It’s hard to predict a 23 when a bomb needs to be dropped on the team and totally rebuilt. But no fun in saying that.... Goalkeepers Starter: Ethan Horvath Back-ups: Zack Steffen, Jesse Gonzalez Alternate: Bill Hamid Contenders: Sean Johnson, Alex Bono Comments: Really, the #1 spot is up for grabs between Horvath, Steffen, