Top Stories

Projecting the USMNT roster for the CONCACAF Cup


Photo by Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports


The U.S. Men’s National Team’s CONCACAF Cup roster was narrowed down to 35 in mid-September. Now, it’s time to figure out which 23 players will take the field against Mexico.

With rosters set for release Thursday, Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster choices appear pretty clear-cut. Brad Guzan is set to start in goal, while the preferred fullback duo of Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley is back and ready to go. Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore look like shoe-ins up front, while Michael Bradley continues to be the first name on the team sheet.

Yet, Klinsmann does have some difficult decisions to make ahead of the crucial clash with Mexico. How will Klinsmann handle John Brooks’ recent injury woes? How does the U.S. sort out a slew of midfield options? Has Lee Nugyen done enough to play himself back into the fold?

Those are just some of the questions left for Klinsmann to decide as the U.S. takes on Mexico with a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup on the line.

Here are the 23 players SBI sees Klinsmann calling in for the upcoming CONCACAF Cup:

Projected USMNT CONCACAF Cup Roster


Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando

OUTLOOK: No real surprises on the goalkeeping front, as Klinsmann will all but certainly go with the tried-and-true method. Brad Guzan is penciled in as the No. 1, while Tim Howard waits in the wings for another opportunity.

Where things get slightly less obvious is the third spot, which Klinsmann will likely opt to use on a veteran presence in Nick Rimando. Bill Hamid is one of several goalkeepers knocking on the door for another USMNT look, but Rimando’s experience makes him the more likely addition for a one-off game.

Missed the Cut: Bill Hamid



Ventura Alvarado, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream

OUTLOOK: After missing the team’s September friendlies, Klinsmann’s preferred fullback duo appears ready to go. Both DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson have returned, and have experienced success, on the club level in recent weeks and should be penciled in to start. Versatile players like Tim Ream, Geoff Cameron and Michael Orozco provide cover on either flank.

Once again, Klinsmann will have some decisions at centerback, especially with the potential absence of John Brooks. The Hertha Berlin centerback has yet to feature since the Peru friendly, leaving his status up in the air for the CONCACAF Cup. His typical USMNT partner, Ventura Alvarado, should be in the mix, but Klinsmann will also have the options of veterans, like Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, as well as the aforementioned trio of Ream, Cameron and Orozco.

Missed the Cut: John Brooks, Brad Evans, Greg Garza, Jonathan Spector



Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes

OUTLOOK: A combination of Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya, Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes will all but certainly make up the USMNT midfield against Mexico. DeAndre Yedlin’s speed out wide continues to make him a valuable late-game option, while Mix Diskerud remains a contributing regular despite this past summer’s club struggles.

Klinsmann does have some choices to make, however, when it comes to selecting cover. Danny Williams impressed against Brazil, but the Reading midfielder will likely compete with Kyle Beckerman for the role of backup holding midfielder. Likewise, Joe Corona could provide valuable depth on the wings or in a more central role if need be.

The biggest question mark remains Klinsmann’s penchant for surprises, and one might be coming in the form of Lee Nguyen. The New England Revolution midfielder is in good form on the club level, and was never given much of a chance during his call-ups earlier this year. With that said, Klinsmann likely leaves Nguyen away, at least for the time being, in favor of more familiar faces.

Missed the Cut: Kyle Beckerman, Alfredo Morales, Lee Nguyen, Graham Zusi



Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Aron Johannsson, Bobby Wood

Having looked slightly better in recent weeks with Toronto FC, Jozy Altidore is likely set to start up top for the USMNT. His preferred forward partner, Clint Dempsey, will join him, while an in-form Aron Johannsson inclusion looks certain as well. Jordan Morris will be left free to lead the Olympic qualifying run, while Alan Gordon’s listing was never much more than a safety blanket should the team be without a physical presence.

The questions remain for that fourth spot, where Klinsmann will have a choice on his hands. On one side, Bobby Wood is doing very well for himself in Germany and has shown a knack for stepping up against tough opposition when called upon. On the other, Chris Wondolowski provides a veteran eye for goal. Look for Klinsmann to reward Wood for his recent successes, although an appearance remains unlikely.

Missed the Cut: Alan Gordon, Jordan Morris, Chris Wondolowski

What do you think of this 23-man roster? Which players would you like to see called in? What would be your go-to lineup against Mexico?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I think the prevalent sentiment here is to sack Altidore as soon as possible. Most including myself think that by taking Antigoal out of the picture altogether maybe we can develop a more cohesive and lethal group (say 3-4) of forwards who can combine and establish a partnership to carry us to Moscow, I mean 2018. By constantly favoring Lazydore Klinsmann has thwarted the hopes of many our developing strikers; they know no matter what they do Lazydore will be on the team. And thank God he’s forgotten Ibarra and Green for the time being.

  2. Jozy is lousy in any system! Get rid of him once and for all. A lazy lumbering lug of a striker. Aron Johansson is a much better option!!! Play Johansson work much better with Dempsey than does lazy/Jozy!

  3. My $0.02

    – Jozy is better in a two-striker system than playing by himself.

    – Dempsey playing as the second forward (#10-trequarista-in-the-hole) or whatever you want to call it can keep Jozy connected and also prevent MB from getting pulled two far up the field. At this point, we don’t have a better pairing.

    – I like Bradley playing with Beckerman/D-Will, when he’s able to roam. That said, Jones is better than Beckerman/D-Will.

    – I’d love to see FJ play left-mid, with Bedoya/Zardes on the right, but . . .

    – Playing Cameron at RB means that Omar, Orozco or Alvarado has to pair with Besler, which I don’t like.

    – Right now, Benny is better than Mix or Nguyen

  4. Aron Johansson works much better up front with Clint Dempsey than lazy, plodding hulk, Jozy Altidore. Altidore should be benched.

  5. I would rather see Gordon and Wondolowski included. Altidore’s last and only goal against Mexico was in 2007. Bobby Wood has never impressed me. Altidore is only known for hold-up play and he really disappointed in the BPL. Since Dempsey and Altidore are so predictable, it would be good to have some people in the mix that have some different modes of attack available.

  6. Jozy Altidore totally sucks. I don’t know why you in the media keep referring to him as the preferred starter. He is a lazy lumbering forward that is way, way, overrated. I also do not understand why JK keeps sticking with him. He is worthless. Aron Johansson is a much better option up top. He also works better with Dempsey than lazy/Jozy.

  7. hope Brooks can get back and take Alvarado’s spot and we don’t have to entertain Wondo in place of an injured Johannsson…

    still think that either Nguyen or Zusi are more useful than Corona, but really something has gone terribly wrong if any of them are on the field.

    i would like to see:
    subs: Altidore, Johannsson, Mix, Yedlin, Williams, Ream

    • I like this setup in attack but worry our midfield would be overrun by Mexico. I wouldn’t be shocked to see us revert basically back to the way we started vs Ghana.


      This leaves Zardes out which is harsh for him, but assuming Bradley, Jones and Bedoya are almost guaranteed to be 3 of the midfield 4 the choice is between Zardes and Beckerman. Jones/Bradley in the center has been an inconsistent pairing for years. Beckerman’s presence has been the balancing force needed and Klinsmann clearly has great trust in him. The experimentation of the last year hasn’t provided anything we can trust. Have a feeling Klinsmann will revert back to the old system for 1 game and get back to preparing for 2018 once we’re through this.

  8. I think with the inclusion of Cameron and Ream, you don’t need Orosco. You have Alvarado and Yedlin to cover the back role at RB and you have Ream and Johnson to cover the LB if need be. Remember, this is not a tournament but a 1 game playoff. If JK goes with 7 defenders, then he can bring another midfielder.
    Williams should not only be selected but starting, JK hasn’t played the pullie “8”s in a long time, why would he do it now? If anything, he has done a double “6”s during the WC. Corona may be versatile, but he is not that good at any position.
    In my opinion, this game will be decided by how well Jones can play, he is the key, not Bradley. Bradley hasn’t been able to exceed expectations in games that matter.

  9. “Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore look like shoe-ins up front”

    And there in lies the problem. I understand Clint being included, hes a big game player and will be vital in our attack. Jozy however is replaceable, I don’t want to hear the argument of “who else is there that can do what Jozy does”. Often times Jozy is doing next to nothing so yes we do have players that can fill that role. I understand Jozy is still one of our most decorated scorers (but that’s not saying much really) and has come through before but he is in bad form and hasn’t been lighting the MLS up like he should. Its time to move on.

    • Totally agree about Jozy being mostly useless and he should not start. Assuming ArJo is healthy enough, he needs to be given the nod.

      HOWEVER, if you take a look at the forward pool in the 35, Jozy still makes the 23 over Wondo, Gordon and Morris… right?

    • he said jozy’s a “shoe-in” for the roster, not to start (although he said that is likely).

      and i’m all for fresh faces up front, but the “time to move on” is not in what amounts to a cup final. if aj is fully fit, then i could maybe see him up top this game, but it’s not like he’s been tearing it up for us either.

      • Good points. Here is my main beef with Jozy. Jozy is built to be a lone forward type who can hold the ball and bring other players in the game, however we ALL know he struggles to do this and is often gone MIA on these occasions. He doesn’t fight for the ball very well and has poor touches that don’t allow him to hold the ball and be effective, not to mention how poor he is in the air for a big dude (wtf). FACT, ok then maybe he does other things well like run the channels and open up spaces for others, well HE DOESN’T do that either. He lacks the movement, pace, and creativity you would want out of a striker that isn’t being asked to hold the ball and he cant play the holdup positon well either.

