Jurgen Klinsmann's second roster is out, and I've fired off some initial off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts here for you. First the roster which will be used for games against Costa Rica (9/2, at Home Depot Center) and Belgium (9/6 in Belgium), then my ramblings.
Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid, Tim Howard
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Zach Loyd, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Heath Pearce, Tim Ream
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Jeff Larentowicz, Robbie Rogers, Brek Shea, Jose Torres
Forwards: Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Teal Bunbury, Landon Donovan
Surprising Omissions: This is a new manager of course so what went on beforehand should not necessarily be followed through by this regime. Case in point - Michael Bradley. The young Bradley was an absolute lock to start and go 90 under the previous coach but his role was lessened, other midfielders were given more responsibility and a new midfield began to sort itself out against Mexico. Now, Bradley is not part of the squad. Neither is Jermaine Jones. These are two guys who started in what will be the United States' most important game from the end of the World Cup until qualifying begins in 2012. And now they're gone.
Maybe they're not gone for good but this team is going to continue without them. The likes of Brek Shea, Jose Francisco Torres and Kyle Beckerman - each of whom did well for himself against Mexico - will continue to progress forward in the new-look midfield.
Fabian Who?: Even the most well-informed US supporter may not exactly have been clamoring for Fabian Johnson to get a call. Johnson is a German-born defender/midfielder who is all of 23 years of age. He recently said he would consider playing for the US after having played for several German youth national teams. Johnson along with Timothy Chandler and David Yeldell and Jones as well are part of a growing batch of US national team players who were born in Germany. Perhaps having Klinsmann aboard will see that figure grow. In any case, Chandler and Johnson are certainly capable of staking their claim on the squad. Johnson gets regular minutes for Hoffenheim and has a lot of upside. He's likely technically more advanced than other 23-year-olds. His biggest challenge will be adjusting to players with whom he's not played with much or at all, but Chandler did well to acclimate himself quickly and Johnson could do the same.
Defensive Stars: I've clamored for Chad Marshall and Todd Dunivant in the past and neither are here. Am I disappointed? Not really. In part because I've accepted the fact that neither could get called on by Klinsmann for whatever reason, but also because this is a good and versatile group. Left back is a spot where I thought Edgar Castillo did well against Mexico. Sure he was rough around the edges but I like the new mandate by Klinsmann in that position. Castillo may have been neutralized because a lot of Mexican players were familiar with him but I want to see him play with the same intensity against Costa Rica and Belgium. Heath Pearce is also a capable player who has done well in league this year. I'm a fan of Michael Orozco Fiscal and I can see him growing in confidence and poise with each and every game. Clarence Goodson is someone who can step in immediately and perform and in Chandler and Tim Ream there is youth and talent, although I am not sold on Ream quite yet. I'd like to see more from him but he's caught many coaches' eyes. I guess I'm just glad that we aren't getting Oguchi Onyewu time and again, whether he deserved to get a call or not.
Larento...huh?: Okay, Jeff Larentowicz may be a bit of a surprise. Now, I'm not certain he's a lock to play but I will say that he and Kyle Beckerman were in the same class a bit, standout midfielders for very good MLS teams who did not seem like national team material. Beckerman took major strides towards disproving that and now Larentowicz has the same chance. And that's all any player needs, right?, a chance.
My Ideal XI: From this group, in a game that means something...
Howard; Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Orozco Fiscal, Castillo; Beckerman, Edu, Shea, Dempsey; Donovan, Altidore.
Altidore is in fine form right now and bursting with confidence; otherwise I might be tempted to toss Dempsey and Donovan up high and throw Torres in the midfield. I'm an advocate of playing Torres and Shea together since they can create so much.