Top Stories

Who should the USMNT call-up for October friendlies?

Photo by Logan Bowles/USA Today Sports
Photo by Logan Bowles/USA Today Sports

The Hexagonal looms large for the U.S. Men’s National Team, making a pair of October friendlies vital for players looking to seal their spots on the next World Cup qualifying roster.

After qualifying for the Hex with a pair of lopsided wins over St. Vincent & The Grenadines and Trindad & Tobago, the U.S. can now take the foot off the gas a bit for two friendly matches. The pre-WCQ clashes begin when the U.S. visits Cuba on Oct. 7 before hosting New Zealand at RFK Stadium four days later.

Entering the friendlies, Jurgen Klinsmann will certainly have two things in mind. First, the USMNT boss will be looking to finalize his roster for the Nov. 11 clash with Mexico. To that aim, he’ll be hoping to get a look at several fringe players while sorting out positions that still features competition. The camp and ensuing friendlies won’t be about reinventing the USMNT identity, but rather plugging the gaps remaining before one of the biggest clashes of the World Cup cycles. That opens the door for younger players to earn some looks and officially cement the leap from youth-team star to first-team regular.

However, even with the desire to get newer faces involved, Klinsmann will also have one eye on the club scene. The German-born manager won’t want to take any unnecessary risks for a pair of friendlies against overmatched competition. As several players continue to work back into form and fitness on the club level, Klinsmann will likely avoid bringing in players that require more time at home. That makes the likes of John Brooks and Aron Johannsson unlikely call-ups, while younger options like Matt Miazga or Emerson Hyndman could use more time to adjust to a new home. Meanwhile, Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes will miss out on USMNT camp once again, opening up several spots for competition on the forward line.

Here are the 23 players that could make up Klinsmann’s roster for the upcoming friendlies:


Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Ethan Horvath

Outlook- Competition remains at the goalkeeping position, but the faces in the mix for call-ups remain pretty clear-cut. Tim Howard and Brad Guzan continue to duke it out for the No. 1 spot, and one would expect each to get a start during the October friendlies. It remains to be seen which of the two earns the nod against Mexico on Nov. 11, but it’s still very clear that the two are far and away Klinsmann’s top two choices going forward.

That leaves one spot remaining for a younger option, namely Ethan Horvath or David Bingham. Horvath was most recently included in the September World Cup qualifying squad. That, along with his age, gives the Molde goalkeeper a slight edge as he looks to earn a spot on the first Hexagonal squad. Elsewhere, Bill Hamid has been spectacular for D.C. United down the stretch, but he hasn’t been with the program since January and is unlikely to unseat either Bingham or Horvath for the time being.

Missed the Cut– David Bingham, Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid



Kellyn Acosta, Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez, Keegan Rosenberry, DeAndre Yedlin

Outlook- Starting with the centerback position, competition will be the theme as John Brooks likely remains in Germany to recover from a recent injury. In Brooks’ absence, Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez all showed well during the September qualifiers. While Cameron remains likely to partner Brooks’ given their obvious chemistry during the Copa America, it’s up to the other three to battle it out for what will likely be the final two spots on the Hexagonal roster. Expect some rotation over the two friendlies as Klinsmann gets a further look, even if the names mentioned above are somewhat familiar.

Out wide, Klinsmann has some decisions. Kellyn Acosta appears to have made the leap to a legitimate international, but questions remain if left back is his best position. He’ll all but certainly get another look at the position in the pair of games.

Still, every U.S. friendly roster calls for a few surprises, and one that could be included on this squad is Keegan Rosenberry. The Philadelphia Union fullback is a front-runner for MLS Rookie of the Year and has stepped up time and time again to stop some of MLS’ elite. Aside from one poor match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Rosenberry has been solid week-in, week-out, as he has played every minute of the Union’s 2016 MLS season. While he may be one for January camp, Rosenberry has more than earned a look. It’s just a matter of when it comes.