        Bottom line is he is not a hold up guy, a run the channels type of forward, or even a poacher. He is a good passer of the ball and has a decent shot when given room, but he cant create his own shot and is not going to beat players off the dribble. He has a very limited skill set for a forward

      • that’s all true, and i agree: it’s aggravating that jozy’s not better as a hold-up forward when he’s got the ideal body type for it.

        however, at this point, he *still* might be the best hold-up forward we have, at least if we’re sticking with dempsey as supporting striker. i think boyd could be good, but he’s injured too much to tell, and i’d really like to see zardes more in that role, but not for this game.

        basically, jozy would be a great forward for the type of system klinsmann claims to be working toward: a quick-tempo high-pressure attacking scheme. but as we’re usually stuck with passing it around between our back 5-6 players against decent teams, our “top” forward will remain playing in a role that just doesn’t suit him.

      • simply put, i don’t think we currently have the striker you’re looking for, unless it’s dempsey, who still remains our most complete forward.

        in my opinion, klinsmann should’ve been giving more time to other forwards in our pool, but maybe he thought we had more pressing issues. either way, it’s a moot point for this game.

      • Jozy is only PHYSICALLY built to be a lone striker, he is way more comfortable in a 2 ST system. He likes to pass until the team has it’s best shooting opportunity for that possession and if that’s him he’ll take it. At times he looks lost because his teammate passes him the ball expecting a shot and he’s looking to wall-pass it back to the teammate for an easier ‘team shot’. the teammate doesn’t expect this, thus doesn’t move, ending in a loss of possession. I’ve seen this happen on countless teams he’s played on. Some call this being too unselfish; perhaps not the WORST of problems. He has ADEQUATE speed in short bursts and uses his body well to hold off defenders while running. His touch and first-touch-passing are inconsistent yet still have a high ceiling, meaning he is solidly capable of brilliance but is no Zidane in the consistency category. As for his movement, this is where’s it’s interesting. Having watched his “evolution” (lol) it really seems like somewhere down the line some coach said ‘ u need to get bigger and strong and learn how to run better by running less’. its the sort of thing that taller ‘not-fast’ strikers use or even older strikers (Clint, Klose). You have to pick your moments to give full effort, and minimize otherwise, etc. the only problem is Jozy isn’t slow persay or even old, so there’s no need to switch to that style. early on he was apt to run off the ball faster as he was a youthful 16-20 year old. But at some point overseas he seemingly purposefully transitioned to the ‘old-man’ style lol; there were many moments at AZ where displayed his old style reminiscent of his NYRB days, but even then you could see the transition occurring. His days at Sunderland were obviously in that mentality of “to get better i need to run less and run SMARTER…”–which CAN work (think Steven Fletcher) yet obviously didn’t for him. often i think people mistake him not making a run for him actually just making a slow(read:walking), sneaky run–waiting for the ball to be played to sprint– rather than a Suarez-like sprinting diagonal run.

        At the end of the day every player has a different style or combo of styles. Some people may not like his style and would prefer a different player to play for the USMNT but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ‘simply not good(enough)…’.

        so sure, he’s a decent hold up guy, not a sprinting-styled channel runner, decent poaching ability, good passer, and immensely powerful shot (most all of his coaches have publicly mentioned his [amazing] shot). is that the worst thing in the world? id argue no– pointing to stats to support.

        for reference, AJ is a BAD hold up guy, more of a sprinting-styled channel runner, good poaching ability, solid passer with a normal shot for a pro. is that light years better than the former?
        I just use AJ as an example but, Clint aside, the rest of the US pool is some other mixture of those attributes adding up to a different yet no better version of Jozy. THAT’s what I don’t get, how people fail to see this. but to each his own….

        overall i think the focus should be more on the best system to use with the players we have that utilizes all of the strengths to form the best XI possible.

        …over and out…

      • “At times he looks lost because his teammate passes him the ball expecting a shot…”
        “His touch and first-touch-passing are inconsistent yet still have a high ceiling,”
        “His days at Sunderland were obviously in that mentality of “to get better i need to run less…”
        “At the end of the day every player has a different style or combo of styles”
        Lets get to the point, Altidore sucks (and in league play he doesn’t even perform like a $500K player) , time to accept and move on. If we start Altidore anywhere on the field against Mexico it’s an automatic “L” for us. Case closed

    • “Often times Jozy is doing next to nothing so yes we do have players that can fill that role.” LOL. Do next to nothing? Indeed, I do believe we’ve got that category covered. And then some. 🙂

  10. Didn’t I read that Johannsson came out of his last match with an injury? I can’t remember the details but it seemed then he might be questionable for the Mexico match.

  11. Mix blows, Altidore Sucks, experience is the key Beckerman/Bradley builds strength bring back Zusi and put zardes on top with Dempsey

  12. IMO Cameron needs to be at CB. He’s played every minute of the PL season there, and played it well. Would love Nguyen over Mix, simply because we’ve seen what Mix has been doing as of late. I would trust Nguyen with a spark over Mix.

    Other than that, can’t have too many complaints.

    • Cameron is dead to me at CB after his performance against Portugal. He may get a chance in my midfield but will never be a CB again. Besides, I need to challenge Cameron to put his play at a higher level by playing him out of position. I will try left midfield next.


Leave a Comment