Jürgen Klinsmann has released his roster for the upcoming friendly with arch nemesis Mexico in Mexico City this Wednesday (8 pm ET, ESPN2 and Univision) with a few notable points to look toward.
First, for those surprised by the omission of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Jozy Altidore, don’t be. The English Premier League season gets started this weekend, and I am actually shocked that six European-based players made it on the roster. (I’m discounting Maurice Edu considering I’d be surprised if he is still a Rangers player at the end of the transfer window) Many players want to get settled into their teams before embarking across seas on international duty. It isn’t abnormal for Euro-based players to be left off for friendlies this time of year. Even though it’s Mexico, it is still a friendly that won’t mean anything more than bragging rights.
Clint Dempsey also has another reason to be left off. He has been linked with a move away from Fulham (London) for Liverpool all summer long, but it hasn’t come to fruition. The saga’s last notable turn of events had Dempsey refusing to join the team in Switzerland for preseason training and reportedly demanding Fulham finish the transfer to Liverpool. This apparently left his manager, Martin Jol, fuming and leaving him home in London. However, to date, the deal still has not gone through because Liverpool are refusing to meet Fulham’s asking price for the attacking midfielder, leaving Dempsey’s future up in the air.
Michael Bradley is currently trying to win a starting job with his new club Roma, which is his reason for absense, while Jozy Altidore just started his season in the Dutch Eredivisie over the weekend. (Notably, he scored two goals against defending champion and Dutch giants Ajax in a 2-2 draw)
But enough on the notable omissions. Ten MLS players, led by LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, were included in the roster. A couple players got their first call-up to the national team in San Jose Earthquakes defender Steven Beitashour and Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler. Both are 25 years old, and neither have had their first cap yet. It will be interesting to see what Klinsmann thinks of these two at the end of camp, we might know if he includes them in the game or not.
Brek Shea makes his return to the team while dealing with a tumultuous season at FC Dallas. Between poor form, and poor conduct, just about nothing has gone right for Shea this season, and led to him not being included in the opening fixtures of World Cup Qualifying.
I have a feeling Shea gets the start here, because Klinsmann might want to test his young winger in the kind of conditions unique to Estadio Azteca. The 22 year old has repeatedly shown a weakness of mind in his youth, and this will be a great opportunity to try to strengthen his resolve. To me, this is the storyline of the match.
The USA is 0-23-1 against Mexico on their soil and it wouldn’t be realistic to expect that first win Wednesday either. After winning the gold medal at the Olympics this weekend, Mexico is clearly entering into a golden generation. (You can see El Tri’s preview here from associate editor Gerardo Gonzalez) This match is about testing the players in hostile conditions, because assuming the US make it through this round of qualification, they will have to travel back to Mexico in a game that counts next year. That’s the match they’re preparing themselves for Wednesday. A result would be nice, but not a priority.
Prediction: Mexico 3-1 USA
US TRAVEL ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steven Beithasour (San Jose Earthquakes), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes)