but there are certainly plenty of players who many would regard are on ‘the bubble’ and on the outside looking in to the windows of the plane heading to Brazil.

Here is a quick look at five USMNT players who may not be automatic picks for the World Cup this summer but could be surprise late selections after their recent good form.

Tim Ream

After just being named Bolton Wanderers Player of the Season, to go along with the similar accolade he received from the fans, Ream has had a marvelous season in England’s second-tier. Okay, he took a while to adapt to the rough and tumble style but now he is used to the physicality of the league, plus we all know how good he is on the ball. Could Ream provide a good back-up option at CB?

Danny Williams

Another player plying his trade in the second-tier of English soccer, Williams is guiding former PL team Reading towards the playoffs and the Royals could be back in the big-time next season. Williams has added three goals in 32 appearances this season since switching Germany for England and is a solid and dependable option as a holding mid.

Maurice Edu

Talking about another option in the engine room, Edu has slotted into life back in MLS seamlessly with the Philadelphia Union. Many feel his experience could be key for the USA and his ability to break the player up and get around midfield could be a valuable asset in Brazil. The jury is still out though.

Juan Agudelo

The former New York Red Bulls starlet has been playing well in the Dutch Eredivisie  for FC Utrecht after being signed by Stoke City and then loaned out following work permit issues. Recently Stoke boss Mark Hughes went over to Holland to watch Agudelo and was impressed with how the pacey attacker performed. Could be a wild card up front, as Agudelo always seems to come up big when it matters.

Michael Parkhurst

Perhaps Parkhurst is already set for a spot on the USMNT squad but he certainly falls under this category of a player peaking at the right time of the season. The defender has been superbly solid for the Columbus Crew since returning to MLS this season and his versatility would be a big plus for Klinsmann in tournament play.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.