For years US Soccer supporters have been debating how the Yanks defense will line up and if it will shape up in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and Monday afternoon’s announcement of Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man provisional roster showed fans the 14 ingredients with which he’ll cook up a defense for Portugal, Germany and Ghana.
We’ll start with the simple: a large dose of Tim Howard. The recently-extended Everton man is coming off a career-best 15 clean sheets in the Premier League, and he’ll have to be strong if the States are to have any success in South America. Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan is finally free from the firing range that is standing between the sticks at Villa Park, while Nick Rimando will bring his MLS-tested stardom to camp.
Onto the men playing in front of them: Most are expecting Los Angeles center back Omar Gonzalez to be paired up with Sporting KC’s Matt Besler as the USMNT moves forward from its pairing of Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit. If Twitter tells me anything, it’s that US fans are more comfortable with the former than the latter.
Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron is the leader in the clubhouse to get a starting nod somewhere along the back line after he was a massive reason the Potters climbed to 9th in the Premier League table, playing nearly every minute at Britannia Stadium and away. Fabian Johnson has the versatility to play outside back and midfield, and there are legions of fans who likely wish he had the cloning ability to man both posts after another strong season with Hoffenheim.
John Anthony Brooks found his post-massive back tattoo form for Hertha Berlin and will look to impress more in camp than he has on the pitch for the States, where the youngster has looked confused and sometimes overmatched. DeAndre Yedlin is another youthful face on the backline, but has looked much better than Brooks all things equal.
Seeing the name of Michael Parkhurst won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s followed his success with Columbus this season. DaMarcus Beasley had a rough go as an employee of Puebla this year, but not on-the-field. Whether or not he was receiving paychecks or winning games, Beasley was an integral part of the Liga MX side whenever they had even a modicum of success. His national team renaissance is remarkable.
There are plenty of question marks in the unit, too. How will Timmy Chandler rebound from his torn meniscus, an injury that cost him the end of his Bundesliga season? Can Clarence Goodson replicate his success from the 2013 Gold Cup winning side? Where does Brad Evans fit into the picture?
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)