As the United States Men’s National Team goes through a period of transition, it remains somewhat unclear what the team will look like going forward. However, what is apparent is that one of the first orders of business for a new coach will be naming a captain. Here’s a look at four players who should be in consideration to wear the armband:
I believe that Brooks is the natural choice to captain the USMNT. Brooks is a veteran at 25, having earned 33 caps, but is still young enough to play a role in 2022 World Cup Qualification.
He is a fixture in the starting XI for a team (Wolfsburg) competing in one of the world’s top five leagues. The towering centerback is the national team’s best defender and has been of its most consistent players since the 2015 Gold Cup.
Brooks has had some excellent performances for the USMNT, including scoring a game winner against Ghana during the the 2014 World Cup. He was also vital to the U.S.’s surprise fourth-place finish in the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
Admittedly, Brooks was very poor during the Hex with his performance in the
2-0 home 4-0 away loss to Costa Rica standing out as one of the worst of his career.
He was rightfully criticized for his play in World Cup qualifying, but he appears to have bounced back. While Brooks has struggled with injuries throughout his career, I do not believe this is enough to prevent him from being named captain.
Christian Pulisic is the most talented attacker on the team and might be the best player regardless of position.
He demonstrated glimpses of his leadership ability during the USMNT’s failed World Cup qualifying campaign, as during several games he looked like one of the only players who actually cared.
Pulisic also refused to throw his teammates or coach Bruce Arena under the bus after missing out on the World Cup. He has proven to be quite mature, but won’t be named captain in part because he is so young.
Nineteen year olds simply don’t captain national teams. Pulisic will be an important team leader and may captain the team one day, just not yet.
DeAndre Yedlin is the only USMNT defender who starts in the English Premier League and the value of him playing against some of the best attackers in the world every week cannot be overstated.
While Newcastle United is typically on the precipice of relegation, Yedlin has been solid if somewhat unspectacular. During the beginning of his career, he received significant criticism for being overly dependent on his athleticism and not having enough defensive skill to be a rightback.
Yedlin has improved considerably and is now an integral member of the national team. He was sorely missed during the September 2016 World Cup qualification loss to Costa Rica and draw against Honduras.
Wil Trapp will likely be considered for the captain’s armband as he has emerged as a key leader in recent national team camps. He has captained the USMNT in the six matches he has appeared in this year and has had the armband for Columbus Crew SC since 2017.
However, he has only earned 8 caps since 2015. Trapp is one of the few players to have captained the U.S. U-20, U-23 and senior men’s national teams.
Despite his undeniable leadership qualities, it is quite possible that he will not remain a starter under the next national team coach.
Trapp has a lengthy injury history, but as I previously stated this should not disqualify him from being giving the armband. Trapp may be the next USMNT captain, but first he must fight to remain a national team regular.