Crystal ball: Predicting the USMNT's 23 for the 2018 World Cup

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Eight months before the final team is set, here's how FourFourTwo's U.S. experts see Bruce Arena's squad.

French: Depth in defense

It might never be tougher to make a U.S. men’s national team roster, especially with a core of at least 17 players who already figure to make the final squad. Building depth in the backline and midfield is vital, and players that can play different roles ought to fare better when the last of the selections are determined. That, I think, boosts Jonathan Spector, who can play anywhere among the back four, and cements Matt Besler's spot.

It also leaves scant room for depth up top. I can see four forwards making the team, which would leave Dom Dwyer on the preliminary list. If a fifth were selected, it wouldn't surprise me if it were Chris Wondolowski. Arena prizes veteran leadership and great locker-room guys -- that was Brian Ching's story in 2006 -- and Wondo fits perfectly. And if another point-blank chance were to fall his way, here's a wager he buries it.

Nick Rimando could be the third goalkeeper again, but it makes more sense to make a nod for the future. Within the pool, Bill Hamid seems likeliest for that job.

There are going to be a lot of disappointed players, and several who would fit nicely among these. Arena could decide on younger players for the final spots, giving them a taste of what it's like for next time. If so, Matt Miazga makes it.

(Bold - not included in another writer's squad)

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid, Tim Howard

Defenders (9): Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, Jonathan Spector, DeAndre Yedlin, Graham Zusi

Midfielders (7): Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic

Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood

-- Scott French

NEXT: Room for a surprise in Arena’s Russia squad