John Anthony Brooks' big decision 

March, 13, 2013
03/13/13
12:05
PM ET

Despite the national team's obvious need for center back depth, it doesn't come as any particular shock that John Anthony Brooks won't be on Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. roster when it's announced on Monday according to a Hertha Berlin spokesman.

But that's not to say Brooks, the towering 20-year-old German-American center back who topped our ranking of the Top 25 U.S. soccer players under age 21 last month, isn't deserving of an invite right now, or that Klinsmann didn't consider bringing him into the squad ahead of next week's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica and another versus Mexico four days later.

Despite his tender age, the 6-foot-3 German-born defender has established himself as a key player with Bundesliga promotion favorite Hertha this season. And given the Yanks' problems in the middle of the back line -- longtime U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra can't crack the lineup for one of the weakest teams in Spain's second division; Geoff Cameron has played exactly zero Premier League minutes at the position for Stoke City; the talented Omar Gonzalez lacks experience -- it's not surprising that Klinsmann's staff has been keeping a close eye on Brooks in recent weeks.

In late February, Yanks assistant coach Andi Herzog traveled to Germany to see him play in person. European scout Matthias Hamann did the same last weekend. You can be sure they let Brooks know he is wanted -- if not now, then soon.

But is the feeling mutual? Does Brooks want to commit his international future to the U.S.?


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Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.

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