Although the US national team is in full rebuilding mode following their failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the stakes are huge for some MLS players during the November international window, which kicks off on Friday. Here's a look at what some MLSers will be playing for.
All on the line
It doesn't get any bigger than a two-legged playoff for a spot in Russia next summer, which is exactly the situation in which several MLSers find themselves.
Houston's Alberth Elis, Boniek Garcia and Romell Quioto, as well as Dallas' Maynor Figueroa, begin the first leg of Honduras' World Cup playoff against Australia in San Pedro Sula on Friday, with the return leg set for Sydney the following Wednesday.
There are MLS implications on both sides of a Peru-New Zealand playoff that begins Saturday in Wellington: Minnesota's Michael Boxall, Vancouver's Stefan Marinovic, San Jose's Kip Colvey and Portland's Bill Tuiloma are all part of the All-Whites' camp; Yordy Reyna – Marinovic's MLS teammate – and Orlando's Yoshimar Yotun will be with La Blanquirroja.
And in Europe, Montreal's Blerim Dzemaili aims to help Switzerland slip into the World Cup in a two-legged playoff against Northern Ireland on Thursday and Sunday.
The preparation begins
For others, November begins the tough work of sorting out the best squad to take to Russia after sealing qualification in the last months.
Panama faces Iran and Wales in a pair of friendlies with a team that includes Seattle's Roman Torres, Houston's Adolfo Machado, and New York Red Bulls' tandem Fidel Escobar and Michael Murillo. Montreal's Laurent Ciman and the LA Galaxy's Giovani dos Santos could face each other in a friendly between Belgium and Mexico Friday. And Seattle's Nicolas Lodeiro joins Urugay for matches against Poland and Austria.
Looking to the future
And for other national programs, the November window represents the first chance to move on after the failures of the 2018 cycle.
For the first time in a generation, that cohort includes the US national team. They'll travel to Portugal for a friendly next week with a youth-laden roster that includes the New York Red Bulls' Tyler Adams and Dallas' Jesse Gonzalez, as well as other relatively unfamiliar faces like Philadelphia's CJ Sapong and New England's Juan Agudelo.
Hungarians Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago), Krisztian Nemeth (New England) and Zoltan Stieber (D.C.) could figure in a pair of friendlies against Luxembourg and Costa Rica. Real Salt Lake's Albert Rusnak and Columbus' Ola Kamara could play against each other when Slovakia face Norway next week.
Don't forget the kid
Last but not least, New York City FC's Jack Harrison will again be with the England Under-21 team as they continue qualifying for the European Championships against Ukraine on Friday.