Friday’s announcement of the 23-man traveling party for the US national team’s imminent five-game slate brought unwanted, but ultimately unsurprising news for the cut quartet of Juan Agudelo, Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams and Graham Zusi.
It also underlined one of coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s main talking points of late: After months of experimentation, winning is what matters now.
"We have said from the beginning that these games are all about results, and we have chosen the 23 players who are in the best form right now and ready to get the job done," Klinsmann said in a press release. "We want to thank the players who have gone back to their clubs for all of their effort here. They are knocking on the door and will be ready to go if needed."
That said, their original invites show that the Yanks boss remains eager to keep a steady stream of new faces in and around his squad, rewarding emerging talents and gradually introducing them to his team’s way of doing things.
For Zusi and Agudelo, regular playing time at club level currently trumps a bench seat on national team duty. In the wake of the latter’s trade to Chivas USA, US coaches know they can easily track the duo in MLS action all summer and the several days spent in camp will have reassured the players of their international prospects, while also serving as a reminder of the forward progress that is expected from them.
Future rounds of World Cup qualifying could well bring greater roles for both.
Williams’ exclusion is the least surprising, given that he entered camp with a shoulder injury, and does little to suggest that Klinsmann has lost any of the substantial trust he’s shown in the Hoffenheim midfielder during his short US career.
Morales is another German-based youngster, but one who hasn’t yet seen enough playing time for his club, Hertha Berlin, to justify a spot on the USMNT short list – though given that he also holds German and Peruvian passports, Klinsmann’s initial invite may reflect a desire to lock down his international allegiance sooner rather than later.