ExtraTime Radio Podcast
LISTEN: No matter whether you think it's a must-win or not, there's no doubt the stakes for the US national team's Friday night Hex match against Honduras are massive. The guys break down the Hex with Sebastian Lletget, get some inside info on Los Catrachos from a well-placed source and then turn to MLS to pass judgment on Bastian Schweinsteiger to the Fire and the open Real Salt Lake job. Subscribe so you don't miss a show!
It’s time for a crescendo of hand-wringing and Greek chorus-singing: There are just a couple days until the US national team convenes again for international play, after all!
By the time I hit “publish” on this, there might have been another roster announcement before Friday’s World Cup Qualifying match vs. Honduras at Avaya Stadium in San Jose (10:30pm ET | FS1, UniMás, Follow on the MLS App). Whether due to new family additions (yay, Brad Guzan and the new forthcoming crop of soccer superstar babies), injuries, or who knows what else, the roster has continued to morph, down to the wire.
Here is what has already proven certain. It’s definitely more MLS-skewing under Bruce Arena than we would likely have seen under former head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, and with new or seldom-seen faces to boot. So who’s got the most riding on this go-‘round (besides, of course, all of us, as we hope to qualify)? A few quick thoughts:
He’s back! This one’s simple: toward the end of Klinsmann’s tenure, it looked like Darlington Nagbe might never return to represent his country. Arena’s January camp brought him back into the fold, so here’s a major test when it counts.
The 23-year-old Walker Zimmerman has proven to be low-key one of the best defenders in the league, perhaps keeping a lower profile internationally due to his relative youth and his killer, but relatively internationally un-flashy team (FC Dallas). He just made his senior team debut this year, and his performance in a US 1-0 win over Jamaica proved super promising. Here’s his chance to build on that.
Sebastian Lletget benefits from plenty of time with Arena at the LA Galaxy. Fans there — and throughout MLS, in general – tipped him last year for potential call-ups thanks to his performance in the midfield. But for anyone not super into MLS – or the U23s, U20s, and U17s, for all of which Lletget also played – he’s a fairly new face. Now’s his shot.
Quakes ’keeper David Bingham made the call-up by the skin of his teeth after Guzan dropped out to await the birth of a new baby. Tim Howard and Nick Rimando still rule the roost among the USMNT, but competition stays fierce for that No. 3 slot. Bingham’s performance at camp will determine whether he can hang on, or whether this prime spot for the near future goes to other names outside MLS like William Yarbrough.
Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan started off as one of the most glaring omissions from the squad, instead squeezing in this past Sunday as a replacement for Bobby Wood. Those are fairly big shoes to fill. Wood’s proved clutch at the international level – but three weeks into the MLS season, Kljestan's now hitting his stride. it’s cheering to think of his super-satisfying performances in earlier qualifying matches. This go-‘round might make or break his regular spot.