United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann finalized his 40-man Copa America Centenario roster on Friday, which will be released on Sunday or Monday according to Steven Goff.
40 players is a quite an expansive list. That puts 17 players on the chopping block and at risk of being cut from the final roster. We'll obviously see all of the usual names on the roster with maybe one or two exceptions. Jurgen is usually good for one or two interesting roster decisions. We're also likely to see some interesting first-timers or young players enter the fold for the first few friendlies this summer.
Considering the entire MLS player base will likely miss the beginning of training camp and the first friendly against Puerto Rico, we can assume that most of the fringe players will be coming from Mexico or Europe. So, here are five relatively surprising Europe or Mexico-based players we could see on the preliminary roster:
Fafa Picault (FC St. Pauli)
The 2. Bundesliga striker has emerged late this season with FC St. Pauli with three goals in the month of April. While his overall numbers this season aren't anything to write home about, he's getting mentioned by Klinsmann on Twitter. While it's never safe to assume anything with the USMNT manager, that usually means something. With the MLS player base missing out early on, Picault could be one of the Europe-based players to benefit. His rapid pace and knack for goal is a unique skill set that Jurgen could want to get a closer look at.
Gedion Zelalem (Rangers)
The buzz around the American soccer community when Zelalem announced his commitment to the USA was deafening. Ever since his move to Rangers and his subsequent ineffectiveness, it has died down considerably. Performances with the U.S. youth national teams outside of a one or two impressive matches at the U-20 World Cup have some writing off the midfielder as a future impact player. With no other international matches to send him to this summer, it may be a smart thing to do to call him up for two reasons. Klinsmann needs a firsthand look at him to judge exactly where the youngster is at in his career instead of relying on others telling him. Also it would give him some confidence and perhaps help him going into next season.
Desevio Payne (FC Groningen)
Fullback is an area that the USMNT are currently very thin at. The 20-year-old was extremely impressive during the U-20's run to the quarterfinals at the World Cup in 2015. His versatility of being able to play left back or right back should give him an advantage over other fullbacks in the player pool. He's gotten minutes off and on while battling some nagging injuries this season in the Eredivisie. He's another promising young player that could benefit from a call-up.
Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart)
On paper Kiesewetter has no business getting a USMNT call-up. He's not only been kept down in the German third-division with Stuttgart's reserves, but he's hardly received any playing time with them. He's on the way out at the club and will be looking for a new club this summer. Klinsmann called him up to the January camp where he looked very good in his two appearances. It wouldn't be too surprising to see Jurgen call him up as a showcase to any interested teams looking to bring him in.
Ethan Horvath (Molde FK)
Okay, I'll admit that Horvath is pushing the 'surprising' angle a bit, but the fact remains he is still uncapped. The Molde goalkeeper has Europa League experience and was phenomenal in a losing cause for the U-23's in March. It could be argued that he's climbed his way up the imaginary depth chart already. This would be the perfect time to bring him into camp and see where he's at in his career from a firsthand perspective.