Another player deserving of a look as Jorge Villafana, who has perhaps eclipsed Sacha Kljestan as the most called for absence. Villafana’s international future remains up in the air, as Mexico remains an option. However, Klinsmann has had a full year to get a look at Villafana, but has yet to add him to a USMNT roster, a sign that the manager possibly doesn’t rate the fullback as highly as others do. Once again, a spot in January remains a possibility.

Finally, there’s the case of Cameron Carter-Vickers, who has become the latest dual-national prospect in need of a USMNT cap. The Tottenham defender recently made his first team debut and, although England remains an option, the 18-year-old has never indicated interest in representing anyone but the USMNT. With centerback positions still up for debate and Carter-Vickers still battling for time on the club level, it makes sense to leave the youngster in England, at least for the time being.

Missed the Cut– Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Hedges, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, Walker Zimmerman


Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Lynden Gooch, Fabian Johnson, Perry Kitchen, Sacha Kljestan, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic


Let’s just get it out of the way: Christian Pulisic is for real. There’s no more debate, no more argument. He’s a Champions League-caliber player on an elite team, one that has seemingly gotten even better since shining in his last USMNT appearances. Given his recent ability to make plays with a club the size of Borussia Dortmund, it’s impossible to ignore Pulisic any longer. He’s a USMNT starter. Done.

Onto the veterans. Michael Bradley has been in fine form with Toronto FC as of late and, like he has been for the last several years, the midfielder is a lock for the roster. Joining him among the more experienced options are Alejandro Bedoya and Fabian Johnson, the latter of whom is fresh off Champions League clashes with Barcelona and Manchester City. Sacha Kljestan also seems a likely inclusion after taking complete advantage of what was likely his final two chances at reclaiming a USMNT spot.

Just behind them, Perry Kitchen and Darlington Nagbe have done well enough on the club level to warrant a spot. Kitchen was recently named Hearts captain and has become a mainstay with the Scottish club. Nagbe, meanwhile, recently scorched a game-winning free kick to keep the Portland Timbers’ CONCACAF Champions League hopes alive. Klinsmann always places an emphasis on selecting players getting club minutes, and Kitchen and Nagbe certainly meet that mark.

That leaves a pair of youngsters: Paul Arriola and Lynden Gooch. Of the two, Arriola has the better chance to make the squad. The Tijuana winger showed well by scoring a goal against T&T, and he appears to be part of Klinsmann’s plans going forward. Gooch, on the other hand, has yet to earn a senior team look after previously featuring for the U.S. U-20s. Given his recent play for Sunderland, Gooch is likely in line for a call-up at some point, and it would make sense to give him his first senior action during the upcoming friendlies.

Still, Gooch faces competition for the “young midfielder trying to join the senior team” role. Caleb Stanko was recently a part of the September roster and could use another look, but given Gooch’s Premier League success, it’s easy to see a scenario in which Klinsmann decides to give him the nod.

Missed the Cut– Kyle Beckerman, Alfredo Morales, Caleb Stanko, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi


Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood

Outlook- There are several forward spots that also appear to be all but locked up. Jozy Altidore is in his best form since joining Toronto FC with eight goals in his last 11 appearances on the club level. Add in the goals scored against St. Vincent & The Grenadines and T&T and Altidore is all but certainly the USMNT’s most in-form striker.

Joining him is Bobby Wood, who has cemented his spot throughout the past year. The forward has enjoyed a solid start to his Hamburg career with two goals in his first five appearances. At this point, Wood is a virtual lock for each and every USMNT squad.

That leaves Jordan Morris, who is also more than deserving of selection. The Seattle Sounders forward has scored four times in five matches while solidifying his status as Rookie of the Year favorite. The only thing that may prevent him from joining the USMNT roster is the playoff race. With Dempsey already out, and the upcoming USMNT friendlies all but meaningless in the grand scheme of things, the Sounders may ask the USMNT to throw them a bone by letting Morris remain. The Sounders still face a battle for the postseason, and there are other prospects that could be called in if Klinsmann opts to do the Sounders a favor.

Missed the Cut– Julian Green, Aron Johannsson, Jerome Kiesewetter, Rubio Rubin, Chris Wondolowski


  1. What exactly has Gooch’s ‘success in England’ been? He’s played a bit for Sunderland but I have not seen him do anything of note with those minutes.

