Clint Dempsey (left) was one of 30 players selected for the United States preliminary World Cup roster on May 12, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
CHICAGO -- United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled his 30-man preliminary World Cup roster on Monday, selecting many standout performers from the qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014.
Among those key players are goalkeeper Tim Howard, midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Clint Dempsey.
"The clock is ticking," Klinsmann said during a conference call. "That's good on our end because we can make decisions and move forward. It's been quite a process over the last 2 1/2 to three years. Naming our 30 players, it's not that easy because you have to leave [several] players that were part of this important process and took us actually to Brazil. Making those phone calls and not being part of that 30-man roster was unpleasant because you give the players a message that they don't want to hear."
Klinsmann's most difficult decision was arguably the exclusion of Eddie Johnson, who scored four times during CONCACAF qualifying. The D.C. United forward netted both goals in a win 2-0 win at Antigua & Barbuda and one in the finals-clinching victory over Mexico in September.
He has yet to find the back of the net in eight Major League Soccer games this season.
"We can only take six forwards into this 30-man roster,” Klinsmann said. “I see Landon Donovan competing for one of those spots. I don't see Landon coming in as a midfielder, but clearly as a striker."
Donovan has appeared in three previous World Cups, but like Johnson, hasn't scored a league goal for the LA Galaxy during the 2014 campaign. He enjoyed a marvelous competition at South Africa 2010, scoring a dramatic goal in a 1-0 win over Algeria that boosted the Americans to the group title. Last year, the 32-year-old won the Golden Ball as the best player at the CONCACAF Gold Cup after taking a short hiatus from the sport.
"What he did for the national team is amazing," Klinsmann commented. "You give him every compliment. He deserves every compliment for that. Since he took his break, I told him, 'If you take a break like that, then you have to fight your way back into the picture, and you have to put in week in and week out with your club team.'
"Soccer is about what happens today...and, hopefully, what you do tomorrow. We're not building the group together based on the past.”
The 30-man roster was split precisely between players based in Major League Soccer and overseas. Four players with clubs in Germany were picked -- defenders John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg) and Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), plus midfielder Julian Green (Bayern Munich).
The Americans start their training camp in Palo Alto, Calif. on Wednesday and don't have to file their 23-man roster until June 2. They will play Azerbaijan in San Francisco on May 27; Turkey in Harrison, New Jersey, on June 1; and Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 7, before flying to Brazil.
UNITED STATES PRELIMNARY WORLD CUP ROSTER
(as of May 12, 2014)
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg/Germany), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/France), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/Canada), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/Norway), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich/Germany), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/Turkey), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/England), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar/Holland), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)