Thursday, July 27, 2017

2018 Russia WC Roster Prediction #4

1 year away from Russia WC 2018, this is my 4th prediction on the US 23 man WC roster. 1st Prediction2nd Prediction 3rd Prediction.

Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid
(David Bingham, Ethan Horvath, Jesse Gonzalez, Sean Johnson)

Tim Howard, still #1 now in 2017, is likely to keep up play at the highest level for one more year.  If not, then Ethan Horvath sneaks in over Jesse Gonzalez as the 3rd.  Brad Guzan simply hasn't shown the consistency in England or with the US team to make me believe he will overtake Howard this next year.  Hamid has been the keeper-in-waiting for the last 2 cycles, hasn't he?

Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Omar Gonzalez, Steve Birnbaum
(Matt Miazga, Matt Hedges, Matt Besler, Walker Zimmerman, Cameron Carter-Vickers)

Cameron and Brooks are the best bets to be 1st choice CBs going into the fall WC qualifiers and there is no reason that they shouldn't be there next summer.  Omar, having played so long under the Bruce in LA and is coming off a solid Gold Cup, will likely make the plane as well.  The 4th spot in my view should go to Matt Besler, who is comfortable with the ball at this feet and has the experience  to step in if Brooks shows indications of that brainfart game he had in Costa Rica last year.  But it could go to the younger Zimmerman or even Miazga.  I'll predict that Birnbaum will be in the best form and will take the last spot.  I'll tell you who it won't be: Ventura Alvarado.  Remember him?  Cameron Carter Vickers will only be 20 next year, but deserves to be mentioned again as our CB of the future.

DeAndre Yedlin, Jorge Villafana, Eric Lichaj, Tim Ream
(Justin Morrow, Graham Zusi, DeMarcus Beasley, Timothy Chandler, Greg Garza)

Yedlin is the only sure thing at fullback.  His backup should be Chandler, but I predict that he won't sniff a call-up under the Bruce.  I think Bruce doesn't believe that it actually means that much to Chandler to represent the US.  Lichaj is listed here instead, given the lack of options.  As for the other starter, Villafana could very well still be our best option next summer, but his lack of speed bothers me a great deal.  (I'd still look at Brek Shea, but that's just me).  Tim Ream is brought in as a versatile LB and CB backup.  Fabian can also play LB if needed against speedier wings.

Defensive / Central Midfielders:
Michael Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Dax McCarty
(Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones, Cristian Roldan, Emerson Hyndman, Perry Kitchen, Alfredo Morales)

Under the Bruce, Bradley is finally back where he belongs as the deep-lying midfielder.  Freakin' Klinsmann wasted 3 years of Bradley's prime inserting him as the #10.  Acosta is currently in the midst of his coming-out party and should improve even more in the next year.  McCarty will continue his role of backup defensive mid for this next year, although it seems to me that Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams and Perry Kitchen will all look to give Bruce something to think about.  Hyndman is worth keeping an eye on for the future.

Attacking / Wing Midfielders:
Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, Darlington Nagbe, Kelyn Rowe, Kenny Saief
(Alejandro Bedoya, Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes, Joe Corona, Sasha Kljestan, Gedion Zelalem)

Pulisic will be entrenched as our best attacking player, with Nagbe and Fabian as the other possible 1st choice starters.  Rowe gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of in this Gold Cup, while Saief didn't get that same chance due to injury - but I think he will this year.  Bedoya's usefulness as a tireless workhorse will be outweighed by our new attacking talent.  Arriola and Zardes will both be part of qualifying this fall, but will just miss out next summer. 

Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, Dom Dwyer
(Clint Dempsey, Juan Agudelo, Aron Johannsson, Rubio Rubin, Julian Green)

Because Dempsey is already on the verge of being used mostly as a super-sub, he very well might be out altogether one year from now.  I hope not, but there's always a surprise or two (Ching over Twellman, Findley over Ching, Wondo over Landon!?!) in the striker call-ups because the decision for backups are often just about who's hot.  Coaches can take chances on a certain skill-set to be used in a pinch.  Currently, it seems Jozy and Bobby will start, Jordan will be the super-sub and my risk adverse guess is that Dwyer will be the backup who gets a few desperation minutes when we're chasing a goal.

Starting Lineup:

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