    • Gooch won a “man of the match” award earlier in the season. And of course, everything is relative. At this point it’s so rare for an American to start in the EPL that just doing that is considered a success.

    • Did some one ask for a full scouting report on an American Sunderland player?!?! Well you’re in luck….

      Lyndon Gooch is a square-built “motor” midfielder. He can play anywhere in the midfield, generally wide or at cam but has dropped into a dual CM role for Sunderland late in games after tactical subs were made. He has a solid shot from out of the box and uses it at the right moments. He has solid soccer IQ and awareness; surely developed while being an academy player at Sunderland since he was 14 or 15. He, oddly enough, has taken a similar path in moving to England at a young age to try and make it they the academies. He found his home at Sunderland and has slowly worked his way up the old fashioned way. To be a 20 year old started for a new manager is an accomplishment for sure. It seems now that cattermole is back that GOOCH will be a rotating starter. His strengths are his strength, combo play, aggression and passing.

      All that to say, his development is certainly viewed as a success please don’t downplay starting in the PL, especially that of a 20 year old. Not saying he’s the next Pulisic (lol…) but he’s doing precisely what JK and a lot of fans want from young Americans

  2. What is Kekuta Manneh’s status by now? Has he been cleared to play for the USA yet? January probably a better option for him in any case.

    • Who in the Player pool is a better deep lying holding midfielder that Bradley? I’d submit the only one I can think of currently playing at an arguably similar level is Acosta but JK thinks he is a left back, even though he is a top player as a 6 for the best team in MLS. Has Bradley’s form dipped from his Peak (series A days), yes but seriously who do you rate higher?

      • I think Cameron is a better DM than Bradley at this point, but I also think Cameron is our best CB. Danny Williams is another option. But yeah, I really wish we had more competition for Bradley.

    • He’s on Tab’s radar for the U20 team, and he has a profile page on, although it just has his name and position. I believe he’s expected to be on the roster for qualification or the U20 WC if Everton makes him available.

  3. He is certainly not ready yet, but if John Nelson continues to improve he will be the left back in the future, He is only 18. I think he was the best player for Friedel’s U-19 squad as well as being on the US U-20 squad.
    He defends well and can get forward with some speed. It does remain to see how he matures in the next 3-4 years, but if he gets bigger and continues his athletic development as would be expected, his ability to read the game and defend smartly will put him in the mix.
    The online pictures of show a real baby-face, if that is any indication of how much more physical maturation he has left, it bodes well for his future.
    BTW, he will attend UNC next fall, so people can get in on the ground floor to start commenting on how he is wasting his future.

    • Dennis he’s not wasting his future he’s just postponing it. NCAA rules limit training times and the compressed season doesn’t help much either. He will get a tremendous education at UNC, but his development will not occur at the rate of others in his age group that are playing in Europe he will just not have the time, resources, or access to top professionals. Also, there is nothing to say he won’t still end up in Europe many youngsters commit to a college as their back up before pursuing contracts or leave college after one or two years.

      • There needs to be an emoji for sarcasm. I thought most would understand that my comment about wasting his future was tongue in cheek and that only the real NCAA bashers would react. I did not think anyone would take it seriously.

        But I do agree that it will slow his development simply because he will be playing soccer less time, not because college soccer is inherently bad (though it does tend to favor athleticism over skill mostly due to the liberal substitution rules).

      • Siebatchu came on the radar last year after scoring three times in the first month of the season and then gave an interview about being born in the US. Since then he scored twice for Reims II and once in a Cup match against Bob’s LeHavre. He’s played in 5 of 9 league matches so far this year averaging 40 minutes per match. He’s only 20, but the shine has dimmed a little on this potential star after his fast start.

      • Oops that comment was intended for below.

        Dennis: I knew you were heading potential “haters” off before they started. I just was checking to make sure you were being realistic. I think your estimate of being in the mix in 3 or 4 years is almost unattainable if he stays at UNC during that time. He’s just not going to be facing quality opponents to really achieve National team level in that time frame. Going the college route puts him in Nat consideration in 5 to 7 years.

