The 60-player pool for interim boss Dave Sarachan’s first match in charge of the United States men’s national team is slowly being whittled down by health and the Major League Soccer playoffs.
The reported youth-heavy squad will face Portugal on Nov. 14, and Sarachan will give the U.S. its first look at the USMNT since the World Cup qualifying calamity last month.
Since then, the player pool has seen center back John Brooks return to health at Wolfsburg, and MLS sides Atlanta United, San Jose Earthquakes, Chicago Fire, and Sporting KC have been eliminated from the playoffs.
That last name may give us a hint as to which older players may be called to help the inexperienced get a feel for the international game.
It could change a bit by Sunday, when the MLS conference semifinal second legs are complete Sunday. Columbus and Toronto FC look to have their feet in the conference finals, meaning old faces Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore join hopefuls Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp, Mark Delgado, and Alex Bono will in waiting until at least January.
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The first round didn’t open up a ton of options for the field, though Graham Zusi and Matt Besler join goalkeeper Brad Guzan as veterans to lead the way, though Geoff Cameron, Tim Howard, and Alejandro Bedoya could also serve that purpose.
Chicago’s elimination puts full backs Matt Polster and Brandon Vincent back in the fray. San Jose right back Nick Lima, 22, could also see a call-up though there is a glut of right backs available.
Without further adieu, and without knowing whether any of the vets have placed a “No thanks” sign out for November, here’s a predicted roster:
Goalkeepers (3) : Bill Hamid, Brad Guzan, Ethan Horvath
Idea: Guzan gets the call over Howard this time, though the Colorado Rapids backstop will certainly get a Stars and Stripes send-off at some point.
Idea: Cameron is essentially a ninth midfielder and eighth center back, and Sarachan may well use him alongside McKennie at center mid. Look for Lima, 22, as a possible surprise inclusion despite limited time in the second half with San Jose. Advanced metrics say he was one of the best of the Quakes this season.
Idea: Jonathan Gonzalez fails to get a call with McKennie, Acosta, Gooch, and Pulisic already keeping the midfield quite young. Williams and Bedoya are asked to shoulder the experience burden, and Tim Chandler could move Bedoya or Gooch out of the picture.
Forwards (4): Bobby Wood, Josh Sargent, Aron Johannsson, CJ Sapong
Idea: Wild cards! Wood is under fire at Hamburg, while Johannsson isn’t getting much playing time and Sargent is a look at the future. Sapong’s had a wealth of supporters amongst the MLS crowd, and gets a chance.