The USMNT will face two of the team’s most important matches in recent history. Considering The Stars & Stripes have not secured a berth in the 2018 World Cup yet, the upcoming two games are the team’s final chance to do so. And no one said is going to be easy. The USMNT will kick things off this Friday against Panama (7:00 pm ET, ESPN2), and later they will visit Trinidad and Tobago on October 10th (8:00 pm ET, beIN Sports).
There is no question these two games are key for the USMNT. And with that in mind, Bruce Arena chose an experienced roster.
The 26-man roster
Goalkeepers (3): Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (9): Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Tim Ream (Fulham), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Club Tijuana)
Midfielders (10): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)*
Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Bobby Wood (Hamburger SV), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
*Removed from the squad due to injury.
Fans Need To Trust Bruce Arena
There are several interesting takeaways from the roster. It’s clear Bruce Arena knows what he’s doing because the team has improved by leaps and bounds following his arrival. And at the same time, he knows these final two games won’t be your regular Qualifying match. Players need to give something extra because as cliché as it might sound, every single ball matters now.
Therefore, Bruce Arena chose an experienced side for these two games. There are always notable omissions, but for the most part, this is the team that has taken the bulk of the Qualifying campaign. It would have been strange to change everything, and it’s not like the USMNT have an abundance of players, either.
Experienced players such as John Anthony Brooks and Fabian Johson will certainly be missed, and rising star Jordan Morris has been left out due to injury. But as stated above, this is possibly the best team Arena could have selected. And if the USMNT is going to make it to the World Cup, then these guys will carry us there.
Players On Good Form
The positive thing is that several internationals have been in good form at the moment. Yedlin has looked solid for Newcastle United in the Premier League, and the right-back is finally showing he can play in the best league in the world. Same goes for Geoff Cameron who, once again, has become a mainstay in Stoke City’s defensive line.
Juan Agudelo certainly looks as a surprise on this team, but the Colombian-American winger has thrived for New England Revolution this season. The same could be said for Kellyn Acosta, as the talented prospect is easily one of the most exportable talents in the MLS right now. And Christian Pulisic remains on top form for Borussia Dortmund. The talented winger remains as one of the top prospects in the world, and the USMNT needs to take advantage of his presence every time he is out there.
The loss of Morris might hurt the team on the attack, but there are options to replace him. Chris Wondolowski is in the midst of another solid season for San Jose Earthquakes. Clint Dempsey is an American hero, and his presence in these two games won’t be questioned. And Bobby Wood has settled as a regular starter for Hamburger SV in the German Bundesliga.
Local Players With Lots Of Experience
It is also worth noting that out of the 26 players named on the roster, only eight play abroad. One could say that can be attributed to a lack of experience, but that’s not the case. Most of the local players on the squad either have international experience or spent several years abroad. But if we consider how much the MLS has improved over the years, it might not matter where each player plays as long as he is seeing action on a regular basis.
Only time will tell what will happen with the USMNT. But there is no question Bruce Arena did a good job choosing the roster for the upcoming two matches. Now it’s on them to make things happen.
The USMNT needs it.