  4. Villafana definitely needs to be called in. I’d add CCV and my surprise pick would be Lletget in the midfield. I also don’t understand the big deal about Kitchen since the SPL isn’t any better than MLS and Kitchen hasn’t impressed me when he has played. I’d bring in Danny Williams instead.

    • Give me Lletget’s stats over the last twelve months and make a reasonable case.

      Villafana has had one good season and playoff run, yes, he starts in Liga Mx, but its for the 2nd to last place team and the 2nd worse defense. If he didn’t play our weakest position would there be such a clamor for him?

      • Regards Villafana, lack of depth at LB is the whole point. We don’t know if he can play internationally yet because he hasn’t done so, except briefly on the youth level. That’s one of the main reason for friendlies–to give chances to new players. You may downplay his MX experience, but outside of Fabian, who plays at a higher level who has played LB consistently? As for Lletget, I am including him on potential. He can wait until January, however.. A month or so ago I said he could become an excellent CAM, even for the national team, and received brickbats for that. I think that it fits his skill set perfectly and I am not alone. After his first game there, due to injuries, in the post game Galaxy show Clint Mathis praised him highly. In the last Galaxy game the color commentator ( I forget who it was) said that for the Galaxy to go far in the playoffs they will need Lletget in the middle instead of Gerrard. He has only played there 3 or 4 times now, but he has all the qualities you need and he just needs more experience on reading defenses and getting in sync with his other attackers.

      • Your right if he didn’t play Left Back there probably wouldn’t be so many calling for him to get a call-up. But the fact remains that we’ve tried just about every other LB with any connection to the US and haven’t found anyone who is decent enough to be anything other than a backup or emergency option.

        Shea has become a sub for Orlando as a midfielder, and when tried didn’t really impress.
        Castillo has a knee injury and has never impressed with the USMNT.
        Garza is just returning from injury, and was badly exposed for his lack of speed.
        Ream did OK when he was tried, but has since seen his club PT reduced to nearly ZERO.
        Orozco is a utility player who’s been less than satisfactory and at 31 is getting up there in age.
        Besler was pressed into service due to suspensions. Did well, but isn’t going to be a threat on the attack.
        Acosta is a good player but is still learning outside to be an outside back. He’s a bit of a project.
        Chandler is an option but is usually a RB. He hasn’t played LB for a long time (Friendly against Belgium I think).
        Fabian is a good LB, but if played there we loose a quality wide midfielder. If we can find a good LB he could play opposite Pulisic in a 4 man midfield or pinched in if we play a 3 man midfield (maybe a replacement for Jones).

        We have to find someone who can push Fabian forward and/or be a replacement if FJ is injured or suspended. At this point the only other LB option we haven’t tried is Payne….but he’s currently injured.

      • I tried to post a big long response Gary and Lost from my tablet last night but it doesn’t appear that it posted so if it shows up and this is a duplicate sorry. Here’s the short version

        Didn’t realize Lletget had been moved inside, why are all the American CAMs former European players, hmmm?

        I think Villafana deserves a look just don’t see it as a no brainer Jks so stupid as some do.

        I think we are still better with CP and FJ on the left and Yedlin and Zardes on the right with Wood and Altidore in the middle. The bigger problem to me has been finding a combo in the middle that can link balls out of the back to the wings and the forwards. When we’ve been bad its been because the wings have been forced so deep because we cannot maintain possession. Moving FJ to a wing doesn’t help if Jones and Bradley don’t have the ability to get him the ball.

        Turkmen, I think your 3 man backline would be fine against most Concacaf opponents, but against Mex, CR, Panama, and any team that would qualify for WC, Yedlin and FJ would be forced so deep it would just end up being a five man back line anyway.

  5. Pretty good calls overall. Colorado have games on 10/8 and 10/13, so I think Howard should stay with them and Hamid get a callup instead.

    While he’s had a great season, I think Villafana is much more deserving of a look than Rosenberry, especially considering we have Yedlin at right back and no clear frontrunner at left back. However, I also thought he was a shoe-in for the Puerto Rico game.

