Road to 2014: The Brazil Board 4.0 

September, 21, 2011

The thankless job of soccer seer was made more so with the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann. The new U.S. coach threw out much of Bob Bradley's old order, including his 4-4-2, and is likely to take his sweet time, which we believe that he has in abundance, to figure out his new order. Scratch that. New order sounds German, in a bad way, so we'll use a California phrase here: new paradigm.

You can't say paradigm without "pair," and that's Klinsmann's stated philosophy: two in-form players at every position on every roster fighting it out for a starting job.

That's easier said than found in U.S. soccer. With a good crop of young players plying their trade abroad, there's plenty of paper depth but not a lot of proven depth. Which once again makes today's task, the Brazil Board 2014, tougher than it was five months ago.

That won't stop us from wading in, because the potential position battles in the Klinsmann era could be a lot of fun. (This is our first update to the Brazil Board since early July because we wanted to see Klinsmann's lineups in a few friendlies to get a feel for his preferences.)

We'll start with the back line, because we really have no idea. We're not sure the coach does at this point, either. Yes, that is John Anthony Brooks starting, even though we've never seen him play. Consider him a symbol, a placeholder for one of a bunch of young players at good clubs, several of them German-Americans, who could grab a job in the back this cycle. Timothy Chandler has claimed one spot (we like him on the left), and we're taking him at his word that he's proud to be an American and won't jump to the German national team.

Among other young German-Americans (some with FIFA and/or immigration paperwork issues) are Brooks, his Hertha Berlin teammate Alfredo Morales, and a pair of Hoffenheim players, Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams. None of these spots will be earned without a fight, since the old back-line guard of Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and even a suddenly spry Oguchi Onyewu are refusing to fade away. Michael Orozco Fiscal will also get a chance, but based on what we saw in two matches this summer, we don't think he'll hang on for the World Cup.