The United States men’s national team is preparing for the start of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. About a year ago SSFC’s Depth Chart series explored the USMNT player pool. Now, a year later, the team has improved tremendously from a horrid 2015, but how has the outlook on the pool changed? So with that in mind, as the Americans gear up for the Hex, we attempt to create a depth chart for the team, position by position. Figuring out what Klinsmann is thinking is a fool's errand, so this is what our depth chart would be and we'll talk about how we landed here.
Rob: It seems that over the years that U.S. Soccer has had a problem developing true, attack-minded, dynamic wingers. Which makes it even more frustrating for fans that the team's most dynamic and experienced winger option is deployed primarily as a left back. Thankfully it appears that the USMNT's winger probably are just about over. Several young players have climbed the ranks rather quickly to make a name for themselves. What does the national team have on the right flank if Fabian Johnson is used on the back line?
Brendan: There's Alejandro Bedoya, although he seems to be more of a box-to-box midfielder these days. His work rate on the defensive side of the ball is always valuable against certain teams. Paul Arriola also made his national team debut this season. I don't know if he's a player for 2018, but he'll certainly work his way into the fold for 2022's cycle. Lynden Gooch has also come on relatively strong at Sunderland.
Am I forgetting anyone?
Rob: I heard a rumor about this kid who plays in the Bundesliga. Let me go Google it...Christian Pulsic or something is his name. Apparently he's decent at soccer.
But seriously, Pulisic is as dynamic and attack-minded as we've seen in a long time. Personally, I prefer him on the left wing as an inverted winger so he can cut in on his preferred right foot. But, he's primarily on the right side for Dortmund. It's debatable whether or not Thomas Tuchel is more intelligent than I am, but I'll defer to him in this case. Where do you see Pulisic's future position being?
Brendan: We sparked a bit of a discussion in the comment section last time because we didn't list Pulisic as an attacking midfielder. I still think he's fine at winger for now. I don't care what side he's on because he's an every match starter, which seems crazy to say. If a viable challenger shows up on the left side, then Pulisic can dominate the right. If there's a strong right winger, then Pulisic can play on the left.
He's not on the list right now, but I have an inkling who that other winger could be. Would you like to take a guess at who it is? I'll give you a hint, he's currently dealing with an injury and recently became eligible to apply for citizenship.
Rob: I too am a certified member of the Kekuta Manneh fan club. However, there's still a massive roadblock in front of our dream front line. He goes by the name of Alejandro Bedoya. No matter what you, me, or my cousin Theodore thinks about Bedoya, Klinsmann loves and adores him for his work rate and selflessness. He appears to still be a lock starter in this team for the foreseeable future. Would you agree with that statement? Or has the MLS move altered his standing in Klinsmann's eyes?
Brendan: I don't know if I'd go so far as to call Bedoya a definite starter, especially on the wing. I'm also not as negative as you are when it comes to his abilities. It's also impossible to know what Klinsmann thinks of his move to MLS. It's always a case by case basis. While he's probably not thrilled about it, he's never begrudged a player for chasing a better contract.
Speaking of Klinsmann, two of his favored younger players have recently made returns from injury. Josh Gatt at Molde and Joe Gyau at Borussia Dortmund are slowly working their way back. A lot can happen in two years.
Rob: It would be great to see both of them make their way back to the senior team at some point. Unfortunately we have no idea what to expect from either of them. Both have gone abnormal recoveries with multiple set backs. I wouldn't even want to place a wager on which one has the better chance of returning to their best form. However, it seems as if Gatt will get more chances at playing time at a higher level. But, I'm hopeful both find their way back.
The right wing spot isn't as depressing as it once was. It's nice having some options to choose from, isn't it?
Brendan: It could be a lot worse. And there's more players popping up all the time. Someone like Gboly Ariyibi could hit that higher gear in the next six months.
There's also the chance that someone who is traditionally considered a striker could be forced out wide. Jordan Morris has looked decent on the wing, cutting in and going in on goal.
Rob: With Jurgen Klinsmann filling out the team sheet, literally anyone can end up at winger. Let's see how it all plays out in the next two years.
Depth Chart Series: