No new faces. That was Bruce Arena's philosophy heading into September's World Cup qualifiers and he made it clear on Tuesday that he's standing by that approach as October's all-important qualifiers approach.
It is a philosophy that has to be maddening for U.S. fans who feel fresh blood is needed after the U.S. managed just one point from two September qualifiers. It's understandable to want things shaken up, especially given how much the Americans struggled against Costa Rica and Honduras last month, but it is also isn't reasonable to assume that a new face who hasn't been in a national team camp all year is going to show up and suddenly have chemistry within the group. That's not to mention the fact the U.S. is facing a must-win qualifier against Panama. It isn't really the environment to throw in someone who is a novice to the international game.
Though we are unlikely to see any players who haven't been a part of a previous 2017 camp, that doesn't mean there won't be a different feel to the October qualifying squad. For one, DeAndre Yedlin is back, and the first-choice right back should step right in and resume his starting role at a position that proved troublesome in September.
You also have Fabian Johnson, who was around in September, but clearly wasn't fully fit or close to sharp considering he had just returned from an injury. While he only recently made his first start for Borussia Moenchengladbach since returning from September's international duty, he should be sharper than he was a month ago.
If you're looking for a player who could be in a similar situation this time around, it's Geoff Cameron, who has missed three weeks with a thigh injury. Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has stated he feels Cameron has a good chance of returning to action this weekend, and Arena said on Tuesday that he believed Cameron would be in the upcoming U.S. camp.
One player who will definitely be missing from the October qualifying squad is Jordan Morris, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. You will recall it was Morris who kept the ball alive on Bobby Wood's all-important equalizer in September, and scored the Gold Cup-winning goal against Jamaica back in July. Arena will need to fill the void at forward and could call on another Gold Cup participant.
Here is a look at what the U.S. World Cup qualifying roster should look like in October:
SELECTIONS: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
MISSED THE CUT: Ethan Horvath, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Jesse Gonzalez
This trio is as far away as you can get from new faces, and the real intrigue in this group is whether Arena will go with Howard as his starter, or turn to Guzan. Howard's showing against Costa Rica may have loosened his grip on the starting role, and Guzan has looked sharp with Atlanta United. Will Arena consider a younger option for the third goalkeeper spot? That's entirely possible, but Rimando has been playing well for a resurgent Real Salt Lake.
SELECTIONS: DeAndre Yedlin, Graham Zusi, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Miazga, Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, Eric Lichaj
INJURED: John Brooks
MISSED THE CUT: Tim Chandler, Matt Hedges, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Ike Opara, Greg Garza, Justin Morrow, DaMarcus Beasley
Having Yedlin back is huge, but the uncertainty about Cameron is worrisome, even with his shaky showing against Costa Rica last month. Left back is a particularly troubling position, where Jorge Villafana has seen inconsistent playing time at Santos Laguna and DaMarcus Beasley coming off an awful performance against Honduras.
Matt Miazga has been playing regularly for Dutch side Vitesse, and impressed against Ajax last weekend. He was part of the Gold Cup squad, so he's not a newcomer to the group and should get the nod.
Will Arena stand by Beasley after his terrible start against Honduras last month? If not, Arena could turn to the versatile Lichaj as a left back option, as well as Justin Morrow, who played in the Gold Cup.
SELECTIONS: Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, Fabian Johnson, Paul Arriola, Kellyn Acosta, Dax McCarty, Cristian Roldan, Alejandro Bedoya
INJURED: Kelyn Rowe, Danny Williams, Sebastian Lletget
MISSED THE CUT: Lee Nguyen, Sacha Kljestan, Benny Feilhaber, Weston McKennie, Gyasi Zardes, Joe Corona
Does this group of selections look familiar? It's the same group of midfielders Arena called up in September. All are healthy heading into the weekend, which should make Arena's decisions easy.
And what of young Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie? The defensive midfielder is starting to break through at the Bundesliga club, but fans hoping to see him in a U.S. uniform will likely have to wait a while.
Will Arena consider Zardes, whose versatility make him a wing midfield and forward option? The fact the LA Galaxy have been playing Zardes at right back may work against him as Arena looks to fill the void left by Jordan Morris' return from injury.
Arriola enters the upcoming camp in good form since making the move to D.C. United. Arena has shown a willingness to play Arriola in big matches, so don't be surprised if the D.C. midfielder gets at least one start in October.
SELECTIONS: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey Bobby Wood, Dom Dwyer, Chris Wondolowski
INJURED: Jordan Morris
MISSED THE CUT: C.J. Sapong, Christian Ramirez
The good news for Arena is that Wood appears to have overcome a recent knee injury, but the bad news is Morris is still sidelined and not easily replaced. Morris gave the U.S. a good speed option off the bench, and there's really no similar option.
Dom Dwyer has picked a good time to start heating up for Orlando City, and though he doesn't boast Morris' speed, he has the power and movement to be a threat off the bench.