— Ten doesn't go into three very cleanly or easily. But that's the math facing Coach Juergen Klinsmann and the U.S. soccer team less than three weeks before the 23-man World Cup rosters are due.
Klinsmann invited 30 players to training camp, which began Wednesday at Stanford University. And providing they are all healthy, as many as 20 of those players have a pretty good chance of being on the plane to Brazil.
So that leaves 10 men competing for what may be no more than three spots. And no matter how you do the math, it's not going to be pretty.
"The reason why we took 30 is because we aren't sure yet, simple as that," Klinsmann said Wednesday. "We want to see them come in and compete for the spots. We have 50-50 cases all over the place going on, so the best thing for us coaches is to look first-hand, see them in training, see where they are right now, and then make the decision three weeks down the road."
When Klinsmann coached the German team in 2006, he took only 23 players to World Cup camp. And already this month Brazil and Mexico announced their final teams for Brazil, avoiding the tension, drama and angst that is sure to build around the U.S. team as the June 2 deadline for selecting the final rosters draws near.
But then Klinsmann has come to embrace tension. In his nearly three years as coach of the U.S. team, he has worked to replace complacency and certainty with doubt, believing it increases competition and pushes players to work harder, better preparing them for what lies ahead in Brazil.
"The next three weeks is definitely about the form that they are in," said Klinsmann, who is promising an intense and physical camp with two-a-day sessions. "And it's a daily competition. It's an awesome competition to be in because it's about going to a World Cup."
Not everyone is part of that competition, however.
Only an injury will keep goalkeeper Tim Howard from starting in Brazil no matter how he looks in camp, and that won't be known for a while because he was one of 10 players excused from the first workout. Midfielders Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, defenders Matt Besler and Fabian Johnson, and forward Clint Dempsey can also sleep easy knowing they will be on the team.
Then there are the question marks. Will the balky knee of Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, a potential starter in Brazil, be fully healed by the U.S. opener against Ghana on June 16? Is defender Tim Chandler fit after sitting out much of the German season because of torn cartilage in his left knee?
And what about forward Jozy Altidore? Was his disastrous season with Sunderland of the English Premier League an aberration or something more serious?
But it's not always the best players who make the team; tactics and personality also have an impact. Klinsmann has long preferred a 4-3-2-1 alignment, but in last month's friendly with Mexico he benched Landon Donovan and used a diamond midfield to great success. Which formation he decides to go with in Brazil will play a big part in determining who is on the roster.
Then there's versatility, which Klinsmann also values and which could help the case of defender Brad Evans and the Galaxy's Donovan, who may suddenly be among those in need of a strong camp to win a spot on the roster.
And finally cheerleaders who can do a number of things and won't complain if they don't start. Klinsmann calls these players "givers" and the importance he places on their contributions is a big reason why D.C. United's Eddie Johnson isn't in camp and San Jose's Chris Wondolowski is probably going to Brazil.
"It's about the best players that fit into the style that you want to play. And the best group of players," said two-time World Cup defender Alexi Lalas, now a studio analyst with ESPN. "It scares American soccer fans when you leave off what people view as a talented player. That's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.
"Because there was a time not so long ago where there was no debate because we didn't have that type of depth. There are going to be some very, very good players that we don't see down there this summer. And that's OK. I look at that as a sign of progress."
Part of this is a mind game, too. Klinsmann is a big believer that soccer is a mental as well as a physical game, one that demands 24-7 devotion and care. And if keeping his players doubting and on edge through a cutthroat camp allows him to sharpen that edge, so much the better.
Truth is, Klinsmann already has a pretty good idea what his team will look like.
"You want 23 names?" he said last month. "I can give you 23 names right now."
But he won't, of course. Not until June 2. By then the math figures to be a little easier.