Thursday, February 23, 2012

Less Than A Week Away From U.S. Men Vs. Italy, Klinsmann Names His 21-Man Roster

After not playing a good team for months and not fielding a full squad for the same period, the U.S. men's national team will look much more like itself next week as they meet Italy on Wednesday, February 29 in Genoa. 

Today, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his 21-man roster and I'm happy to say that it's full of all the big guns (Howard, Dempsey, Donovan, Bocanegra, Altidore, Bradley, etc).

GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7) : Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Timmy Chandler (N├╝rnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (6) : Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FORWARDS (5) : Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

The match will be at 2:45 EST and it will be available on ESPN2, and Galavision so you have no excuse not to watch it or at least set your DVR for later. This will be the first time the U.S. has played the four-time World Cup champions in Italy since 2002. 

Geoff Cameron could see an opportunity
The players that stick out to me the most are Rimando, Cameron, Parkhurst, Johnson, Torres, Williams and Boyd. These are all younger guys that have obviously caught Klinsmann's attention in earlier camps and national team matches when the stars weren't available. Boyd is the only guy on the roster trying to earn his first CAP. He originally was on the U-23 team but since he's based in Germany, he deserves a shot with more talented players around him. Plus, I'm sure he'll be a center piece of the U.S. Olympic team this summer. 

“We’re looking forward to having all the European-based players back in the roster and picking up where we left off with them from the Slovenia game,” said Klinsmann, who is on a three-match winning streak dating back to the 3-2 victory on Nov. 15, 2011, against Slovenia. “I’m excited about getting everybody together and challenging a world-class team like former World Cup winner Italy on their home soil. I think we have put a very competitive roster together. This roster was co-developed with the U-23 team because we wanted them to have a great preparation game before they go into Olympic qualifying in March. Our roster is highly competitive and ready to give them a real fight.”

Bradley in Chievo Blue
Bradley has some extra incentive to play well for the U.S. since he's the only American currently playing in Italy for Chievo (on loan from Aston Villa). In fact, he's started 22 straight games at Chievo (Serie A, transferred there last summer) and was named man of the match in a 1-0 win over Genoa last weekend. 

Showing how far U.S. men's soccer has come, nine leagues in eight different countries are represented by these 21 players. I'm not sure of the record (if such things are kept track of) but that has to be near the most variety ever for the United States. Good stuff. 

By winning three games against lesser competition (Slovenia, Venezuela and Panama), the U.S. has hopefully built up some confidence that will only continue to grow and flourish when they have a full lineup and extended training camps. Love them or hate them (and I speak for most non-Italians) when I say I despise them, Italy is always one of the top teams in the world. This should be a great test, probably the stiffest one so far in Klinsmann's short tenure. As a friendly, it's more about performance than result but a tie or win on Italian soil would be something great to build off of before the U.S. begins its busy summer schedule. 

Rich Slate
ONE GOAL Contributor 

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