Alan Gordon makes the Squad; But Where’s Wondo, Altidore?


Alan Gordon (r) was selected ahead of free scoring Chris Wondolowski (c)

Monday Jurgen Klinsmann released his latest roster for the United States Men’s National Team in their upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.

The roster included many familiar faces especially along the backline, but Klinsmann’s selection of strikers left fans and pundits alike scratching their heads. Here are some quick hit observations regarding the latest selections:

1. Jozy Falling Out of Favor?

Perhaps the most mystifying exclusion was the absence of Jozy Altidore who has been the most constant striker since the team’s 2009 Confederations Cup run under head coach Bob Bradley. Not only has he been a team mainstay, but he currently is tied for the lead in goals in the Dutch Eredivisie.

He may not be in a great run of form for the national team with his last few performances, but given his history with the team you would have thought he would have had a lot longer leash given that the advancement to the Hexagonal is on the line.

But beyond the play itself, there may be an undercurrent of immaturity that still exists with Altidore he responded with an ill-advised and since deleted tweet following an interview with Klinsmann by ESPN that revealed some tempered criticism the coach had for his striker.

And just last weekend Altidore picked up two quick yellow cards for dissent, as possible frustration from his exclusion and his team’s 1-0 deficit came to a head.

Klinsmann addressed that issue in his conference call of Monday afternoon, saying he wasn’t happy about Altidore’s performances with the team over the last 14 months, including in Jamaica and in training.

2. Welcome EJ, Where’s Wondo?

Two MLS forwards were included on the roster, but perhaps not who you thought they would be.

The Sounder’s Eddie Johnson who has experienced a renaissance this year makes his return to the side after a four year hiatus. Johnson may add a an element of pace up top that those in the current pool do not possess and that speed seems to be one that all USMNT coaches value at a premium (see: Robbie Findley). Klinsmann had this to offer on his selection of Johnson during a conference call:

“I’ve spoken over the last couple of months with (Sounders coach Sigi Schmid), and I think Sigi has done a tremendous job with him. I think Eddie is back in that position because he worked very, very hard for it. If you watch his games and his drive, his hunger that he has, the way he chases defenders and the way he creates for himself and his striking partner chances, the way he also finishes things off — that speaks for him.”

And of course a San Jose striker was included but it is not the one who sits near the precipice of breaking the MLS single season scoring record in Chris Wondolowski.

Instead big bodied Alan Gordon has been selected, presumably as a true number 9 forward, who is able to play with his back to the goal and provide the type of target up top who is then able to lay the ball off to those around him in the attack.

“Alan has been tremendous for us this season and this call up is well deserved,” said San Jose coach Frank Yallop,

“He’s among the best comeback stories in the league right now having returned from massive offseason surgery. We wish him the best of luck with the United States and hopefully he’s able to bag a goal.”

Gordon, who was called up but did not play in the Mexico friendly, will probably reside behind Terrance Boyd in the depth chart.

Wondolowski who is coming off a hat trick on the weekend in Colorado is on an unbelievable three year run of form was left off the squad. When asked about his availability and any pressing reason for his exclusion, a San Jose spokesman replied, “(There is) no pressing reason. Although with Donovan potentially out, Wondo could be a replacement.” Which brings us to our next point.

3. Landon’s Status – Again

Donovan was officially included on the roster despite his collision with Jamison Olave over the weekend. Klinsmann had this to say on the conference call regarding Donovan and his health:

“We were in touch over the last few days, obviously. He was supposed to do an MRI this morning in LA and skipped it because it improved a lot during the day. We spoke last night and he said that if it is even better in the morning then he would skip the MRI and come straight to Miami, which is the case.”

Since last September Landon has only featured for the Yanks during the 5 game series including the 3 game lead –in and first two World Cup Qualifiers, and 45 minutes of hampered play in Mexico where he withdrew with an injury at halftime.

Landon missed a pair of two game sets in October and November citing fatigue during the Galaxy’s historic playoff run. In his post season MLS exit interview with local media he stated he was willing to entertain the idea of joining Klinsmann for the January camp given his absence in October and November, but ultimately opted to rejoin Everton for another go around during the winter.

He did not feature in the historic team victory in Italy after suffering injury in his final days at Everton, and missed the home-and-away double feature with Jamaica while still recovering from the hamstring injury suffered in Mexico.

If Donovan does feature it will be important to see how he integrates, especially alongside Dempsey as the key pair has seldom played alongside one another since Klinsmann has taken over.

Eddie Johnson: A sports psychologist told me, ‘Eddie, you’re your own enemy.’


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS (5): Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)


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