During halftime of the faux-rivalry turned Shakespearean slaughter-fest that was New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls, Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer released the 23 man roster for this summer's Copa America.
As with any roster, there were inclusions we loved, snubs we didn't understand, and decisions that made us yell aloud. Hopefully some clarity will emerge over the next week as the U.S. completes their warm-up friendlies running into the tournament, but in the meantime, here are some reactions to the final roster.
What We Like:
Midfield options that make sense - Klinsmann has endlessly tinkered with the United States midfield both in personnel and formation, but this one, finally, seems to have all the pieces it needs to fulfill anything Klinsmann wants to do with his team. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones are locks here, obviously, but there is some honest to god defensive midfield cover in the forms of Kyle Beckerman and Perry Kitchen. How Klinsmann plays the defensive midfield is anyone's guess, as all four of those players have taken that role on before, but it's nice to know there are a couple specialists in the house. Also represented are some very good creative options. Darlington Nagbe remains the only player in the U.S. pool who can do this on a consistent basis:
So, it's good to see him here, as he can facilitate possession, link transition play, and stir things up in the middle or on the wing. Christian Pulisic is an exciting prospect who also can float around the midfield and make things happen. Bedoya adds his versatility and workrate to the bunch. Gyasi Zardes will no doubt give some U.S. fans headaches, but when he puts things together (as he has to a much greater degree with the Galaxy as of late) he'll still threaten with his pace. All in all, at the very least Klinsmann has necessary parts and cover for his midfield this summer.
A #1 Goalkeeper - Going in with a Keeper by committee wasn't going to do anyone favors. Klinsmann's decision to name Brad Guzan the starting keeper outright gives the defense a bit more stability and order. If he tanks, make the switch. But don't keep the team guessing.
Clint Dempsey & Bobby Wood - Dempsey is the team's most senior and effective goalscorer. Wood is new on the scene but has proven he has the goods with Union Berlin this season. I've never seen a U.S. men's team with an over-abundance of goalscorers, but Klinsmann has shown in the past he's not afraid to leave out stalwarts for no good reason. Glad to see both of them on the roster, as the team will be without Jozy Altidore this summer.
What We Don't Like:
I mean, who really knows at this point. Maybe Timmy Chandler blows us all away at left back, we can move Fabian back into the midfield, Darlington Nagbe and Michael Bradley own the midfield in a 4-3-3 and Pulisic scores three goals. The nature of this roster is that it has the potential to be incredibly exciting and dynamic, rote and dull, or just very, very poor. The next week might bring some clarity, but in the meantime, grab some popcorn. Klinsmann's set us up for some grand theater once again.
Need a place to vent all of you frustrations or sing all of your praises? Please do so in the comments section below.