The United States men’s national team finished its experimental January camp with a 2-0 record, and now trains its eyes on World Cup and Olympic qualifying.
The last part is critical not just because of the ramifications of a potential second-successive Olympic absence for the men’s U-23 side.
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The Yanks have to deftly divide their player pool because March 25 and 29 are not only the dates for the next round of World Cup qualifying matches — a home-and-home series with Guatemala — but also the dates for the U-23s’ pair of matches with Colombia.
That’s why Jordan Morris isn’t likely headed to Guatemala City, and the same is true for impressive January camper Jerome Kiesewetter and new Chelsea defender Matt Miazga.
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Bobby Wood, John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are also eligible for the U-23s, but there’s the rub. All three are in good form for country, and only Yedlin isn’t playing well for his club (That’s because Sam Allardyce isn’t using him much at all. His substitute appearance against Liverpool was his first action since Jan. 9).
New England midfielder Lee Nguyen impressed Jurgen Klinsmann during January camp, and it’s hard to ignore the impact of Steve Birnbaum’s goal and assist.
Assuming health, here’s our best guess at who’s making the squad for Guatemala on March 25 and 29. It’s worth noting that six MLS clubs play on March 26 (NYC, New England, Vancouver, Houston, DC and Dallas):
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson
Defenders: DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Jonathan Spector, Tim Ream
Midfielders: Fabian Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Lee Nguyen, Darlington Nagbe
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes, Bobby Wood, Aron Johannsson