The U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup qualifying double-header with Guatemala is just around the corner, and several players are seemingly reaching top form at just the right time.
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann pointed to the recent goalscoring exploits of Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood as vital ahead of the pair of upcoming qualifiers. The U.S. is set to visit Guatemala on March 25 before a rematch four days later in Columbus that could lock the USMNT into a spot in the hexagonal.
The form of players like Bedoya will prove vital for a team that has struggled to create goals in recent months. The midfielder, who hasn’t appeared for the U.S. since October, has scored four goals in his past seven games while lifting French club Nantes to a pair of late Coupe des France victories.
Bedoya has long been a veteran of the USMNT midfield, but Klinsmann says the 28-year-old’s recent goalscoring touch will be a welcome addition following several months away from the national team.
“Alejandro Bedoya in Nantes in France is on a very, very good stretch right now,” Klinsmann said. “He’s scoring goals and delivering assists and just being involved consistently in very important moments in a game. This gives us different options than we’ve had going towards World Cup qualifiers at the end of March. With Alejandro Bedoya being on top form, Fabian Johnson being on top form, thats big for us because they are difference makers, and you need players on the field that can make a difference.
“Having Alejandro delivering and being consistent, not having any injury problems, this is big for us. We are keeping our fingers crossed that he stays healthy and keeps that run going.”
Another player on a bit of a hot-streak is Wood, who has found a similar goalscoring record to Bedoya’s run with Nantes. In his past five games, Wood has netted four goals for Union Berlin, including a brace against Fortuna Dusseldorf just before Germany’s winter break.
While Jozy Altidore has cemented his status as USMNT No.1, Klinsmann has been looking for a change of pace forward to play alongside him for some time. In January, Klinsmann offered that opportunity to Gyasi Zardes and Jordan Morris with varying degrees of success.
In qualifiers, Klinsmann says that chance could go to Wood, who netted his fourth international goal against St. Vincent & the Grenadines in November.
“Bobby Wood being on a run and scoring goals is very exciting to us from a national team program perspective,” Klinsmann said. “It’s really nice to see how he’s becoming a mature player. It’s nice to see that he’s taking things into his own hands. We always tell players to be more self-responsible and have that inner drive to go through problems and go through issues and make things happen. Bobby, right now, makes things happen. He starts to score goals on consistent basis and has an influence on his club team in getting out of the relegation area and more into the middle of the table and hopefully getting them up at the end of the day.
“He’s also adjusting himself to the lifestyle in Berlin, in a very very different place than where he was before in Munich. He’s just becoming more mature in everything he’s doing. It’s a pleasure to see Bobby being really consistent right now. He’s having strong performances right now which is, for us, important going towards World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in the end of March.”
While Bedoya and Wood are expected to provide a boost on the attacking end, Klinsmann pointed to the recent play of Omar Gonzalez as a major factor on the defensive side of the ball.
Since his move to Liga MX side Pachuca, Gonzalez has emerged as a mainstay in the team’s defense. Playing some of his best club soccer of the past several years, Gonzalez has seamlessly integrated himself into the Mexican system.
In recent camps, Klinsmann has leaned heavily on Matt Besler to play the role of veteran centerback while shuffling in new faces next to him. Due to a lack of available centerback options, Klinsmann leaned on Jermaine Jones to play out of position in the recent win over Canada.
The return of Gonzalez is a welcome one for Klinsmann. Now integrated with his club team, Gonzalez is expected to replicate that form while providing a bit of stability in qualifiers.
“It’s really fun to watch Omar Gonzalez adjust to his new life in Mexico,” Klinsmann said. “He went down to Pachuca, and everyone was surprised about his decision to go south and ply his trade in Mexico. From day one, he was determined and focused to make a statement, not only that he became a starter right away, but he wanted to make a difference in most of the games.
“Defensively, with his strong presence that he has and his capability with playing out of the back and going into the midfield, but also with scoring a goal. He’s involved in set pieces, which were always big with Omar. It’s a real pleasure to see Omar being happy and having a smile on his face and being strong at the moment. It definitely makes his case much stronger for the national team as well.”
And “just like that” the next generation starts to become a little clearer.
Subs: Howard, Hamid, Yedlin, Cameron, Jones Diskerud, Nguyen, Morris, Wood
jurgen is so excited about bedoya’s attacking exploits that he already has him penciled into the #6 role
Bedoya has been one of the more consistent players, if not the most consistent, for the national team over the years he has been part of the team. I am/was supersized when he is left out of the mix, but hey, he cant play defensive mid, i guess……
well, i agree that he’s been consistent for us, but that’s because–excluding the game against brasil–he’s never really been that good or that bad.
only recently has he looked like much of a game-changer, and that’s still just with his club team. i’m interested to see if he can bring his great form over to the national team.