    I also would really like to see Danny Williams get another shot after establishing himself as one of Reading’s best players, and think Lichaj deserves to get called in as well.

    • Agree 100%, what is the purpose for Wondo and Beckerman when you are playing against the likes of NZ and Cuba? These are the type of games to see if guys like Agudelo have recovered their form and also someone like Mullins if they can compete at a higher level.

    • A number of our “traditional vets” are either out of consideration due to injury or have club commitments. Players like Dempsey, Jones, and possibly Brooks could use the time to further their recovery/rehab while Howard, Morris, Bedoya, and other MLSers may need to say with their clubs for a playoff push.
      That leaves a lot of opportunity for the young Yanks Abroad and players who have already secured their MLS playoff births. Hope to see some new faces called up and given a chance while also keeping some core players to either build around and/or see how they measure up.

  6. Timothy Tillman—-Timothy Weah
    Joshua Pynadath– Ander Egiluz—Panos Armenakas
    Kyle Gruno
    Antonee Robinson—Corey Anton–Danny Barbir–Marlon Fossey
    Jonathan Klinsmann

    Get them all int the team and CAP THEM NOW!!! We don’t want another Subotic or Rossi on our hands!!!!
    CCV can wait a little longer though!

    • Okay.. i have heard of about 3 of these guys..can you imagine the out rage if Klinnsy called in his son! Remember Bob calling in Michael, now add that to the outrage when Jurgen called Morris from Stanford and then multiply that by the fact JonKlinsmann isnt even a great college GK… SBI servers crash. Maybe we can get a April Fools game

  7. Too bad these games aren’t in Europe. Would have liked to see an all or almost all Europe based roster like has been done in the past. I know most players that would be called up are players that aren’t playing much or barely returned from injury, but it would have a January camp like feel to it, to see where the players are at.

    Fwds: Wood, Arjo, Rubin, Altidore, Boyd, etc.
    Mids: Pulisic, Gooch, Zelalem, Hyndman, Morales, Williams, Kitchen, Gatt, Gyau, etc.
    Def: Yedlin, Chandler, Payne, Lichaj, Miazga, CCV, Brooks, Cameron.
    GK: Guzan, Horvath, etc.

    • Payne is out right now with an injury, Gyau said this week he is close to returning to games. Just an FYI for everyone not a critique.

  8. I’d like to not bother calling up most of our locks. I wouldn’t mind the following:

    F: Johannson, Morris, Green, Sibastieu, Agudelo
    M: Kljestan, Williams, Arriola, Hyndman, Torres, Rubin, Gooch
    D: Vilafana, Vincent, Orozco, Acosta, CCV, Besler, Gonzalez, Birnbaum
    K: Guzan, Horvath, Yarbrough

  9. Goalkeeper: Howard = #1; easy decision. Also Horvath was the #3 on the Copa roster not Bingham.

    Defenders: CCV, I bet Rosenberry waits until January. Perfect time to bring in Villafana and Orozco is probable

    Mids: that’s the group. Challenge is getting them all on the field and in what formation

    Forwards: Johannsson, Kiesewetter very likely as well – friendlies so calling in 24-26 players is probable.

    goals: 1. finalize the XI for the HEX 2. get caps for young guys

    • England doesn’t really call up players until they are established, and don’t really play the cap tie game like the US do, but if they did it would be Oct 8 WCQ vs Malta. better to be safe than sorry.

      call in CCV, get some time vs either Cuba or NZ, make him feel at comfortable with the group, decide if cap tieing vs Mex or CrC is necessary…

      • There is an exception to every rule. Theo Walcott made his debut for the English national team while just past his 17th birthday and was part of the World Cup team a few months later in 2006.

    • 1. Ingolstadt is an average to weak team (only 2nd year in Bundesliga)
      2. Morales was in and out last season with injuries
      3. He is basically the same type of player as Bradley, Jones, and Williams
      4. He hasn’t really stood out in his 13 caps

      • i think we’ve talked about this before, and i agree with your last two points, but just pointing out:

        (a) while ingolstadt certainly isn’t one of the best teams in the bundesliga, i’d certainly compare them favorably to the top mls teams, and

        (b) morales was in the top ten for minutes played (for his team) last season. unless his injuries just happened to coincide with when the callups would’ve happened (possible), then i don’t really think that was the reason.

