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Bruce Arena not expecting many USMNT roster changes ahead of October World Cup qualifiers

At this point in the World Cup qualifying cycle, Bruce Arena believes you have to put your trust in familiar faces.

Speaking in New York on Tuesday, Arena said he doesn’t expect a massive roster overhaul for the final two games of World Cup qualifying. Currently holding on to fourth place, the U.S. is set to take on Panama in Orlando before finishing the qualifying cycle in Trinidad & Tobago.

“We don’t have the luxury of doing that,” Arena said, according to Goal USA, when asked about shuffling the roster “This is not experimental time. We pretty much have to go with who we have.”

Still, there will almost certainly be some changes involving players familiar to the USMNT camp. Arena says it will be “great” to have DeAndre Yedlin join the group after missing previous qualifiers due to injury. The Newcastle United fullback should jump back into the starting XI, replacing Graham Zusi as the primary right back option after sitting out the Gold Cup and missing the last two qualifiers.

There’s also a change to be made at the forward position due to the injury suffered by Jordan Morris. That opens the door for someone like Dom Dwyer, Juan Agudelo or Gyasi Zardes to return to the team at the forward position.

In addition, there’s someone like Matt Miazga, who has played well enough in recent weeks to merit consideration for a return to the team after featuring at this summer’s Gold Cup.

“We follow his progress. We watched his game against Ajax over the weekend,” Arena said of Miazga. “All the players that have been in our camps this year we evaluate on a weekly basis.”

One ongoing issue that could facilitate Miazga’s return is an injury to Geoff Cameron, which would require a major overhaul at the centerback position. With John Brooks already out, the USMNT could be missing its two top central defenders for the final set of World Cup qualifying.

However, Arena was optimistic with regards to Cameron’s status, despite the fact that he’s missed three straight matches for Stoke City.

“It remains to be seen. He’s got to get through this week,” Arena said of Cameron. “We’ll see. I would think he’s going to be in camp.”


  1. What’s funny here is that WAAAAY back when… people were all Arena is great, he’ll make all the right calls, etc.

    Oh, another thing that I get a chuckle out of, is thinking how, if we somehow do qualify over the next couple weeks, is that suddenly the same people who hate Arena will think we should be winning the world cup.

    The problem is not call ups… it was not before, it is not now. The problem is that our CB are shite, our coach decided to have the team play kick-ball instead of soccer, and we don’t have JJ (or any other DM) who is ready to take a red-card to defend our only superstar.

    Oh, let me continue now that I have gotten on my horse. Nagbe is a problem. I have seen him play enough now that I understand what JK disliked about him. He is the Carmelo Anthony, of Soccer. He is where ball movement goes to die. Yes, he can posess the ball, but he can’t then move it…

    And Altidore just doesn’t cut it at a high international level. I thought that, eventually, I would come around and he would start putting balls in… but its just to few and far between. So Dempsey and Wood start… with morris as the sub.

    There were also injuries… so that’s a problem too… I guess we didn’t get rid of the shit training staff when we got rid of JK.

    so much to talk about, but you yahoos go on talking about bringing in Green and Miazga? SMH…

  2. Watch Miazga today against Nice in Europa League, against Balotelli and Wesley Sneijder, 1pm @ ESPN3

    Why does the Europa League website show him with Polish nationality instead of US?
    Restrictions on non-EU players in the EL?

  3. Accosta did not dress for the second straight match, Altidore has not dressed since Sept. 9th (even if its just rest what kind of game shape will he have after three weeks off).

