Alejandro Bedoya withdrew from the United States Men’s National Team 23-man squad for the upcoming international friendlies this week after suffering a strained rib muscle while playing for the Union on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.
The two upcoming international fixtures against Cuba and New Zealand are the last matches for the USA before they kick off the Hex, the second round of World Cup Qualifying, in November against Mexico and Costa Rica.
Despite the experienced Bedoya’s absence from the two friendlies, Klinsmann still has an roster laden with USMNT veterans:
GOALKEEPERS: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS: Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
MIDFIELDERS: Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Danny Williams (Reading)
In Klinsmann’s selection, he named 11 players that were in the Copa America Centenario squad this summer. Of the remaining 12, eight players have appeared in either World Cup Qualifying or major tournaments. That leaves just four players with little to no international experience, and two of them are goalkeepers: David Bingham, William Yarbrough, Paul Arriola, and Lynden Gooch.
Even if Perry Kitchen and Ethan Horvath, who have four and zero caps respectively, are included in the list despite making the Copa America squad, Klinsmann named 17 experienced players for two friendlies where he could have given opportunities for fringe national players to make impressions.
Klinsmann’s mentality for selecting goalkeepers, where he left out stalwarts Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, could be effective if applied to the entire squad. Friendlies are an opportunity to evaluate unheralded players, and in a pessimistic view, a chance for regular contributors to injure themselves in meaningless action.
Maybe the German’s plan is to see his core gel before two tough opening qualifiers. He could also have an imperative to present a top-tier squad for the historic visit to Havana for the friendly against Cuba, although that seems unlikely.
As for Bedoya, his absence from the national team gives him time to recuperate before the Union’s next match, which isn’t until Oct. 16. A strained rib muscle usually takes 2-3 weeks to heal from, so he could potentially miss the Union’s last two matches as they push for the playoffs. If they do qualify, he should probably be healthy for a playoff game.
With the national team, Bedoya’s spot will not be in jeopardy against Mexico and Costa Rica in mid-November. As long as he fit, he still is a likely starter in the midfield for the big matches.