Finally, US Soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann released his first-ever US national team roster as he called in 22 players to face Mexico on Aug. 10 in Philadelphia.
First the roster, then some thoughts.
Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid, Tim Howard
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Heath Pearce, Tim Ream
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Brek Shea, Jose Torres
Forwards: Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, DaMarcus Beasley, Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan
Surprises: Perhaps the biggest surprise on here is Bill Hamid, the young DC United 'keeper. Hamid has played 17 games for DC this season and is the man in charge there for the foreseable future. However, so is Tim Howard so Hamid's impact won't be felt until much later on, if at all.
Ricardo Clark and Michael Orozco Fiscal were surprise nods, each getting back on the squad after having fallen out of favor. DaMarcus Beasley returns as well. Beasley worked hard to get himself onto a club and has done well in his limited time with Puebla. Beasley is not quite at the age where he can be put out to pasture so he still has something to offer. Orozco Fiscal gets the nod in central defense and could be an option for the future while Clark is welcomed back after his World Cup fiasco. Perhaps Klinsmann has kept tabs on him because of his club and maybe Klinsmann was able to talk to someone at Eintracht Frankfurt to get insight on Clark. Whatever the case, Clark - who was always a serviceable player - gets a chance to start fresh.
Omissions: You can't have a roster without seeing who is gone. Chad Marshall is a player I think should have gotten way more playing time with the U.S. national team than he has received. He is the top defender in MLS over the last 5-6 years and yet he has to watch a guy like Tim Ream get fast-tracked onto the national team. It's disappointing that Marshall is not more recognized for his talents and ability.
No Joe Corona, which is also disappointing. Now, this one is not a managerial decision necessarily. Corona may be leaning towards playing for Mexico or perhaps Klinsmann just does not feel Corona is quite ready for the full national team but Corona's situation is not as clear-cut as Marshall. Corona is a talent for certain but he has options in terms of national team and - who knows? - he may very well receive a call from El Tri for this match.
Also not on the squad is Todd Dunivant, who was both Heath Pearce and Edgar Castillo ahead of him apparently. But - to the joy of most US supporters - Jonathan Bornstein is not on the roster either.
Perhaps the biggest name not on the roster is Clint Dempsey, but all indications seem to point to rest being the reason why Dempsey won't be in Philadelphia next week.
Forward Lot: Landon Donovan is listed as a forward in the roster Klinsmann revealed. But so too is Beasley, so that may not be saying much. Still, if Donovan will play forward for the U.S., then it's perhaps not surprising to see Jozy Altidore not on the squad. Donovan could carry the scoring load for the U.S. under Klinsmann and if the new coach has pegged his scoring hopes on Donovan, it's not a bad thing. Donovan is after all the US national team's all-time leading scorer.
Herculez Gomez was not called in, but another World Cup player who should have played more is. Edson Buddle returns and again, perhaps his playing for a German club helped his own situation. It would have been interesting to see both Buddle and Gomez on the roster but they will each have to keep working harder to get or maintain their spots on the team.
Dynamic Duo: It's good to see both Brek Shea and Jose Torres in the mix at midfield. Those are two players who just didn't fit in Bradley's system and now with Klinsmann in charge it could be where one or both of those guys have a lot more freedom to create and test the opposing team.
Overall, this is a strong roster with some players who are at the top of their game now, others who are near that point and still others who have plenty to offer down the road. The game against Mexico is a must-win in the sense that any US game versus Mexico is a must-win, so these players and this roster's strength will be tested soon enough.
What do you think? Well done by Klinsmann? Strong initial roster? Surprised by some of the names?