AJC Soccer Insider: USMNT features one Atlanta player

Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled the roster for the upcoming friendly against the Czech Republic on Sept. 3 in Prague and there is one player with ties to Atlanta and another with ties that isn’t.

Cody Cropper, who has ties to Atlanta, was one of three goalkeepers called up. Cropper is playing for Southampton, though he has yet to make his Premier League debut.

Cropper started all three matches for the U.S. at the 2013 FIFA Uner-20 World Cup in Turkey. He also participated in training camp before the World Cup.He has yet to make his debut with the team. Also called in were Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando, so it may be unlikely that Cropper plays.

Two other players from metro Atlanta, goalkeeper Sean Johnson and defender Chris Klute, weren’t called up.

Klute, who played at Clayton State and with the Silverbacks, can play left or right fullback. He got a look from Klinsmann earlier this year, but hasn’t since. To be fair, he as playing a position that suddenly is very deep.

Johnson is in a similar situation. He has played for the team several times, but now faces deep competition to get even a look.

Overall, the U.S. roster has a decidedly 2018 feel, featuring 11 players with 10 caps or less and one player still in college, forward Jordan Morris.

Overall, the roster has a decidedly 2018 feel, featuring 11 players with 10 caps or less and one player still in college, forward Jordan Morris.

Not included are stalwarts Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley or Matt Besler.

Too much shouldn’t be read into their omissions.

While Dempsey isn’t a lock for 2018, it would be a shock if Bradley or Besler aren’t in Russia.

This game is, as Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer, “the first step we get to look at many of our talented young players based in Europe.”

These players — John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Tim Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Julian Green (Bayern Munich) — could form the backbone of the next World Cup team.

There are also a few from Mexico on this roster: Michael Orozco (Puebla) and Joe Corona (Tijuana).

Clark’s back

Atlanta native and Houston midfielder Ricardo Clark continues to play well since recovering from a concussion that sidelined him for two months.

Not only has he stepped in and playing meaningful minutes, but he is scoring. His headed goal was the final in Friday’s 3-1 win against Sporting KC on Friday.

Clark suffered the concussion against New York on April 23. The team went 3-5-1 without him. Since he returned to playing as a sub on June 29, the Dynamo are 3-4-2, and are 3-2 in the last five games he has started.

Nasco debuts

Former Silverbacks goalie Joe Nasco made his MLS debut for Colorado in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Seattle.

Nasco was selected as one of the men of the match by mlssoccer.com.

Nasco is also a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County, as I chronicled last year before he joined Colorado.

Wither Manchester United?

At one time, Manchester United was arguably the greatest team in the world, winners of every prestigious trophy on the field and deemed at one point by Forbes as the world’s valuable sports franchise.

Now, after a humbling 4-0 defeat to League One outfit MK Dons in last week’s Capital One Cup and a tie at Burnley over the weekend, they are less than average.

What has happened?

For starters, Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

The squad’s long-time manager guided the team to 895 wins in 1,500 games, 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League titles and five FA Cups, among other things.

But it’s now obvious that the roster that he left for hand-picked successor David Moyes and now Louis van Gaal was short on talent.

Even after winning the Premier League during his last year (2012-13), Ferguson’s aging roster shows only a handful of players that would still be considered world class.

Perhaps the best indication of the problem would be to analyze how many of the regular starters on that squad would be considered automatic starters on other strong Premier League sides?

There are really only two: Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie.

The rest were either too old (Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra), too inconsistent (Nani, David de Gea, Javier Hernandez, Ashley Young) or just too vanilla (Tom Cleverly, Michael Carrick) to forge their way into squads like Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or even Tottenham (and yes, I’m aware Carrick came from the Spurs).

That Ferguson could wring a title out of that group shows just how good of a motivator, tactician and strategist he was.

But it also shows that Moyes’ failure last year to survive even one year on the Old Trafford sideline may not have been entirely his fault.

There’s just not enough talent.

Massive funds were wasted by Ferguson on players that haven’t worked or are no longer on the squad: Shinji Kagawa, Wilfried Zaha, Nick Powell, Bebe and Dimitar Berbatov, among others.

Many like to blame the team’s owners, the Glazers, for the squad’s issues. That would be true, except for the fact that Ferguson was allowed to spend money…lots of it. Ferguson was the league’s fourth-highest spender on transfers during the 2011-12 season and spent another 50 million pounds during the 2012-13 season

Now, the team is being forced to overspend to bring in talent, as evidenced by the record kitty paid for winger Angel di Maria, a fine player but just a brick in the immense red wall that must be rebuilt.

MLS and Atlanta

*****First, note that I’ve added each player’s twitter handle to the chart, so that you can follow them.

How MLS players with ties to the metro Atlanta area did this week:

Joe Bendik (@jtbendik), Toronto, GK, Kennesaw

Played 90 minutes and made two saves in team’s 3-0 loss to New England on Saturday.

Next game: At Philadelphia on Wednesday and will host Philadelphia on Saturday.

Mark Bloom (@markbloom21), Toronto, D, Marietta

Played 90 minutes in team’s 3-0 loss to New England on Saturday.

Next game: At Philadelphia on Wednesday and will host Philadelphia on Saturday.

Alex Caskey, D.C. United, M, Dunwoody

Played 72 minutes in team’s 4-1 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Played three minutes in team’s 2-0 win over New York on Sunday.

Next game: At Vancouver on Saturday.

Ricardo Clark, Houston, M, Jonesboro

Played 90 minutes and scored a goal in team’s 3-1 win over Sporting KC on Friday.

Next game: Will host Houston on Friday.

Warren Creavalle (@warrenspeak), Toronto, D, Acworth

Didn’t make the 18 for team’s 3-0 loss to New England on Saturday.

Next game: At Philadelphia on Wednesday and will host Philadelphia on Saturday.

Sean Johnson (@sjohn25), Chicago, GK, Snellville

Played 90 minutes and made two saves in team’s 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Saturday.

Next game: At New England on Sunday.

Alec Kann (@akann90), Chicago, GK, Decatur

Did not make the 18 for team’s 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Saturday.

Next game: At New England on Sunday.

Steven Kinney (@stevenhkinney), Chicago, D, Norcross

Did not make the 18 for team’s 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Saturday.

Next game: At New England on Sunday.

Chris Klute (@chrisklute), Colorado, D, Silverbacks, Clayton State

Played 90 minutes in team’s 1-0 loss to Seattle on Saturday.

Next game: At Los Angeles on Friday.

Jack McInerney (@jackmcinerney9), Montreal, F, Alpharetta

Made the 18 but didn’t play in team’s 2-0 win over Columbus on Saturday.

Next game: At Houston on Saturday.

Joe Nasco (@joenascogk18), Colorado, G, Silverbacks

Made his MLS debut with five saves in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Seattle.

Next game: At Los Angeles on Friday.

Michael Nwiloh (@mnwiloh6), Chivas USA, D, Conyers

Didn’t make the 18 for team’s 3-0 loss to Los Angeles.

Next game: Will host Seattle on Wednesday and is at Columbus on Sunday.

Walker Zimmerman (@thewalkerzim), Dallas, D, Lawrenceville

Didn’t make the 18 for team’s 1-0 loss to Chicago on Saturday.

Next game: At Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

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