Analysis

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

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Davis: Still relying on Jozy up top

It’s never too early to do this!

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando

Defenders (8): Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, DeAndre Yedlin, Graham Zusi

Midfielders (8): Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Dax McCarty, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic

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

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

If we’re not talking about the added complication of injury or a dramatic drop in form, I see two tough choices for Arena.

First is the final defender, a choice potentially between DaMarcus Beasley or Tim Ream. On the one hand, Arena loves and trusts Beasley, which is why the Dynamo defender is in New Jersey now. Every manager loves Beasley for his on-field and off-field contributions. On the other hand, he’ll be 36, and that could prove limiting in the event of back line injuries. Ream is playing well for Fulham and his utility (useful as a left back or center back) will speak loudly.

A real trouble spot looms at forward: a backup option to Jozy Altidore, who has that pesky history of injury. Dom Dwyer could be an option, but the fact that he isn’t among 26 called into the current group says us a lot. So would C.J. Sapong, but he just doesn’t seem to be on Arena’s radar. Given the varied skill set provided by Altidore, Dempsey, Morris and Wood, it’s not hard to see him gambling a bit and going with those four (e.g., without a backup target forward).

Oh, and third goalkeeper? Stop it with the “bring a young guy for seasoning.” If your top guy (Howard) gets hurt or serves a red card suspension, your “young guy who needs seasoning” gets alarmingly close to getting on the field. This is a World Cup; you can season a young man elsewhere.

-- Steve Davis

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