The Associated Press referred to Bruce Arena’s 48-player USMNT depth chart, and said the player pool is between 50-60 players.
Isn’t that a reason for an exercise?
The new-old USMNT coach will call about 30 players to camp in January, a group largely based in Major League Soccer, and Arena has four months before he needs to name the roster for two massive World Cup qualifiers in March.
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Well, 38 players currently in MLS have been called up by Jurgen Klinsmann in the past 12 months. Tony Tchani is now committed to Cameroon, but the rest of that MLS crew could very well earn a look. So 37 plus a solid batch of Klinsmann-ignored folk (Think: Feilhaber, McCarty, Hedges) needs to be whittled down to about 30.
This one’s tricky. The bulk of USMNT goalkeeping depth is in Major League Soccer, and Arena will probably take more than usual to January camp.
With Tim Howard out, the only two certainties would seem to be Molde’s Ethan Horvath (Norway plays an unusual season schedule) and DC United’s Bill Hamid.
Then there’s a batch of MLS-based keepers. We think 37-year-old Nick Rimando is done with the USMNT. Zack Steffen is a wild card after leaving Bundesliga side Freiburg for Columbus, but seems unlikely to be in Arena’s pecking order.
We suspect two of Luis Robles, David Bingham, Sean Johnson, and Bobby Shuttleworth could be under consideration, with two of the capped players getting nods.
In: Ethan Horvath, Bill Hamid, Luis Robles, David Bingham
Next out: Sean Johnson, Bobby Shuttleworth
Question marks: Nick Rimando, Zack Steffen
Injured: Tim Howard
Want to know why Fabian Johnson keeps getting put at left back? Because MLS isn’t exactly flying high when it comes to American full backs.
So while Arena will have to leave some pretty talented center backs out of the mix, you’re going to see some unusual names on the outside.
This could open up a spot for a blast from the past in DaMarcus Beasley and/or Robbie Rogers, and we’ll even sneak a veteran in at center back: Drew Moor is far removed from his last cap (2008), but he’s been outstanding and Arena will have seen a lot of him in reviewing footage of Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley at Toronto FC.
In: Matt Besler, Matt Hedges, Steve Birnbaum, Keegan Rosenberry, Walker Zimmerman, DaMarcus Beasley, Justin Morrow, Jonathan Campbell, Brandon Vincent, Drew Moor
Next out: Tim Parker, Robbie Rogers, Justen Glad
Question mark: Brad Evans
Welcome back, Benny Feilhaber. The crowd that’s used up every ounce of their hope tank to see the soon-to-be 32-year-old Sporting KC midfielder back on the USMNT stage is getting their just desserts. He’ll join Sacha Kljestan, Darlington Nagbe, and Dax McCarty is getting a chance to impress eyes that don’t belong to Jurgen Klinsmann.
This group will see a lot of usual suspects and probably be heavy on attack-minded guys considering Arena sees Michael Bradley as a No. 6.
And, yes, Kelyn Rowe (or Ethan Finlay) is going to take a backseat to a move I doubt Arena can resist: Landon Donovan in the new U.S. crest.
In: Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Benny Feilhaber, Alejandro Bedoya, Darlington Nagbe, Graham Zusi, Dax McCarty, Kelyn Acosta, Wil Trapp, Jermaine Jones, Ethan Finlay, Landon Donovan
Next out: Kelyn Rowe, Fatai Alashe, Sebastian Lletget, Scott Caldwell
Question marks: Lee Nguyen, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud
(Yeah, I know).
This group isn’t much of a challenge. Altidore is going to start, and Morris will probably join him. Gyasi Zardes was essentially developed by Arena with the Galaxy, and Agudelo has bagged enough goals in MLS and abroad to get a chance ahead of the field (though Chris Wondolowski just keeps scoring for San Jose and Alan Gordon, well, someone had to vouch for his inclusion under Klinsmann. Was it his LA coach?).
In: Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo
Next out: Khiry Shelton, Mike Grella
Question marks: Alan Gordon, Chris Wondolowski