After the completion of the long January camp and the first United States match of a highly anticipated World Cup year (last weekend’s 2-0 win over South Korea), let’s look at which players appear to be shipshape for a golden seat on that charter into Brazil.
Don’t forget, the first match is just four months away.
There is not a sliver of mystery about this one. (Although this is where we’ll add the usual disclaimer about injuries – and let’s hope this is the last time we’re talking about injuries serious enough to cost World Cup spots. That said …)
Tim Howard is having an outstanding season at Everton, helping the lower budget club fight for a top 4 spot and Champions League soccer next year, a truly worthy target around Goodison Park. Stamp him “starter” and move on.
In two seasons of starting duty around Villa Park, Brad Guzan has done absolutely nothing to diminish his blue chip stock as the best American backup, and by some measure.
Nick Rimando reminds us every time he gets on the field that Jurgen Klinsmann’s “break glass in case of emergency” option is not a bad one at all.
- Going to Brazil: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
- On the bubble: none
Since the last time we did this (in October, just after the United States officially qualified for Brazil), we’ve added one name to the list of players who can start buying up Brazilian phrase books, Seattle Sounders utility man Brad Evans.
Of course, he’s not a utility man for Klinsmann; he’s the team’s starting right back. It may not be that way in June, certainly not with Geoff Cameron’s emergence at Stoke City (we talked about that one here), and not with Timothy Chandler doing well in his Bundesliga assignments.
Heck, Steve Cherundolo could still make a run at the position he held for so long in the U.S. shirt – if he can ever get his health sorted out and get back into the lineup for Hannover. Even then, Evans is such a highly regarded professional and the kind of “giver” that Klinsmann loves having around camp, the coach is likely to take Evans as a backup to one of those guys, if it comes to that.
In the middle and on the left, it’s pretty much status quo over the last few months with one notable exception: Anthony Brooks has introduced himself to this conversatioin, and forcefully so. The young Hertha Berlin center back probably hasn’t done enough to unseat Clarence Goodson as the third center back … but given Brooks’ upside, he might just get a roster spot, anyway.
- Going to Brazil: DaMarcus Beasley (pictured above), Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson
- On the bubble (one or two spots available): Anthony Brooks, Edgar Castillo, Timothy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Michael Orozco, Michael Parkhurst