clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

USMNT State of the Union: Midfielders

Looking at recent form and report cards for the USMNT player pool. In this installment, we look at the U.S. State Department in midfield, from defensive coverage at home to offensive ranging abroad. Note: This is only for players who are likely to receive a USMNT call-up for the next round of qualifiers

Martin Rose/Getty Images

The United States midfield has had two constants over the past three years: Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones. For better or worse, Bradley and Jones have proven themselves to be Jurgen Klinsmann's first players on the team sheet, regardless of the position at times. Bradley continually cycles back and forth from a holding midfielder, to a number 10, to a box-to-box midfield, and Jones has featured on the left side of a diamond midfield in addition to a couple of looks in the center of the defense.

But with Jermaine Jones getting older and Michael Bradley moving back to a holding position for Toronto FC, Klinsmann may be convinced to switch up his midfield and take a look at newer options that have cropped up in the last year. Ethan Finlay brings a forward-thinking winger mentality to the game. Darlington Nagbe is one of the most technically proficient United States players on the ball currently. Lee Nguyen looks ready to make his creative playmaker role stick with the U.S. Simply put, there are a lot of option for Klinsmann in midfield right now. Let's take a look at the pool.

Michael Bradley:

The General is the center piece in a new-look Toronto midfield where he features as a more defensive midfielder than we've seen him play in several years. He's looked pretty good, but not other-worldly, either. Grade: B

Fabian Johnson:

Borussia Moenchengladbach have not been able to make a push against the top two in Germany this year, but Johnson has looked great in the midfield out wide, notching eight goals for Gladbach, and it seems his future lies in the attack (key word: seems). Grade: A

Kyle Beckerman:

Beckerman isn't getting any younger. Good thing he still looks solid for Real Salt Lake. He could benefit from Jermaine Jones only recently sorting out his club situation. Grade: B-

Jermaine Jones:

Jones will miss out on the Guatemala qualifiers due to suspension, but the USMNT aren't missing much. He hasn't played a minute of competitive play since the Revs got bounced from the 2015 playoffs (and his cameo as a center back against Canada was S-H-A-K-Y), but Klinsmann loves him, so get used to it. Grade: D

Danny Williams:

Williams has long flirted with the USMNT starting XI, but his play at Reading this season gave some consistency and legitimacy to his claim for a spot in the midfield. If he can keep it up and avoid the injuries that seem to nag him, he could be in line for a promotion for club and country. Grade: B+

Darlington Nagbe:

Nagbe impressed in January camp, opening up games with his pace and control in tight spaces. The crossbar denied him a goal in the Timbers home opener, but Nagbe brings a skill set no other player in the USMNT pool can stack up in a similar fashion, so it's safe to say we'll see him against Guatemala. Grade: B

Lee Nguyen:

Impressed the most of anyone in the January camp and has started fast for the Revs. Nguyen is the only true 10 in the USMNT picture, and I think Klinsmann calls him up for more than just Camp Cupcake this time around. Grade: B+

Alejandro Bedoya:

After a slow start to his season in France, Bedoya had a torrid winter, scoring four goals for Nantes since the New Year. Grade: A-

Mix Diskerud:

A hard person to rank nearly always. Mix played fairly well against Canada and volleyed home a nice goal for NYC against the Chicago Dumpster Fire (sorry. It was there), but was overshadowed by Tommy McNamara in the attacking midfield. Still trying to figure out where to play him. Grade: B

Ethan Finlay:

Got an assist off of a deflected cross and a piece of Federico Higuain brilliance against Portland, but has had hard luck otherwise in MLS play. Going back a bit further, he didn't really impress against Iceland, but his cross to Jozy Altidore against Canada was a thing of beauty. Might get time as a late-game impact sub for qualifiers. Grade: C+

Perry Kitchen:

Needs to get settled in Scotland, and then sufficiently impress Klinsmann that he can do more than hold down an MLS midfield. Hearts is a nice start, though. Grade: C+

Wil Trapp:

No one doubts his potential, nor his effectiveness in MLS, but Trapp needs to take a step up to be a realistic choice for the full USMNT. As it stands, he'll be the rock the U-23 team facing Colombia for an Olympic spot will be built on. Grade: B-

Benny Feilhaber & Dax McCarty: