It’s not pretty looking back at the very first Brazil Board we produced at Insider almost three years ago, to see some of the long-forgotten names -- Jonathan Bornstein, Ike Opara, Tim Ream -- that were included in our initial lineup projection for the U.S. team at the 2014 World Cup.
It makes for cringe-worthy reading, no question. Yet it also reinforces a point we’ve tried to make in every new version since: In international soccer, nothing is set in stone. Things can and do change quickly.
With that in mind, some might consider it a triumph that five starters on the list below were also there in March 2011. But really, it’s just a reminder that while the picture keeps getting clearer as the tournament -- now less than five months away -- nears, the pecking order within the U.S. player pool will continue to evolve right until the moment U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his 23-man squad for Brazil 2014 in May.
Take Oguchi Onyewu and Brek Shea. Both looked like long shots, at best, while riding the bench in England two months ago. Suddenly, both are playing 90 minutes every week. If that continues, both will have the chance to fill specific needs for the U.S. squad -- Onyewu would add valuable experience to a woefully green back line; Shea’s all-world athleticism on the left wing “can change a game,” according to Klinsmann himself. At the very least, right now they’re back in the national team conversation.
Next month, it might be Maurice Edu and Michael Parkhurst on the rise. Neither is listed here, but now that both are back in MLS, they’ll get the playing time they need to make a late run at the roster. And if you’re wagering against Stuart Holden recovering from his latest knee injury in time to make the cut, the star-crossed midfielder will be more than happy to accept the challenge.
Not us, though. After doing this for almost three years, we’ve learned never to bet against anyone.
Here is the latest projected USMNT lineup (4-2-3-1) and roster for the 2014 World Cup: