Wednesday is a very important day for the USMNT. It is the last friendly match against Mexico at the University of Phoenix Stadium before Jürgen Klinsmann announces the roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. Who will be on the roster? Will the game help Klinsmann decide who the best players for the World Cup are?
A majority of the roster is made up of MLS, led by Seattle Sounders FC forward and USMNT captain Clint Dempsey. The match does not fall on an international fixture date, so some of the European and Mexican-based players will not be available to represent the stars and stripes. Both DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco, USMNT defenders, are not being released from their Mexican club team, and will not participate in the friendly. But Julian Green, who plays for Bayern Munich, did get released in time to participate for the U.S. Green hopes to earn his first cap with the U.S. in the friendly and punch his ticket to Brazil.
Some players are also being dropped from the roster due to injury. Brad Evans who has been currently playing right back for the USMNT will miss the friendly, and most likely the World Cup due to a calf injury he suffered earlier in March. A true right back, Tony Beltran, is replacing Evans. Beltran is 26-years-old and plays right back for Real Salt Lake in the MLS.
Most of the players on the roster have had USMNT experience and are looking to impress Klinsmann to earn a spot on the roster for Brazil.
But some players are already on the World Cup roster. Players like Dempsey, Donovan, and Bradley are only participating in the friendly to help the younger players with experience and to show these players the style of play the USMNT hopes to display in Brazil.
However, some players are fighting for their spots. Two important players playing for lives are Graham Zusi and Eddie Johnson. Zusi is a midfielder who plays for the defending MLS champions Sporting Kansas City. He has represented the USMNT before, but his roster spot is not safe. He needs to bring a presence out wide for the U.S. and play quality balls into the mixer for the forwards to finish. He needs to have a good first touch and keep the ball moving in the midfield with Bradley and Donovan. Johnson is a forward from D.C. United and is tied for the most appearances with the USMNT in 2013 with 17. He scored five goals and tallied one assist. He is an important player for the USMNT, especially if Jozy Altidore continues to struggle in front of net. He needs to make runs off the ball and work together with Dempsey up top. He also needs to be the big body in the attacking third and finish any quality chances he has. Zusi and Johnson need to make the USMNT roster because they could play an important role coming off the bench.
Here is the roster for the friendly against Mexico:
Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)