Klinsmann weighs heavily on World Cup vets to compose Copa America roster.
By Robert Wagman
By Robert Wagman
(Sunday, May 22, 2016) -- United States men’s coach Jürgen Klinsmann narrowed his preliminary roster of 40 to 23 for the upcoming 16-nation Copa America Centenario, the South American championship in which the Americans will compete as a guest.
Included are only a few surprises, both newcomers who were included and veterans who were left off.
The central question surrounding Klinsman’s choices were whether he would use veterans, some of might be too old to play in the 1918 World Cup in Russia, or younger players being groomed for Russia.
Klinsman opted for veterans. At the heart of his squad are 15 from the 2014 World Cup team in Brazil. He included several newcomers, but it looks like the 11 used against Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay, the U.S.’s group opponents, will mostly be familiar faces.
Possibly the biggest omission is World Cup central defender Omar Gonzalez, who has been a regular starter. Gonzales moved from the Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy to Pachuca of Mexico where he starts and has been playing well.
Klinsman chose relative newcomer Steve Birnbaum and Michael Orozco over Gonzalez.
He also might have included young Matt Miazga, who is beginning to get first-team minutes with Chelsea of the English Premier League, but he was not included, as Edgar Castillo and Tim Ream were not.
Then, too Klinsman chose a veteran over a newcomer when striker Jordan Morris was left out for Chris Wondolowski.
Newcomers added to the roster were 17-year-old forward Christian Pulisic, getting minutes at Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, and midfielder Perry Kitchen. Passed over were both midfielder Mix Diskerud, a World Cup member, and midfielder-defender Alfredo Morales.
A point of interest is Klinsmann’s inclusion of Fabian Johnson as a defender. Johnson has played in both the midfield and defense for Klinsman and seems destined to play left back despite playing as an attacking midfielder for his German club Borussia Mönchengladbach. Complicating this move is Johnson’s current groin problems.
A minor surprise was the inclusion of Ethan Horvath, 20, as the side’s third goalkeeper, leaving Nick Rimando out. Klinsman has made it clear that Brad Guzan will be his starting keeper with Tim Howard as his backup. Klinsman seems to continue Howard’s stay in his doghouse after Howard took a year off from international competition following the last World Cup.
World Cup striker Jozy Altidore is out with a major hamstring injury and the starter up front could well be Bobby Wood, who scored 17 goals this past season in Germany’s second division and who has been bought by top Bundesliga club Hamburg for 2016-17.
The U.S. will play pre-Copa friendlies against Ecuador in Frisco, Texas next Wednesday., and Bolivia next Saturday in Kansas City, Kansas. The U.S. will open Group A play against Colombia on June 3 in Santa Clara, Calif.
Today, Klinsmann took a group of players to Bayamon, Puerto Rico for a 3-1 victory, maintaining a 70-30 edge in possession over the host in an exhibition.
Not all Americans were on the Copa America roster, most being young players.
The U.S. goals were scored by Wood, Ream and newcomer Paul Arriola, who also registered an assist in his national-team debut.
The U.S. jumped out to a 2-0 lead in a dominant first half on Ream's first international goal and Wood’s fifth strike for his country.
Puerto Rico's Luis Betancur caught Guzan a bit too far out from his goal-line and hit a ball over the net-minder’s head to narrow the U.S. lead to 2-1. Arriola added the final goal for the Americans, tapping in a pass from Alejandro Bedoya.
Puerto Rico, although a U.S. Commonwealth, is considered a separate soccer entity by CONCACAF, the confederation of North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and by world governing body FIFA.
U.S. Copa America Roster
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids, Major League Soccer), Ethan Horvath (Molde, Norway)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City, MLS), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United, MLS), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin, Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany), Michael Orozco (Tijuana, Mexico), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur, England).
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake, MLS), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes, France), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, MLS), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids, MLS), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian, Scotland), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers, MLS), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City, MLS).
Forwards: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, MLS), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV, Germany), Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS).
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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