While the hot streaks of the forward pool seemed to have traded hands amongst its members a couple times in the last month or so, the form of the pool in general is still very strong, with several players continuing to get onto the score sheet and cause problems for opposing defenders on a regular basis. Klinsmann has used a two-forward formation for most of the last two years, and smart money is him going back to that striker set as the U.S. wants to get off to a strong start in Columbus against Mexico. While those tactics might change going away to Costa Rica a few days later, there is still plenty of space for someone to come in and make their mark.
Jozy Altidore - A
Jozy has had one of the strongest and most consistent runs of form in the entire U.S. player pool over the last three months, and that number is only at three due to a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Copa America. Jozy’s been tearing it up for Toronto, and has three goals in his past four games for the U.S. as well. Obviously, life is easy when you line up next to Sebastian Giovinco, but with the Italian injured for the majority of the late-season stretch, Jozy’s form didn’t cool off at all. He’s essentially a lock to start barring catastrophe this weekend.
Bobby Wood - B-
It’s been a very mixed bag for Bobby lately. He’s scored four goals across all competitions for Hamburg, including their only two league goals this season. On the other hand, he’s been juggled in and out of the starting lineup, and he just got handed down a three-game suspension for a very, very soft red card. So, while his situation isn’t entirely his fault, it still makes his spot a bit more tenuous in Germany. We’ll see if he can use the international break to turn things around.
Julian Green - A-
He still hasn’t made his senior Bundesliga debut, but all things considered, October was possibly the best month in Julian Green’s career since the 2014 World Cup. He scored in successive games for the USMNT, and then notched his first senior goal for Bayern Munich in the DFB Pokal. Baby steps to more playing time at the club level to be sure, but it’s all vaulted him back into the USMNT discussion after an extended run riding the pine for the U23s.
Jordan Morris - B+
Morris has been putting in more good work for the Seattle Sounders, and it appears he’s even begun to adjust to the wing at the pro level after his initial run at the position produced limited returns, and a switch to the center benefitted both him and the team. His assist to Nico Lodeiro, blowing past Matt Hedges and putting a left-footed (!) cross in front of goal was a thing of beauty.
That assist came only couple weeks after his sweet back heel flick assist to Alvaro Fernandez. Many didn’t like Morris’s path to the pros, but with the light-speed levels of his learning curve, he’s looking just fine right now.
Chris Wondolowski - B
Couldn’t propel the San Jose Earthquakes to the playoffs, but did manage to snag a goal and assist to turn a 0-0 stalemate with Cuba into a comfortable 2-0 victory for the U.S. Yes, that field was a glorified cow pasture and several U.S. players looked far more concerned with their Cuban vacation than that game, but don’t be surprised when Klinsmann points to that game as a reason for Wondolowski’s inclusion on his Hex roster.
Juan Agudelo - B+
Didn’t get much of a chance to impress with limited minutes against New Zealand, but finished the season on an absolute tear for New England. Probably won’t feature in these first two games, but should get more of a chance to impress in January.
Bjorn Maars Johnsen - C+
He’s an outsider right now, but the big man managed to bag his first two goals in Scotland over the past month for Hearts. His next task will be breaking into the starting lineup.
Aron Johannsson - D+
How to put this lightly? Werder Bremen is a bad team, and Aron Johannsson has been a bad player on that team. Johannsson was supposed to be a main attraction after Werder spent a good deal of money buying him from AZ Alkmaar, but after an injury-plagued first season, Johannsson’s comeback attempts have seen him lose his starting position, and he didn’t even make the squad last weekend. His lone goal in the Bundesliga this season came from the penalty spot.
Terrence Boyd - C-
It was great to see Boyd in camp with the U.S. in October, but he’s yet to make a squad for RB Leipzig this season and has mostly played with the U23s. With the newcomers flying high in the Bundesliga this season and purchasing multiple attacking options in the summer, it’s hard to see Boyd making a way through for himself at the moment, barring team injury trouble.