OWTY covers the future of American Soccer. You, like I, have been patiently waiting, speculating and scouring the ends of the internet for a peak into Coach Jurgen’s final 30 heading in to the 2014 World Cup. Official roster announcement is scheduled to be released over a conference call at 3pm EST, until then I thought it would be fun to speculate on the future.
Like any arm-chair manager I can come close to predicting who will be included in Jurgen’s final 30 for 2014, 2018 is a whole other story. It would have be ridiculous to think in May 2010 that a then 15 year old Julian Green would be on the cusp of making the US World Cup squad in four years. As US fans we felt we had a decent shot of getting John Anthony Brooks to commit to the program but never thought of him as a probable call-in either.
Injuries, form, transfers, will all waiver greatly over the next 3 seasons, but here is who I feel will be Jurgen’s top 30 heading into Russia 2018. We’ll list the players ages in parentheses.
:: Goalkeepers (3) ::
:: Brad Guzan (32) – After patiently waiting his turn behind legendary net-minder Tim Howard, Guzan will finally don the #1 jersey for the US. Guzan is more than capable of providing the leadership necessary for the four years heading into Russia.
:: Cody Cropper (25)- Cropper is highly rated within the US system and is starting to make a name for himself in England. Look for Cropper to supplant Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson as the US #2 moving forward.
:: Bill Hamid (27) – Hamid is more than capable 3 option moving forward. I see Bill moving to England to apply his trade sooner than later to help boost his stock with the US.
:: Defenders (11) ::
:: Matt Besler (31) – The Sporting Kansas City defender will likely be the rock of the 2014 campaign and at 31 will also be seen as a vital cog of the defense in 2018.
:: John Brooks (25) – Brooks has all the tools in the arsenal to become a world-class central back, the only thing he lacks at the moment is experience. Look for Jurgen to begin pairing Besler and Brooks moving forward following Brazil.
:: Omar Gonzalez (29) – Gonzalez will be a first choice CB in 2014 and should be entering his prime following this World Cup. Gonzalez could be a candidate to head abroad following the World Cup test himself against the best.
:: DeAndre Yedlin (24) – Yedlin is firmly planted in Jurgen’s 2018 plans. The lightning quick back lacks international experience and poise but like Brooks has all the tools to become a staple for the US defense.
:: Fabian Johnson (30) – Look for Johnson to slip back into the defense, much like DaMarcus Beasley did for Klinsmann leading up to 2014. Johnson will be one of the more experienced left backs the US has ever had.
:: Timmy Chandler (28) – One-time poster boy for the US’ dual-nationals will likely get another shot under Klinsmann during WC 208 qualifying. He’ll have to battle Yedlin for the right back spot.
:: Geoff Cameron (32) – Cameron will still have plenty left to give the badge in the lead up to 2018. He’s a valuable piece because of his skill set at this position.
:: Kellyn Acosta (22) – Acosta is one of the more promising prospects in US Soccer. He is a technically sound defender who can play either flank or the deep midfielder role. I project him as a left back moving forward, but his versatility has drawn the eye of top US Coaches.
:: Matt Hedges (28) – FC Dallas’ imposing central defender could be one to watch moving forward. He is already made quite an impression in limited time and could move to Europe sooner than later.
:: Amobi Okugo (27) – Okugo could push Besler for a starting role this next cycle. Okugo, a converted central midfielder, has the ball skills to play out of the back, a tool Klinsmann is hoping to highlight.
:: Will Packwood (24) – Packwood has been on Klinsmann’s radar as one of the players Tab Ramos hand selected from his U20 pool that could make the transition to the full national outfit.
:: Midfielders (11) ::
:: Michael Bradley (30) – If 2014 wasn’t Bradley’s team already, 2018 will surely be. The US will only go as far as this midfield general will take them.
:: Luis Gil (24) – Gil, like Yedlin, has already been ear-marked by Klinsmann as a central figure moving forward. Gil’s journey is a lesson to any youth player that one can thrive international, if one finds the right MLS team to join and works their way up the ranks.
:: Darlington Nagbe (27) – Nagbe has been a revelation for the MLS and should receive his US citizenship sooner than later. I see the Portland Timber midfielder as one of the top players for the US in 2018.
:: Julian Green (23) – The US could deploy the speedy American on either flank. Green was brought on in his US debut with US legend Landon Donovan. Do not think that was just a coincidence by Klinsmann and his staff. Green will become a focal point for the US attack.
:: Graham Zusi (31) – Zusi was player far off the US radar in May 2010, now he is a leading member of the program under Klinsmann. His leadership and work-ethic in an otherwise young midfield will be paramount.
:: Joe Gyau (25) – Gyau has long been seen as an emerging talent, however his play toward the end of the season with Hoffenheim has squarely put him on Jurgen’s radar according to reports. His speed and tricks will win him plenty of fans in the US.
:: Daniel Williams (29) – The athletic defensive midfielder paired well with Bradley in the build up to 2014, but his inexperience in CONCACAF pushed him to the outskirts of the team. Look for him to rejoin the pool.
:: Gedion Zelalem (21) – I’ve heard nothing but positive things for the Zelalem camp regarding his future with the US. Obtaining his US citizenship was no fluke, Jurgen has plans for this one.
:: Mikkel Diskerud (27) – Diskerud did a fine job for Jurgen this cycle and will be viewed as one of the key attacking generals in the next cycle. His ability to see the field is outstanding, but he must elevate his game if he hopes to be a starter.
:: Kelyn Rowe (26) – The New England attacker is one of more promising MLS youths around. He’s got more skill at his age than many others and will likely be one the top MLS players for years to come.
:: Marc Pelosi (23) – The Liverpool product dealt with a major leg injury which side-lined him for over a year. He’s now back and constantly impressing club coaches. Like Acosta, he is versatile enough to play multiple positions.
:: Strikers (5) ::
:: Jozy Altidore (28) – Altidore is entering his prime, and will be looked to as one of the leaders following the Donovan-Howard-Dempsey generation. Altidore might have had a rough year in the BPL but he always seems to come good for the US when it matters.
:: Aron Johannsson (27) – Altidore might be the incumbent at the striking position but Johannsson will constantly push the front man for his spot. The US could easily deploy Aron and play a 4-4-2 moving forward.
:: Terrence Boyd (27) – Nobody is a bigger Boyd fan than I am. He has his critics, but his work-rate and desire are second to none.
:: Juan Agudelo (26) – His move to Europe has seemed to help his stock in the US pool. He is a serious contender for time moving forward.
:: Will Bruin (28) – Bruin has proved to Klinsmann that he deserves time in this role. At 28 it will be time for Bruin to deliver on his tremendous talent.
Who you got? Who’d I miss?