1 year into this cycle and fresh off the disappointing Gold Cup, Klinsmann's depth chart has become a bit clearer. See prediction #1 from last summer to see how things have changed.
Brad Guzan, William Yarbrough, Bill Hamid
(In the mix: Tim Howard, Cody Cropper, Zach Steffen)
Even with Howard coming back into the fold in September, I'm guessing Guzan will be entrenched as the #1 for this cycle. Since Howard will be 39 years old come Russia '18, I think he will miss out as Klinsmann opts for younger backup options. Yarbrough emerged this year and Hamid is probably the best MLS offering. Cody Cropper and Zach Steffan are the new young guns for future cycles with outside chances to make the plane.
John Brooks, Ventura Alvarado, Omar Gonzalez, Cameron Carter-Vickers
(In the mix: Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Matt Besler, Will Packwood, Shane O'Neill, Matt Miazga)
It seems that Brooks, Alvarado and Omar are pretty good bets to make the 2018 team. 17 year old Tottenham prospect, Carter-Vickers, looks to be the stud of
the future and has a chance in 2018 if Klins chooses to go young. Ream's player of the year performances at Bolton have finally captured Klinsmann's attention but can Ream hold it for 3 more years? Juergen has always favored Orozco as well and Besler might just be temporarily in the doghouse for being out of shape in January camp. O'Neill, Packwood and Miazga were all part of U-20 or U-23 competitions this summer.
Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Brek Shea, Greg Garza
(In the mix: Kellyn Acosta, Oscar Sorto)
This is thinnest group we have in terms of depth right now. I just threw in Acosta and Sorto's names to fill in the blanks. Klinsmann would love to use Fabian and Yedlin in the midfield more, but will need at least one of them to fill the holes in the back. Brek can be used in the midfield as well, which is where I prefer him.
Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Gedion Zelalem, Danny Williams
(In the mix: Joe Corona, Alfredo Morales, Luis Gil, Emerson Hyndman, Geoff Cameron, Will Trapp, Perry Kitchen)
Bradley will be captain and play every minute of the 2018 WC. Danny or Mix will be in contention for that 2nd central spot behind Bradley. Corona and Morales are the last two out, although who knows how Klinsmann might use Geoff Cameron then (CB? RB? Dmid?). Zelalem matures just enough for Klinsmann to take a flier on the budding star. Hyndman is also a future US starter that might be a squad player in 3 years.
Alejandro Bedoya, Gyasi Zardes, DeAndre Yedlin, Julian Green
(In the mix: Miguel Ibarra, Joe Gyau, Paul Arriola)
Bedoya will be the veteran of this bunch. Zardes is really a striker, but Klinsmann needs him outside for now. Yedlin's career in England is still out for deliberation but the natural RB is too fast to ignore. For all the hype and letdown so far about Green, I'm betting he turns it around in time for 2018. If Green doesn't, Gyau is in.
Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood
(In the mix: Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, Rubio Rubin)
Jozy will be there, unless his departure after the GC group stage is an omen of things to come. Johannsson will look to make an impact after last WC's injury-hampered showing. Who knows if Morris and Wood will capitalize on their good performances this year? Dempsey will be 35 and may be the all-time US goal-scorer by 2018, but Klinsmann has shown ruthlessness when cutting aging veterans off the team (see Bocanegra, Donovan).
2018 Starting Lineup: