With the 2017 MLS season now in full swing, all U.S. Internationals are back with their respective clubs; be it Europe or United States. And with the USMNT scheduled to play Honduras and Panama later this month in round five of World Cup qualifying, it’s as good a time as any to highlight the nation’s top club performers.
It’s been and up and down first season in the Bundesliga for the 24-year-old Honolulu-born striker, having scored only five goals this season in 19 games for club Hamburger SV. Wood, who came from German second division side Union Berlin in the summer, has continually slipped in and out of form this season, but has recently begun to find the back of the net with more regularity.
Wood has scored two goals in last three games, the most recent coming earlier today against Borussia Monchengladbach. With just ten minutes to go in a 1-1 draw, it was Wood who broke the deadlock, finding the back of the net off of a redirected cross just six yards from goal.
The United States will no doubt hope Wood continues his recent form, as his recent goal-scoring prowess will be needed if the U.S. are to defeat Panama and Honduras to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Chris Wondolowski has had as good of a start to the MLS season as any striker in the last two seasons. Wondo, in just two games this season with the San Jose Earthquakes, has scored one goal and registered two assists for two wins. The 34-year-old striker has been directly involved in all but one of San Jose’s scores this season.
San Jose, along with the Houston Dynamo, currently sit atop the Western Conference standings, and will be looking to win their first MLS Title since 2003. Granted, we are just two games into the season, but if Wondolowski can maintain his current form, the Quakes may have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs this fall.
Wondolowski hasn’t been part of the USMNT’s plans as of late, last making an appearance for the Stars and Stripes last July, but new head coach Bruce Arena would be amiss if he were not to consider the striker ahead of this month’s World Cup qualifying matches.
Somehow, someway, eighteen-year-old Christian Pulisic is exceeding expectations in his second season with Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund. The Hershey, Pennsylvania native has been involved in fourteen goals for BVB this season, and recently scored his first ever Champions League goal against Portuguese side SL Benfica in the round of sixteen. Playing primarily as a substitute for Dortmund in the Bundesliga this, Pulisic has continued to make the most of his time on the field, helping his side to third in the Bundesliga table.
It has not yet been established who Borussia Dortmund will play in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, but you can expect Pulisic to be a part of their hopeful march to Cardiff for the final.
Pulisic has become a regular for the USMNT, and should start both matches against Honduras and Panama this March.
Clint Dempsey is back.
After months away from the pitch with an undisclosed heart condition, the 34-year-old striker is back with the Seattle Sounders for the 2017 MLS season, and scored his first goal of the season last week against Houston.
Dempsey is, unequivocally, still the United States’ best player, so one would expect head coach Bruce Arena to include the striker in his team for World Cup qualifying, but the U.S. still needs to find a viable replacement for the nation’s leading goal scorer.
Clint Dempsey is in the twilight of his career, and it won’t be long until he hangs up his boots for good. We’ve all seen how the U.S. have fared without Dempsey the past few months, so it should be of the utmost priority to find his replacement in the near future.
After starting the Premier League season at the bottom of the table after six games this season, Stoke City has climbed to ninth place in the Premier League Table, and have an outside chance at the Europa League for next season.
Geoff Cameron, who had been injured for the majority of the league campaign thus far, returned a few weeks ago as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur.
Since Cameron’s return, the center back has started two games in the Premier League; one win and one draw. Cameron looks to have regained his starting place in the Stoke City squad. Hopefully the club won’t revert to their putrid form experienced before Cameron’s absence.
Newcastle United right back DeAndre Yedlin picked up a thigh injury earlier this week, and will be out of action for the next one to two weeks. It’s still unclear what this injury means for Yedlin’s immediate future with the National Team, specifically against Honduras and Panama. But the U.S. better hope Yedlin is fully cleared by March 24, because typical backup right back Timothy Chandler will be suspended for the U.S.’ game against Honduras on that date.
If Yedlin is unable to perform later this month, head coach Bruce Arena will have to dig team into the reserves to find a capable replacement at right back.
The U.S.’ next two games are arguably their most crucial since the Copa America semifinal last June. If the U.S. are to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, they will likely need two victories against Honduras and Panama. That task is already difficult enough, but if Yedlin can’t go, getting those two wins will be much harder.