With the game of soccer currently on hold around the world, it is a good time to take stock of the U.S. Men’s National Team talent pool as we wait for the sport to resume.
SBI is taking a closer look at each position in the USMNT player pool heading into the new Worlds Cup qualifying cycle, ranking the top options, based both on recent form, and potential. The list excludes older players who have yet to break through with the USMNT, though the goalkeeper position is an exception when it comes to including older prospects still looking to break into the national team.
Up next is the goalkeeper position. It is a position that has been a major strength for the USMNT in the past, but is a position now in a state of transition, with few players seeing first-team minutes at top leagues, but there are some promising prospects on the horizon.
Here are the top 10 goalkeepers in the USMNT Talent Pool:
The current undisputed number one, Steffen is starting and playing well for Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf after joining on loan from Manchester City, which he joined in a $10 million transfer at the start of 2019.
Steffen’s bout with knee tendonitis kept him out of the USMNT’s Nations League matches toward the end of the year, and it continued to keep him sidelined into 2020, but the 24-year-old remains the best option in the pool, and there’s a big gap between Steffen and the rest of the field.
Though he slipped behind Brad Guzan on the USMNT depth chart in the second half of 2019, Johnson remains a player who has made considerable progress in recent years. He put together an outstanding 2019 for New York City FC and made the most of his chances when called into action with the national team.
Five years younger than Guzan, the 30-year-old Johnson will have a new club coach to play for in 2020, which could mean a change in style away from the style Berhalter prefers. The possession-based approaches of Patrick Vieira and Domenec Torrent helped Johnson improve his passing ability tremendously, and early on in 2020 Johnson has looked sharp under new coach Ronnie Deila.
You could argue that Hamid was the best goalkeeper in MLS in 2019 (SBI thought so), and his reward was his first USMNT call-up under Gregg Berhalter for the recent January camp.
The 29-year-old decision to stay at D.C. United, and continue to be a regular starter, should keep him in the USMNT conversation, especially if he can show continued improvement in his passing game, which has long been seen as the weak part of his game.
Guzan will be 38 when the 2022 World Cup kicks off, so you have to weigh that when considering the 2019 Guzan had, and the fact he was the USMNT number two as recently as last fall.
The move to Atlanta United not only helped Guzan rejuvenate his career, it also helped him sharpen his passing range, which still isn’t elite, but has improved enough to be a serviceable option in Berhalter’s system.
Though he is currently stuck on the bench with Belgian power Club Brugge, it wasn’t too long ago that Horvath was playing well in Europe, and impressing in Champions League.
The 24-year-old will need to bide his time as he sits behind Belgian national team goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, but he will have to make a move away from Brugge if he is going to make a return to the USMNT in the near future.
If there was a breakout American goalkeeper in MLS in 2019 it was Turner, who blossomed after Bruce Arena took over, making a late push for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
The 25-year-old will be looking to have his first full season as a first-choice starter in 2020, and already did enough to earn a look from Berhalter. Given the age of the other players on this list, Turner should be a very good long-term USMNT option.
The youngest player on this list, the 18-year-old Ochoa is probably a decade away from his prime, but there is no denying the talent he has shown, and the fast track he is currently on. He earned key starts at the Under-20 World Cup as one of the youngest player son that team, and he also won a USL Championship title as a starter for Real Monarchs. He wasn’t able to win the starting job at RSL to start the season, but he should still challenge for a starting role when Olympic qualifying takes place.
The former LAFC goalkeeper has found a new home at Minnesota United, and he has helped the Loons get off to a 2-0 start. The 6-foot-4 shot-stopper is a solid passer, and has earned some USMNT looks under Gregg Berhalter, but the 27-year-old is facing stiff competition to get back into the national team picture.
The 24-year-old FC Dallas goalkeeper had a mixed 2019, not quite a standout year, but good enough to keep him in the national team conversation. Playing on a very young team surely presented some challenges, but he deserves some credit for being one of the veterans on an FCD side that surprised.
Gonzalez will need to sharpen his game, particularly in the distribution department, to climb back up this list in 2020, but given his age and tools, Gonzalez has a good chance of making a jump.
The 33-year-old MLS Cup winner has been a consistent standout for the Seattle Sounders, but that quality hasn’t been rewarded with many looks from the USMNT, with a January 2017 call-up his last look.