Photo by ISIPhotos.com
A popular question being asked these days about the U.S. national team is "Where are the MLS players?" With Landon Donovan missing so many matches for the U.S. lately, and with Geoff Cameron having made the move to Stoke City in the summer, the number of regular U.S. national team options from Major League Soccer has diminished and we have found ourselves watching the U.S. play at times without a single MLS player.
Graham Zusi did his part to represent the league well in the national team's most recent match, the 1-0 World Cup qualifying win against Jamaica, but the general lack of MLS players made me wonder just what MLS options might get the call if Jurgen Klinsmann could only call MLS players.
Before we get into that potential lineup, let us first discuss the question of why there are so few MLS players in the recent national team mix. It's pretty simple. More and more top American players are getting opportunities to play abroad, and the reality is more and more Americans are going to better leagues to play.
This isn't a knock on MLS, but rather the reality of the professional soccer landscape. Now that being said, there is still some very good talent in MLS, and there is a strong generation of young Americans starting to make their way up the ranks. Players like Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen, Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry and Luis Silva just to name a few.
So what would an All-MLS U.S. national team lineup look like? Here is what such a squad might look like:
ALL-MLS USMNT LINEUP
—————–Chris Pontius——–Chris Wondolowski—————
Brek Shea—————–Graham Zusi—————Landon Donovan
Heath Pearce—Matt Besler—-Omar Gonzalez—-Steven Beitashour
A few thoughts:
This is a squad based on what I think Klinsmann would call in based on past call-ups, camp invites and current league form.
As a team, this squad is pretty solid. Good wing options, solid centerbacks, really good central midfield. It's not a team that I think would do much in a World Cup, but if it got dropped into CONCACAF qualifying I think it could make the Hex, though maybe not qualify out of the Hex.
It was a coin flip between Pontius and Eddie Johnson, but with Pontius having been a national team alternate recently, he gets the nod. Chris Rolfe also merits consideration.
Both Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid have very bright futures, but if the USMNT had a game this weekend and had to have an MLS goalkeeper start, the veteran Rimando would get the nod. Dan Kennedy is someone who deserves a mention as well.
Heath Pearce isn't playing left back for the New York Red Bulls, but he remains one of the best left back options in the pool. Justin Morrow deserves definite consideration for the spot, and Seth Sinovic has quietly become a solid left back as well.
Before anybody from Seattle mentions Osvaldo Alonso, as things stand he is still not eligible for the U.S. national team and therefore doesn't get the nod (and truth be told, I don't think he'd get called before Beckerman anyway. Klinsmann is a big Beckerman fan).
Matt Besler is quietly enjoying a tremendous season and is a definitely lock for his spot. Klinsmann has noticed his progress, and has made him an alternate for recent matches. Don't be surprised if he gets a call for the upcoming qualifiers.
Klinsmann hasn't called in Omar Gonzalez yet, and he probably won't this year in order to let Gonzalez settle in with the Galaxy as he continues his full recovery from a torn ACL. Despite that, he makes this list because he's simply too good a national team prospect not to be on the list.
Brad Davis is a great player for the Houston Dynamo, and one of the best in MLS, but at his age he's just not likely to get a national team call again. The same goes for Jay DeMerit.
What do you think of the squad? Who didn't make the lineup that you feel should be on the team? How do you think this team could do in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying?
Share your thoughts below.