The U.S. national team will congregate in California next week to commence pre-World Cup camp. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
U.S. Soccer is set to announce Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man preliminary squad list for the World Cup on Monday afternoon, most likely around 3 p.m. ET. And while Klinsmann doesn’t plan on cutting down to his 23-man World Cup roster until the FIFA deadline on June 2, Monday’s announcement is drawing plenty of attention ahead of the start of the U.S.’s pre-World Cup camp on Wednesday at Stanford University.
My list predicting Klinsmann’s 30-man list is below by position, but before we delve in to that, what else do we know about the upcoming camp right now?
• It will be intense
There will be two training sessions per day at Stanford, and the team is not planning to travel back to its hotel between sessions. Fitness will be a big focus, as it always is with Klinsmann.
• It will be competitive
Unlike Mexico or Brazil, who are announcing their 23-man World Cup squads already this week, Klinsmann wants to increase the competition within the U.S. team for spots as much as possible. Seven players in this camp won’t survive the final cut, which means spots will be on the line each day in training. This is of a piece with Klinsmann’s efforts to increase competition within the U.S. team for playing time at every position since the day he took over in 2011.
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• Most of the U.S. players are expected in camp on Wednesday
Some players will arrive late due to club commitments—Alejandro Bedoya, for example, is busy with Nantes until May 18—but all MLS-based players and most European-based players will be in Palo Alto on Wednesday.
• This weekend’s club performances matter
I’m told Klinsmann will be watching club games involving U.S. players until Sunday night before he decides on the final 30-man list for Monday.
• The final 23 will come from this 30
If you’re not on the 30-man list Monday, you can’t be on the 23-man list on June 2.
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So which 30 players do I think Klinsmann will pick? Let’s dive in:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando.
Just Missed: Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid.
I’m told Klinsmann will have three goalies, not four, on his 30-man list. He also has to take three goalkeepers to Brazil, and these are the obvious choices.
DEFENDERS (10): Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Evans, Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, Michael Parkhurst, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin.
Just Missed: Tim Ream, Timmy Chandler, Oguchi Onyewu, Edgar Castillo, Tony Beltran, Michael Orozco.
The surprise to some here might be Yedlin, 20, the promising right back for Seattle. But I’m told Yedlin has performed well in training and could be rewarded with a call-up here. If you include Yedlin, that means probably not including Chandler, who has been in good form lately in Germany but hasn’t been part of Klinsmann’s U.S. outfit since February 2013. Ream is another player who has been good at club level lately but hasn’t been involved with the U.S. in a long time. If Klinsmann does include Ream and Chandler, you’ll know that he’s putting more value on recent club form and less on recent experience with the national team.
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MIDFIELDERS (12): Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Brad Davis, Julian Green, Maurice Edu, Eddie Johnson, Brek Shea.
Just Missed: Sacha Kljestan, Danny Williams, Joe Corona, José Torres, Luis Gil, Benny Feilhaber.
Shea has had an extremely disappointing time since he moved to England, but his fairly unique skill-set as a wide-left player means I think Klinsmann will call him in. I can see Davis, another wide left player, and Shea competing for one of the spots on the 23. As for Green, he hasn’t played at club level since separating his shoulder in the U.S.-Mexico friendly in early April. If Green isn’t fully fit, would Klinsmann consider not bringing him to camp?
FORWARDS (5): Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Aron Jóhannsson, Terrence Boyd, Chris Wondolowski.
Just Missed: Herculez Gomez, Juan Agudelo.
The main battle for a spot on the 23 here figures to be between Boyd and Wondolowski, though it’s possible neither one could make it.
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If you’re looking for overall trends on which players end up making the 30-man list and which don’t, it’s clear that there is less of a Mexican-American flavor on the U.S. squad and more of a German-American flavor than I might have expected a year ago. Not expected to make the 30-man roster are Castillo, Orozco, Corona, Torres, Gil and Gómez.
German-American possibilities for the 30 include Jones, F. Johnson, Green, Boyd, Brooks, Chandler and Williams. Meanwhile, even the U.S. coaching staff has recently dropped a Mexican-American (Martín Vásquez, Klinsmann’s former No. 2) while adding a German (Berti Vogts).
Of course, it’s possible that I’ll be wrong on some of my predictions here. It’s hard to know what Klinsmann will do sometimes. But this is my best guess. Whoever ends up on the 30-man list on Monday, the World Cup essentially starts for the U.S. on Wednesday in California.