Pulisic, Weah and McKennie: Projecting the USMNT squad for the friendlies against Brazil and Mexico

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A pair of high-profile friendlies await in September, and caretaker coach Dave Sarachan will have some interesting roster decisions to make

The opponents couldn't be any more appealing, but the U.S. national team's upcoming September friendlies against Brazil and Mexico don't feel like they have the growing buzz about them that they should, and that isn't a coincidence.

Those high-profile friendlies were supposed to be kicking off a new era for the USMNT, but the absence of a new head coach has the program still feeling like it's in limbo. Caretaker coach Dave Sarachan is still in charge, and it is looking more and more like he could wind up finishing out the year as U.S. Soccer drags on a job search for a position that will have effectively been vacated a full year ago in October.

You can't really knock USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart for wanting to make sure he hires the right man to lead the program into a new era, but until that hire is made there will be tempered enthusiasm about a national team stuck in neutral, waiting for a new driver.

The good news is there is a promising generation of young talent that should keep getting looks, and Sarachan has done well to embrace the new blood. The June draw against eventual World Cup champion France was a morale booster for the youngsters, and should give Sarachan confidence in sticking with them.

The question now is whether Sarachan will look to integrate some veteran players who have been on the outside looking in since the team's World Cup qualifying debacle. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore stand at the top of the list, and Sarachan must decide whether it's better to bring in those established leaders and long-time USMNT regulars, or give youngsters like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, as well as defender John Brooks, a chance to establish themselves as the leaders of the group heading into a new cycle.

So who will Sarachan call on to feature in a pair of tough friendlies in September? Here is a look at the players we could see called up to face Brazil and Mexico:


GOALKEEPERS


Zack Steffen Columbus Crew MLS 2018

Zack Steffen, Bill Hamid, Alex Bono

Steffen has impressed in the opportunities he has been given with the USMNT, and is in the midst of another strong season with the Columbus Crew. Hamid has boosted his national team chances by returning to MLS and regaining his starting job with D.C. United. Bono may have cost TFC some points in their recent draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, but he has still been in good form this season and merits a return.

Could Sarachan look to bring a veteran in like Brad Guzan? The Atlanta United goalkeeper is enjoying a solid season, and would bring plenty of national team experience to the table. There are other MLS standouts enjoying good seasons, such as Tim Melia and Stefan Frei, but Guzan is the most likely to get a nod if one of the three mentioned above isn't called.


DEFENDERS


John Brooks Wolfsburg Bundesliga playoff

DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, Jorge Villafana,  Reggie Cannon, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Parker, Antonee Robinson

It was a rough injury-plagued season for Brooks, but he is back and healthy and is a prime candidate to be one of the USMNT's leaders in the next cycle. Yedlin avoided a serious knee injury just two weeks ago, but he has yet to return to action, so his availability for the September friendlies is in doubt.

Robinson gets another call after impressing at left back with the national team earlier in the year. He is off to a good start with Wigan and looks like the left back of the future.

The one national team newcomer on this list is Cannon, the young FC Dallas right back who has been outstanding in his second season as a pro. With Shaq Moore currently in club limbo, and some other older options ready to be phased out, Cannon is an excellent candidate to earn a call.

Some other defenders on the fringes include Aaron Long, Ventura Alvarado, Nick Lima, Keegan Rosenberry and Justen Glad.


MIDFIELDERS


Christian Pulisic USMNT 05282018

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp, Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Lynden Gooch, Julian Green

Pulisic has played in just one national team match since the team's shocking loss to Trinidad & Tobago last October, but now it's time for him to return to the fold and be the attacking leader the team desperately needs. His partnership with McKennie is one to watch as it evolves, while Adams remains a key piece for the future of the midfield as well.

Acosta is back in the mix after missing out on some call-ups early in the year due to FC Dallas' unwillingness to release players. Acosta has been excellent with the Colorado Rapids since being traded, and remains a top contender for a midfield place with the national team.

While there is a wealth of options in central midfield, the flank talent is less abundant, with Arriola surging back into the picture on the strength of good form with D.C. United. Green scored the goal against France in June and should earn another look,  while Gooch has looked good with Sunderland.

Other options include U.S. Under-20 speedster Jonathan Amon, who is impressing in Denmark, and Romain Gall, who parlayed a breakout season in Sweden into a move to Swedish champion Malmo. Sebastian Lletget is also back in action with the LA Galaxy and could earn a look.


FORWARDS


Tim Weah USMNT 05282018

Bobby Wood, Andrija Novakovich, Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent

Sarachan has a real decision to make at forward. Does he call in Altidore, who is still one of the best in the player pool, or does he stick with the youth movement? It's easy to overlook the fact Altidore is still only 28, so he isn't exactly a dinosaur, and as a target forward there is nobody on his level in the pool.

One forward who should find his way onto the team is Wood, who played in the March friendly against Paraguay and started the games against Ireland and France, scoring against the former. 

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It will be interesting to see how Sarachan uses Weah, who is off to a good start with Paris Saint Germain. He is capable of playing as a winger or wide forward, but has also been used up top for PSG.

Novakovich is off to a good start with his new team, Dutch side Fortuna Sittard, and could be called on to start in one or both of the friendlies.

Other forward possibilities include Gyasi Zardes, Emmanuel Sabbi and Rubio Rubin.

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