At the start of 2010, Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez each had less than three caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Some, like Buddle, hadn’t been on the radar for seven years prior to that.
Fans of the USMNT will recall what happened next — the three put together remarkable stretches from January-May, eventually convincing Bob Bradley that the three deserves a spot on the plane to South Africa. Findley started three games there, Buddle made two and Gomez played three times at the 2010 World Cup.
As April approaches, are there any players capable of making a run similar to those three? Problems in the forward department obviously forced Bob Bradley’s hand to an extent back in 2010, and things seem a bit more straightforward under Jurgen Klinsmann.
Of course, there are problem areas that Klinsmann is certainly on the lookout for. Spots on the back line might be up for grabs, creativity in the midfield can always use a boost and scoring options are always welcome.
Here are five players with three caps or fewer who might just possibly be able to snag a spot in Brazil. There are obviously other long shot candidates who have more caps (NOTE: Julian Green not included because we think he’s already be on the plane).
D DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders FC (Caps: 1) — The hype train on Yedlin isn’t slowing down, and two encouraging performances in the first two weekends of MLS is an exciting prospect. With a lack of right back options, and pace to burn, the prospect of Yedlin going to the World Cup just might not be all that crazy.
M Luis Gil, Real Salt Lake (Caps: 1) — A veteran of U17 and U20 World Cups, Gil made his U.S. this year in the friendly against South Korea. U.S. teams often lack midfield creativity, and while Gil isn’t an out-and-out No. 10, his display against San Jose last weekend showed that a creative role could be in his future at the international level. He’ll need to show amazing consistency – and productivity – over the next two months in order to really make a strong case.
F Mike Magee, Chicago Fire (Caps: 0) — Thus far in 2014, Magee hasn’t had the luck or opportunity he probably needed to make a run at Brazil. Food poisoning prevented him from earning a debut cap with the national team, and he’s yet to play for the Fire in 2014 because of a hamstring injury. If he hits the ground running, perhaps he can produce enough to be in contention.
D Shane O’Neill, Colorado Rapids (Caps: 0) — With questions facing the U.S. back line, it’s not unreasonable to suggest Klinsmann shopping for a center back during the early stages of the MLS season. O’Neill obviously has no caps, but has progressed well with the U20s, making 12 appearances as a CB. He started the 2014 season at right back for the Rapids, displaying the kind of versatility needed to snag a coveted roster spot. It does seem a bit naive to suggest Klinsmann including an uncapped defender at this juncture, of course.
F Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo (Caps: 2) — Extremely inconsistent over the 2013 campaign, Bruin has started the 2014 MLS campaign in a fahion that echoes Buddle and Gomez in 2010. With three goals plus an assist in his first two games, if the Dynamo striker can reach double digits by the end of April, surely it could vault him into a pre-World Cup camp conversation. Considering the form of other U.S. goal scorers right now, anyone finding the back of the net regularly will draw attention to himself.