Breaking down the surprising inclusions (and how they’ll help in Brazil)


For every cut, there’s a player that pushed somebody out of the team. Often, theirs are the more interesting stories. We can look at the Landon Donovans and Clarence Goodsons of the world and come up with a theory as to why they’re not going, but what is it about those other, borderline players that got them over the hump?

As we hear more from Jurgen Klinsmann, we’ll get better explanations for why the 23 players he named to the U.S.’s World Cup squad are going to Brazil. More likely than not, the more iffy players will have to win hearts on the field.

[MORE: Klinsmann reveals 23-man roster; Landon Donovan is not on the roster]

Here are some of those more iffy players and what they can offer next month in Brazil:

John Brooks, Hertha Berlin – A young, central defender, Brooks seemed to play himself to the brink of contention with a poor March showing against the Ukraine. If preparing for 2018 was a factor in today’s thinking, however, Brooks is an obvious choice. At 21 and already starting in the Bundesliga, Brooks projects as a potential first XI player in Russia. In Brazil, he’s purely a squad option.

Timothy Chandler, Nuremburg – Three weeks ago, he was a long shot, to most. Then word got out Klinsmann and his staff where inquiring about his fitness. Now the German-born American looks like a contender to start at right back against Ghana.

Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo – Davis is one of the most limited players on this roster, but he may also be one of the more reliable. His set piece delivery could prove valuable at the end of matches, part of the reason Klinsmann called on him to help kill off games during the last rounds of CONCACAF qualifying. Despite those virtues, Davis will be one of the toughest sells for fans who’ll rightly ask why he’s going in Donovan’s spot.

Mix Diskerud, Rosenburg – Diskerud was seen as on the bubble, but Klinsmann’s nod to 2018 may have pushed the young midfielder over the top. He’ll offer an attacking option off the bench should Klinsmann see the need to deploy a more advanced midfielder (without messing with Clint Dempsey).

Julian Green, Bayern Munich – Was he guaranteed a spot in exchange for his switch? Some will never be convinced otherwise, but in Brazil, he still serves a purpose. The U.S. needs a change-of-pace option from wide – a need that kept Brek Shea in the World Cup picture for too long. Green is still young, raw, and inexperienced, but he fills that role.

Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes – As with Davis, fans will look at Wondolowski’s lack of physical skills and never be convinced he’s an international-, let alone World Cup-, caliber player. Klinsmann, however, has long been headed in this direction. Late, against bunkered teams, he could be the first forward off the bench.

DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders – Given the team’s other options at right back — Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson — this is as much a 2018 choice as any, but Yedlin may still be able to help. As a late defensive substitute for Graham Zusi, the 21-year-old Sounder could have value,. He also has three weeks to show he can offer something at his natural position.

USA 4-0 Panama: United States top Group A

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 01:  Jordan Morris #9 of the USA celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the 1st minute of the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying match against Canada at Sporting Park on October 1, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The United States U-23 team exploded for four goals in the second half to down Panama 4-0, as the U.S. finish atop Group A in Olympic qualifying with a perfect three wins from three matches.

They advance to the semifinals, where they will face either Mexico or Honduras.

Thanks to a 2-2 draw between Canada and Cuba earlier in the evening, the U.S. had already clinched the top spot in Group A before this match began. With the United States’ win, Canada also advances into the semifinals as the second-place team.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The U.S. had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 11th minute, but Panama goalkeeper Elieser Powell made a higlight-reel save on Gedion Zelalem. Maki Tall moved in and fired a low shot on goal, forcing Powell to dive down and make a stop. The rebound rolled right out to Zelalem, who had the whole goal in front of him, but somehow Powell reached to get a hand on it, deflecting the shot over the bar.

Tied 0-0 at halftime, Andreas Herzog made some adjustments to his lineup, bringing in Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter for Tall and Zelalem. The substitutions paid immediate dividends, as the United States jumped out to a three-goal lead within minutes.

[ MORE: Donovan believes Klinsmann should be fired if USMNT loses to Mexico ]

In the 51st minute, Gboly Ariyibi’s cross took a deflection off Fidel Escobar and into the net, ruled an own goal on the Panamanian defender.

Two minutes later, substitute Jerome Kiesewetter took a pass from Luis Gil and fired a right-footed shot from a tight angle to the far post, doubling the United States’ lead. It was a very clean finish from the German-born Stuttgart product.

Three minutes after scoring a goal, Kiesewetter grabbed an assist as he combined with fellow substitute Jordan Morris to make it 3-0. Kiesewetter ran down the right wing and played a low cross in, where Morris tapped home his third goal of the tournament.

Kiesewetter continued his stellar half, blowing by a defender before doing well to draw a foul in the box. Luis Gil stepped up to the spot and buried the penalty, as the U.S. went 4-0 up in the 71st minute.

With the result, the United States heads into the semifinals with a +11 goal differential, outscoring their opponents 13-2 in the group stage. A win in the semis would guarantee the U.S. a spot in the 2016 Olympics.

Bayern, Germany legend Gerd Muller suffering from Alzheimer’s

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY  01:  Gerd Muller during a media event discussing the Golden Boot comptetition in the FIFA 2010 World Cup held at the adidas Jo'bulani Central in Sandton Convention Centre on July 1, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Getty Images for adidas)
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Bayern Munich has confirmed that legendary goalscorer Gerd Muller is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Muller’s 70th birthday is in November, and the club published a statement that no celebrations would be held due to his ongoing treatment.

One of the greatest strikers to ever play the game, Muller scored 525 goals during his 15-years with Bayern, the most in club history. Karl Heinze-Rummenigge is Bayern’s second leading goalscorer with 218 goals.

[ RELATED: Klopp being coy over links to Liverpool job ]

Rummenigge currently serves as the club’s director, and spoke about Muller’s legacy.

Gerd Müller is one of the all-time greats of world football. Without his goals, Bayern Munich and German football would not be what it is today.

There will probably never be another goalscorer like Gerd, yet despite all his successes, he was always very humble and reserved, which particularly impressed me.

He was a fantastic team-mate and is a friend. Gerd will always enjoy a place in the Bayern family.

After he ended his playing career, he brought his experience as a coach of youngsters to the club, helping define the likes of world champions Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller, and we are also grateful to him for this.

Muller won the Golden Boot at the 1970 World Cup with ten goals, helping West Germany to a third-place finish. That same year he won the Ballon d’Or as the best player in the world, and helped the West German team capture the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974.

[ RELATED: Court drops tax evasion charges against Lionel Messi ]

He is one of the top scorers in German national team history with 68 goals, second only to Miroslav Klose’s 71. However, Muller reached 68 goals in just 62 caps, while it took Klose 137 appearances to reach his mark. His 14 World Cup goals are third all-time to Klose (16) and Ronaldo (14).