Roster:

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

DEFENDERS (7) :Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)

MIDFIELDERS (6) : Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)

FORWARDS (5) :Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

Overall

My, the USA player pool is fascinating right now. We’ve got plenty of new faces alongside the familiar ones – and the emergence of the German-based talent is shaking up what used to seem a set of reliable assumptions about who will line up where.

Goalkeepers – The only surprise will be if Guzan sees the field at all. Nice to see him back with the team after a good run with Villa during Given’s injury absence. Plus when he’s rocking a beard he’s kinda bearishly hot.

Defenders – Gooch’s knee injury is a huge blow as he was in fine form for his club, Sporting Lisbon, and I was looking forward to seeing him against top competition. In his absence, several players have huge opportunities to claim his spot next to Captain Bocanegra. If Jurgen wants to replicate Gooch’s size and physicality, he’ll go with Goodson. He and Bocanegra have built some chemistry together already having played plenty of minutes along side one another. Cameron’s and Parkurst’s inclusion prove that the January friendlies were a successful audition for a bigger role. If one of them earns his way to the pitch against Italy, I’ll be fascinated to see how it goes. Depth at CB has been a big concern and it’s good to see an attempt by the coach to deepen the pool.

Midfielders – I am puzzled that Sacha Kljestan isn’t on this roster. He’s in excellent form for a quality Europa league club in Anderlecht, and he seems tailor-made to play in a three man central midfield which is what it looks like we’ll be running with this roster, and his skill set would diversify the midfield line’s abilities. The inclusion of Edu over Kljestan adds one more ball-winning, hard-tackling type when we already have those traits well-covered by Bradley and Jones. There are no real wide players listed as midfielders in this roster and Damarcus Beasley may have finally slipped off the radar screen despite decent play for Puebla this season.

Forwards – Welcome, Terrence Boyd! He had been training and performing quite well with the Olympic team, and has apparently done enough to earn a spot with the full national side. He does have a nose for goal, and Jozy needs someone pushing him for playing time. I’m not sure what type of form Edson Buddle could be in during what has been a long break from competitive play – but all the other options are fit and firing and should be able to create some danger against the Italians.

Lineup Prediction

This roster offers a ton of options in the midfield, but I’m liking…

4-3-3

Cherundolo—-Goodson—-Bocanegra——Chandler

———————-Jones—————————
———-Bradley————Johnson—————

Donovan———–Altidore————–Dempsey

I expect Dempsey and Donovan to be given carte blanche to roam all over the attacking third with Altidore occupying the Italian center backs – and using their high workrates to drop and defend wide areas during Italian possession.

Johnson was so dangerous against Slovenia that I don’t see how Jurgen can sit him. He can provide the thrust forward from the midfield, with Bradley and Jones sharing ball-winning duties.

Subs could play out in a number of ways – but I’d like to see Torres come on for either Bradley or Jones in the second half, Donovan drop into a wide midfield role, and go 4-4-2 with Jozy and Clint up top.

What do y’all think?