After their 4-1 drubbing against Brazil on Tuesday, it’s hard to imagine that anyone is particularly confident in the USMNT right now. The national team takes on Mexico on October 10, in what is being billed as the “CONCACAF Cup,” to secure the federation’s place in the Confederations Cup, held in Russia in 2017.
While that game is important, ahead of it is the January camp, where head coach Jurgen Klinsmann tends to take a look at national teamers we have yet to see play a game for the United States. As we look toward that camp, here are three players Klinsmann should definitely consider bringing in.
Benny Feilhaber, Midfielder, Sporting Kansas City
Frequently, national team fans discuss a lack of creativity in the United States, and clamor for a true No. 10, who could serve as a playmaker for the faster players up front. Benny Feilhaber is that player.
With eight goals and 13 assists through this point in the MLS season, Feilhaber has unquestionably been the best American midfielder in the league, and deserves some praise (and a call up) from Klinsmann, who has repeatedly favored Mix Diskerud, a player who has struggled to transition to MLS. Feilhaber is playing the best soccer of his career right now, and could help a national team that has struggled to pick out passes and find strikers for goal scoring opportunities.
Dom Dwyer has scored a boatload of goals on services from Feilhaber, and one could assume Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey could appreciate what Benny has to offer.
Eric Lichaj, Outside Back, Nottingham Forest
With the injury to Fabian Johnson, the USMNT has been especially thin at the outside back position, forcing Klinsmann to move Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream away from their natural positions to the outside. This decision has left national team fans wondering, why not bring another outside back into the fold?
Lichaj once played a key role under Bob Bradley’s USMNT in the Gold Cup and has started regularly for Nottingham Forest in the English Championship, making it a bit puzzling that he has yet to receive a call up to the national team under Klinsmann. Lichaj is a true wing back, with the ability to get forward and supply crosses, while also being an adept one-on-one defender.
The pairing of DeAndre Yedlin or Gyasi Zardes with Lichaj seems like it would strengthen the USMNT, as they would get some speed on the overlapping run that Cameron and Ream simply don’t have the speed to provide.
At a position like outside back where depth is so thin, Klinsmann would do well to call in Lichaj and at least try to add some depth with a player seeing regular European competition who has played for the USMNT before.
Perry Kitchen, Midfielder, D.C. United
While Kitchen has been called in by Klinsmann before, why it doesn’t happen more often is odd. Klinsmann will need to find a replacement for Jermaine Jones in the defensive midfielder sooner rather than later, and it appears that Kitchen could be the natural successor to the toughest man in American soccer.
Kitchen brings a calm poise to the field, but also a tenacity to work on cleaning up any attack before it reaches the back line. In the model of players like Jones, or Kyle Beckerman, Kitchen has built a reputation as a defensive playmaker for D.C. United, and at just 23, he will be reaching his peak when the 2018 World Cup in Russia comes around.
The sooner Klinsmann brings Kitchen into the fold regularly, the better, as he could help the USMNT control the midfield in a way they have not done since the 2014 World Cup.