Who Should the United States Select for the March World Cup Qualifying Roster?
Bruce Arena’s has a big decision to make when he selects the U.S. Men’s National Team for the March World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama: how many of the new and impressive players will he give roster spots to?
There’s a possibility that all of the deserving new or newer players won’t all get a roster spot, if Arena feels more comfortable going with familiar regulars. Looking at the U.S.’ midfield, Arena needs Benny Feilhaber, Sebastian Lletget, Dax McCarty, Darlington Nagbe, and Kellyn Acosta all on the roster, but the American coach might insist on including the mediocre Alejandro Bedoya, who is something of a burning who offers little passing or quick combination play. There are also defenders like Walker Zimmerman, Steve Birnbaum, Eric Lichaj, and Jorge Villafaña who all offer qualities and skill-sets that the team needs, but several ineffective regular veterans could prevent them from receiving a roster spot.
Whatever starting lineup Arena plans on using dictates the rest of the roster because after planning on a certain lineup, the rest of the roster spots are substitutes for each of the 11 starters. Some of the roster spots are quite predictable – if Michael Bradley is the starting defensive midfielder, then Dax McCarty is the backup defensive midfielder, but other roster spots aren’t as clear-cut. If Christian Pulisic is the starting left wing, then is Darlington Nagbe or Sebastian Lletget the back-up, or is Lletget the starting right wing or box-to-box midfielder? Is Feilhaber or Sacha Kljestan going to play as the team’s Number 10, and if it’s Kljestan, which would be the wrong call, then will Arena include Feilhaber, Lletget, and Nagbe all on the roster?
In the defense, there are questions about who will be the backup center backs for Geoff Cameron and John Brooks. Will it be Gonzalez and Birnbaum, or will it be Birnbaum and Zimmerman? Will Matt Besler be called up?
There are tough decisions to be made in the attack as well. Should Arena call up Jordan Morris and Juan Agudelo, or is Jozy Altidore too experienced and still too young not to call up? Clint Dempsey and Bobby Wood have to be the starting forward pair, but Arena could insist on using Altidore and Dempsey and maybe crazily omit Wood from the lineup.
Who knows who the coach of the United States will select? But, here is a 23-man roster that is not exactly a prediction, but more of an opinion of which players should be selected:
Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, William Yarbrough
Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Steve Birnbaum, Walker Zimmerman, DeAndre Yedlin, Eric Lichaj, Jorge Villafaña, Fabian Johnson
Michael Bradley, Dax McCarty, Kellyn Acosta, Benny Feilhaber, Sebastian Lletget, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, Paul Arriola
Clint Dempsey, Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, Juan Agudelo