No surprises on U.S. 30-man squad
U.S. men's coach Jurgen Klinsmann released the names of a 30-man squad for the World Cup with few surprises on Monday, including, as expected, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.
Eddie Johnson was the biggest name veteran left off the 30-man list. The 2006 World Cup player co-led the team in appearances last year and scored five goals, including the game-winner in the clincher vs. Mexico on Sept. 10.
Ten players were on the 2010 roster, including left-back Beasley and Donovan, a veteran of three World Cups. Five players did not appear in any of the 16 qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup: No. 3 goalkeeper Nick Rimando along with John Brooks, Julian Green, Chris Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin.
A total of 15 see action in the MLS. Two players are listed in different positions than in previous participation with the U.S. team: Donovan is now a forward; Fabian Johnson is listed as a defender.
In addition to Johnson , those left off Monday were defenders Michael Orozco and Tim Ream; midfielders Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Jose Torres and Daniel Williams; and forwards Herculez Gomez, and Juan Agudelo.
Johnson scored the key first goal against Mexico last September that clinched the Americans' seventh straight World Cup berth. His exclusion means that for the third-consecutive World Cup, the player who scored the goal that clinched the U.S.'s berth will not be on the final roster. (Steve Ralston against Mexico, Sept. 2005; Conor Casey at Honduras, Oct. 2009.)
"Making those phone calls and telling them that they're not part of the 30-man roster was unpleasant. Every call you make is a tough one," Klinsmann said of the roster cuts in general.
"Eddie's comments actually had nothing to do with the decision," Klinsmann said when asked whether Johnson's omission was related to his recent public criticism of DC United teammates. "I spoke to Eddie for quite a long time on the phone and then tried to explain as good as I can. It has to do a little bit with the fact that we only take six forwards into this 30-man roster, and in those forwards I also see Landon Donovan competing for one of those spots.
"In Eddie's case it's really, really difficult because he's also a player that brings so much to the table and he's done tremendously well with us over the last two years and scored very important goals for us," Klinsmann said.
"You have deadlines and you have your roster limit and you have to make those unpleasant calls and decisions and I believe that as of today it's the right decision," he said. "He's definitely one of those guys where it was a very difficult decision based on what he's done."
Klinsmann said he viewed Donovan as a pure forward in this roster. Johnson, a member of the 2006 World Cup roster, was simply a victim of numbers. Johnson reacted quickly to the news via Twitter.
The players on the 30-man roster will report to camp at Stanford on May 14. Training sessions will not be open to the public. Klinsmann said the final roster will be named after a June 1 match against Turkey in Harrison, N.J. The final 23-man World Cup roster must be submitted to FIFA by June 2.
Klinsmann opted to include Nurnberg's Timmy Chandler, who rejoins the U.S. squad for the first time since Feb. 2013.
"I had him scouted many, many times. I think he's a player that can make a difference if he's on his highest level. He has experience playing against very good players from throughout Europe, and that's why he earned his way back into the group," he said.
Klinsmann also added that he was not worried by the recent knee injury to LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez.
"It's very short period of time that he can't go 100 percent," he said. "By the end of the week he actually should be at 100 percent already. So he'll be just a few days late, which is alright. We'll have him from the beginning of next week going full speed with the group. Thankfully the injury was not that bad and it didn't take him out for much longer. Obviously the first moment we got the information (that he was injured), we were a little bit worried."
The Americans have exhibition games against Azerbaijan at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on May 27, Turkey at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., on June 1, and Nigeria at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on June 7. They then fly to their base camp in Sao Paulo.
At the World Cup they open against Ghana on June 16 at Natal, face Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal six-days later in the Amazon rain forest city of Manaus and close the group stage against Germany on June 26 at Recife.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
U.S. soccer included this graphic with its release via Twitter on Monday.