The hex CONCACAF qualifying round for World Cup 2018 kicks off next month. For the first time in awhile, the US has a nice supply of young attacking talent, but who makes the trip to Russia?
The US had a less than revealing international break. While the 4-0 victory over Cuba is a great scoreline, the quality of the pitch took away any flow in the match. Then the 1-1 draw with New Zealand was disappointing and disjointed. The squad has a few weeks before the matches that truly matter get here though.
Over the last week we have been going through the US starting line for the 2018 World Cup. Catch up with the series here:
Note, we are working under the 4-4-2 formation, in order to put more focus on the strikers and get that talent group on the field at a higher capacity.
Starter: Jozy Altidore – The big hope for World Cup 2014 was in good form heading into the tournament, had a great opening few moments, and then sadly pulled up injured. Below was the moment that had the entire US fan base’s hearts drop. Jozy’s early exit was a big complaint from fans as Jurgen hadn’t taken any direct replacements. Jozy has had a series of good runs and injury setbacks in the time since Brazil. He latest return to Toronto has seen a slimmed down Altidore, and remains Jurgen’s favorite attacking option. If he can have a strong, and more importantly healthy, 2017 in MLS he will remain the #1. However, another set-back and a strong run from another striker may result in Jozy The Substitute.
Backup: Bobby Wood – Seven goals already in his 27 appearances. He has shown well for the US during his opportunities, and is the perfect cover for Jozy with strong hold up play.
Starter: Jordan Morris – If the World Cup was 2017, Morris might just be the backup. However, with almost another two years of experience, Jordan should play his way into the starting line-up. A great rookie season in MLS, Morris already has 12 goals for the Seattle Sounders, with most of the pressure on his shoulders.
A full off-season with the team and the connections with Roldan and Loderio could see Jordan his 20 goals next season and challenge Jozy as the premier American striker. As 2016 has gone on, Jordan has grown into the pressure that will serve him well on the biggest stage for his country.
Backup: Gyasi Zardes – Jurgen likes Zardes and he has reason to. He has tons of talent and can play on the wing or up top. With six goals for the US and over 30 for the LA Galaxy, Gyasi is too versatile and talented not to make the roster. Given the unknown of the formation that Klinsmann will deploy as well as who plays on each wing, gives Zardes multiple chances to crack the final player list.
Hopefully these forwards will have the US fans feeling that way deep into the tournament. So there we have it, the full USMNT starting lineup for World Cup 2018. Let us know your thoughts and adjustments. Surely, we will re-assess this lineup after the first round of qualifiers.