Weighing up Jurgen Klinsmann’s options for Monday’s 30-man roster

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At one point this winter, Jurgen Klinsmann said he only intended to call up 23 players this spring – the team he would take to the 2014 World Cup. In time, as competition persisted for the last few spots, the need to callup a full preliminary squad became clear. Even after nearly three years of studying, testing, and expanding the player pool, some spots will depend on what happens in Palo Alto.

On Monday, U.S. Soccer will identify the 30 men who will be called to Stanford University for the team’s pre-World Cup camp. As of now, we’d put 25 players in the “no way they miss it pile” (so odds are, one will). The big doubts are with the final five spots.

This is where you have to step into Klinsmann’s shoes. What is his process? How does he use the 30-man roster to meet his needs? How much does current form influence what he’s seen from these players first hand? In camps, games, and tournaments?

At this point, Klinsmann has a good idea of the group that’s on the plane no matter what. The time before June 2 will be about competing for the roster’s final spots – trying to meet a need Klinsmann feels his core does not. Midfield depth, wing options, and another attacking option in midfield could be the focus, with Klinsmann wanted to keep his options open of those final spots.

Here’s who we’re betting gets the call on Monday (our “definites” plus “probables” add up to 30):

source: Getty ImagesGoalkeeper

Definites (3): Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa),  Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Probables: None.
Possibles: None.
Others: None.

There’s no drama here, and with spots in such short supply in other, more competitive places, there’s little chance a fourth goalkeeper gets a courtesy call.

Defenders

Definites (7): DeMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew)
Possibles: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin)
Others: Edgar Castillo (Tijuana), Oguchi Onyewu (Sheffield Wednesday), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)

Seven defenders looks short, particularly for a 30-man roster, but there’s no competition here. Fabian Johnson (listed as a midfielder here) can also play fullback, while Maurice Edu (if he makes the team) would be a sixth player who can play central defense. The only variable John Brooks, who could be called in for depth or experience. If Klinsmann values that over adding competitors at other spots, the young German-American could get the call.

source: APMidfielders

Definites (10): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mikkel Diskerud (Rosenborg), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Probables (3): Joe Corona (Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Danny Williams (Reading)
Possibles: Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City)

Maurice Edu and Danny Williams are in competition to be a fourth central midfielder behind Beckerman, Bradley, and Jones. Corona, who missed out on the April callup because of Tijuana’s place in CONCACAF Champions League, could get a final look, particularly if Klinsmann feels he needs somebody who can play wide. Kljestan and Shea are also possibilities, but given their performances in March and, in Shea’s case, what’s happened at club level, Klinsmann may not be able to justify giving them somebody else’s spot.

Forwards

Definites (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Probables (2):  Juan Agudelo (Utrecht), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna)

We’ve had Eddie Johnson as a lock for the 23-man roster for a while, but that’s changed. At this point, there’s an open competition between him, Chris Wondolowski, Juan Agudelo, and Terrence Boyd for a forward spot. If Johnson has a strong camp and shows Klinsmann his club form may have club causes, he can win back his spot, though not necessarily at the expense of one of the other forwards. Under Klinsmann, Johnson has been used as a midfielder more often than not. He could push one of the midfielders out of the final team.

Actors Reynolds, McElhenney bid to invest in Wrexham AFC

Wrexham AFC
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“The Gang Buys a Football Team?”

“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” actor Rob McElhenney and “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds are said to be in talks to buy National League side Wrexham AFC, reports The Guardian.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

The Welsh club, nicknamed the Red Dragons, was founded in 1855 and made it to the European Cup Winners’ Cup eight times between 1972-96.

They’ve since been relegated out of the Football League, dipping out of League Two in 2008.

McElhenney and Reynolds have bid to take over the club, and the Wrexham Supporters Trust says 97.5 percent of their members voted to allow the actors to propose their vision for the club before a second vote.

From wst.org.uk:

As a result, talks with the proposed bidders will now continue and we are in a position to confirm the two people interested in investing in Wrexham AFC.

Rob McElhenney is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter, best known as the creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Ryan Reynolds is an award-winning Canadian actor, writer, producer and business entrepreneur whose credits include Marvel’s Deadpool.

It’s gotta get McElhenney’s goat that Reynolds gets the “award-winning” adjective added to his name.

Either way, this is definitely an intriguing club for investment and the potential addition of Reynolds and McElhenney to the fray would only increase the interest in Wrexham AFC.

Deadpool and Mac would be quite a combo in the transfer market.

