The Copa America roster has dropped. Now what?

By Robert Cross / AO: Portland

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Coach Klinsmann relies on his core for the 2016 Copa America Roster

The U.S. Soccer public has been yearning for a transformation of the USMNT since the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Coach Klinsmann gave notice that the transition is on hold as USMNT regulars Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Jermaine Jones headline our 2016 Copa America Centenario roster. All told 15 of the 23 players selected were part of our World Cup roster prior.

In early September the USMNT will be competing in two critical World Cup Qualifiers at St. Vincent & The Grenadines and in Jacksonville, Florida versus Trinidad & Tobago. Klinsmann’s reliance on aged veterans is a clear indication to me that he does not believe it is time for youth to be served. The USMNT results in this tournament and in September will determine whether Klinsmann’s approach was justified or not.

AM4J1856 (1) It’s Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones together once more.  

I have been frustrated with this central midfield pairing for years now. The chemistry is often lacking, Jones is not disciplined, and Bradley is ill fitted for an advanced role. Interestingly, Jones has been playing up the field for the Colorado Rapids and Bradley has been effective for Toronto FC as a deep lying midfielder with both clubs faring well early in the MLS campaign. Klinsmann is insistent that Bradley be deployed as a “10” and Jones will need to reign in his game if the duo is to succeed in the tournament.

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Jordan Morris has fallen behind Bobby Wood at forward.

Morris has rated with Klinsmann, and Jurgen has been instrumental in his career by offering the former Stanford collegian numerous looks with the USMNT before he turned professional this spring in signing with the Seattle Sounders. Bobby Wood is fresh off a 17 goal season in Bundesliga II that found him landing in the top flight with a transfer to Hamburg. Both forwards have a nose for goal and speed to burn, but neither can match Jozy Altidore’s experience and holdup play for the national team.

Tim Howard’s absence from the USMNT allows Brad Guzan to claim the top spot.

The recently concluded English Premier League campaign was not kind to Howard or Guzan, nor their clubs, for that matter. Howard’s sabbatical from the USMNT after the World Cup in Brazil left the door open for Guzan to take the top stop in goal. Klinsmann has confirmed as such and it is the Polar Bear’s opportunity to shine as rumors swirl that Guzan may transfer back to MLS later this summer.

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Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin will be our starting fullbacks.

Johnson is our best field player and plays in the midfield for his Bundesliga side, but Klinsmann does not have a better option to start at LB in our player pool. Yedlin had a strong season for Sunderland as they were able to stave off relegation as he was a regular in the lineup. This pair has speed to burn and will be needed to help create chances for our attack.

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Will Christian Pulisic or Darlington Nagbe feature prominently at Copa?

It would be my preference, but I doubt it. Pulisic is only 17 years old and has already had first team starts on the wing for Borussia Dortmund in Germany. Nagbe has raised his level of play since transitioning to a more central role with the Portland Timbers. This move was a catalyst to the Portland Timbers’ MLS Cup run last year. I’m not convinced that Pulisic or Nagbe will see many minutes because Klinsmann is likely to feature a 4-4-2 formation this summer.

U.S. Roster By Position:

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), 12-Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), 22-Ethan Horvath (Molde IK)

DEFENDERS (8): 5-Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 3-Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), 6-John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), 20-Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), 21-Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), 23-Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), 14-Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)

MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS (12): 15-Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), 8-Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), 13-Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), 16-Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), 10-Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), 17-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), 18-Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), 7-Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), 20-Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), 19-Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

Robert W. Cross is a founding member and former President of American Outlaws Portland and a lifelong football fan and supporter of both club and country.

*** Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of the American Outlaws. ***

Photos by Will Leverett