  10. I know JK won’t but I like the idea of going to the 4-3-3

    FabJo ——- Wood/Morris —— Pulisic
    ——- Klejstan ——
    Cameron ——– Bradley
    Villafana — Besler — Gonzalez — Yedlin/Rosenberry (?)

    I like Wood, but feel like Morris is even faster. So maybe start Wood and bring Morris as a late inning sub?

    • Playing the 4-3-3 puts Villafana or another LB on the field instead of Altidore, Morris, or Wood, is that an upgrade? Plus then at least one of those three is having to track back in defense like all three but defense is far from their best attribute. That is why the 4-3-3 was scrapped this Summer because all of our best forwards were much better in the center of the pitching leaving room for Pulisic, Zardes, or Yedline to run to the endline.

      • re: 4-3-3

        the more i think about it, the more i want to see extended time given to a 4-3-3 with a forward line of pulisic–jozy–bobby, where jozy would drop back in almost a false-9 role with bobby and pulisic cutting inside from the wings. it would make use of jozy’s best attribute (passing/interplay) and put bobby and pulisic in space to make dangerous runs, which would then open up space on the wing for fabian or yedlin to run into.

        the problem spot (ironically for the us) would be in defensive midfield: i think–apart from games against minnows–we’d have to play two d-mids (with one attacking mid), both of them disciplined enough to cover for whichever fullback was attacking at the moment. bradley’s disciplined, but isn’t really who you want defending out wide; jones can’t be counted on to be in one place at any point in time, and is quickly losing his recovery speed; and beckerman is being phased out. maybe kitchen can make it work, or birnbaum could push cameron up to midfield–but those are wishful thinking at this point.

  11. A couple points:
    1) Villafana should be called in for these friendlies. Contrary to what the author wrote, Liga MX players are not available for the January Camp unless their club allows it. Since Villafana is a starter for his club side I don’t see them letting him attend. That means that these October friendlies are likely his only chance to be evaluated until March of 2017. I’d therefore take Villafana over Rosenberry (who can participate in the January camp) due to our need of finding a LB not named Fabian.
    2) With Brooks not likely to attend I could see JK passing on Cameron in order to take a closer look at CCV. Considering there have been times when both Brooks & Besler were absent due to injury it’s important to have additional depth at LCB. It would also re-enforce with CCV the notion that JK/USSF are interested in retaining him as a US player.
    3) There is no reason to ever bring up Wondo as a striker option ever again. Even as a “Missed the Cut” guy. There are just to many options who are better & younger than he is. Hell there are better players in MLS that should be called up before Wondo (ie…Agudelo, Mullins, etc…). Wondo is finally finished as an international player.

  12. Howard, Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks, Johnson, Bradley, Klejstan, Bedoya, Pulisic, Wood, Altidore, Morris, Green, Gooch, Kitchen, Nagbe, Kieswetter, CCV, Birnbaum, Villafana, Acosta, Hamid, Horvath

    Possible WTFs: Josh Gatt, Terrence Boyd (chance to see each in person after long layoff), Patrick Mullins (few hotter in MLS right now), Mckinze Gaines (JK loves a young star most people haven’t heard of).

  13. any roster for these friendlies w/o Villafana and CCV is a bad roster. our starting XI should be:

    Yedlin, Cam, JAB (CCV), Villafana
    Pulisic, MB, SK (Nagbe), FJ
    Wood, Jozy

    • “However, Klinsmann has had a full year to get a look at Villafana, but has yet to add him to a USMNT roster, a sign that the manager possibly doesn’t rate the fullback as highly as others do. Once again, a spot in January remains a possibility.”

      JK did say in the last camp that guys like Jorge would be considered for October.

  14. With Dempsey out for an unknown length of time, forward depth becomes a concern. I would take a look at someone beyond the three you listed, which are fairly known quantities at this point. I would vote for ArJo, with Agudelo as a dark horse pick.


Leave a Comment