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Takeaways from the USMNT’s roster for friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand

Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled his 23-man squad for a pair of Fall friendlies. Here are some thoughts.

Soccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Colombia at USA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled his roster for the United States national teams’ October friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand over the weekend. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK, Norway), William Yarbrough (Club Leon, Mexico)

DEFENDERS (7): Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin, Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle, England)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana, Mexico), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland, England), Perry Kitchen (Hearts, Scotland), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Danny Williams (Reading, England)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV, Germany), Julian Green (Bayern Munich, Germany)

And here are some takes on that roster:

Good decision by Klinsmann to omit Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. There’s no point of having two over-30 goalkeepers on a squad to face subpar opponents like Cuba and New Zealand. This is a good time to add some younger, fresher faces to the pile and let them battle for the third-string job.

Ethan Horvath, David Bingham, and William Yarbrough are the players who made it into Klinsmann’s good graces. I don’t have a problem with the inclusions of Horvath and Bingham, but I think it’s fair to question Yarbrough’s spot.

He is 27-years old and is only an occasional starter for his club team, Liga MX’s Leon. He’s far from being considered a prospect with potential, and I can’t see how he can be chosen over the best goalkeeper in MLS, 25-year old Bill Hamid. Klinsmann made a mistake with the exclusion of Hamid.

Pretty standard central defense core. John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Steve Birnbaum, and Omar Gonzalez are the center backs who got an invitation, and that should come as no surprise, as they each have proven with their club teams and on the international level that they are indeed good enough to start.

Matt Besler’s fallen out of favor in Kansas City, so he didn’t make it. I wouldn’t have objected to someone like Matt Miazga or Matt Hedges or even Cameron Carter-Vickers getting a call, though.

I’m just glad Michael Orozco wasn’t called in.

Hard to complain much about the full backs. DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson are now the established starters at right and left back, it seems. I understand that Johnson’s improved significantly as a defender, but it still kills me that he isn’t played as a winger.

Timmy Chandler, a starter at right back for Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt, was the seventh and final defender given a roster spot. He’s not my favorite player, but he starts in the top tier of Germany. Might as well give him a shot to prove that he should be a regular fixture in future rosters.

Alejandro Bedoya will be injured for both games, so Darlington Nagbe will likely get a call-up as an injury replacement. Sacha Kljestan, Michael Bradley, and Christian Pulisic are the other obvious midfielders.

Young attackers appear to be getting a shot. Paul Arriola, Julian Green, and Lynden Gooch each will get a chance to impress.

We’ve seen Arriola a couple times in a US uniform, and he was very good, but we haven’t seen Green in a while and Gooch, well, ever, so it will be interesting to see them in there trying to justify their inclusions.

The battle for the position of backup defensive midfielder begins. Michael Bradley’s obviously the starter in defensive midfield, but the competition to be his backup will be in full force in this camp.

Danny Williams and Perry Kitchen were each called up, and while both can play in more of a box-to-box role, I find it more likely they’re there to play 45 minutes or more and try to prove that they are the better one for the job. Kitchen got the job for the Copa America, we’ll see if Williams is the one who gets to go to Columbus next month.

Chris Wondolowski made it for no real reason. I think Chris Wondolowski is one of the best forwards MLS and the United States national team have ever seen. He’s a goal-scoring machine who knows how to get in the right place at the right time, every time.

But while I love Wondo as much as the next guy, I can’t think of a reason for why Klinsmann called him up for this camp. He’s 33 and not getting any younger. He’s not better than Bobby Wood or Jordan Morris or Jozy Altidore or Green or Juan Agudelo. I don’t see it.

An argument has been made that he’s there to be a locker room leader. Two things on that: 1) Michael Bradley’s there and he’s enough of a leader and 2) these are games against a lower-tier Caribbean side and a team from a country that likes rugby and cricket more than soccer; this is not the World Cup. Klinsmann can afford to go with inexperience over veteran leadership.

This is a questionable decision to say the least.

This is still a solid roster. Klinsmann called the players that needed to be called and gave himself some leeway in terms of experimentation, which is what you want for games like these. There are no absolute disasters, and that’s definite progress with Jurgen.