The United States Men’s National Team will go to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil without perhaps its most iconic player, Landon Donovan.
But coach Jurgen Klinsmann included Crofton native Kyle Beckerman and former Maryland players Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi in the 23-man side that will be on the plane to Rio.
Beckerman, a 14-year MLS midfielder who went to Arundel High, has not featured heavily in the national team for much of his career. He featured for the under-17 national team in the 1999 U-17 World Cup in New Zealand. Even once he was brought into the senior team fold in 2007, he was not included in the squad for many big games.
But that has changed under Klinsmann. In the team’s most recent friendly, a 2-2 draw against Mexico on April 2, Beckerman played a holding role behind Michael Bradley, allowing Bradley to get forward and spur a lethal first-half attack.
Beckerman, 32, is one of the feel-good stories in a United States side that will look much different from 2010 in South Africa. Two other players making their World Cup bow will be defender Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Graham Zusi.
Gonzalez, a member of the Terps’ 2008 national championship side, has become part of the first-choice defensive pairing along with Matt Besler in the heart of the United States back line.
Zusi, who scored the game-winning goal in Maryland’s semifinal and final wins in the 2008 College Cup, will fight for a place on the flanks of the United States attack. Zusi was seen as being in direct competition for a place with Donovan, in that both can create from the wing.
But Donovan, who starred for the national team in the last three World Cups and holds the U.S. records with 46 goals and 47 assists, didn’t make the cut for Klinsmann. After a spell away from the game and the national team, Donovan was one of a handful of veterans on the 2011 Gold Cup winning side. He looked off the pace in the Mexico match, and Klinsmann ultimately followed through on his promise that no player was guaranteed a spot--including Donovan.
Former Terps Maurice Edu and Clarence Goodson were also left off the 23-man roster, as were Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, Joe Corona, and Terrence Boyd.
The World Cup team kicks off a three-game sendoff series on May 27 against Azerbaijan in San Francisco, with dates against Turkey on June 1 in Harrison, N.J. and Nigeria on June 7 in Jacksonville, Fla. to follow.
The Americans begin their World Cup campaign on June 16 against Ghana.
Below is the final 23-man roster, as announced Wednesday.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun