Bruce Arena says Julian Green is still in the mix for a spot on the United States roster for March’s World Cup qualifiers.
The 21-year-old attacker made the move from Bayern Munich to 2.Bundesliga side Stuttgart in January in hopes of securing more playing time. Since the move, Green has scored one goal in five league appearances for his new club.
While there had been some question whether Green would feature as prominently in the plans of Arena as he had former coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. boss says that the attacker is very much in consideration for a place this month when the national team faces Honduras at home March 24 and visits Panama March 28.
“He is,” Arena said when asked whether Green was still in the mix during a Facebook chat for U.S. Soocer. “We’ve seen him in person twice over the last three weeks. I saw him play against Heidenheim and one of our assistants saw him play a few weeks ago in Stuttgart. We followed his progress the last couple of weeks and he hasn’t been in the starting XI for Stuttgart, so we’re going to watch him this weekend and make a final decision on him over the next week or so.”
Another attacking player in the mix for a spot is Clint Dempsey, who made his return from an irregular heart beat on the opening weekend of the MLS season, scoring a goal. However, despite the strong return for the veteran, Arena would not commit to Dempsey being on the squad.
“It was great to see him play in the opening game in Houston for Seattle,” Arena said. “I want to follow him again this weekend and really see where he’s at physically – if he’s getting a little bit sharper, if he’s increasing his workload on the field. We know he’s obviously a very good player and has a great history with the national team.
“But we want to be smart about Clint and make sure he’s ready to play international soccer. The next two weekends are going to be very important so we’ll follow him closely but I’m happy to see he’s back on the field and I’m confident he’ll be part of the national team at some point in 2017.”
The national team boss also noted multiple other players are in consideration for spots, including Eric Lichaj, Michael Orozco and Tim Ream, with the former two of particular interest since right back Timmy Chandler is suspended for the Honduras clash and DeAndre Yedlin has picked up an injury at Newcastle.
On the other side, Fabian Johnson is in consideration for the left back position, along with DaMarcus Beasley, Greg Garza, Jorge Villafana, Matt Besler, Ream and Lichaj. However Arena would prefer to go with an option other than Johnson, if possible.
“He plays almost on a regular basis as a left-sided midfielder at Borussia Monchengladbach,” Arensa said. “If we can, we want to play Fabian in the midfield. That’s one of our goals for 2017 – to find a regular position for him to play on a consistent basis.”
Arena also commented on the goalkeeper situation, strongly indicating Nick Rimando and Brad Guzan will be part of the team, with Tim Howard’s availability likely to go right down to the wire.
“Tim Howard is coming off an injury and didn’t play last weekend,” Arena said. “We’re waiting to see whether he plays for Colorado this weekend. If he’s healthy and continues to make progress he’ll obviously get strong consideration for the call-ups in March.”