  4. A managers job is to get the best out of their players, and Bruce has failed to accomplish this. The team as a hole has not been performing to their capabilities.
    As for new players….I don’t think anyone is suggesting that there are any surefire players who haven’t been called up. I think the issue that most fans have is that Bruce continues to call up “Retreads” as the back-ups/3rd stringers (Wondo, Bedoya, Zusi, Hedges, Rimando, McCarty, etc…) instead of giving younger players, who are showing potential a shot of experiencing the camp (Horvath, Hamid, Miazga, McKennie, J. Gonzalez, Gooch, Green, Manneh, Wright, etc….), and potentially proving that they are better than the Vets. Not to mention the outright snubs of players like Chandler, Garza, & Williams (before injury) because Bruce (appears) to be afraid of shaking up the pool.

  5. Player for player, we are better than just about everyone who plays for both Panama and T&T. The issue is getting the most out of what we have and have them playing well together as a team, something that has been sorely missing. Especially when we have been beaten on defense, the lack of coordination in defense has been telling. Some of that has to be on coaching. Arena needs to pick a back line, work them out together as much as possible, and stick with it through both games instead of changing up for the second game. As a rule of thumb, in the past, anyone good enough to play in a top 5 European league is good enough to start for the national team. That is still generally true except that we have some former European players now in MLS and many of them are still good enough to play in
    Europe. So, bring in Chandler and Miazga. Play an attacking side vs. Panama with Altidore, Wood, Pulisic and Dempsey all starting. Have Pulisic in midfield and play a 4-3-3 while keeping defensive backs from going too far forward and keep Bradley in a defensive role, too, to protect from counters. Against T&T, take Dempsey out of the starting lineup, keep him for a 70th minute sub if need be and play a 4-2-3-1 with Bradley and Acosta as defensive mids and Altidore up top with Wood and Pulisic on the wings and Nagbe as facilitator in the middle.We need to score first vs. Panama and try to score a second when the game opens up as they try to equalize. Against T&T, we should try to keep it drawn through 65 or 70 minutes and then go for the win the last 20 minutes.

    • Your home lineup is essentially 4 forwards which seems a bit too offensive, and might lack width using Demps, Wood, and Altidore together. Nagbe can not play the middle role in a 4-5-1, he is not a distributor he is a ball eater that cannot pick out a pass to save his life. He would be where the offense goes to die while Pulisc and Wood glare at him for wasting all of their runs. Strategy wise I think you are on to what Bruce will do, although I think he will be more conservative at home, not trying to give up a first half goal.

  6. I am not sure who Arena could add that would improve the odds of winning.
    Williams always looks like a slower, less skilled version of Jones and anyway he is out injured.
    I admit I haven’t seen Green play lately, but despite his quickness and ability to dribble in tight spaces he has always looked like a boy among men to me (contrast him to Pulisic who generally seems to fit right into what is often a pretty physical game).
    Agudelo continues to be streaky and I would say is hardly a reliable anything. Lichaj and Garza have done little to show they are better than any Zusi, Orosco, neve rmind than either Yedlin or FJ.
    This is a team sport and Chandler may be more in trouble with the team than with Arena, but at least he does have the physical tools to step into the defense.
    Miazga is simply a young defender and Arena does seem to prefer more experience there (often a poor choice; Eddie Pope and Lewis in 2006, more recently Hedges [Beasely is old and experienced, but he was not the major reason the US struggled recently]).
    Say what you like about Wondo, but he still scores lots of goals in MLS, is on the same team and is leading the guy who scored two against the US recently; as lots of people are fond of saying he can score against CONCACAF opponents, but…Well these are CONCACAF opponents.
    Nguyen and Klejstan have played well in MLS, but neither is an obvious upgrade, and Feilhaber who does not have BWP to feed the ball to yet still manages tons of assists is hardly an big upgrade.
    Will Bruin is a big forward who has had some success, but his role is not really as a target forward.

    Basically the much ballyhooed increase in depth is not an increase in the number of obvious first choices, just that the 2nd or 3rd choice players are much stronger than they were 10 years ago.

    In the defense, there is no leader who seems to be able to keep the defense organized; there is no one stellar player, close to Cherundolo or Boca in their ability to improve teammates, but there are a whole lot who are more or less 2nd choice. You could argue there is no first choice backline at all and that will hurt the USA’s chances against, well against anyone.

