USMNT hot list: Johannsson up, Gonzalez down

Posted by Doug McIntyre

Following a weekend such as the one that just ended, it probably makes sense to remind readers why the Hot List exists at all. The idea, as we've said all along, was never to simply highlight Americans performing well (or poorly) with their clubs. Rather, the goal from the start was to look at how those performances – or a position switch, or a coaching change, or an injury – might impact an individual’s standing with the national team.

Which is why you won’t find Nick Rimando’s name among those listed below. The Real Salt Lake keeper played as well Saturday as any Yank has recently, single-handedly stealing a point for his side in a scoreless tie in Portland. But Rimando is already entrenched as the Americans’ third-string backstop, and the truth is, even a month of similar displays probably won't be enough to vault Rimando past Premier League mainstays Brad Guzan or Tim Howard on the U.S. depth chart.

It’s a similar story for Terrence Boyd, who got on the score sheet for Rapid Vienna for the seventh time this season, but who probably still has a good bit more to do to earn a place on Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man roster for Brazil 2014.

Of course, this works both ways. In England, Jozy Altidore’s situation with free-falling Sunderland is disturbing, but until his playing time is under serious threat (and no, there’s no reason to worry that the travel-weary Altidore didn't start the Black Cats 4-0 loss to Swansea a few days after captaining the U.S. in Panama), he’ll probably stay in Klinsmann’s first-choice lineup. Same goes for Michael Bradley, who just returned from the sprained ankle he suffered last month. Bradley should also keep his national team spot, even if it takes him a while to break back into the mix with 8-0, Serie A-leading Roma.

- More USMNT roster news, analysis
- McIntyre: Klinsmann's turnaround
- Bennett: Panama reaction

But that’s not to say every match doesn’t matter. In a World Cup year, every game counts for every player. This week, here are five guys whose stock with the U.S. is trending one way or the other.

WARMING UP

Alejandro Bedoya, M, Nantes
Why he’s here: Bedoya came off the bench late in the second half at Ajaccio, pounced on a mistake by Mexican national team goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, and scored, giving his team an important 1-0 win.
What this means: Bedoya’s first goal for Nantes should keep him in contention for a starting job with the Ligue 1 club. It was also a timely response after Graham Zusi, Beyoda’s main challenger at right midfield with the national team, scored in consecutive games for the U.S.

Clarence Goodson, D, San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Why he’s here: Goodson’s dominant performance helped shut down Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane in Sunday’s scoreless draw in Los Angeles. Since returning to MLS in August following six seasons in Europe, the 31-year-old has helped San Jose post the stingiest defensive record in the league.
What this means: Goodson’s strong play for club and country has him in the mix for a starting job with the U.S. And now that the Quakes are all but eliminated from playoff contention, he could bolster his case during next month’s international friendlies in Scotland and Austria.

Aron Johannsson, F, AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands)
Why he’s here: Five days after scoring his first international goal in the Americans’ 3-2 win in Panama, Johannsson found the net twice Sunday – his sixth and seventh Eredivisie goals this season – in AZ’s 3-1 win against Cambuur.
What this means: The Alabama-born striker’s continued domination of Dutch defenses shows that he might be ready for a bigger role with the Yanks next summer. Already, Johannsson is beginning to establish himself as a legit No. 2 striker behind former Alkmaar teammate, Jozy Altidore.

COOLING DOWN

Joe Corona, M, Club Tijuana (Mexico)
Why he’s here: Corona has made just four Liga MX starts this season. Since his last one, on Sept. 29, the 23-year-old Mexican-American has played only 45 minutes, and he didn't get off the bench in Tijuana’s last two league matches.
What this means: At this point, it looks like a transfer out of Tijuana is Corona’s only hope of earning the playing time that might salvage his once-strong hopes of accompanying the U.S. team to Brazil.

Omar Gonzalez, D, LA Galaxy, (MLS)
Why he’s here: Making his first start Sunday after missing three weeks with a sore hip – an ailment that forced him out of recent national team wins against Jamaica and Panama – Gonzalez hobbled off in the 72nd minute against San Jose.
What this means: With U.S. center back spots still up for grabs, staying healthy over the next seven months will be crucial for the 25-year-old. Fortunately, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said that Gonzalez didn't reinjure himself Sunday, insisting that the big Texan simply cramped up.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.