As the United States Men’s National Team looks forward to multiple friendlies over the next couple months, it is expected that American manager Dave Sarachan will bring more of a top roster to face off against teams like Bolivia, Ireland and France. The norm this year has been for Sarachan to call up a roster replete with young, inexperienced players, like we have seen so far this year against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Paraguay, while resting some of the regulars that we saw during 2018 World Cup qualifying. The thought behind it: evaluate the future while seeing what they can do against some decent competition.
Now, with some big friendlies approaching and a couple more rumored to take place in the fall against England and Italy, will we still bring an inexperienced squad of young players looking to make their mark? Or, will we bring our best roster of players? To answer that question, we have to really think about which players, at this point, would comprise our best roster. As we look forward to 2019, where we have reportedly been invited to take part in the Copa America just before we attempt to defend our title in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, we will need to have a player pool divided into our A team and our B team and, most importantly, have a player pool that’s large enough to do that.
So, who is our A roster right now, at this point, assuming everyone eligible is healthy? Let’s take a look at a possible lineup:
Right now, I think that Bill Hamid and Zack Steffen have done enough to show that they’re two of the best three goalkeepers in our pool, but who’s the third? In the end, I give the nod, reluctantly, to Brad Guzan on account of him having played slightly better than Tim Howard or Alex Bono. Tim Melia could get some love here, but since he has never appeared for the national team, he’s not considered part of the player pool and thus on the outside looking in.
DEFENDERS (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Vitesse), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club)
While some of these players should be on their way out over the next 4 years (Cameron, Gonzalez), these players currently make up the best defensive group we have. Do I have hope that players like Shaq Moore, Antonee Robinson, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown can supplant some of the guys on this roster over the next couple years and move into the fold? Absolutely. Do I think they have done it to this point? Not yet. Luckily, John Brooks is only 25 years old, DeAndre Yedlin and Walker Zimmerman only 24, and Matt Miazga 22, with several more youngsters ready to break into that mix. Right now, this is the defensive group that is our best.
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
This group has most of the names that you can include on the A roster in permanent marker. Christian Pulisic is the team’s best player, Darlington Nagbe one of its best creative players, and Kellyn Acosta and Tyler Adams among its best young stars. Weston McKennie has also done enough to break onto the A roster as well. Now, Michael Bradley is clearly a name that’s going to invoke some ire amongst the fanbase, but Michael Bradley is one of our best midfielders right now. This is not to say that Michael Bradley will be around the next 4 years. This is to say that right now, our A roster has Michael Bradley on it.
Jozy Altidore is the best striker in our player pool and is one of the best forwards America has ever produced, and despite what you think of him, no one has played well enough to replace him. Now that we have that out of the way, this is the part of the lineup that could benefit from some real competition. Some young strikers out there could work their way into the conversation over the next couple of years. Tim Weah and Josh Sargent could be the heirs to the striking throne, while Andrija Novakovich could also work his way up the ranks. There will be some debate over whether players like Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski, or Juan Agudelo still have a place in this team. That is certainly up for debate. However, Altidore, Dom Dwyer, Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood are probably the best strikers in our pool, and their inclusion can always be challenged by someone on the outside looking in.
We will find out what kind of roster American manager Dave Sarachan will unveil in a few weeks for the friendlies in late May and early June. For now, this is one potential “A” roster. What’s yours?