After two and a half years of roster experiments and 69 player auditions, coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Monday revealed his 30-man provisional World Cup roster. “Now,’’ he says, “the clock is ticking.’’
Klinsmann has until June 2 to choose the 23 players who will travel to Brazil for the World Cup, which kicks off June 12 in Sao Paulo.
“We took another big step toward the World Cup,’’ Klinsmann said. “It’s not that easy because you have to leave quite a few out who were important parts of this process. Making those phone calls was unpleasant because you give the players a message they don’t want to hear.’’
The most notable absence is forward Eddie Johnson, who played in the 2006 World Cup and scored key goals during the qualifying rounds. Klinsmann said Johnson’s critical comments about his D.C. United teammates last week had “nothing to do’’ with his omission, that it was just the other forwards being “a little ahead of the curve’’ and also because he sees Landon Donovan competing for a forward spot.
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Alejandro Bedoya, a 27-year-old midfielder who grew up in Weston and played at St. Thomas Aquinas High, was among the players to get the call. He raised his stock playing for Nantes in the French league this season. Bedoya made the 30-man roster four years ago, but was one of the final players cut before the South Africa World Cup.
“Based on my performances for Nantes and the national team, I was pretty confident I could be in the 30, but now I want to make sure I can be on that plane to Brazil,’’ Bedoya said by phone from Nantes. “Last time I was disappointed, but it was a whole different story because I was young and inexperienced and just happy to be in camp. I now know how to handle this kind of camp.’’
Klinsmann said Bedoya evolved as a player in France. “He stepped it up, became more mature, developed more drive, and more resistance in his games. That’s big.’’
Veteran forward Jozy Altidore of Boca Raton also made the 30-man roster, as did familiar names Donovan, Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley, who lives in South Florida and has been training with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers since his season with Mexican club Puebla ended in late April.
Donovan is going for his fourth World Cup and will have to fight for his spot, said Klinsmann, whose team opens camp Wednesday in Palo Alto, Calif.
“With all the appreciation and admiration for what he’s done throughout his career, which is extraordinary and deserves compliments, but soccer is about what happens today and tomorrow,’’ Klinsmann said. “We are not building a group based on the past.’’
The U.S. team plays World Cup tuneups against Azerbaijan on May 27 in San Francisco, Turkey on June 1 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, and Nigeria on June 7 in Jacksonville before flying to Brazil.
In addition to the roster announcement, Monday was a big day for American soccer because Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced an eight-year deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision believed to be worth $90 million per year — triple what they were getting before but still shy of the $200 million-a-year NHL contract. There will be a significant push to elevate the profile of domestic soccer and the U.S. team, and part of that, said MLS commissioner Don Garber, hinges on expansion in New York, Miami and Atlanta.
“A key thing is a second team in New York, and teams in downtown Miami and Atlanta, assuming we get the stadium deal we need in Miami. Those are major markets not reflected in our national TV ratings, and those teams coming in bode well for our fan base.’’