USMNT: Five MLS Forwards That Could Play a Part in Brazil 2014
The position of forward has been a major question mark over the past couple years for the USMNT. While Jozy Altidore has been a pretty common figure in the offense, his lack of production and current spat with Jurgen Klinsmann will call into question his place in the team. Outside of Herculez Gomez few other options have made a lasting impact.
Current MLSer Eddie Johnson might have opened the door for other MLS forwards to get a shot at the national team. The immediate impact that EJ has had on the team is impressive and has been a great show of the talent in MLS. I also believe that the last seat on every team’s plane to a major international tournament is reserved for the hottest striker at that time. For an example see Herculez Gomez in 2010.
So what other forwards might play a part from MLS?
- Juan Agudelo – Center Forward, Chivas USA
It seems like forever ago that Agudelo scored on his debut against South Africa and had the title of America’s Next Great Striker thrust upon him. A falling out with his club side, failure to produce for the USMNT, a changing of coaches at the national level, and a trade across the country has followed and he seems far from the USMNT first team. A striker with the potential of Agudelo should never be forgotten about though.
- Chris Pontius - Winger, DC United
The 25 year old striker has really come in to his own this season in MLS. Scoring 13 regular season goals this season was highlighted by finding the back of the net in the 2012 All-Star game against Chelsea. If Landon Donovan decides to end his international career before Brazil 2014, Pontius could be a leader in the race to fill the hole. He offers creative vision, decent speed, and a nose for goal. All things Klinsmann could find useful.
- CJ Sapong – Center Forward, Sporting Kansas City
With questions about Altidore’s place on the team and Edson Buddle still unsuccessful in his return to form, Sapong stands alone in terms of options for big, strong target forwards available in the USMNT player pool. His 2012 season saw fewer appearances than the year before, but an increase in goals. The striker has also played in a number of high-profile games in his short career and has experience in a system of play that will lend well to the USMNT setup.
- Jack McInerney – Center Forward, Philadelphia Union
Who would have expected this youngsters name on a list like this during the first half of the 2012 MLS season. However, with the change in managers in Philadelphia McInerney was given a second lease on life in MLS and took full advantage. Not even old enough to drink legally yet, the striker finished off the season with a strong 4 game scoring streak towards the end of the year. An 8 goal season was his best since turning pro 3 years ago. Next year will be huge if he’s given the starting spot from day 1.
- Chris Wondolowski – Center Forward, San Jose Earthquakes
The hottest striker in MLS the past few years in MLS has yet to make that success translate to goals at the international level. The fact he just tied the single season goal record in the league will keep his name in the mix, but Klinsmann has recently cooled on his favor of the Earthquakes striker. A miss from close range in the 2011 Gold Cup has summed up his time for the USMNT. He has not been able to catch a break. Just like his MLS career though, once he gets going, he might not be stopped.
Catch up with our complete series: