Monday, July 29, 2013

Gold Cup success might dramatically alter Jurgen Klinsmann's upcoming roster plan

As many as six players made strong cases to be included in Klinsmann's first-team rotation after stellar performances in the Gold Cup. 

CHICAGO -- For those United States fans who skipped watching this summer's Gold Cup, the Stars and Stripes might look dramatically different the next time they tune in.

Alejandro Bedoya, Mikkel "Mix" Diskerud, Landon Donovan, Joe Corona, Kyle Beckerman and Brek Shea among others made huge impressions during the USA's Gold Cup-winning run, and it makes

Jurgen Klinsmann's job just a bit more difficult.

Heading into the USA's World Cup qualifiers in September, Klinsmann has to tread lightly in making his roster selection. The U.S. head coach has to show that he is genuine in rewarding the top players who helped him win his first-ever international trophy, while at the same time keeping intact the successful nucleus that propelled the team in May and June.

It's certainly a tough dilemma, but Klinsmann is happy with the progress made in the Gold Cup.

"We hoped to see a very challenging group, a competitive one. We saw that early on before the Guatemala game in San Diego, especially in midfield," Klinsmann said. 

Led by the Gold Cup's MVP Donovan, the United States midfield was the team's most dominating weapon against CONCACAF opponents. The majority of the team's 20 goals came from the midfield either scoring or creating plays and it played an important part in defending as well.

Klinsmann challenged Donovan to showcase his best in this competition and after pouring in five goals and six assists, even his coach admits it'll be difficult to leave him out of his future plans. Still, the former Germany boss insists that he will continue to assess players on a day-to-day basis.

"It's a high probability that he [Donovan] joins for the September games, but he also knows that its always about the present," Klinsmann said.

That means as good as Donovan was in the tournament, he will have to continue that form leading into the USA's next set of games.

"The reality is and he (Klinsmann) showed it in this tournament is that he makes decisions based on how things are at the moment," Donovan explained. "Alejandro played a great game on Wednesday, so he started today.

"That's the way how its going to be going forward. This is not the end, hopefully it's the beginning for a lot of us and we want to be a part of the bigger picture."

But Donovan's isn't the only one who will force Klinsmann to reconsider the status of some of his current first-team rotation players.

Beckerman won a staggering amount of balls for the team in the midfield, pushing his number in the 80s after the final game. Beckerman believed that the U.S. was effective in the Gold Cup because players were willing to fit into their roles.

As a holding midfielder, Beckerman has often been the unfortunate victim of playing the position where the U.S. has the most depth. But his luck may soon change. Two players who have been usually called up ahead of him, Maurice Edu and Danny Williams, are facing uncertain club situations. Beckerman acknowledged that he and several other players might benefit from having strong Gold Cup performances.

In addition to Beckerman's strong performances were the impressive displays by Diskerud, Bedoya, Corona and Holden (though his injury in the final could keep him out for a while). For Diskerud, the decision to turn down his country of birth in Norway to play for the U.S. appeared to have paid off, as he was clearly happy to be taking a winner's medal back on his way to Europe.

"Looks like I made the right decision, we won," Diskerud said. "I felt like I got to show what I am capable of, hopefully U.S. fans and the coach liked that."

Bedoya and Corona share Diskerud's ambitions. 

Corona believes his patience has been rewarded. The Club Tijuana star has been called up to many national team camps but had seen limited action until the Gold Cup. He hopes that his form will lead to having a bigger role the next time the team plays in a World Cup qualifier.

"Jurgen asked me for me to be patient during [the previous] qualifying games and he gave me a chance in this Gold Cup. This was a big opportunity for me and I'm glad I took advantage of it," Corona said.

"Hopefully it makes it hard for him to make a decision when it comes to the team playing in the qualifiers and World Cup. I'm looking forward to keep getting called up and hopefully more minutes."

For the mentioned six players, things are looking brighter, but it means that several established players will be on their toes for the next few months.