Right after the 2014 World Cup, I gave my way-too-early prediction for the 23-man roster to represent the United States in Russia in 2018. Oh man, I was so wrong. So bad. Two years later, we all have a better idea of who could/couldn’t be on the roster. Especially after seeing the squad finish 4th at Copa America Centenario, it's much clearer. So, I give you my updated still-way-too-early prediction, which will also probably not be right at all.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan*, Bill Hamid, Evan Horvath (Tim Howard, Sean Johnson, Zack Steffen)
Guzan is going to be the guy unless somehow Hamid or Horvath make a move to big club and can break into the starting XI. Howard’s time is probably done, although he could possibly stay on the roster just for his experience and leadership.
Defenders: Fabian Johnson*, John Anthony Brooks*, DeAndre Yedlin*, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta, Timothy Chandler (Tim Ream, Steve Birnbaum, Michael Orozco, Eric Lichaj, Brad Evans, Brek Shea, Andrew Farrell, Greg Garza, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Besler, Edgar Castillo, Desevio Payne, Keegan Rosenberry)
Brooks was the star at Copa America and will continue to be for the US. Future captain? I think so. The backline would probably look something like Johnson at LB, Brooks at LCB, Cameron at RCB, and Yedlin at RB. Same as the Copa. Although, I could see Miazga starting instead of Cameron once he develops some more at Chelsea. Gonzalez could easily be replaced by Besler or Birnbaum and Acosta could be replaced by Garza, Shea, Castillo, or possibly even Payne depending on where he is in his development. Just please no Orozco. Please.
Midfielders: Michael Bradley*, Gyasi Zardes, Alejandro Bedoya, Darlington Nagbe, Will Trapp, Christian Pulisic, Lee Nguyen, Kekuta Manneh (Gedion Zelalem, Mix Diskerud, Alfredo Morales, Ethan Finlay, Sebastian Lletget, Josh Gatt, Emerson Hyndman, Dillon Powers, Harry Shipp, Danny Williams, Perry Kitchen, Joe Gyau, Luis Gil, Paul Arriola, Julian Green, Miguel Ibarra, Jerome Kiesewetter)
The midfield is really hard to predict because there are so many who are of equal talent. But, out with the old guard! Jermaine Jones will be gone most likely at 36 or maybe not, so will Kyle Beckerman. Graham Zusi will probably be gone as well. Zardes and Bedoya seem the most likely to start on the outside. Maybe Pulisic instead and Bedoya in the middle. Nguyen or Nagbe most likely takes over that attacking spot. Trapp next to Bradley? I can easily see Morales, Diskerud, Kitchen, or Hyndman replace Trapp. Heck, maybe even Zelalem if he steps it up. Manneh will have citizenship by this time and I hope he chooses the US and Klinsmann uses him. Imagine having Pulisic and Manneh on the wings after a couple more years of development…juicy.
Forwards: Bobby Wood*, Jozy Altidore, Aron Johansson, Jordan Morris (Clint Dempsey, Rubio Rubin, Dom Dwyer, Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Andrew Wooten, CJ Sapong)
Sad to see Dempsey probably go, but he probably would be at 35. He could still make the roster, but as a poacher. But, Klinsmann did leave off a certain Landon Donovan before. Who knows? Likely Dempsey doesn’t make it. Wood broke out in the German second division and at the Copa this summer. In my opinion, he might be better than Altidore at the moment and Klinsmann loves him. Altidore will make the team most likely. Johannson is a little up in the air for me because of his injuries and he hasn’t really played for Werder Bremen yet. Morris should make it after starting for Seattle for two more years. Zardes could also play up top instead of the wing. Also, there’s a chance Dwyer squeezes in late after he receives his citizenship. Personally, I’d love to see Rubio Rubin make it somehow. Love that dude, but I don’t see how he does at this point. But, don't be surprised if he makes it.
Starters: Guzan; Johnson, Brooks, Cameron, Yedlin; Pulisic, Bradley, Nagbe, Bedoya; Wood, Altidore
Bench: Hamid, Johansson, Morris, Zardes, Trapp, Miazga, Chandler
* - unquestionably will be on the roster because they are either very good or Klinsmann loves them or both
Well, what do you think? (Remember: This is my prediction of Klinsmann’s roster and not my actual roster.)