  7. We have more than enough talent to qualify. The problem is Bruce is not getting enough out of the talent he has. The job of a manager is to take the pieces and make them work. Great managers get the sum to be greater than the parts, Mediocre managers get the team to be equal to their talent. Bad managers put teams together that fail to live up to there talent. Person for person the US should at least have a large gap between themselves and Honduras/Panama. We also should be competitive for best in the group (which we clearly are not right now). Injuries have hurt but still, Cameron and Ream should never make Urena look like Falcao. Fabian Johnson should not be invisible in the midfield. Altidore, Wood, and Dempsey should be in spots to receive service from Pulisic.

    Bruce isn’t getting what he needs to out of the current players. He has two choices, attempt to get them to play better or bring in new players. Bruce is clearly going with the former because if the team fails to qualify it is easier to blame the players. But I put the blame squarely on him.

  8. Yes there’s been injuries, but this group has not played like a complete team (with the exception of one game) since the Copa Centenario.
    Effort has been inconsistent, urgency has been low, and there’s been no bite whatsoever.
    Bring Jermaine Jones in, even if he doesn’t start…
    There’s a reason why JK relied on his leadership, and it’s not because of his German American heritage (they weren’t bffs)
    It’s because Jones brought urgency toughness and leadership.. and his absence shows

    • 100% agree about JJones. I think one of the most overlooked facts effecting the team, we have not and do not have a replacement for Jones in terms of leadership, toughness, experience and all around ability+athleticism. He was arguably our best player at WC2014. Up until very recently, I would have argued we should have been looking for someone to partner with him, rather than someone to partner with MB90 when that combo did not look great (not doesnt seem so bad though).

      • @Danny, I think that’s where his comments back in April were about..
        He said something like, “every time something doesn’t work who is going to replace Jermaine” then he went on to say something about his past experience and how nobody has unseated him etc…
        MB has definitely been playing better recently & JJ was injured, but he’s healthier now. MB shouldn’t be benched, but not bringing in JJ would be a big mistake. Even if he doesn’t start him, this team needs him in camp

    • BAC and Danny-Have you watched Jones this season? He has lost a step even from April and has not been able to install any toughness or bite in the LAG line up.

      • @Johnny..
        I’ve seen a few games since he came back from his latest injury, one game he looked strong & one game that stupid red card.
        But like I said, even if he doesn’t start-or even play- one thing about that guy is when he put on the NT jersey he left everything out on the field, even in games he didn’t play well. When I watch our Nat Team I have seen almost no urgency, no toughness, and with the exception of MB, modest & varied levels of effort. I mean the CR game was labeled must win, do or die.. and that was as uninspired an effort one could see.
        I saw Beachbum commenting after the last 4-6 games that there was no bite & toughness vs. the concacaf hacks that was expected, and I couldn’t agree more. Pulisic got halfway murdered a few games..
        If it was a game here or there I’d have said nothing, but with the exception of that 6-0 whooping, I can’t remember a “complete” outing since the Copa Centenarrio- when we played well, played together, and played like our tournament lives were on the line.
        And the only element consistently missing has been JJ.. I wanna watch us play & at the end of the game have half the team look like they’re gonna collapse and pass out. I wanna see an effort that shows these guys are wearing their hearts on their sleeves and play with an us-against-the-world attitude.
        Just like Mexico in the last cycle, with their talent there was NO reason why they had to struggle to get thru to the 4th place playoff, it’s the same with us this cycle. We’re not great, but we’ve gotten owned by teams playing with MLS backups that made us look weak.
        Something’s missing with this group- no uummpff, no urgency, and it looks like no accountability to each other.
        JJ brought that leadership.. there’s a reason why he was the next choice after MB (field player) to wear the armband when Deuce lost it. So even though he’s not the same player he was even a year ago, I gotta think having him on the practice field & locker room can’t hurt!!
        Dude’s a warrior.. we could use some of that right about now…
        Sorry, that’s the longest post I’ve said since the 14 WC…

