Arena still confident USMNT will “qualify for the next World Cup”

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The U.S. Men’s National Team dug itself an early hole in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but with Bruce Arena once again in charge the second-term manager remains optimistic that his side will reach Russia in 2018.

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As it stands, the USMNT is last in the Hexagonal with zero points through its opening two matches against Mexico and Costa Rica.

But Arena and co. must settle its several areas of concern ahead of March, when WCQ resumes with matches against Honduras and Panama.

The former LA Galaxy boss spoke ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Serbia, and stated that while the U.S. faces a difficult road ahead that it’s very much possible for his team to reach the World Cup for the eighth straight cycle.

“I’m very impressed with the players,” Arena said. “They’re good players. If organized correctly, pointed in the right direction, they can be successful.

“It’s not going to be easy, but we have a good pool of players in MLS and there’s no reason to believe that combining them with our other players abroad we can’t piece together a team and qualify for the next World Cup.”

The USMNT is currently made up of an MLS-heavy group, as has become the case during January camp, but Arena has the opportunity with both the Serbia and Jamaica friendlies to take a closer look at his team’s deficiencies before WCQ resumes.

Jermaine Jones and Timmy Chandler will each be suspended for the U.S. in March against Honduras meaning Arena must find suitable replacements at both outside back and central midfield.

While Chandler primarily plays at right back, the USMNT also has serious questions at left back, where the team has lacked depth for some time now. DaMarcus Beasley, Jorge Villafana and converted midfielder Graham Zusi all have the opportunity to impress and possibly put a stamp on one of the positions.