Six forwards made the list of 30 players on the United States provisional roster for the 2014 World Cup, and now we finally have an answer as to whether Jurgen Klinsmann considers Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey among that group, or as midfielders.
There are loads of question marks on the list, not for their inclusion but for what their presence will give the States. Jozy Altidore has struggled mightily in the Premier League, drawing some praise for his physical play but scoring just one goal for the Black Cats. To be frank, he’s looked out of place, uncomfortable and ineffective just one year after lighting the Eredivisie on fire with goals upon goals.
Two months ago, a USMNT supporter would’ve laughed at someone who thinks Clint Dempsey may be the most surefire thing in this bunch. The Seattle Sounders man had just completed a lackluster loan spell at Fulham after a tough readjustment to Major League Soccer after transferring from Tottenham last year. But he’s back, looking closer to the tenacious world-beating leader we saw at Fulham than anything since.
Landon Donovan is a wild card, still waiting for his record-breaking MLS goal with the Galaxy but also still a question thanks to his soccer sabbatical. It seems foolish to ever doubt the relentless and respected Donovan, but at 32-years-old there will always be whispers of whether age has had its way with the man.
Playing in Austria isn’t exactly the recipe for high praise, but Terrence Boyd has scored 20 goals for Rapid Wien and five of those goals came in Europa League. He’s been quick, physical, deft and clinical for the Vienna club.
And speaking of “lesser” leagues, we’re back in the Eredivisie with Aron Johannsson. He started red-hot for AZ Alkmaar before petering out a bit down the stretch. The Icelandic-Alabaman is a threat and a bit of an unknown for Klinsmann. If he has his form in camp, starting is not out of the question.
Finally, the feel good story of the roster in Chris Wondolowski. All the man does is score goals and is set to compete for that spot in Brazil despite not making his USMNT debut until late in his 20s. He has scored two goals for the States in 2014, and if we’ve learned anything it’s not to count out a man with “Wondolowski” or “Wondowlowski” on the back of his US shirt.
How could Klinsmann deploy this unit? Obviously the answer is any way he wants, but Altidore and Wondolowski are more than capable of holding the ball up-top, and there’s no shortage of men who can run off them. The other European players on the list are capable of playing a strong post-up as well. We have plenty of time to break down the “how,” but this is our take on the “why.” What say you?
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)