By Kevin Baxter
11:44 PM EDT, April 1, 2014
PHOENIX — Coach Juergen Klinsmann has only two months to decide on a final 23-man roster for this summer's World Cup in Brazil. And although most of those spots seem secure, four days ago Klinsmann pushed aside Martin Vasquez, his longtime chief assistant, in a surprise shakeup of the coaching staff.
The message was obvious: This is not the time for anyone to become complacent.
"Anything can happen in the next couple of months," Klinsmann said. "We observe them now week in and week out and we put the puzzle together [based on] what is best for us going into Brazil. So anything is possible in a short period of time."
Klinsmann will get one last chance to observe the core of his team Wednesday when the U.S. meets Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium in the final match before both teams gather for their pre-World Cup training camps next month. But the game will also give a pair of young players — 20-year-old defender DeAndre Yedlin and 18-year-old German-American forward Julian Green — a first opportunity to catch the coach's eye and maybe earn an invitation to that camp.
"I'm definitely up for the challenge," said Yedlin, who played 16 minutes off the bench against South Korea in his national team debut last month. "Right now I'm focused on this June. If I can make a big enough impression to go, that would be great."
Yedlin's chances of making that impression got a huge boost when Seattle Sounders teammate Brad Evans, the regular right back, became unavailable because of injury and Mexican club Puebla refused to release left back DaMarcus Beasley for the game. Those absences could open a starting spot for Yedlin.
Green, whose change of association from Germany to the U.S. was approved last week, is someone Klinsmann has been interested in since he was coaching at Bayern Munich and Green was being wooed by the club's youth program.
"We don't want to put any type of pressure on him or too high expectations," Klinsmann said. "At the end of the day he's a player to be developed. And we're going to help his development."
As for the core of the team, Wednesday probably will mark the first time the U.S. has seen Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley on the field together in nearly 22 months.
Although the trio have 339 national team caps combined, they've played together just four times in Klinsmann's 2 1/2 years as coach — and only once were they on the field together for the full 90 minutes.
But the coach warned the trio not to get too comfortable because he'll be looking at their play, not their resumes, when he picks the lineup in Brazil.
"For them now it's an opportunity to kind of show that on the field," he said. "When you kind of have this senior leadership role, call it whatever you want to, then you've got to confirm that also on the field. "
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