Jurgen Klinsmann has picked his 23 men to take on the Ticos in Costa Rica and then square off with Mexico four days later in crucial World Cup qualifiers. The team is exactly as expected, with all of the key members of Klinsmann's qualifying campaign involved with Landon Donovan joining them after a spectacular Gold Cup and Aron Johannsson also added now that he's decided to play for the U.S.
The re-emergence of Donovan puts Klinsmann in a tough position to choose which three of Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Graham Zusi and Fabian Johnson he starts in the midfield. Either one of them will have to start on the bench or Johnson will have to slide back to left back, which Klinsmann has not favored of late.
Klinsmann's issues go beyond that, and are far more serious than the good problem he has in deciding which good player not to start. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones and Johnson are all carrying yellow cards and if they pick up another in San Jose, they will be suspended when the U.S. takes on Mexico. That makes the entire squad, all 23 men, that much more important because they very well could be called upon with suspensions looming.
The U.S. will play Costa Rica on September 6 at 10 p.m. ET at Estadio Nacional in San Jose. That match will be televised on beIN Sport. Four days later, the Americans will host Mexico at 8 p.m. ET. As is tradition, that match will be at Columbus Crew Stadium, where the U.S. has beaten the Mexican 2-0 in each of the last three qualifying cycles.
A perfect nine points from three matches in June fired the U.S. to the top of the Hex, where they sit two points clear of second place Costa Rica and five points ahead of third place Mexico. If the U.S. can stretch that lead over the Mexicans to seven points in the next two matches -- and do the same to fourth place Honduras, who are on seven points -- they can clinch a spot in the World Cup with two matches to spare.
So it is possible that on September 10, in front of a packed Crew Stadium, that the U.S. clinches their trip to Brazil. The fireworks will go off, the celebrations will begin and maybe most satisfying at all for the Americans, Mexico would have to watch it as they walk off the field.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)