USMNT: 5 Bold Predictions about Klinsmann’s World Cup 2018 Roster

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Jul 1, 2014; Salvador, BRAZIL; United States defender Omar Gonzalez (3) reacts on the ground against Belgium during the round of sixteen match in the 2014 World Cup at Arena Fonte Nova. Belgium defeated USA 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction #1: Omar Gonzalez fails to make the cut.

Gonzalez just turned 26 on Sunday, meaning he will be 30 when the next World Cup begins. More often than not, center backs tend to hit their prime between their late 20’s and early 30’s.  With that said, I am still not sold that in four years, Gonzalez will be one of the top-four center backs in the United States.

With John Brooks establishing himself as a formidable center back at the international level, it appears as though Klinsmann views him as a mainstay in the red, white, and blue. Emphasis has already been placed on building out of the back and given the performances that Brooks has put together since leaving Brazil, it is easy to see why he appears to be favored at this point in time. He has done very well to this point distribute early and cleanly. If he keeps it up, it is very possible that Klinsmann has already found one of his starting center backs for 2018.

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  • Matt Besler is another player that has been a steady force at central defense. As soon as Besler came into the national team picture, he established himself as the anchor of the United States back line. Barring any injuries or significant changes, that won’t likely change any time soon.

    Now that it is obvious that Klinsmann fancies DeAndre Yedlin as a wide midfielder as opposed to a right back, some would suggest moving Stoke City man, Geoff Cameron, to right back and Fabian Johnson back to the left side. Cameron plays right back for his club, but Klinsmann went on record saying that he envisioned him more as a center back leading up to the World Cup and ultimately chose him as his preferred partner next to Besler. With that said, Cameron will only be 32 at the end of this cycle and with Klinsmann leaning toward his European players, he will likely still be a factor in 2018.

    With all of that said, Gonzalez may be on the outside looking in regardless of whether or not he regresses. His uncanny ability to scramble and make tremendous plays in emergency situations was visible in Brazil, as was his lack of ability to defend 1v1 in space. Unless the veteran center back improves in that area dramatically, there may very well be four center backs ahead of him on Klinsmann’s squad.