The strength of the United States men over the past several years, the midfield pool looks pretty good right now, which is good news for everyone, really. It's nice to see strings of consistently good performances from a group that seems to include more people that fans alternately call upon for starting positions, captaining the team, and/or should stop receiving national call-ups altogether (in the same Twitter thread! Internet!). At the very least, no one person in the midfield has looked truly terrible that Klinsmann has called up, so at least that's a step in the right direction.
Looking at this group, the core seems to be pretty straightforward: Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, and Jermaine Jones will be wearing U.S. colors this summer. After that, the situation in midfield gets a bit stickier, with plenty of players turning in comparable performances and creating a logjam just below the probable starting XI. Let's check it out.
Beckerman keeps aging, and being a defensive midfielder at the age of 34 is no small feat, but Beckerman keeps hanging around with his tactical acumen. Still is valuable because he still seems to be the only pure defensive midfielder Klinsmann implicitly trusts, and has been solid for Real Salt Lake as of late. Grade: B
Despite any misadventures in social media land Bedoya has had as of late, he still managed to score a goal in Nantes's home farewell (and possibly Bedoya's home farewell, considering the amount of transfer speculation surrounding him). It was his first goal in the league since January. Grade: B
Bradley has enjoyed an extended run as a defensive midfielder for the first time in a long time, and Toronto's point totals have paid the dividends. He and childhood friend/polite Canadian field mouse Will Johnson have battened down the hatches and have TFC a point out of first place in the East, with all but one of their games being played on the road thus far. Toronto has also allowed the fewest goals in the league so far, with 7 against. Not too shabby at all. Grade: B+
Mix has a problem, and that problem's name is Tommy McNamara. Diskerud's long-haired cohort has a similar game to Mix himself: by no means stunning athletically, McNamara gets things done through intelligent movement, passing, and determination. Unfortunately for Diskerud, TommyMac has been doing this better than Mix. The mulleted one has been Patrick Vieira's preferred starter in the midfield, playing 751 minutes (with 2 goals and 4 assists) to Diskerud's 489 (1 goal, 2 assists). Grade: C-
Johnson's missed the last couple weeks with a groin injury, but it's been a banner year for the winger (yes, winger) at Borussia Moenchengladbach. Ever since Johnson has found consistent time in the midfield, he's been able to turn that into steady production, scoring eight goals in this Bundesliga play and chipping in more in Cup and European competitions. Johnson will need to get healthy, but the only question mark facing him this summer isn't whether he'll make the squad, but whether Klinsmann will play him in the midfield, or feel he still needs the utility man in defense. Grade: B
Against all odds, Jermaine Jones is the most in-form American midfielder on this list, and he's doing it by scoring goals and more goals. Deployed as a number 10, Jones has three goals and two assists in five games since his return from suspension. Can't argue with those numbers. Grade: A
Perry Kitchen has quickly built himself a following in Scotland: yes, the Jam Tarts love the Kitchen (I'll see myself out). Kitchen has been a mainstay for Hearts since signing on and adapted fairly quickly to the Scottish Premier League and his role as a destroyer. In the mix with Alfredo Morales and Danny Williams for "heir to Beckerman." Grade: B
Morales was off for a long stretch due to injury, but he's wasted little time getting back to brass tacks in Ingolstadt's midfield, with this header opening up his 2015-16 account. Not the role he's used to as a left-footed shuttler/destroyer, but who doesn't love a good goal? Grade: B
Portland's play has been a bit off through the opening third of the season, but it's not been down to Darlington Nagbe's lack of trying. Playing his number eight role for Portland, Nagbe has two assists in his last four games, in addition to contributing timely tackles and recoveries while also pulling out some stupid highlight-reel dribbles.
This is my ball. You can't have it. pic.twitter.com/87m7ATa0K2— Rob Usry (@RobUsry) May 12, 2016
Lee's been generating chances for New England, they're just having trouble finishing them off at the moment. Just might be a longshot to make Klinsmann's roster at this point, considering his lack of playing time against Guatemala despite impressing earlier in the year. Grade: C+
Williams has become a fast fan favorite for Reading, splitting time playing as a box-to-box mid and holding mid in the Royals' set-up. It should be said that Reading finished 17th in the Championship, only a year removed from a semi-final appearance in which they gave Arsenal a run for their money, and while safe, Williams also doesn't look like the same world-beater he was that day against Arsenal, either. Grade: B-
Has been less consistently dangerous and productive in Sporting Kansas City's midfield than Brad "No, the other Brad" Davis, which should tell us something. Grade: C+