With qualifying matches for the World Cup coming up this summer, the new manager of the U.S. Men's National Team, Jurgen Klinsmann, is planning his final 23-man roster.
Klinsmann has shaken up the entire program, looking to turn the U.S. into a powerhouse the likes of his home country, Germany. Klinsmann is currently holding training camp with 27 possible players at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
Here's a look at how the team should shape up when the final cuts come Friday:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Onguchi Onyewu (Sporting CP), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
The three goalkeepers are pretty much a given at this point. Tim Howard was lauded as one of the best five goalkeepers in the world by Klinsmann when he spoke about the team on May 15. Either Rimando or Guzan have been on the roster for every game since Klinsmann took over the squad last July.
On the defensive line, there are a few locks, with many talented players vying for the remaining few spots. Captain Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathon Spector, and Onguchi Onyewu all bring leadership, World Cup experience, and toughness to the team.
Edgar Castillo's speed, skill, and tenure in Mexico's first division are two traits that the U.S. manager highly values. Fabian Johnson rounds out the back line as Klinsmann himself recruited the former German international to complete a onetime switch to American soccer shortly after he was named manager.
The midfield raises some problems as the U.S. lacks a creative talent like David Silva and Juan Mata in Spain or Wesley Sneijder in the Netherlands. Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, and Kyle Beckerman have all been playing very well for their clubs while being picked for almost every International friendly. They should all make the cut.
The versatile Jermaine Jones and Danny Williams sport the same German pedigree as Johnson, so they also have a good shot at making it. Jose Torres is another player that was with the team in South Africa, and the final spot should go to surprise prospect Graham Zusi. Zusi has come out of nowhere to capture Klinsmann's attention. The talented midfielder scored a goal in his first ever start for the U.S. against Panama on Jan. 25.
The U.S. managed to score only five goals in the whole tournament last time around, while Wesley Sneijder matched that all by himself. This team of forwards will hopefully be able to find the net with more consistency going into the qualifying matches.
The group features four returning players, with Clint Dempsey showing the best recent form. He became the leading American goal scorer in the English Premier League and finished tied for fourth in the league with 17 goals for Fulham FC. Chris Wondolowski is tearing it up with the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring 11 goals in 12 caps, and Juan Agudelo's career is in flux at the moment as he recovers from an ankle injury and was just traded from the New York Red Bulls to Chivas USA. This camp and qualifiers will be a chance for him to get back on track.
Overall, Klinsmann has an impressive talent pool to choose from. He has done good work in recruiting German-born players and players with experience in competitive leagues. Many of his recruits come to camp coming off of recent cup wins in various domestic leagues. It has taken a while to get to this point though, as Klinsmann has had 42 players earn at least one cap since he took the job as U.S. manager.
The U.S. is riding a current hot streak going into the final cuts on Friday. The team has yet to lose or draw in 2012 and is on a four-match winning streak, the longest of Klinsmann's tenure. The formation that the squad will take is still up in the air, and many of the fringe roster spots should be decided based on how he plans to shape the team. There are also a number of snubs from the camp that may join the team moving forward to participate in the World Cup Final if the U.S. does indeed qualify.
One of the players many fans and media outlets were looking for was young standout Brek Shea. Given his performances and some of the other issues we felt he should be on the standby list. He's still a young player with a lot of talent, and also a lot to learn, said Klinsmann of the popular FC Dallas midfielder.
He certainly has time to learn with the World Cup Finals still two years away.