The hurt, the agony and the disappointment of being just this close in the round of 16 has begun to subside and it has me thinking ahead. After all, there were a lot of positives to take away from the 2014 World Cup performance for the United States.
Whether it was Jermaine Jones emerging as the player we all thought he could be, but hadn’t seen before or seeing young players like DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green make their indelible marks — the 2014 World Cup provided us a lot to look forward to.
In fact, that’s exactly what we want to do here — look forward to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. That’s because we know Jürgen Klinsmann will be in charge and he’s clearly demonstrated a plan for success for the USMNT.
But, the biggest questions lie in who could be making the trip to Russia in four years time. Will the mainstays of this 2014 squad be around? What players should we be watching for in the future?
Let’s explore the 2014 squad and see who is in and out come 2018.
Tim Howard, GK – Howard stood on his head for the USMNT this tournament and against Belgium specifically. While he may be one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he’ll also be getting up their in age (even for a goalkeeper) by 2018. Howard will be 39 years old when the next World Cup is to be played and he already indicated that he believes Brad Guzan will be the one between the posts for the next go-round.
Nick Rimando, GK – At 35 years old and the third option at goalkeeper there’s no way the United States keep Rimando around with a clear need to develop youngsters like Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson and Cody Crooper. He’s serviceable, but totally replaceable for the next time around.
Demarcus Beasley, D – Whenever I feel old at age 32, all I have to do is take a look at how Demarcus Beasley managed to reinvent a floundering club and national team career. He became a stalwart on the left side of defense over the past year, but at 36 when the next World Cup rolls around father time should see him out of the setup. Sorry, but this is a young mans game, especially on the flanks.
Geoff Cameron, D – Cameron’s versatility is great, but he’ll be 32 years old when its time to call up a roster for the 2018 World Cup. That puts him on the edge of being called up already, however I have to believe the United States will find younger options available in central defense. Just look at the rise of Matt Besler from the last World Cup to now for the proof of why Cameron will be out of the USMNT set up by then.
Timothy Chandler, D – At 24 years old this could be a bit shocking to some, but the writing has to be on the wall with Chandler. He didn’t feature as a starter or sub in any of the United States’ games, being passed over by other options on the wing. Chandler was also a late addition to the set up after many looks throughout qualifying and friendlies. There are simply better options for the USMNT to look at going forward. The only way Chandler makes the roster is if he magically finds his game elevated at 28 years old.
Brad Davis, MF – This one is easy, Davis being 32 years old says he’s out at 36, especially because he plays on the wing and is considered a set-piece master. Graham Zusi, Michael Bradley and a host of younger options can all do what Davis does and provide more in the way of speed and youth.
Jermaine Jones, MF – Again, the guy is 32 years old already and he plays a very physical game. It may suck to think of him gone in four years time, but expect Jones to help in early qualification periods as they bring up some younger defensive-mid options.
Kyle Beckerman, MF – If ever there’s a player who represents what it means to be an American soccer player it is Beckerman, but just like Davis, Jones and Beasley he’ll be 36 years old come time for Russia. He already didn’t feature in the Belgium game because he lacked the height to deal with the midfield of the Red Devils, now add in a player on the downside of his career and one can see why he wouldn’t be included.
Chris Wondolowski, F – Wondo was serviceable as a substitute and sometimes starter for the United States, but his role as a hold up forward can be replaced easily with a much younger option. Additionally, he’s never been able to reproduce the strike rate he’s had in MLS at the international level. He’s a borderline player for me because he’s not as old as others but forwards off the bench are a dime a dozen and Klinsmann has some intriguing young options at the position the next time around.