By Robert Cross / AO: Portland
Coach Klinsmann’s 23 man COPA America USMNT roster selection draws near.
It’s been a long wait for the COPA America Centenario, but two weeks from today the United States men’s national team will be kicking off the tournament against Colombia on Friday, June 3rd at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. I will be one of thousands traveling around the country supporting the red, white, and blue throughout the tournament. That is what we do as members of the American Outlaws: support, unite, and strengthen.
USMNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has to whittle down the provisional 40-man roster to 23 names. This announcement will be made at half time of the New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC derby this Saturday on Fox at 3 PM EST. The question remains, will JK bring in his favorites and old standbys for the tournament or are some surprises in the offering?
* Projected starters are listed in bold.
Tim Howard will return to the number one man between the pipes for USA.
Howard (Colorado Rapids) is poised to return to MLS and join fellow USMNT teammate Jermaine Jones with the Colorado Rapids after a stellar ten-year run with Everton of the BPL. Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) struggled with Aston Villa of the BPL this year as the Villans were relegated to the Championship League. Howard and Guzan will be joined by Ethan Horvath (Molde) who featured and performed strongly in U-23 Olympic qualifying for USA.
Cut: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes)
John Brooks and Matt Besler command the center of our backline, but who are the fullbacks?
Brooks (Hertha Berlin) had a strong season in the Bundesliga and appears poised to partner with Besler (Sporting KC). This pairing was deemed Klinsmann’s first choice pair earlier this year before injuries stifled both of them. They will be joined by Edgar Castillo (Monterrey) and DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland) at LB and RB respectively. No one has seen their stock rise more in the past month or so than Yedlin as Sunderland was able to stave off relegation in the BPL.
There is fierce competition at the remaining spots on defense and in particular, at center back where Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) and Matt Miazga (Chelsea) will make the cut. The two remaining defenders project to be the much maligned Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt) who has regularly performed better for club than country and Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United) who has impressed for the USMNT in 2016.
Cut: Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham)
Fabian Johnson finds himself in an attacking role with the Yanks.
Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach) excelled on the pitch during the recent Bundesliga campaign. He has spent much of his recent time with the NATS at the FB position, but appears poised to play in the MF during Copa. You can bet that Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) and a resurgent Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids) will find themselves paired together again, much to the chagrin of many AO members. Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes) will find himself on the right flank and may be auditioning for a future club in MLS later during the summer transfer window.
Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) has yet to feature much for USA, but may find some opportunities as USA will want to maintain spells of possession in a tough opening group. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) will back up Jones and Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) makes the roster for late match corner kicks and set pieces.
Cut: Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Danny Williams (Reading)
Who replaces Jozy Altidore as the holdup forward in the USMNT attack?
Altidore’s most recent hamstring injury will force Klinsmann’s hand and change how USA attacks the goal. Look for Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) to operate underneath Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) who is Klinsmann favorite and has speed to press opposing backlines.
Bobby Wood (Hamburg) scored 17 goals in 30 matches for Bundesliga II side FC Union this year and was rewarded with a transfer to the topflight league in Germany. Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy) has been running off his tail for former USMNT Head Coach Bruce Arena and will be counted on to contribute as well. The youngest roster selection will be Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) whose future with the NATS will be as a 10, but figures to play up the field in this tournament.
Cut: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Look for my next article for AO next Friday as we discuss USMNT camp news and friendlies with Ecuador (May 25th) and Bolivia (May 28th).
About the Author
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. ***