Arteta drawn into Ozil discussion, reacts to Liverpool doubleheader

Arteta on Ozil
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Mikel Arteta did his best not to give a soundbite that included Mesut Ozil’s name following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leicester City in League Cup action on Wednesday.

Ozil, 31, has not played since assisting the lone goal in a March 7 win over West Ham and has since only twice even made the bench (June 20 and 25).

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Asked six times about the German, Arteta painted in broad strokes before mentioning Ozil in the second set of questions.

Arteta said that Ozil simply hasn’t warranted a place in an 18. This is how he responded when asked if he understood why there are so many questions about a player who has 44 goals and 77 assists in 254 appearances for the Gunners.

From Football.London:

“Of course I understand and I respect your questions but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible. I try to select the players that are, in my opinion, in better condition.”

Okay then.

As for Wednesday’s win, the Gunners broke through on a Christian Fuchs own goal before sealing the deal on Eddie Nketiah’s marker just before the final whistle.

Arsenal was outshot 15-10 but both teams were decidedly second-string. Now the Gunners get consecutive affairs at Anfield, as Liverpool is the hosts for a Monday meeting in the Premier League and a League Cup fourth round tie days later.

Arteta was asked how big of a test that will be for the Gunners.

“You can imagine, probably the toughest place to go in Europe or the world. That’s the fixtures, we have to go there. Let’s go first on Monday, let’s prepare well and see how it goes.”

Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in July to deny the Reds a 100-point season, weeks after the Reds clinched the Premier League title. The Gunners again topped Liverpool in the Community Shield one month later.

The atmosphere and stakes will be high again next week. Surely Arteta can’t go 4-0 against Jurgen Klopp, right? Right?

Leicester City’s Rodgers: Gruesome Ndidi injury could cost him 12 weeks

Ndidi injury
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For every team, there’s an indispensible player and it’s difficult to argue against Leicester City’s player being Wilfred Ndidi.

The groin injury that kept the Nigerian out of Leicester’s 2-0 home loss to Arsenal in the League Cup could require surgery, said Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers after the game.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

One of the game’s top destroyers, Ndidi had played two matches at center back as Leicester opened the season 2-0.

Rodgers could hardly have made the injury sound more painful.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“We’re just waiting to hear more on that but it could be anything between six and 12 weeks,” Rodgers said. “It’s a groin abductor which may have come off the bone, which is quite a nasty one. We’re waiting to see if he needs an operation or not. If he does, it will be at least 12 weeks.”

Leicester missed Ndidi for five-of-six games in early 2020 and went 2D-3L, starting a skid that ended up costing them Champions League football.

The 23-year-old already has 34 caps for Nigeria.

The Foxes have Nampalys Mendy, Hamza Choudhury, and Daniel Amartey amongst their defensive midfield options.

They next face Man City, West Ham, Aston Villa, and Arsenal in Premier League play. Leicester will learn its Europa League group on Oct. 2 before beginning its UEL run the week of Oct. 22.

Champions League: Six-goal thriller in Norway; Marsch’s Salzburg lead

Champions League qualifying
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The UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round is delivering entertainment, with six first legs dotting the European landscape over the past 27 hours.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

American coach Jesse Marsch saw his Red Bull Salzburg take a first leg advantage home from Israel, while U.S. right back Henry Wingo and Molde played the game of the round so far against Hungary’s Ferencvaros.


Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg

The Austrian visitors were heavy favorites, especially with the hosts dealing with positive COVID-19 tests, but Maccabi took a ninth-minute lead through Dan Biton.

But young Dominik Szoboszlai’s Man of the Match showing began with a goal in the 49th minute and Masaya Okugawan gave Salzburg the lead eight minutes later ahead of next week’s second leg in Austria.

Molde 3-3 Ferencvaros

A thriller in Norway saw the hosts erase a 2-0 deficit only to hand a big away goals advantage to the Hungarian visitors with minutes to play.

Ferencvaros scored early in each half through Franck Boli and Myrto Uzuni. Both goals were set up by Endre Botka and Ferencvaros looked set to cruise through the first leg.

Molde snapped awake through former Manchester United, Cardiff City, and Seattle Sounders man Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who set up Leke James in the 55th minute before scoring a classy goal that was started on the right flank by fellow ex-Sounder and American export Henry Wingo.

Martin Ellingsen gave Molde its first lead in the 83rd, but Ihor Kharatin made it 3-3 four minutes later to send Ferencvaros back to Hungary with three away goals. A draw any less insane would be enough for them to head to the group stage.

Elsewhere

Gent 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Olympiakos 2-0 Omonia Nicosia
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland

Second legs

Sept. 29
Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30 
Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv