The US national team’s recently completed January camp featured plenty of players trying to make their case for this summer’s World Cup.
With all but one of the invitees coming from MLS, there were also plenty of players still on the Brazil bubble left with their clubs trying to put their best foot forward. And according to head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, nobody has been ruled out yet – even those who haven’t featured for the senior team in some time.
In a Q&A session on the U.S. Soccer website, Klinsmann mentioned names like Oguchi Onyewu, Tim Ream, Danny Williams and Brek Shea as players who have been in and out of the national team lineup and have faced some uncertainty with their clubs. But Klinsman said they are under constant evaluation by the national team coaches and can still make the 23-man World Cup roster.
“Absolutely! The door is still open until May,” Klinsmann said. “It’s about what happens over the next couple of months. We coaches are going to do our homework as well. We are going to put the puzzle together of hopefully 23 players that are totally committed, that are not only giving everything they have, but that also mix well together.”
Onyewu’s name jumps to the top of the list considering his mainstay status with the national team in the 2006 and ’10 World Cups. He just signed on with English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday and has a goal in four overall appearances. His last cap came when he wore the armband July 13 of last year in a 4-1 Gold Cup win over Cuba.
Ream (Bolton) has been in England for two years, while Willliams (Reading) and Shea (Barnsley) are adjusting to new clubs in the Championship like Onyewu. All have been in and out of favor with the national team recently.
“We just want them to be on the field and build their case. We communicate with them,” Klinsmann said.
Klinsmann also mentioned FC Nürnberg’s Timmy Chandler and players who have been battling injury like Jermaine Jones, who recently signed on with Besiktas, Hertha Berlin’s John Anthony Brooks, Hannover’s Steve Cherundolo and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Fabian Johnson as possibilities despite recent setbacks.
“Being in February and a few months prior to the World Cup, you want to see them all play,” Klinsmann said. “You have to give them a clear message that only if you pick up a rhythm and play week in, week out, will you complete one of the big keys in order to make the World Cup roster. That’s why we are really happy some of them now are starting to get their rhythm. This all plays a vital role in evaluating them, and then we have to make the vital calls in May.”
Klinsmann said the USMNT’s next friendly, March 5 away to Ukraine, will be a prime opportunity for those players to get back on board with World Cup preparation, especially for players in Europe.
“We might see some people coming back into the roster,” Klinsmann said. “… It’s more an opportunity to call in more European-based players because they are already in Europe and they can quickly show us where they are at. We have a very good picture of the players we worked with in the January camp for four weeks. We know where they’re at.”