U.S. Men's National Team
Roster Prediction: Robles, Lichaj, Green Part of Mix
February 13, 2017
BRUCE ARENA offered some hints regarding his upcoming U.S. men's national team roster last week. When pieced together with information gleaned from January camp, the roster for the two crucial World Cup qualifiers in March is starting to come into focus.
Given the important of the matches against Honduras and Panama, Arena will likely avoid taking too many risks. Experience will be a valued commodity and many players on the fringe of the squad will have to wait until this summer's Gold Cup to get their shot.
What else do we know? Arena has singled out John Brooks, Timothy Chandler, Bobby Wood, Christian Pulisic, DeAndre Yedlin, and Fabian Johnson has having played well in Europe. On Wednesday he mentioned Julian Green, Eric Lichaj, and Tim Ream as also playing well and noting that they are being considered and might be scouted ahead of March.
During January camp Arena said Jordan Morris and Walker Zimmerman both played particularly well. Jorge Villafana was mentioned as well although the problem for Villafana is that he has lost his starting spot at Santos Laguna so he remains a risk despite having a nice run with the U.S. national team.
Expect a big camp too. Currently Jermaine Jones and Timothy Chandler are suspended for the Honduras game but the roster could include more than players—which would make sense as Arena tries to get a feel for the entire player pool for the first time since becoming head coach in November.
Finally, Arena also stated he is comfortable with Brad Guzan as the starting goalkeeper despite his lack of playing time at Middlesbrough.
With that said, here is an educated guess at what the next U.S. men's national team roster might look like.
Dom Dwyer (if he obtains citizenship and FIFA approval in time)
If this is the roster, it would give Arena a good idea of the player pool and most of the top performers from January camp along with most of the top performers from abroad. Of course, not everyone will be able to play in these games but having a camp of this size would allow for valuable training and an opportunity to learn.
That doesn’t mean that a camp of this size wouldn’t require difficult cuts. The FC Dallas duo of Kellyn Acosta and Matt Hedges had to withdraw from January camp due to injury and did not have the chance to play in a competitive game.
From the abroad contingent, Alfredo Morales has been starting for Ingolstadt but hasn’t been mentioned by Bruce Arena nor did Arena visit with the No. 6 when he traveled to Germany. Similarly, Danny Williams has not been mentioned by Arena despite being part of Reading FC’s core as it pushes for promotion.
Of course it is possible for these players to make an appearance with the national team in March, but even with a large roster, there are only so many spaces to go around. The Gold Cup might be a better opportunity.