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US Soccer World Cup Qualifiers Preview

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Bruce Arena Announces Roster for Upcoming Qualifiers

On Sunday evening, US soccer released its roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The roster held few surprises, and consisted of veteran and youthful talent. Here is the complete roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)

Surprise Exclusion:  Timmy Chandler

Chandler has started both games for Eintracht Frankfurt this season. Even though the fullback has had shaky performances in the past with the US, he plays every week for his club at a high level. He does not offer much in the attacking half of the field, but his defending is solid, which is something the US team could use at RB. With Yedlin hurt and mixed performances from Lichaj and Zusi, I thought Chandler deserved a spot on the roster. Signs are pointing towards Eric Lichaj as the United States’ rightback.

Surprise Inclusion: Chris Wondolowski

Wondo has been a long time double digit goalscorer for the San Jose Earthquakes. On the international stage, he has scored goals as well, but here are the opponents they came against: Guatemala (Gold Cup Group Stage and friendly), Belize (Gold Cup Group Stage), Cuba (Gold Cup Quarterfinal and friendly), South Korea (friendly), and Mexico (friendly). US fans will always remember the goal he missed against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup and question his ability in meaningful games. It is hard to see him stepping on the field, unless there is an injury to one of the starters.

Costa Rica Preview

The first match is on US soil versus Costa Rica. It was nice to see the US beat Costa Rica in the Gold Cup, but the teams have changed since then. Both brought in more European-based players. Costa Rica will look to stay above the US in the qualification table, and I expect to see the US going for a win at home. A win (maybe even a draw) from Costa Rica will basically lock them at 2 and Mexico at 1, on the table. A win from the US will potentially lift them above Costa Rica (depends on goal differential) and essentially promises an automatic birth. A loss or tie could see them fall down to the fourth seeded playoff, depending on Panama’s performances

This should be a very exciting game, with both sides going after a victory. The two teams have developed a rivalry over the years, and Costa Rica has been pushing to be included in the CONCACAF powerhouse discussion (especially after their World Cup run in 2014). Joel Campbell will be missed in the attack, but Bryan Ruiz is always a threat. Navas will be tough to beat in goal, and the US will have to be sharp to get passed him. For these reasons, I think it will be a low scoring affair.

USA Line-up: 4-4-2

GK: Tim Howard

Defenders: Villafana, Besler, Cameron, Lichaj

Midfielders:  Johnson, Bradley, Pulisic, Nagbe

ForwardsDempsey and Altidore

Prediction: 1-0 USA

Honduras Preview

Four days later, the US travels to Honduras. The US have struggled playing deep down South before, and Honduras will look to fight for a playoff birth (though, this seems unlikely with only 5 points in qualifying). Playing at home, Honduras will try and bring the match the to the US. We know that Arena likes to rotate the squad. Due to a lack of fullbacks, could we see 5-defender formation? I think so. There is nothing wrong with getting a result away from home.

USA Line-up: 5-2-3

GK: Guzan

Defenders: Beasley, Gonzalez, Hedges, Ream, Zusi

Midfielders: Bradley and Acosta

Forwards: Arrielo, Wood, Pulisic

Prediction: 2-0 USA

 

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