Jurgen Klinsmann has gathered his troops.
Well, kind of.
The U.S. men’s national team coach announced his 30-man roster for the country’s provisional camp in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, which starts on June 12. Entering his first World Cup leading the USMNT, the 49-year-old Klinsmann, hired by the U.S. Soccer Federation in the summer of 2011, tabbed Americans playing in leagues all over the world on Monday.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando are part of the equation.
Along with U.S. stars Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Tim Howard, the RSL veterans will participate in the camp at Stanford University in the weeks leading up to Brazil. But Klinsmann and his staff have some work to do.
The U.S. must submit its official 23-man roster to FIFA by June 2, meaning seven of the 30 players called into the camp won’t be on that plane to Brazil where the Americans will face Ghana, Portugal and Germany in Group G.
So the race is on. Which players can find their best form ahead of the biggest sporting event in the world over the course of the next four weeks? Klinsmann is about to find out.
“They know they have a battle ahead of them,” Klinsmann told reporters on a conference call Monday. “It’s a daily competition. It’s an awesome competition to be in because it’s about going to a World Cup. They should take it very positively and in a very exciting way.”
That scenario spells out competition across the board for every spot headed to Brazil, and Rimando, aiming for his first trip to a World Cup with the U.S., said that’s Klinsmann’s coaching style. The U.S. boss expects players to push one another to the brink.
“It’s going to be a very hard camp,” said the 34-year-old RSL goalkeeper, who is expected to be the No. 3 goalkeeper in Brazil. “Jurgen’s going to test a lot of players, on the field and off. Thirty players coming in and seven players aren’t going on that plane, so it’s going to be intense. People are going to be kicking, people are going to be doing everything they can to get that edge on that next player. At the same time, you’ve got to find that grey area where you’re teammates. As bad and cliche as it sounds, the best players are going to go.”
Beckerman will be vying for a role in a crowded midfield — arguably the strength of this group — that features Bradley, Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi among others. The 32-year-old RSL captain said his approach to the camp won’t be to change his ideal form of preparation as he will face off against midfield incumbent Jones and Maurice Edu to perhaps find a spot starting alongside Michael Bradley in the opener against Ghana on June 16.
“I’m ready for it,” Beckerman said. “I plan on just going to battle and giving it everything I’ve got. If it goes my way, I deserve it. If it doesn’t go my way, then I gave everything I possibly can and hold my head up.
“At this point, you’ve got to believe you can do it. If you don’t, then you have no chance. You’re going to be left behind.”
That is the atmosphere Klinsmann and his staff have created.
Players will be stuck in a purgatory, somewhere between clawing and finding an upper hand to earn that ticket to Brazil, while simultaneously rooting teammates on. Eleven defenders were called in, more than any other position as the Americans face a daunting draw in Group G. The Ghanaians effectively eliminated the U.S. in 2010 and 2006, Portugal has megastar Cristiano Ronaldo and the Germans, who Klinsmann guided to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup, are considered one of, if not the most-talented teams destined for Brazil.
On top of that, forward Jozy Altidore, buried on the bench with English Premier League side Sunderland for much of the season, needs to rediscover the form he had during World Cup Qualifying now that Dempsey again found his. The Seattle forward has eight goals in 11 matches for the Sounders.
Over the next few weeks, there will be no shortage of storylines.
“You know that a World Cup is unique in itself,” Klinsmann said.
The U.S. will play three international friendlies ahead of traveling to Brazil. It will face Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park on May 26, followed by a match against Turkey on June 1 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. The final farewell match will be against Nigeria on June 7 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.
U.S. World Cupcamp roster
U.S. men’s national team’s 30-man preliminary roster for 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (11) : DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielders (10) : Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (6) : Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Saborio makes Costa Rica roster
RSL forward Alvaro Saborio was called into Costa Rica’s preliminary 30-man World Cup camp Monday.
The 32-year-old will leave Salt Lake City on Wednesday for Costa Rica to join his country in anticipation for the World Cup. Like the U.S. squad, Costa Rican manager Jorge Luis Pinto will trim down the 30-man camp roster to 23 before the deadline on June 2.
Saborio played in the 2006 World Cup for Los Ticos, coming off the bench twice and scored twice during qualifying for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Costa Rica will face Italy, England and Uruguay in Group D this summer.
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