Jurgen Klinsmann says he has a five-man core, but there's a problem

Jeff J Mitchell

A five-man core is great. When only one of them is in form, well, that's not so great.

Jurgen Klinsmann has a five-man core for the United States team he's taking to Brazil and it's a pretty predictable quintet. They're five veterans, all of whom have succeeded in Europe before, and they make up the spine of the team. If anyone is going to make up the heart of the American team, it would be them.

"To be clear," Klinsmann told MLS Soccer, "I think Jozy [Altidore], once he's keeping his playing rhythm and the quality he has, is our number one center forward that we have, and Clint [Dempsey] is the player behind him [as the second forward].

"You know, we often talk about the spine of our team, which starts with Timmy [Howard] and then goes through midfield with Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, and then Clint and Jozy. I think this is something to build around."

But there's one tiny problem: only one of them is in form, and he's the goalkeeper.

Jozy Altidore? He's not scoring for Sunderland and while Gus Poyet may have praised his hard work in recent matches, the U.S. needs a goalscorer, but Altidore isn't scoring.

Clint Dempsey? He's either been injured or ineffective for the Seattle Sounders or Fulham. In fact, it's been eight months since he was last close to being in form, and even then it wasn't his best form.

Jermaine Jones? He's moving to a Besiktas after a rocky exit from Schalke, where he saw his form dip in the fall.

Michael Bradley? He's joining Toronto FC after being edged out at AS Roma, albeit through no fault of his own.

At least there is Tim Howard. After seeing his position at Everton come into question last season, Howard has responded with one of his best campaigns yet. He has been fantastic for the Toffees and the Americans will go to Brazil in the summer knowing that they will have an advantage in goal over almost any team they go up against.

But the other four? That's less encouraging.

There are still four months left before the World Cup for Altidore, Dempsey, Jones and Bradley to get back on track. That's especially likely for Bradley, who played fine for Roma, just sparingly, and will be on the field week in, week out for Toronto. There is also plenty of example of players struggling for their clubs, but shining for their countries so even if Altidore, Dempsey and Jones limp their way to Brazil, they might yet shine.

Still, it's tough to imagine Klinsmann being especially happy about the way the fall went. He has five key players and only one is in form.

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