It’s been nearly seven months since the US men’s national team played a game, though domestic stars continue to make their case to head coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff.
That dynamic framed part of last Thursday’s Extratime episode, when ex-USMNT striker Charlie Davies and ex-Seattle Sounders forward Steve Zakuani joined the debate around several MLS-based players. The proclamations flowed, too, starting with Seattle forward Jordan Morris.
Zakuani, after previously calling Morris the second best attacking player in MLS aside from Carlos Vela, said he could envision the Homegrown heading overseas to challenge himself at some point. As for Davies, he said Morris is a guaranteed starter right now given his club form. The 26-year-old has six goals and five assists through 11 matches this season, plus 10 goals in 39 USMNT caps.
Watch: Steve Zakuani, Charlie Davies on Jordan Morris
“Both of you know I'm very passionate about the US men's national team and I'm maybe too critical at times or too harsh, and I always go back to, when you're called up to the national team, you need to be doing it with your club team,” said Davies, who also co-hosts The U.S. Soccer Podcast. “You need to be performing, you need to be in form, and right now Jordan Morris' form should give him a starting spot with the US men's national team because he is showing what he can do.
“He's doing it in different ways, playing against different types of teams where teams either sit back or they press him, they're aggressive. He finds a way to make an impact. When you have a player who's playing at that level, it's easy to transition into the national team because your confidence is that high and you want the players getting the minutes.”
Staying in the attack, Davies said Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore is still the best No. 9 option. Columbus Crew SC striker Gyasi Zardes and Werder Bremen striker Josh Sargent are two other natural choices, but Altidore’s 115 caps and 42 goals for the USMNT give him an edge.
Davies: Jozy Altidore is still the best forward in the USMNT pool
“There's not a single player, if everyone's fit, that I'm playing over Jozy Altidore right now,” Davies said. “When you talk about experience, ability to finish, combine, connect and knowing that this is what it takes to win in certain atmospheres because you have that.
“Everyone else, you're basing it on potential or hope. Nothing has been proven on the international level. Yeah, we all have to start somewhere, but when these players had opportunities to really take the throne, so to speak, they haven't done it. If there isn't any argument, you can say over time, sure, maybe that happens. But look at all the strikers across the globe for US men's national team options. No one's banging goals left and right. No one's doing it.”
Davies also addressed the goalkeeper situation, vouching for New England Revolution starter Matt Turner. Davies also serves as a color commentator for the Revs and played for his hometown club, so he consistently sees the 26-year-old compete as he chases his first USMNT cap.
Davies: Matt Turner belongs on the USMNT roster
“He's, for me, probably a top two [with] American 'keepers in the league right now consistently playing from week to week,” Davies said. “On this list, he should be no lower than four.”
Do you agree with their takes about Altidore, Morris and Turner? Anyone else you’d rather see in those spots? Let us know and check out the full episode here.