10 days from now, the U.S. national team could be all but officially qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
That is, of course, the best-case scenario — a pair of wins over Costa Rica (Friday, Sept. 1) and Honduras (Tuesday, Sept. 5) during the penultimate pair of Hexagonal fixtures. The worst-case scenario is… well, worse.
On Sunday, Bruce Arena named the 26 players he’ll require to secure six more points and send the USMNT onto 14 points, which would then require just a single point from the final two games of the Hex to secure a top-three spot and automatic qualification for next summer’s tournament.
The biggest question, answered: With established staring center back John Brooks unavailable for the next three months due to a thigh injury, Arena did what many expected him to do: a pair of left-footed center backs, Matt Besler and Tim Ream, will now line up as Geoff Cameron‘s partner in central defense.
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Moenchengladbach), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders).