Likely 2018 USMNT World Cup Squad (2015 Edition)
I decided with this go to get rid of my unknown spots, and just go for a full 30. Also, I realized that on my original article I went with a 21-man roster, not a 23-man roster. We even talked about it on the Free Culture Sports Show, and no one called me out on it. Regardless, this time it is rectified.
You’ll notice a lot of the commentary is the same. I suspect the other articles will have more difference, because there will be a longer gap in them. This time, it’s just been 7 months. No major league (and I’m including MLS and Scandinacian in that) has started and ended in that time. We just have the back half of some and the front half of others.
1. Brad Guzan (33 in 2018). Assuming he’s not hurt and Gandolf doesn’t decide to play for the US, this is the safest bet on this list. A lot of people think Howard will come back, and he may, but he’s not going to be the starter in 2018 unless something goes terribly wrong.
3. Bill Hamid (27 in 2018) – I still wouldn’t be shocked if this spot goes to Howard “for experience” but given that Guzan has two World Cups under his belt, I’m not buying we need experience. That said, Hamid’s stock is on the rise. DC United was potentially a Perry Kitchen brain fart away from being MLS champs. Of course, you could also say the Metros lost to New England and then the Revs lost to what can only be said was a team of destiny. LD RIP…or something. He’s not dead. Or maybe I should say good riddance from an MLS point of view!
4. John Brooks (25 in 2018) – Assuming, with all of these, that they are fit, the real question is whether it is he or Gonzalez that will be starting. Brooks is 6’4” and Gonzalez is 6’5”, so either can clear out plenty of crosses.
5. Omar Gonzalez (29 in 2018) –I’ve been a huge Gonzalez fan for a long time. I’ve been disappointed that he’s developed a pattern for ball watching. If he gets that sorted, maybe he starts along side Brooks.
6. Matt Besler (31 in 2018) – The 2015 MLS campaign will say whether he is getting dropped off of this or not. He was horrid in the back end of 2014, but popular opinion seems to be he needed a break. Also, Kansas City was physically breaking down all around him. As plenty of European vets that have come to the MLS have seen, it is hard to be good when you are playing aside second-stringers.
7. Yedlin (24 in 2018) – I think my original post should have said that Jurgen likes attacking fullbacks. His stock could drop pretty rapidly if the move to Spurs doesn’t work out, but
8. Fabian Johnson (30 in 2018) – I like the German-Americans, but due to age I hope it is Klute or Yedlin starting, depending on position. Of course, Klute may not have another cycle after 2018, so someone else might emerge. Taylor Kemp has been good because he was a college player, he’ll be 27 at the start of the 2018 World Cup. He’s not exactly “the future.”
9. Shane O’Neill (24 in 2018) – Of course, he could go as a midfielder.
10. Chris Klute (28 in 2018) – I agonized over whether this would be my last defensive pick, due to the age of my last pick.
11. Geoff Cameron (32 in 2018) – ultimately, with a very attack-minded midfield core, Geoff Cameron may need to do what he did this year and play in the midfield.
This defense looks a lot like the 2014 defence, and maybe that’s a sign it’s not going to happen. It’s Beasley out and Chris Klute in. I’ve also nixed Chandler, who didn’t see any minutes, for O’Neill. Considering the age of Klute, maybe Chandler gets Klute’s spot. O’Neill is probably going for 2022 experience.
12. Michael Bradley (30 in 2018) – Another player with not a great season after the World Cup. Michael Bradley is younger and better than Besler though. Unless he’s hurt, he’s going.
13. Julian Green (23 in 2018) – Wouldn’t it be something if he wasn’t on the squad in 2018? He only has five appearances for Hamburg this season. Still, he is on the roster of a Bundesliga club and still on the books of one of the biggest clubs in the world. If that’s still the case in 2018, he’s going.
14. Gedion Zelalem (21 in 2018) – He still can’t play for the US as of writing, but if that finally happens, he’s on this list.
15. Mikkel Diskerud (27 in 2018) – Mix has already been in the, um, mix. He’s pretty close to the top of the sure thing list.
16. Bedoya (31 in 2018) – When Bedoya was playing in the Allsvenskan and Scotland, I paid attention. Somewhat ironically, but unshockingly to blog followers, I’ve lost him in the mix since moving to France.
17. Joe Gyau (25 in 2018) – The young winger recently moved to Dortmund, which is certain to catch Klinsman eye. This spot could easily go to Harry Shipp (26), Darlington Nagbe (27), Luis Gil (24), Perry Kitchen (26), Benji Joya (24), Jose Villarreal (24) or Will Trapp (25) if those players reach their potential but even as the MLS improves, I think the Dortmund name will carry sway with Jurgen despite Dortmund being terrible so far this season.
18. Zusi (31 in 2018) – His goals and assists were down in 2014, but he also played 14 less games. When adjusted to a per game number, both actually went up. Some of those missed games were because Sporting missed the playoffs, and some were because of the World Cup. How many Sporting players Jurgen takes to the Gold Cup will go a long way toward determining whether Sporting gets back on track. Also, changes to the CBA could help Sporting (and other teams) prepare better for absences.
19. Brek Shea (28 in 2018) – Can he get things back on track in the MLS? Right now my answer is yes, but how little he did at Barnsley and Birmingham is worrying, to say the least.
Notable exclusions continue to be Jones and Beckerman. Both will be 36, despite Jones making a huge impact coming back to the MLS.
20. Altidore (28 in 2018) – Will Altidore still be in the MLS in 2018? Will he ever fulfill his potential? If he doesn’t improve like people think he will, expect 2018 to be his last World Cup.
21. Terrance Boyd (27 in 2018) – Maybe if we all put him on our lists, Jurgen will actually take him!
22. Clint Dempsey (35 in 2018) – The whole Landon thing has me wondering about this, but if we go young everywhere else, maybe there is a spot for a veteran. I guess Dempsey should stay away from Cambodia if he wants to make the squad.
23. Juan Agudelo (25 in 2018) – Things have not gone well for Agudelo since announcing himself with the goal against Argentina. Still someone has to take Landon, um, Aron’s spot.
Last guys out
24. Aron Jóhannsson
25. Jose Villarreal (forward or midfielder)
26. Shipp (listed as a forward by Wikipedia, but midfielder elsewhere)
27. Jack McInerney
28. Bobby Wood (25 in 2018) – currently playing in second division in Germany. Needs to step it up a level…literally.
30. Sean Johnson
Honorable mention: Miguel Ibarra. I get that there are no tiers and Ibarra may be the real deal, but until he does it outside of the NASL
There’s probably still someone I haven’t heard of that will emerge, but maybe not now that everyone knows how seriously Jurgen takes bedding in the “foreign” players. There may even be a late bloomer like Wondolowski.