Bruce Arena has named his first roster since being appointed United States manager. Because it's January camp and more about experimentation than winning, this is a great chance for some players to make their case for being national team regulars. Maybe even starters.
Who can impress Arena and make a big move in January?
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Feilhaber has been one of MLS's best creative players for a couple years now, but that didn't seem to matter much to Jurgen Klinsmann. Feilhaber never got along with the old U.S. boss and was frozen out of the national team, but Arena is giving him a look and has spoken repeatedly about the need to add more creativity to the team.
Feilhaber is going to get every opportunity to show that Klinsmann was wrong to keep him out of the team. It's on him to make an impact now because if he does, Arena will have no problem throwing him out there when World Cup qualifying resumes.
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One of the Americans' problems for the last few years has been a lack of pace in the attack. Gyasi Zardes and Jordan Morris gave the U.S. flashes of being able to provide that, but neither has been able to make a consistent impact. Manneh, who is just 22 years old, is on the verge of American citizenship and could be the one who adds that much-needed pace. But he'll also have to show that he's capable technically and defensively responsible in Arena's system.
Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are the Americans' top two goalkeepers and Arena confirmed it. That said, neither is in exceptionally good form and neither is young so while the talk right now is which U.S. goalkeeper can become the No. 3, it's not hard to see one surpassing Howard and Guzan to be the starter.
Hamid is the best bet here, having been one of MLS's best backstop for years now. Jurgen Klinsmann didn't favor him, but he has a fresh chance now and the opportunity to make a run at the starting job. That starts in January.
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Acosta is a 21-year-old who has established himself as one of the better central midfielders in MLS. Despite that, the U.S. has played him almost exclusively at fullback, for both the youth teams and senior team. Now it looks like Arena is going to give him a look in the midfield, a place where the U.S. needs to get younger and could benefit from some tidier passing. You know, exactly what Acosta brings to the table.
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Whoever plays left back
The U.S. left backs currently are:
- Fabian Johnson, who is also the team's best player at several other positions - Ummm ...
The Americans desperately need left backs -- actual ones, not out-of-position ones like Matt Besler -- and that means whoever can come out on top between DaMarcus Beasley, Greg Garza and Taylor Kemp has a chance to not just become a regular -- he can be the team's starter. Ideally, it wouldn't be Beasley, who is only on the team because there are few other options, which means Garza and Kemp have a big chance.