Coach Jurgen Klinsmann calls on Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley to lead the USMNT into the final round of 2018 World Cup Qualifying for the CONCACAF region, The Hex.
The Hex is the final round of World Cup Qualifying for the CONCACAF region. The field is comprised of Mexico (17-FIFA Ranking), Costa Rica (18), United States (24), Panama (63), Trinidad & Tobago (65) and Honduras (86). Each country will play each other both home and away. The top three finishers of The Hex will represent CONCACAF at the2018 World Cup in Russia. The fourth place team will have an opportunity to join the World Cup field by advancing in an inter-confederation playoff. Think back to how Mexico qualified for the 2014 World Cup.
Coach Klinsmann is counting on Altidore and Bradley to maintain their recent club form and lead the USMNT through The Hex. Klinsmann’s 26-man roster will be pared down to 23 at the conclusion of camp. Our opening match is versus Mexico in Columbus this Friday night (November 11th). Mexico has never scored a goal against USA in our four prior matchups at Mapfre Stadium. USA then travels to Costa Rica to take on the Ticos on Tuesday, November 15th. The USMNT have never beaten the Ticos in Costa Rica.
Sascha Kljestan will pair with Bradley in the USMNT midfield.
Klejstan has been a dominant player for the New York Red Bulls and has recently returned to the USMNT player pool earlier this fall. Klejstan is more comfortable up field and affords Bradley an opportunity to play where he excels as a deep lying MF. Jermaine Jones has recently returned to action for the Colorado Rapids and lurks in the wings. Christian Pulisic has been a regular starter in the Bundesliga for Dortmund. Alejandro Bedoya’s industrious play on the flanks has him positioned to be a starter against El Tri.
Will Bobby Wood hold off Jordan Morris at forward?
Morris has been in form for the Seattle Sounders this fall and Wood has struggled with Hamburg in the Bundesliga. Wood is currently serving a 3-match suspension due to a red card received for an elbow in league play. Altidore has been one of MLS’ best in the second half of the season and is a lock starter. Julian Green is on the senior roster for Bayern Munich and is rewarded with a call up for his recent play with the USMNT. Aron Johannsson is a surprise call up as he attempts to comeback with Werder Bremen after a string of significant injury troubles.
Tim Howard’s reclaims the number one goalkeeper spot with an eye towards Russia.
Howard has spearheaded the Colorado Rapids rise in MLS this season. The Rapids and Howard find themselves in the MLS Western Conference Finals after beating the Galaxy on penalties earlier today. Brad Guzan hasn’t figured much for his English club this year in the Championship. Ethan Horvath and William Yarborough are two younger goalies waiting for an opportunity behind the more senior keepers on the USMNT roster.
Geoff Cameron is omitted from the USMNT roster due to an injury.
Cameron and John Brooks, who was the USMNT’s best player earlier this summer during Copa America, will not be paired together for these matches. I expect Omar Gonzalez will replace Cameron at CB in the starting 11. Fabian Johnson is a lock to start at LB, but the starting RB is a question mark. I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Orozco starts at RB against Mexico. Coach Klinsmann loves this guy and DeAndre Yedlin has been shaky in recent matches for country.
Darlington Nagbe is omitted from the roster by choice and Kyle Beckerman and Chris Wondolowski withdraw due to injuries.
Nagbe refused a recent call up for September friendlies versus Cuba and New Zealand. This decision leaves him on the outside looking in as USA starts The Hex. Klinsmann mainstays and MLS veterans Beckerman and Wondolowski both withdrew from the roster due to injuries. Clint Dempsey has yet to be cleared to play for club or country due to a heart condition. I wish Deuce the best and hope he returns to full health soon.
U.S. Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Ethan Horvath (Molde IK), William Yarborough (Club Yeon)
DEFENDERS (9): Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), 14-Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS (13): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), 17-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)
Robert W. Cross is a founding member and former President of American Outlaws Portland and a lifelong football fan and supporter of both club and country.