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Projecting the USMNT's roster for the World Cup qualifiers vs. Guatemala

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Ashley Allen/Getty Images

March is shaping up to be a huge month for the United States men's program. Both the senior team and the U-23's embark on important adventures, basically simultaneously. While the next generation is off fighting for their Olympic lives, Jurgen Klinsmann's side will be squaring off against Guatemala in two vital World Cup qualifiers (March 25th and 29th).

It's a three team race in Group C with two spots advancing the final six-team round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying better known as "The Hex" next year. The U.S. currently sit atop their group thanks to a +5 goal differential. They're level on points with Trinidad and Tobago at 4. The American's next opponents, Guatelmala, sit in third a point behind. The Group's punching bag, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, bring up the rear with no points.

These two matches are likely the most important of this World Cup cycle for the U.S. so far as they will go a long ways in determining who goes on and who goes home. The Yanks are in a great position, but nothing should be taken for granted. A slip up here could put them in a dangerous spot. Here is the 23-man roster we see Jurgen picking for these vital matches:

Goalkeepers

1. Tim Howard

2. Brad Guzan

3. William Yarbrough

Yes, Howard and Guzan are both struggling with form and playing time, but they keep their spots purely out of necessity. There is just no one else out there to trust in these big matches and the team will just have to rely on the two veterans to overcome the adversity they've faced this season and show up when it matters. The third keeper will be merely a spectator, but Yarbrough has earned a spot with his resurgent form with Club Leon.

Missed the Cut: Nick Rimando is getting up there in age and is getting phased out. Luis Robles and David Bingham are doing well for their clubs, but it's a good time to get Yarbrough some experience.

Defenders

4. DeAndre Yedlin

5. Tim Ream

6. John Brooks

7. Geoff Cameron

8. Matt Besler

9. Omar Gonzalez

10. Jorge Villafana

Yedlin and Brooks both could be with the U-23's, but both are hitting their strides at the perfect time for their clubs and will be asked to play a big part in these matches. The old guard of Cameron, Ream, Besler, and Gonzalez are all relied on in a crucial, tough match away from home in CONCACAF. Jorge Villafana has played so well for the last two seasons and has flown completely under the radar. Now that he's gotten some mainstream recognition and is performing admirably in Liga MX, it's time to give him a call into the squad.

Missed the Cut: Ventura Alvarado is riding the bench for Club America. Steve Birnbaum is a hard luck omission. Matt Miazga is likely on U-23 duty.

Midfielders

11. Michael Bradley

12. Alejandro Bedoya

13. Fabian Johnson

14. Darlington Nagbe

15. Danny Williams

16. Kyle Beckerman

17. Lee Nguyen

18. Mix Diskerud

19. Ethan Finlay

Bradley, Bedoya, and Johnson are all obvious and three of the first names on the roster invitation list for every important match. Nagbe wins a spot for his versatility and consistent quality. The defensive midfielders for this roster are Danny Williams who has had a very good season with Reading and the veteran Kyle Beckerman for experience. Lee Nguyen was a standout performer in January and offers much-needed creativity in the final third, he gets a spot as does Diskerud. Finlay sneaks onto the roster as a super-sub because options at striker are limited.

Missed the Cut: Perry Kitchen is getting settled in Scotland. Benny Feilhaber and Jurgen Klinsmann still aren't friends. Dax McCarty is inexplicably ignored.

Forwards

20. Clint Dempsey

21. Jozy Altidore

22. Bobby Wood

23. Gyasi Zardes

Altidore and Dempsey are obvious. Jozy is battling a hamstring injury and will be battling to get fit, but he should be okay in a few week's time. Bobby Wood is as in-form as any player on the roster and has to get the call with Aron Johannsson still out injured. Gyasi Zardes rounds out the roster, because there are simply no other options that are appealing.

Missed the Cut: Jordan Morris will likely be on U-23 duty and miss out. Aron Johannsson is close to returning for Werder Bremen, but he's been out of action too long to be match fit. Chris Wondowloski is a last resort option if more injuries crop up.