By IVES GALARCEP
The first international fixture date of the new year is just three weeks away, and with Jurgen Klinsmann having committed to a European-based roster for the March 5 friendly against Ukraine, trying to identify the roster has become a bit of a tricky proposition.
With so many players leaving Europe for MLS in the past seven months, the options overseas are fewer than they have been for a U.S. coach in several years.
One concern about the Ukraine match is whether it will be played. As of Tuesday afternoon, there had been no change made to the match despite the violence erupting in the Ukraine capital of Kiev, which is located about 300 miles from Kharkiv, where the March 5 friendly is being played.
Assuming the match is played, Klinsmann will have to navigate some recent injury issues to his Americans Abroad base as he tries to select his roster for the match.
And as a reminder for those who may have forgotten, the 2014 MLS season begins on March 8th, making the inclusion of any MLS players highly unlikely for this friendly.
Who will get the call? Here are the players who we could see being called in for the Ukraine friendly:
PROJECTED USMNT ROSTER vs. UKRAINE
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Cody Cropper
Pretty much a no-brainer with Howard and Guzan leading the way. Cody Cropper could also come in as a third goalkeeper, which he has done before. Might Klinsmann give David Yelldell a call to join the team for a few days? The Bayer Leverkusen back-up wouldn’t be far away from the Frankfurt training location to join the team.
DEFENDERS– Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Tim Ream, Will Packwood, Fabian Johnson, Alfredo Morales
Injuries have really limited the options for Klinsmann here, with Oguchi Onyewu and Eric Lichaj currently sidelined by injuries. It’s unclear if either can recover in time to join the team for training on March 2nd in Frankfurt, but if either get healthy, we should see them on the squad.
Some new faces here include Packwood, who is only 20 but starts regularly as a central defender for Birmingham City, and Morales, who last joined the U.S. team for a training camp in May of 2012. Morales gets minutes for Bundesliga 2 side Ingolstadt, and is versatile enough to play multiple positions.
John Brooks hasn’t played in a few months, but did return recently from a knee injury. He would seem to be a question mark to start against Ukraine, but he seems a safe bet to make the trip barring another injury.
MIDFIELDERS– Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Mix Diskerud, Danny Williams, Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya, Brek Shea
Dempsey’s involvement will hinge on whether his loan allows him to stay for Fulham’s March 1 match against Chelsea. If so, then he can just go from London to Frankfurst and play in the match before returning to Seattle. If he were heading to Seattle sooner than that, then he wouldn’t return to Europe.
Michael Bradley is another question mark considering his team has a bye on the opening week of the MLS season. For now, we will leave him off, but any more injuries in this group could lead to a Bradley call.
There really are no surprises among this group. Williams has been playing really well for Reading FC so he’s a safe bet, and may even start in this match.
Yes, Julian Green is taking part in training for the first two days of camp, but is not going to feature in the friendly so that’s why he’s not listed. That being said, don’t be surprised if we see one or two other surprise guest trainees make the trip.
FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Terrence Boyd, Juan Agudelo
This foursome is pretty set in stone, especially with Agudelo starting regularly now for Dutch side FC Utrecht. This could be a match for Klinsmann to experiment with Altidore and Johannsson as a forward tandem.
What do you think of this squad? Who would you like to see called in that didn’t make our list? Who are you surprised to see included on this squad? Who are you happy to see on the list?
Share your thoughts below.