Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Others who cross over: Julian Green (Bayern Munich)
Last cuts: Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vien), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Quick thoughts …
(… that don’t involve Landon Donovan, who we’ll cover elsewhere.)
1. We should have known all along – Terrence Boyd was the big cut, though we’re still getting our minds around the absences of Eddie Johnson and Juan Agudelo. Yet in hindsight, we should have seen this coming. Altidore and Dempsey were never going to miss the team, Johannsson had proven enough between club and country, and Wondolowski finished winning over Klinsmann this winter. On a 23-man team that usually plays a 4-4-2 variant, four forwards are enough.
2. There’s a clear top two – Not exactly breaking news, but when Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones have been to the midfield, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey will be to the forward spots. Klinsmann could roll out a 4-2-3-1 formation at some point in Brazil, dropping Dempsey into more of an attacking midfielders role, but given how the roster shakes out, we’re looking more at the 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 (get as band-y as you want) that’s become the U.S.’s go-to. No matter how much people who focus on Altidore’s Sunderland performance object, the Black Cats striker is the squad’s first choice No. 9.
3. Eddie Johnson would have been a good complement – Johnson’s lackluster play for D.C. United cost him a spot in the team. He’s justifiably not going to Brazil. Had he maintained the form that got him back in the national team, however, “E.J.” would have been a great addition to this group. As we saw in qualifying, Johnson’s versatility allowed him to target opposing fullbacks and become an option on crosses from players like Graham Zusi. It would have been a valuable trick for Klinsmann to have in the squad. Unfortunately, we’ll never see Eddie Johnson vs. Joao Periera.
Two starters, two reserves speaks to few options Klinsmann needed after Dempsey and Altidore. Dempsey could play every minute of the tournament, while Altidore should only be a late match sub. Perhaps a player like Johnson would have offered other options, but if Klinsmann has no intention of using those, better to bring one of the The Three Kids (John Brooks, Julian Green, DeAndre Yedlin) than waste those spots.