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With the completion of the United States’ final tune up matches before the Hex it’s time for the next edition of the USMNT player stock report. Each time the USMNT breaks camp, Pauly Kwestel will review the games and tell us which players’ national stocks are trending up and who’s trending down as the U.S. now turns its focus to upcoming Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying and a date with Mexico.
In the past two months Sacha Kljestan has gone from USMNT outcast to a certain lock to start against Mexico and likely many more games down the road for the U.S. The biggest thing Kljestan has brought to the United States is depth. His recent play has almost certainly relegated Jermaine Jones to a bench role when he’s healthy, which is by no means a bad thing. There are worse things than having Jones come off the bench to shore things up defensively, or to have another guy you can count on should Kljestan or Bradley miss a game. This newfound depth is all thanks to Kljestan.
Who cares if you’re not getting Bundesliga match minutes? Julian Green certainly doesn’t. The young striker who has been out of the picture for quite some time returned to the USMNT and not only started both friendlies in October but scored two goals and had an assist. Despite his lack of minutes at the club level, Green’s versatility makes him a serious contender to sneak onto the 23-man roster in November as it would give Klinsmann several options should he need them.
The tri-national (Gooch is eligible for the U.S., England, and Republic of Ireland) got his first senior cap against New Zealand. While that doesn’t cap-tie him to the United States permanently it does go a long way. More importantly, Gooch came on against New Zealand and brought stability to a midfield that had been shaky all game. His ability to play either centrally, in a deep lying role, or on the wing makes him an intriguing option for Klinsmann next month.
It was a crazy international window for Horvath. Flight troubles caused him to meet up with his national teammates a day late. That didn’t stop him from keeping a clean sheet in a tricky match against Cuba. Combine that with the lackluster performances from William Yarbrough and Bill Hamid against New Zealand, and Horvath is looking like a lock to be the number three keeper entering the Hex, as well as the long-term replacement for Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.
The 18 year old only played 45 minutes against Cuba where he was relatively ineffective, but the match did show him how physical CONCACAF games can get. The teenager then returned to Dortmund where he started and played the full 90 minutes in BVB’s draw with Hertha Berlin. Pulisic keeps earning minutes in Germany, no matter how slowly manager Thomas Tuchel wants to bring him along. His composure on the ball is a big reason why and at this point we no longer have to wonder if Klinsmann will give him starts as he’s firmly established himself as a can’t-drop player.
It’s becoming a sad sight to see Fabian Johnson look so disinterested whenever he plays at left back. He’s an attacker and it’s clear he doesn’t want to be back there. Therefore you would have thought with two ‘meaningless’ games on his hands, Klinsmann would have given Acosta a chance to to see how he fits in at left back with either Johnson or Pulisic in front of him (and tested how things look with Johnson and Pulisic playing up front). Instead Acosta was only called in for the second game, which was after Johnson and Pulisic returned to their clubs. Acosta has looked good when playing at LB, but not getting called in with the rest of the first choice players should tell you where he is in Klinsmann’s mind.
Klinsmann was pretty blunt when he said in this camp and the previous camp Yedlin failed to impress the U.S. coaching staff. Yedlin was removed at halftime of the Cuba game due to ineffectiveness and was pushed up the right wing against New Zealand. A few months ago his place looked secure, mostly because the U.S. didn’t have another right back, but with Timmy Chandler playing very well right now, and determined to win back a place in the U.S. team, Klinsmann has options at the position, meaning Yedlin needs to improve quickly to keep his spot.
It’s interesting that Wondo’s stock is falling after an international window that actually saw him get playing time and score a goal. But Wondo’s time on the squad could be coming to an end thanks to the outstanding play of Julian Green. Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, and Jordan Morris aren’t going anywhere, so if Green were to make the team (he has the versatility to play on the wing or as a striker) it would likely be at the expense of Wondolowski. What Wondo does have going for him is Klinsmann loves him and values him as a great locker room guy.
Big things were expected of Arriola in this break after very impressive displays in his first two caps. Arriola was pretty anonymous in his substitute appearance against Cuba and it was very interesting to see Klinsmann choose to start Yedlin on the wing against New Zealand instead of giving Arriola the start. That decision can raise some concerns over Arriola’s place on the depth chart, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him just make the 23 man roster in November.