U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann outlined his support for Brad Guzan and Tim Howard and underscored the gulf between his top two goalkeepers and the rest of the candidates late last year, but the veteran number ones find their Premier League places under increasingly levels of scrutiny. Hamid must state his own case to move up the depth chart with his domestic performances in order to place himself in a spot to benefit.
Getty ImagesMike Lawrie
New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga
Miazga faces a critical decision about his future. His contract with the Red Bulls and MLS expires at the end of the year. The promising defender is expected to pursue European options -- several English sides are reportedly interested -- once his contract ends. He must choose wisely in order to obtain regular first-team football and state his claims for playing time with the senior team.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
Unattached midfielder Perry Kitchen
Consider this winter as a possible boost to the 23-year-old’s quest for a regular place in the team. Kitchen is out of contract after spending the past five seasons with D.C. United. He is expected to pursue a move to Europe with Danish and German clubs reportedly interested in his services. If the combative midfielder can identify the right situation and establish himself as a first-team fixture at a new side, then he might pry his way into the squad as the year progresses.
Getty ImagesVictor Decolongon
Columbus Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp
U.S. under-23 captain Trapp is in line for a busy year. The Olympic qualifying efforts kick off with a training camp in January, while Crew SC kicks off its quest for MLS Cup in March. Those pursuits provide a foundation for greater ambitions: The astute midfielder is in line to break into the senior team and chase European offers if he performs reliably in the center of the park.
Getty ImagesGene Sweeney Jr.
K.A.A. Gent midfielder Kenny Saief
Is Saief destined to play for Israel or the United States? His status remains uncertain as 2016 dawns, though his come-and-get-me plea to U.S. Soccer is likely to spark some movement. Saief played for Israel in the youth ranks, but he hasn’t received a call-up to the full side yet. If Israel continues to dither, then the Panama City, Fla. native might opt to play for the States instead.
AFP/Getty ImagesPHILIPPE DESMAZES
Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe
The stage is set for Nagbe to assume a more influential role this year. Nagbe found his footing with a pair of World Cup qualifying appearances and won MLS Cup with the Timbers. It is now on him to entrench himself in the U.S. side and push toward a permanent place in the squad.
Getty ImagesDilip Vishwanat
Columbus Crew SC winger Ethan Finlay
Several prominent MLS players hope to break into the U.S. setup this year. Finlay -- a clever winger who earned Best XI honors in 2015 for MLS Cup finalists Crew SC -- is perhaps the best situated to accomplish the feat given the need for alternatives in the wide areas.
Getty ImagesKirk Irwin
Stanford forward Jordan Morris
Morris confirmed his emergence by scoring against Mexico and winning a NCAA title with the Cardinal in 2015. The promising forward needs to figure out his next step quickly. The smart money is on a Homegrown deal with Seattle Sounders and a chance to establish himself as a MLS regular.
AFP/Getty ImagesDON EMMERT
Union Berlin forward Bobby Wood
The objective is clear for super-sub Wood: Can he cement his claims for a first-team place? His performances for Union Berlin (seven goals in 19 appearances) this season offer encouragement as he plots his chase accordingly.
Getty ImagesShaun Clark
LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes
Consolidation is the key for Zardes after a wildly successful 2015. The versatile forward emerged as a trusted linchpin in Jurgen Klinsmann’s side, but he spent most of his time in the wide areas. He must toil earnestly to ensure he maintains his place in the starting XI and strengthens his case as a long-term fixture.