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Assessing the USMNT Player Pool

After the USMNT's worst Gold Cup performance since 2000, it's time for Jurgen Klinsmann to reevaluate the national team player pool.

Simon Hofmann/Getty Images

The United States Men's National Team was absolutely awful in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The U.S. failed to finish in at least third place for the first time since 2000.

Clearly changes are necessary for the team to improve its play. With Jurgen Klinsmann's job safe, the only changes likely to happen are to the on-field personnel.

Several USMNT players were so poor during the Gold Cup, that Klinsmann should drop them from the roster for upcoming matches. There are also several players in excellent form who Klinsmann has not called-up recently. The national team player pool is as competitive as ever and here's an opinion on who Klinsmann should be calling on to retool his squad for World Cup qualifying.

Guaranteed Starters: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes FC), John Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution).

This group of players is essentially guaranteed to start any important USMNT match.

While Geoff Cameron did not play in the Gold Cup due to fatigue, expect him to be back with the national team in September and reclaim his starting center-back role.

Jermaine Jones should be a national team starter if he can regain his form after his latest injury. Kyle Beckerman's dreadful Gold Cup performance showed just how desperately the USMNT needs Jones.

John Anthony Brooks was heavily criticized during the Gold Cup, but he is one of Klinsmann's favorites. Brooks is likely to start for the foreseeable future.

Fabian Johnson has been ruled out of the U.S.' September friendlies and will be replaced by DaMarcus Beasley. However, when Johnson is healthy he is the clear first choice left-back.

Starters or Not?: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC).

This group consists of players who will likely be on the USMNT roster in the coming months but are not clear starters or reserves. Brad Guzan and Tim Howard are both in this group as neither player seems to have a clear edge in the battle to be the starting goalkeeper.

Altidore can no longer be considered a lock to start after his abysmal Gold Cup performance. His poor form has continued in MLS and he was recently suspended for kicking New England Revolution defender Jose Goncalves. Altidore's mentality needs to change or else he risks falling further down the depth chart.

Substitutes/Reserves: Jordan Morris (Stanford), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).

Morris, Yedlin, Ream and Zusi should be members of the national team, but are unlikely to start.

Morris and Yedlin can both provide an attacking spark off of the bench. Ream offers good defensive depth and Zusi is a slow, but solid winger. With good performances for club and country all of these players could work themselves into the starting lineup.

Players Who Should be Dropped: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Mix Diskerud (NYCFC), Alan Gordon (LA Galaxy), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Greg Garza (Atlas), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt 04), Michael Orozco (Tijuana).

Kyle Beckerman, Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordan should not be called up to the U.S. National team.

Beckerman had a horrendous Gold Cup and his poor form has continued in MLS. Wondolowski also has been poor for the USMNT the past few months and considering the other available strikers, Wondo shouldn't be on the national team. Alan Gordon is simply not a national-team caliber player.

Alfredo Morales, Timothy Chandler, Ventura Alvarado, Mix Diskerud and Greg Garza all had terrible Gold Cup performances. Michael Orozco, who was on the Gold Cup roster but did not play, has been poor in recent national team appearances.

The national team player pool is deep enough that Morales, Chandler, Alvarado, Diskerud, Garza and Orozco can be replaced at their positions by better players.

These six will need consistent good showings for their respective clubs in order to find themselves back in order to justify continued selection to the national team.

Players Who Deserve a Call Up: Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC) Perry Kitchen (DC United), Danny Williams (Reading), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC).

None of these players featured in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but all of them have been playing well and deserve a call-up to the national team.

Dax McCarty, Perry Kitchen and Danny Williams are all quality defensive midfielders. There's no way all three of them would be on the same roster, but at least one of them should be called in to shore up the defensive midfield position.

Benny Felihaber is having a career year. He has scored eight goals and is second in the MLS with 13 assists heading into Week 25 of the regular season. Felihaber has finally become a complete central midfielder. His defensive abilities have been heavily criticized, but this year his defensive work has been excellent.

He has put increased emphasis on making tackles and tracking back and it's paying off. Unfortunately, Klinsmann seems to have something against Feilhaber - at least, this has become an increasingly plausible explanation for the player's continued absence from USMNT squads as his league play continues to recommend him to the roster.

Bobby Wood deserves a call-up primarily due to his incredible performance in spring friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany. Wood's goal scoring record at the club level still needs to improve, but he recently opened his account for Union Berlin. Wood should get more chances with the national team.

Brek Shea isn't the greatest player in the national team pool, but he is dependable. Shea had been playing well at left-back for Orlando before his injury and should return to the national team picture once he is healthy.

Uncapped Ethan Finlay is arguably the best left midfielder in MLS. Since settling in to a regular starting role with Columbus Crew last season, he has tallied 18 goals and 20 assists through 54 league appearances. Finlay is faster than Graham Zusi and better defensively than Gyasi Zardes.

Sebastian Lletget has been in impressive form for the LA Galaxy contributing six goals and an assist in his first nine league starts. Lletget certainly deserves a chance as creative, attacking midfielders are hard to come by for the U.S.

Long Shots: Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Julian Green (Bayern Munich II), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Shane O'Neill (Apollon Limassol), Will Trapp (Columbus Crew), Miguel Ibarra (Leon).

These players are unlikely to feature for the USMNT this year for a variety of reasons. Matt Besler has been poor for Sporting KC although considering the poor performances of several U.S. centerbacks, Besler should have a shot at getting a call-up.

Julian Green, Miguel Ibarra and Shane O'Neill all need to start getting consistent minutes with their club teams before being considered for the national team.

Juan Agudelo and Rubio Rubin will have trouble breaking into the team as several strikers are ahead of them on the depth chart. They each need to score consistently and play better for their club teams before rejoining the national team.

Will Trapp played well for Columbus Crew SC prior to his concussion, however there simply are several better American defensive center midfielders based on current form.

Young Guns: Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal FC), Dillion Serna (Colorado Rapids) Cody Cropper (Milton Keynes Dons), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund).

These players are working closer to a call up every day but still are a few years away from being national team regulars. Many of them will likely feature for the U.S. Olympic Team. For these young players consistent playing time at the club level is the most important thing.

Fulham midfielder Emerson Hyndman already has one cap for the senior national team and could be an integral part of the U.S. Olympic Team. Once Hyndman becomes a consistent every-game starter for his club expect him to quickly become a regular on the senior national team.

Matt Miazga has been having an excellent season for the New York Red Bulls and had a good showing in the U-20 World Cup. Like Hyndman, he might be an important part of the Olympic Squad. Although the USMNT center backs have been poor, Miazga (age 19) is still very young to be an international center-back.

Don't be surprised if one or two of these rapidly-developing younger players finds themselves on the Russia 2018 World Cup roster.

Jurgen Klinsmann has tough choices to make for the September friendlies.  He could experiment with the team or select the roster he expects to face Mexico in October's playoff for CONCACAF's spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup. Either way, changes are in order and Klinsmann needs to quickly decide what players will give the U.S. its best chance to shrug off a disappointing Gold Cup by clinching the region's berth at next year's World Cup warm-up tournament.