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USMNT World Cup preliminary roster: Breaking down the midfielders

Jurgen Klinsmann's job too hard this time around, but it will be when it comes time for the final roster.


When Jurgen Klinsmann sat down to pick his 30-man World Cup preliminary roster, no position group offered him more options and forced him to make more tough decisions, than the midfield. Eventually, he settled on 10 players:

Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Joe Corona, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Maurice Edu, Julian Green, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi.

There were some easy picks for Klinsmann, with Bradley, Jones and Zusi all assured of making the trip to Brazil. Beckerman is also a near-lock, having gained the trust of Klinsmann and proven time and time again that if the U.S. wants a steady, responsible defensive midfielder, he is their best bet. Green was also always going to make the 30-man roster, giving him valuable experience in a World Cup training camp and the chance to prove that he can hack it at the international level.

With those five spots locked up, Klinsmann went in search of competition and depth. Edu was called in to provide another defensive option, both to push Beckerman and to give Klinsmann another choice. If either Bradley or Jones is suspended for cards in the World Cup, pushing Beckerman into the starting lineup, Klinsmann will want another central midfielder available to him on the bench. That could be Edu, unless he sees Geoff Cameron as a viable option or Diskerud proves he can handle more defensive duties.

Diskerud leads the list of Klinsmann's attacking options off the bench, with his technicality and creativity adding something that no other player does. He has also shown more defensive prowess, giving him more versatility, but are his defensive skills good enough to cut it in a World Cup? If not, he is back to a one position player, albeit a valuable one because of his ability to help the Americans keep the ball.

Bedoya will push Diskerud for that attacking role, although what he offers going forward is completely different. Bedoya's pace and direct play makes him an alternative for Klinsmann and he is coming off of a tremendous season for Nantes. Diskerud has been called upon more by Klinsmann, but Bedoya can play on either wing, centrally and even as a wingback in a pinch.

If there was a player on the roster similar to Bedoya, it would be Corona. He is also versatile, capable of playing either wing or centrally, but he's not as polished as Bedoya and hasn't been playing at nearly as high a level. He's struggled at Tijuana in the last year, putting his spot on this roster in question. He made it, and maybe Klinsmann will want to bring a young player who has experience in hostile environments having played in Copa Libertadores. Still, he will probably need an excellent camp to make the squad.

Maybe the toughest player to get a read on is Davis, who is probably the most one-dimensional player on the roster, but also the best in the player pool at what he does -- hit the ball. Davis doesn't have great range or stamina. He isn't going to offer a ton defensively, isn't going to run with the ball or won't get in the box much to finish. But if there's a dead ball, he's the man you want standing over it. He's also the man you want playing crosses in.

The question Klinsmann will have to answer is can he afford to carry a player who is so one-dimensional. Davis can turn a match with his ball striking, allowing the U.S. to turn a loss into a draw with a great cross or free kick, but is that worth enough to cancel out everything he can't do?

And then there is the issue of Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley, both of whom can play in the midfield. If Klinsmann thinks he is going to either either with any regularity on the left wing, that might cut out a spot Diskerud, Bedoya or Davis.

Klinsmann likely would have preferred to have a couple more midfielders in camp, but the uncertainty along the back line forced him to bring more defenders. It didn't help that the bubble players who got left out didn't do much to force Klinsmann's hand.

Sacha Kljestan, while he hasn't been a Klinsmann favorite, could have gotten a look, but his poor season for Anderlecht probably killed that chance. Brek Shea's awful -- or non-existent -- season pushed him out too. Benny Feilhaber has never endeared himself to Klinsmann and his failing to see the field against South Korea was probably the end of his international career. Meanwhile, the one man who could have gotten a chance, Danny Williams, has an injured knee that will likely require surgery.

In the end, Klinsmann's midfielders nearly picked themselves, but that certainly won't be the case when it comes time to pick the final roster.