We were warned there might be a couple of surprises when U.S. Soccer released its roster for next week’s friendly in Philly. Well, I’d say there were more than a couple. In fact, the surprises came tumbling out of Thursday’s announcement like drunks out of Moe’s Tavern at last call.
Welcome back, DaMarcus Beasley! Been a while, man.
Good to see you, too, Ricardo Clark. How do you say “center back” in German, anyway?
No Clint Dempsey, eh? We’ll get to the bottom of that one. There were others to chew on, too.
(And this one doesn’t really rate highly on the surprise scale, but I can’t resist, so … all those folks who have been kicking your Bob Bradley bobblehead in effigy because he wouldn’t acquiesce to fan pressure and call in Charlie Davies, what say you now? Does that mean Jurgen Klinsmann already on your s--- list?)
Klinsmann told us that creating competition is important. That part was a prepared statement that accompanied Thursday's official release from U.S. Soccer. Well it looks like that wasn’t just lip service. How else to explain the selections of Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco Fiscal? They have one cap each. On the other hand, they are 24 and 25, so they still haven’t reached the peak of their developmental curves. Klinsmann clearly sees something there.
There’s Heath Pearce back in the fold. Presumably, he’ll be deployed on the left or right rather than in the middle, where he’s currently playing well for Chivas USA. Either way, Pearce’s selection is instructional; he’s a technical type, very clean coming out of the back. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Klinsmann picked him – ability to play out of the back is important to the new coach. And that might just help explain Oguchi Onyewu’s absence.
Bill Hamid as the backup? Not sure what that says about Brad Guzan. It could just be about Guzan’s club situation. That’s likely the case with Dempsey, too. Fulham plays today in Europa League qualifying and then begins its long EPL campaign Aug. 13, three days after the U.S.-Mexico encounter. So a transatlantic trip sandwiched in between might be stretching things.
Then again, the Bundesliga teams play Matchday 2 of their long season on Aug. 13 and Klinsmann selected six players from Germany (five from Bundesliga clubs plus Edson Buddle from 2. Bundesliga side Ingolstadt.)
Freddy Adu? Clearly, he deserved a call-up at some point based on that Gold Cup career resurrection. But this wasn’t a slam dunk as Adu is without a club at the moment, his rights still held by Benfica but currently working out in the D.C. area. So, leaving Adu off this one wouldn’t have been a shocker. (By the way, whatever happens with Adu going forward, Bob Bradley deserves a lot of credit for taking a flier, calling in the guy and providing time and the opportunity to work his way onto the field. Who knows where it all might lead? But it seems quite likely Adu would be stuck in the Turkish lower division once again if not for the productive Gold Cup days.)
Buddle is a bit of a surprise. He didn’t exactly tear it up last year at Ingolstadt. And he’s already 30, so he isn’t someone most of us circled as “players to build around” heading into Brazil 2014. His selection certainly will be noticed by Jozy Altidore, who will have ample time to peruse Klinsi’s picks from his new Holland home at AZ Alkmaar. It could be that Klinsmann understands the importance of being a new guy at a good Dutch side; he needs to be in training there to get a spot in the side, especially as he’s coming off injury.
Same, perhaps for Eric Lichaj, in terms of working his way up the depth chart. He’s not at a “new” team, exactly. But he did play on loan last year at Leeds, so he’s coming from behind in the race to earn a spot at Aston Villa.
Kyle Beckerman? He was never higher than 5th or 6th as a central midfielder on Bradley’s depth chart, and probably lower than that in most months. And yet, here he is.
Klinsmann apparently won’t speak to media about the selections until he gets to Philadelphia, so answers will have to wait. Even then, he may or may not speak about individual selections. Some coaches do, others don’t.
That’s just something else we’ll know more about regarding the new coach – who clearly is not the same as the old coach.