The U.S. men’s national team has begun its new World Cup qualifying cycle after a successful summer complete with a pair of trophy-winning tournament runs, and now with five points from three September qualifiers, the Americans head towards some very important months ahead.
It is also a good time to take stock of the USMNT player pool, and see how players stack up after the busy summer and recent qualifiers. There is more competition throughout the talent pool, though some positions have more strong candidates than others.
SBI will be taking a closer look at every position in the player pool in the coming days, and we begin with goalkeeper, where a new first-choice goalkeeper has emerged to take over the top spot.
For some clarification on the process to establish these rankings, factors ranking from national team appearances and call-ups, age and youth national team experience. In other words, there may be some older goalkeepers who are enjoying better seasons in MLS than some of the players on this list, but since they have not been a part of the USMNT setup before (or not in a long time) then they may be unranked in favor of younger prospects.
There are also some talented younger prospects who aren’t on this list due to the fact they have yet to become first-team starters at any point in their career, like Leicester City teenager Chituru Odunze and Benfica B goalkeeper C.J. Dos Santos, who very well could jump into this list once they make the jump to seeing regular first-team time, either at their current clubs or on loan elsewhere.
Here is a closer look at the USMNT Goalkeeper Depth Chart:
USMNT Goalkeeper Depth Chart
1. Matt Turner
The New England Revolution goalkeeper’s meteoric rise has taken him from MLS reserve just a few years ago to now first-choice USMNT goalkeeper. Zack Steffen’s back spasms and subsequent COVID-19 infection opened the door for Turner to build on his outstanding Gold Cup with a strong showing in World Cup qualifying.
Given how well he is playing, and the lack of club minutes for those closest to him on this list, Turner could remain at the top for some time.
2. Zack Steffen
After topping this list for the better part of two years, Steffen has been passed by Turner. A lack of playing time at Manchester City isn’t likely to help him reclaim his spot, though at this point his bigger concern is staying healthy and working to minimize the injury issues that have plagued him in recent years.
3. Ethan Horvath
His heroic showing in the Concacaf Nations League final helped remind us all just how good Horvath can be, but his move to English side Nottingham Forest has failed to provide him with the playing time to build on that performance. At 26, Horvath has time to develop, but he needs games, and Forest’s poor start to the English League Championship season should be helping him get on the field sooner.
4. Sean Johnson
The New York City FC veteran has been a consistent presence in the USMNT mix for a few years now, and while he hasn’t broken through for many appearances, he has remained one of the better goalkeepers in MLS for several seasons.
5. Brad Guzan
Why is a 37-year-old goalkeeper this high on the list when he hasn’t played for the USMNT in several years? He was on the Gold Cup squad as the third goalkeeper this summer, and his national team experience and status as a consistent MLS starter makes him a viable emergency option if none of the usual suspects are available.
6. Bill Hamid
Injuries have been the issue for Hamid, who remains one of the better goalkeepers in MLS when healthy. He has earned looks from Gregg Berhalter before, and with D.C. United enjoying a resurgence under first-year head coach Hernan Losada, Hamid should have the platform to climb up this list once he can stay on the field for an extended period of time.
7. J.T. Marcinkowski
The U.S. Under-23 men’s national team goalkeeper is now the leading candidate among the younger prospects in the pool after David Ochoa’s decision to play for Mexico. Though the Earthquakes haven’t emerged as a strong team in 2021, Marcinkowski has settled into a regular starting role and continues to develop. There is a generation of very talented prospects in the 17-21 age range though so Marcinkowski could wind up being passed over if he doesn’t make the most of his current opportunity.
8. Tyler Miller
Though he doesn’t get talked about as much as he should, Miller has put together another solid season in goal after reclaiming the starting spot for Minnesota United. The 28-year-old is a big reason why the Loons have stayed in playoff contention despite having an attack that hasn’t generated goals consistently. Given some of the older options on this list, Miller should climb the rankings in the coming years if he can maintain consistency.
9. Tim Melia
When his name was included in the preliminary list for the Concacaf Gold Cup it came as a long overdue acknowledgement of the high level Melia has played at for several years. Does that mean he’s actually close to the USMNT mix? Only time will tell, but at 35, Melia’s window to break into the national team might have closed by now.
10. Tomas Romero
Originally sought after by the El Salvador national team, Romero passed on an invitation with the Central American country to keep his options open and make himself available for a potential USMNT call-up. Some may have seen that as an ambitious decision, but if the 20-year-old can establish himself as a regular starter for LAFC then he very well could be a big part of the next Olympic qualifying cycle, and have a future in the USA setup.
What do you think of the list? Who are you happy to see included? Who didn’t make the cut that you feel should be on the list?
Share your thoughts below.