In 2014, much as it has been in years past, fans of the national team lamented the fact that our attacking options were limited to speculative dual-nationals and a group of (near) 30-somethings who made their hay in MLS. To wit, the inclusion of Julian Green at the expense of Landon Donovan (allegedly) was the most polarizing roster decision made by Jurgen Klinsmann.
In the end, the United States escaped one of the most difficult groups in recent memory, and the players eligible to represent Germany outscored the players who were solely eligible to represent the US of A (3-2, Green, Brooks, and Jones compared to Dempsey's x2). Why should we be more positive about the composition of the upper crust? Hopefully, it will have everything to do with the fact that we have a more dense and more talented pool heading into future World Cups.
The future of American soccer has arrived with the current crop of attacking talent.
Diego Fagundez New England
Devante Parker Mainz
Shawn Parker Augsburg
Jerome Kiesewetter Stuttgart
Zee Germans will all be eligibe. When will they get scooped into Jurgen Klinsmann's pool. Fagundez is still eligible until he plays in an official capacity for Uruguay. For different reasons, they all offer appeal to future World Cup squads. Here's a breakdown of the most promising prospects already eligible/capped.
Julian Green Bayern Munich
Jack McInerney Montreal Impact
Joe Gyau Borussia Dortmund
Bobby Wood 1860 Munich
Paul Arriola Tijuana
Rubio Rubin Utrecht
Juan Agudelo TBA
Benji Joya Chicago Fire
Dillon Serna Colorado Rapids
Junior Flores Borussia Dortmund
Jose Villareal LA Galaxy
Luis Felipe Cruzeiro
Romain Gall Columbus Crew
Tommy Thompson San Jose Earthquakes
This truncated list includes an MLS Goal of the Week Winner (Serna), an Eredivisie regular (Rubin), a Bundesiiga 2 player on form (Wood), and a newly-minted World Cup veteran (Green). This doesn't even speak to the group's biggest magician, who dabbles in whimsy like this.
In previous cycles, we looked to a select few saviors. In 2006, Bobby Convey was the great new thing. In 2010, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley looked to parlay their U-20 success into World Cup glory. They managed to do so better than their predecessors. Freddy Adu's presence was always there, but outside of a flurry in Gold Cup 2011, he's been searching for consistent club play, and thus, relinquishes the role of heir apparent.
All of this group have shown encouraging flashes. Consistency playing competitive matches in the top leagues will determine which of these guys will challenge for Russia 2018. The good news is that there's a bigger pool of talent on the cusp of graduating to the senior team which should translate to the Yanks not being relegated to a defend and counter team. I think at least 3 of these guys are destined to make the final roster in 2018, and if a gem or 2 comes out of the current U-17's, four to five attacking players in their early 20's will make it to Russia, and that bodes well for our ability to progress beyond the Round of 16 in 2018.