Ya i agree, thats a fair way to look at it. I think its all in relation to the other options though, I am confident he is one of top 24 players the US has or whatever number it is when rosters are made for the national games etc..
He’s hardly ever been asked to be a game-changer by JK tho. Too many people underrate Bedoya because he does exactly what JK asks of him. He was always been asked to compliment and help cycle possession for the Bradley-Dempsey-Altidore spine; and provided combination and overload plays with FabJo on the right-flank.
Some of the few times he has been asked to be a game-changer, was at GC’13, and especially when asked to lead the 3-man midfield against the Czechs after the WC, and did very well.
He was in the mix until it was announced that he had an illness. Even after he went back to Nantes he missed several games because of his health. I think Klinsmann has always liked him and note that in the article he says he hopes he will stay healthy. This indicates that this is the only thing that might hold Bedoya back at this point.
When does Cameron Carter-Vickers get into the mix at center back?
After the olympics and after he starts getting first team min at Spurs or elsewhere. Good pool of CBs ahead of him.
How about when he starts playing first-team football somewhere (anywhere)? I know people don’t rate the USMNT but players should at least graduate from youth football before they are getting senior caps.
Not to mention that we would be putting a lot of pressure on an extremely raw and inexperienced, albeit talented teenager. I think Carter-Vickers has the potential to pass all of these guys including being as good as Brooks since he’s only 18 and like 9 weeks old….had he been born like 3 days later, he would have qualified for the U-17 WC as well as the U-20 WC he did so well in last year. He’s been in the Spurs academy for a while now, I think we might see him get loaned out soon, but yea that’s why it’s crucial to qualify for the Olympics so guys like Brooks, Miazga, CCV, Paul Arriola, Rubio Rubin, Pulisic, Bradford Jameison IV, Will Trapp, Kellyn Acosta, Desavio Payne and even guys like Danny Williams or Alfredo Morales can get valuable international experience at a high level.
I’m happy to see Gonzo doing well, it’s just that he has Killa Cam ahead of him as far as the USMNT goes, and at least three excellent RCB prospects knocking on his door. It’ll probably be very difficult for him to get another serious look.
Cam may be the #1 RCB, but he is still recovering form his ankle injury. If he doesn’t recovery in time for the March games, or if he picks up another injury than it would be good to have Gonzo to step in and provide some leadership. IMO the young CBs are not yet ready to take a major role (start) in WC Qualifiers. I’d rather Miazga, Alvarado, & Birnbaum are given a little time to grow into the role.
I really believe that the bulk of the March starters are going to come from European or Mexican teams. They will be in midseason form instead of the MLS players who will be just starting their seasons. I can only see Bradley & Jozy as the sure file starters from MLS.
Based on current form John Brooks is the #1 center back, albeit on the left side.
I’ve never seen a coach so wedded to playing one right-footer and one left-footer at the back. The two best CBs should play. CB is not like fullback.
Because our CB’s are some of our most technically-limited players. When we get CB’s who are much more comfortable with both feet (like CCV), then it won’t matter as much.
When playing out of the back, sometimes your CBs will have to play it across the face of the goal, you want them doing it with their comfortable foot.
Our CB’s are already uncomfortable with playing it out the back against better teams who press our backline (except for Cameron). Why would you want to make it anymore difficult, our expose us to more danger?
I’d like to know who there 3 prospects are? Someone below you mentioned Miazga, Birnbaum & Alvarado…. I figured Miazga and Brooks as well as maybe CCV… if those are the ones you’re talking about I can see it, even tho I’m not sure Miazga is a sure fire to be ahead of Omar. But more important is the assumption that Geoff Cameron is anything but a sure fire starter. Did you see his giveaway against the Amateur level St. Vincent in November?
I hope we win against Guatemala, even if it eliminates them (Got family there), and then we can give guys like Cameron Carter-Vickers, Christian Pulisic, Gedion Zelalem etc etc caps in the meaningless remaining qualifiers in the Fall, good situations too, at home to Trinidad to challenge them, and away in St. Vincent to provide them with a taste of Concacaf road games but not too difficult to throw them into the wolves….just maybe 1 wolf lol
Cameron is injured and 30 so his comeback is not assured. He will be 32 in 2018 while Omar will be 29. I like Cam but time waits for nobody and 32 is pushing it at the world cup level. I think Omar has more to worry from the younger players behind him.
Was JK the guy to bring Wood into the Usmnt or had he been involved before?
He was on the U20s Concacaf Championship side in 2011 (U20 World Cup qualifiers) but that’s about it.