U.S. soccer qualify for 2014 World Cup

By Jacob Onak

To say I am excited the U.S. has qualified for the 2014 World Cup would be an understatement.

However, it’s not the fact we qualified that makes me excited. I am excited because we now have another opportunity to show what American soccer has become.

Alexi Lalas said it is expected we qualify for every World Cup and I wholeheartedly agree. Now the United States will start the preparation process for Brazil, where the World Cup is hosted, and yes, it will take this long.

One of the main reasons it will take this long is because the United States will still need to narrow down who is actually going to represent the Yanks next summer in Brazil, starting with the goalkeeper.

For the last seven or eight years the United States’ No. 1 has been Tim Howard and his spot has been set in stone, but in 2014 head coach Jurgen Klinsmann may have a tough choice to make. Howard’s international career is starting to hit its downslope, with 2010 being his prime year. Yes, a lot of people say goalkeepers get better with age, but the States’ No. 2, Brad Guzan, is starting to make a serious name for himself.

Guzan’s play for Aston Villa of the Barclays Premier league has been nothing but spectacular. Guzan was named Villa’s player of the year last season and his play this year has continued to shine. In 2014, I would actually have no problem if Guzan was our No. 1.

In defense, the one spot that is really up for grabs is the right back spot. DaMarcus Beasley has solidified the left back spot and Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler are the young duo who will most likely line up in the center of the defense. But on the right it’s really anyone’s game. Brad Evans, Michael Parkhurst and Timmy Chandler have all lined up for the States with the absence of veteran Steve Cherundolo, and to be honest none have really done enough to absolutely claim the No. 1 spot. That spot will be battled for in the months leading up to Brazil.

In the midfield, I would say things are pretty solid. Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan and Fabian Johnson are all guys who will most likely start in Brazil. However, Mix Diskerud, Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya and Stuart Holden (when healthy) are all guys who will fight for spots in the starting XI, if someone slips up.

Klinsmann will also have a tough decision when it comes to the striker role. Clint Dempsey will be the second striker in Klinsmann’s system, but Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson and Eddie Johnson will look to fight it out for that top role, and to me it just depends on the form of the striker. Each guy brings a positive to the States’ front line.

Brazil is a great opportunity to not only show the world how we play, but also show our doubting country how good we can really be.