Reigniting the Chris Wondolowski-World Cup roster debate

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Chris Wondolowski did exactly what he needed Saturday, keeping his name in the conversation as Jurgen Klinsmann begins bearing down on the real nitty-gritty of those career making roster decisions.

Had Wondolowski not scored Saturday, in what may well have been his last U.S. starting assignment prior to roster decision time, the choice on the San Jose hitman would have been clear. But with two goals in the win over South Korea, credit the fellow for keeping this ball of debate in the air.

But as I’ve said before, it’s not enough to say “Chris Wondolowski deserves a roster spot.” If you believe so, that’s fine. But you should also say which U.S. striker doesn’t get to go in that case.

Here’s how that breaks down:

Klinsmann is likely to take six “forwards” if we count Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey as such. That’s exactly as it happened in 2010, when the forwards were Dempsey, Donovan, Jozy Alditore, Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez.

Same deal, more or less, in 2006: Dempsey, Donovan and a foursome of strikers.

So it seems safe to assume at this point something quite similar. Heck, you could even make the case that Klinsmann, more 4-3-3 than 4-4-2 in basic alignment preferences, could take just three pure strikers, preferring an extra man more comfortable working the flanks.

But if it’s four (beyond Dempsey and Donovan), here’s how they probably stack up at the moment:

  • 1. Jozy Altidore
  • 2. Aron Johannsson
  • 3. Eddie Johnson

You could quibble with the ordering, but based on lineups and camp rosters, it seems clear that these are Klinsmann’s top front runners of the moment. Barring injuries or loss of form, that leaves one spot. The candidates are:

  • Wondolowski
  • Terrence Boyd
  • Herculez Gomez
  • Mike Magee

Magee is a longshot; like Wondolowski, he needed to get into Saturday’s match and make a big, loud statement. Unfortunately, a bout of food poisoning undid Magee’s opportunity.

But Boyd is well thought of, and doing well at Rapid Vienna. Gomez was a Klinsmann favorite, whose effort and attitude was appreciated along with the talent, before injuries took him out of the scene for a while. If he goes on a run in Liga MX, the Tijuana  man becomes a heavy favorite to bump into that fearsome of foursome of travelers into Brazil.

So there it is, Wonder Wondo supporters. Your guy has kept himself in the thick of things – but he still has some miles to travel before making serious plans to spend his summer in Brazil.

(MORE: What went right in the U.S. win over South Korea)

(MORE: What went wrong in the U.S. win over South Korea)