DaMarcus Beasley finds himself back in national contention
Juergen Klinsmann's selection for the upcoming friendly against Mexico on August 12th may make sense if we frame the context. First, it's always a trying time to put your first squad out even if it's a friendly. Lets qualify it further by saying it's against Mexico, a team with which the USA shares a historically contentious regional rivalry but has of late gained the upper ground in a few key encounters. Klinsmann's approach has clearly been influenced by getting off to a good start but not necessarily with an eye to the future.
The notable feature of this squad is its old. Except for a handful like Brek Shea, Timothy Chandler, and Freddy Adu the rest of the players are in their late 20's. Not exactly a nod to youth. That happened January 2011 against Chile when Bob Bradley trotted out a completely new look team. In that match a few players took their chances and impressed including Mikkel Diskerud, Dax McCarty, Juan Agudelo, and Teal Bunbury. One would have thought that squad except for Marvell Wynne would have gotten a harder second look.
"One of the goals of the roster for this game and moving forward is to create competition at each position," said Klinsmann. "There are many players who are established as well as many players who will get opportunities, and we want there to be a healthy contest for spots on the roster."
Klinsmann brings that philosophy to the goalkeeper and on defense mixing veterans with some very untested players. Bill Hamid the 20 year old DC United goalie get his firs call up and has Tim Howard who did not have his best show at the Gold Cup final for company.
The left back position still looks problematic. Heath Pearce who's been in and out of the USMNT for the last six years has found favour and will compete with Edgar Castillo with just the one appearance. One would have preferred Castillo competing with Eric Lichaj who has established himself in that position very quickly. On the opposite flank Timothy Chandler is a no brainer. He is a bonafide wingback and that right channel should be very active with his pacy presence. At center Omar Gonzalez should have gotten a call up along with Zak Whitbread (probably unavailable on duty with Norwich City) to keep Tim Ream and Clarence Goodson on their toes.
The midfield is where Klinsmann has been most experimental bringing back Ricardo Clark and Jose Francisco Torres. He's also put faith in Brek Shea, the 21 year old FCD attacking midfielder who can double as a second striker. The selection of Torres is a pleasing one because he's got the creativity of a Juan Roman Riquelme which might try the patience of the US fans used to a more counterattacking style but introduces more than just one dimension. In the same vein Klinsmann should have gone for Diskerud whose eye for a pass and one touch skill is getting him quite a reputation.
Instead the midfield looks heavy and imbalanced with five holding midfielders. Maurice Edu, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Jermain Jones, and Clark. And who exactly is giving who competition for this spot? One might argue that Bradley has a motor but really this is even worse than Roberto Mancini. What is Klinsmann planning to do- park the bus against the Mexicans?
Up front one feels good that Adu's breakout performance in the Gold Cup has found favour with Klinsmann but there is no Bunbury or Charlie Davis to burn turf instead it's DaMarcus Beasley who really is not a striker as much as a winger and in the past has been found lightweight on the ball. Again, Klinsmann's goal to foster competition doesn't quite work here. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey were unavailable due to club duty.
For those looking for a conspiracy, there are four Mexican- Americans which should split the crowd. And those easy to please will be delighted that there is no Jonathan Bornstein which in itself should constitute the advent of a post Bob Bradley era.
Goalkeepers (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton)
Defenders (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls)
Midfielders (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), José Torres (Pachuca)
Forwards (5): Freddy Adu (Benfica), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)