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USMNT Roster Reaction: Arena sticks to his guns for June Qualifiers

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A couple of new additions and surprising holdovers from past rosters, but the script stays much the same for Bruce Arena.

Aston Villa v FC Dallas - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

If I told you there would be 15 goalkeepers and defenders to only 12 midfielders and forwards on the USMNT roster for June qualifiers against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, I would forgive you for scoffing at me. Yet here we are, with Arena’s mind apparently very set in terms of the attacking half of the field, but with a plethora of defensive options at his disposal. He has also mostly stuck to script here; most of these players are the ones he used in the last round of qualifiers, or were obvious injury omissions last time around. So it’s a squad very familiar with Arena and each other that will be taking part in the U.S.’s battle to get out of fourth place.

Goalkeepers

Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando, Ethan Horvath

4 keepers is a little unorthodox, but it seems pretty clear that Arena has included Horvath as a means to continue blooding him into the senior national team set-up. He might not fully trust him as a third keeper yet, which is why Rimando is also still here, but his time is close. Other than that, no real surprises.

Defenders

Tim Ream, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Hedges, Timmy Chandler, Jorge Villafaña, Matt Besler, DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi, John Brooks, Omar Gonzalez

Here’s where things get spicier. The first choice back four out of this group seems pretty clear to me: Villafaña, Brooks, Cameron, Yedlin. Gonzalez and Ream will resume their on-deck status at center back, and Matt Hedges finally gets a call-up for a chance at meaningful minutes. Timmy Chandler gets another chance to show he can finally translate his Bundesliga form to CONCACAF play. What Beasley, Zusi, and Besler are doing here is a bit more of a mystery to me. I know what they’re doing here. Besler is left center-back and even possibly left back cover, while Graham Zusi will back up the right back spot and Beasley will play behind Villafaña. This just seems like a very crowded defender pool already for Besler to be in, and Zusi and Beasley seem like tired options at this point when someone like Eric Lichaj is available and can cover both left and right back positions. This is a lot of people to bring along when it seems so much like some are surplus to requirements.

Midfielders

Alejandro Bedoya, Paul Arriola, Kellyn Acosta, Darlington Nagbe, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic, Dax McCarty

Everybody has a pretty clear-cut role here. Pulisic will be the key to the U.S. attack. Fabian Johnson and Paul Arriola are pretty classic wingers, primed for vertical runs and serving balls into the box. Michael Bradley and Kellyn Acosta are both ball-winning central midfielders, although Bradley will most likely be tasked with sitting back and Acosta more likely to push higher with the ball. Nagbe is a guy that can calm things down by retaining possession and provide a spark off the dribble like no one else outside of Pulisic in this group can. McCarty is your true defensive mid. Bedoya will play hard and muddy the waters in midfield if that’s what the game needs. Apologies to the Danny Williams fans out there. I’m a little surprised that Bruce didn’t call him in as a like-for-like Jermaine Jones replacement, but here we are.

Forwards

Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris

Nailed it. Hopefully Wood is actually healthy and not just “I feel fine if I’m playing on painkillers” healthy. If not, Chris Wondolowski is scoring goals again, which he seems to always do right as rosters are about to come out, and I hate him for it.