  9. Williams broke his foot, so stop whining about him. Chandler has sucked pretty much every time he gets called in and his attitude is garbage. Now does that offset Zusi, prob not, but then maybe bring in Lichaj. Green, are you serious? The guy is in the Bundesliga2 and has finally got what maybe 4 games? Not enough to call him in. I’d say go ahead and call in Johnathan Gonzales for Acosta/McCarty if for nothing else to cap-tie him.

    • Williams breaking his foot last week is not an excuse for not integrating him into the lineup over the past year given the need and JJ’s aging out at the position. Chandler’s form 2 years ago since he last wore the shirt has nothing to do with his current form, watch him play please rather than parrotting assumptions about his loyalty or attitude. Green, I’m VERY serious. He got 10 games for Stuttgart after the winter transfer and has 5 on the trott now in the 2Bundesliga which sorry to say is higher level than MLS. Again at least watch him play some for club before parrotting the assumptions of soccer bloggers. I agree Jonathon Gonzales should start to be integrated into the squad especially over callups like Roldan or McCarty.

      • Williams should have been called in no doubt before the injury, but he’s hurt so why use a spot on him now? Green over players like Arriola or Nagbe is not close to me. He has maybe 15 competitive matches played, and not all starts, over the last year. FS1 and FS2 play Bundesliga matches every week, so how in the hell do you know what I watch on tv? The criticism of Chandler is all about heart and desire to play for someone other than Jurgen and especially in Central America, which he has not demonstrated. Zusi, Wondo, Beasley etc should be done and never called in for important WCQ.

      • Willams was out of contract at Reading. Had he been signed early in the transfer window, he might have made the Gold Cup squad. As it was, I think he signed after it ended with Huddersfield Town.

    • +1, the backup QB syndrome in the national team is strong! and it should be, but I don’t see any new players out there that need to be there for the games vs. Panama and Trinidad.

      I see a total of 3 total changes from the Sept roster; DeAndre Yedlin, Dom Dywer and Matt Miagza in.

      after we know our World Cup fate (either way) there will be months of friendlies to completely open up this roster and try out every potential option.

  10. People need to stop acting as if Arena is failing to call Luis Suarez, Messi and CR7. The player pool may be deeper and wider than ever but collectively we are not much better than Costa Rica (if at all) and not even close to the same level as Mexico. We are working with pretty small margins, let’s not pretend otherwise.

    • Failing to call in a Bundesliga auto starting RB who made Bundesliga teams of the week in the past year over a converted slow wide midfielder lifetime MLSer is a pretty a good example, especially given Yedlin’s injury last window. No its not caling in an MLSer over Suarez or Messi but its still a big gap in talent between Chandler and Zusi at the RB position. I think most technical director/scouts would agree with that. I think most technical directors/scouts would also agree there’s a big gap between D Williams and Acosta/McCarty. Those gaps in talent and level of playing experience do make a difference at the international level.

  11. I’m sure he will call in a few extra players just like last camp, so why not add some new faces. This isn’t the time for experimenting(blah blah blah) this isn’t the time to bring same old slow players either. If they lose a game and don’t qualify then everyone will say younger players should have been called and if they qualify then arena made the right call. Damned if u do damned if u don’t is how I see it. Only a few players I wished would be called in this camp that are in form and playing consistently and that would be Miazga, Mckennie, Green and Gonzalez(Johnathan) and Garza if healthy. The reason for Green is one he’s been playing and active the last few games and if FJ goes back to LB they could use some pace on the left wing.

