U.S. Soccer Players Fail World Cup Auditions
By Ives Galarcep
There was plenty for Jurgen Klinsmann to ponder after the U.S. national team loss to Ukraine. From Fabian Johnson’s ineffectiveness on the wing, to Clint Dempsey’s uninspiring outing in a playmaking role, to Jozy Altidore’s quiet showing, Klinsmann has far more negatives to digest than positives, of which there were few.
What Klinsmann did get were answers. Loud and clear answers on some players who he obviously still had questions about. Players he still held out hope could potentially make the U.S. World Cup team. Players who left little doubt that the 2014 World Cup is better left to other options.
If nothing, Klinsmann is thorough, and he gives his players plenty of rope to save themselves or hang themselves, Several players on the World Cup roster fringes saw their dreams of a trip to Brazil fade.
You can start with Edgar Castillo, who has shown an inability defend well against top competition. Castillo was hopeless, caught out of position repeatedly as he kept looking for opportunities to bomb forward and show off the one trait he does bring to the table. The problem for Castillo is that he had better have the attacking qualities of Roberto Carlos if he’s going to be as big a defensive liability as he has repeatedly proven to be.
Castillo’s inclusion in the starting lineup was a chance for him to prove he belonged, but also a chance to let Fabian Johnson show what he could do in a wing midfield role. Johnson was largely ineffective on the flank, but Castillo’s latest defensive disaster means Klinsmann doesn’t have a viable left-back option to backup DaMarcus Beasley besides Fabian Johnson. That is unless Tim Chandler recovers from his torn meniscus, plays well in the final weeks of the Bundesliga season and earns an invitation to the May pre-World Cup training camp.
You know Castillo played poorly when the alternative of considering players who are coming off knee surgery is preferred to seeing Castillo again.
Sacha Kljestan also did significant damage to his chances at a World Cup place with what was a lackluster showing in central midfield. His partnership with Jermaine Jones was supposed to allow him to show off the attacking side of his game, but he not only failed to produce much in the way of dangerous attacking passes, he also failed to close down Ukrainian midfielders.