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Klinsmann's Copa America roster is wonderful and terrible

The 23 men selected to represent the United States include exciting prospects, serviceable Klinsmann re-treads, and space-wasters. Which is to say: it is a Jurgen Klinsmann roster.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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:

    Re-Treads - Re-treads are vital to club-level soccer, and especially MLS. In a world where a salary cap exists and you need to be able to get good players on a budget, finding the players other teams don't want and making them work for you is a key to success. You know where that's not a key to success? International play, where there are no salary caps or limits on who you can play. I honestly don't understand the inclusions of Chris Wondolowski, Graham Zusi, and Michael Orozco. The argument for Wondo over Jordan Morris is that he has more goals and experience. Take away Wondo's penalties and he has only one goal more than Morris on the season, and Wondo's never shown to be a proven goalscorer against top international sides. In fact, Morris and Wondo have the same amount of goals against top-30 FIFA ranked opponents in their careers (1, and both of them scored against Mexico). Meanwhile, Graham Zusi really brings nothing to the table the rest of the midfielders don't bring at a higher level, and doesn't have the ruthlessness of Ethan Finlay in the final third. Michael Orozco over Omar Gonzalez is a joke. These players are Klinsmann's safety blankets, but color me unimpressed with their inclusion.

    Left Backs - ...or the complete lack of them. Klinsmann's defense corps are compiled of four center backs and three right backs, in terms of the positions they play most often. Edgar Castillo was left off the roster, leaving Klinsmann with no one but Timmy Chandler, whose played there without much success in the past, and, well...

    Fabian Johnson in the back - I thought we were past this. I really did. But without a left back and with Johnson's name appearing in the "Defenders" portion of the U.S. Soccer press release, it appears FabJo will be returning to the back line. Ignore the fact that he just had his best club year ever playing as a winger. Or that he's far and away our best winger. He'll probably play defense. And that sucks.


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.