  12. “Not experimental time”
    Using a slow converted wide midfielder as a RB like Zusi is not experimental(eyebrow raise)?
    Didn’t BA “experiment” last window with using a Nagbe/Bradley CM pairing for the first time as a starting CM pairing(eyebrow raise)?
    Didn’t BA use 35 year old converted winger at LB last window too?
    Didn’t BA experiment with a starting lineup of 9/11 MLS players with the explanation that the heat was too much for the European based guys to deal with in Honduras?
    Now he hides behind the continuity argument, but Its on BA that he failed to integrate earlier in the cycle players who play at higher levels and now finds it oh so convenient for him to have to use his favorite guys instead of ‘experimenting’ with better talented players.
    All this while leaving serviceable talented players off the roster for a qualifying window were are backs are against the wall and for the first time in 20 years qualification is in doubt.
    If I see Wondo or McCarty or Roldon or Zardes called into this roster I’m going full apesh-t.

    • @Joe Dirt ….Green for Nagbe? ….BWAHAHAHA. Seriously…how many Greuther Furth games have you watched? I’m gonna guess none. It’s just that some unknown, pie-in-the-sky, bottom-of-Bundesliga-2 prospect who doesn’t even start has to be better than one of the top 5 US MLS players, right? I had high hopes for Julian Green, too, but come on. At least say Kenny Saief, who gets regular minutes on a legit team.

    • Your comment lost all credibility when you said “Green for Nagbe” and Williams for Acosta”. First off Julian Green has had only a few starts in a row, in the Bundesliga 2, and hast scored any goals or recorded any assists that I know of. It’s good that he is getting minutes now but to say he should be called in ahead of Nagbe is moronic. Williams, I think we all can agree would be an upgrade over Roldan and McCarty, but he’s injured right now so calls for him at this time are pointless. Some one said it earlier and I agree that we have the group to qualify for the WC being called in, they just need to play better. This is not the time to overhaul the roster when you only have 2 games left in the Hex, and if you don’t think continuity matters in these games you’re fooling yourself. Cries to fire Arena, who has only 1 loss this year, are also and overreaction and dumb. When we qualify , and I believe that we will, there will be plenty of time to look at some new/younger options before Russia this summer, so people need to pump the brakes and have some perspective.

  13. “We pretty much have to go with who we have.”… and by that he means he’ll only call those players that fit into his limited coaching skills.

    • I didn’t even like the decision to rehire Bruce, but you can’t be any dumber… Of course I have thought that before and you continue to prove me wrong.

    • I here you. I do. But give me one, two, or three players who Bruce can call on that could actually make a difference. You can’t. Let’s face the reality…. our player pool is pretty slim. It’s not that great. A Messi is not walking through the door neither is a defender like Leonardo Bonucci. We have what we have. We are what we are. We can get the job done if we pull our head out of our asses. I haven’t been of fan of Arena tactics but it’s been our lack of effort and poor stupid individual mistakes that has done us in.

      • @ MMV, with the potential exceptions of 2002 our pool is more deep and talented that it has ever been. Lets not forget we had to start Robbie Finley, Ricardo Clark, and Jonathon Bornstein back in 2010. In 2014 even Brad Evans started a WC match and when Altidore got hurt we had no one to replace him. 2006 saw Jimmie Conrad as a starting CB and Pablo Masteroni at DM. The current pool has more players playing at higher levels at the highest salary and contracts level that any pool with the possible exception of 2002.
        Player qualify is not an excuse PERIOD.

      • @MMV, in regards to players who could make a difference. That’s easy, Chandler for Zusi, Williams for Acosta, Green for Nagbe, Miazga for Hedges, All playing at higher levels in the past year than the MLS preferred option. Also Klejstan and Nguyen lead MLS in assists and chances created but haven’t gotten a sniff with BA. Of course no on but Argentina has a Messi but there are higher quality options that are being overlooked by the current manager.
        I said before we every played last window that not calling in Chandler last window given Yedlin’s injury was a fireable offense. I’ll say it now, BA should have been fired after the Honduras match last window but Wood saved his a-s.

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