Three weeks and counting till we get our World Cup qualification back on track (right?).
Let’s wade into some depth…NOTE: We named players where we think they fit best, rate best or have the best chance of making the team. If a player fits in more than one position, we only named him in his #1 spot.
NOTE DOS: We went with a four-man midfield because we think that makes best use of our talent. A 4-2-3-1 or some other formation that puts five in the midfield would change things. But you already knew that.
- Michael Bradley – We’re not debating this. He read this sentence four times just because he works that much harder than you.
- Jermaine Jones – He’s 35, but can still play like a man in his prime. The only guy on this list who truly can challenge Bradley for the vision and skill to split the defense from the base of midfield.
- Danny Williams – He has a tendency to disappear, but he’s also one of the few guys who can pick up a ball at his own box, dribble through three guys, reach the other team’s box and take a shot.
- Kellyn Acosta – If his preseason form continues, we don’t see how Bruce can keep him off the field. This could be a year for a big jump.
- Dax McCarty – The most direct replacement for Michael Bradley. Everyone else on this list is more of a box-to-box midfielder.
- Perry Kitchen – Another potential Bradley back-up.
- Christian Pulisic – Move Fabian Johnson to midfield (despite what Bruce now appears to be saying) and we move him to the right. Regardless of where he goes, the kid’s starting.
- Sebastian Lletget – He doesn’t have much international experience under his belt, but his skill, speed, attacking drive and ability to serve a ball on the ground or in the air, plus his connection to Bruce, make him an interesting addition.
- Darlington Nagbe – A combination of incredible and invisible. If he could be more consistent with his talent, defenders for almost every team we face would fear him.
- Alejandro Bedoya – Attacking isn’t his greatest strength, but with DeAndre Yedlin raring to run the overlap, his defensive capabilities serve to lock down the side.
- Paul Arriola – The way he’s playing for Club Tijuana, it can’t be that much longer till he’s in the running for the #1 spot (again, assuming Fabian is a fullback and Pulisic plays on the left). We still consider Bedoya in the driver’s seat because of Yedlin’s attacking focus.
- Lynden Gooch – This is more of a Gold Cup prediction. A young player, from the Premier League, has to get a shot. But he really needs to get consistent playing time before these ducks can be counted.
- Sacha Kljestan – He didn’t look as sharp in January (it was the offseason), but his quality in MLS over the last couple years shows what he’s capable of.
- Benny Feilhaber – Just a step behind Sacha in MLS lately, he actually looked better than him in January. Like Bruce once said of Clint Dempsey, “He tries shit.”
- Emerson Hyndman – We’re hoping to see him in the Gold Cup. The way he’s playing for Rangers, right now, he looks too good to hold him back.
- Lee Nguyen – The other options, including many guys already on our list, limit his chances.