Bruce Arena’s roster has been ravaged by injuries as World Cup qualifiers loom. Several players, most of which were presumed starters, will not be joining camp as the U.S. Men’s National Team faces a pair of vital World Cup qualifiers.
Naturally, there are some concerns.
Bobby Wood, Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin headline the notable injury absences for the U.S., who enter clashes with Honduras and Panama severely short-handed. Meanwhile, Brad Guzan remains away from the team following the birth of his daughter, while long-time midfield starter Jermaine Jones is suspended for the opening clash. Arena has some decisions to make, and fast, in a number of key positions.
Left back has long been a weakness for the U.S., and even before Johnson was hurt, Arena had made it clear he planned to move the long-time USMNT fullback option to a wing midfield role. Veteran DaMarcus Beasley appears to be the leading candidate to start there, though Arena has talked up Jorge Villafana as a starting option after his impressive showing in January. Beasley has the big-game experience, but does he have a few more strong qualifying performances left in him?
The same issues plague the right back spot thanks to Yedlin’s injury. Michael Orozco seems the most likely option, while Graham Zusi’s recent move to the position makes him a candidate. Geoff Cameron is also someone that could play there in a pinch, but Arena should be wary of breaking up the Cameron-John Brooks duo. If Cameron does move out wide, a veteran like Omar Gonzalez could slide in his place, but Arena should be hesitant to break up a defensive pairing that has been extremely consistent together. Even Brooks is a bit of a question mark as he joins camp with a slight knee injury.
Up top, the U.S. is a bit deeper, even with the injury to Wood. A regular starter since his breakout showing at Copa America, Wood is out with a back injury, leaving Arena to figure out what to do now. Jozy Altidore is in good form and Clint Dempsey has returned, giving plenty of experience up top. Still, there are concerns, especially regarding Jordan Morris, who received treatment on Tuesday during the USMNT’s training session.
Finally, there’s the central midfield, a spot which will be fine for the second match. Jones remains the likely starter alongside Michael Bradley, but his suspension makes things interesting. Sebastian Lletget may step in to the central midfield gap, but the LA Galaxy midfielder earned his first cap during January camp. Kellyn Acosta has just one World Cup qualifying cap, but it was as a left back. Dax McCarty, the most veteran option, has never played in a qualifier.
With all that in mind, SBI wants to know which position has you the most worried heading into the March qualifiers? Is it left back? Right back? Are the forward options keeping you up at night?
Cast your vote here: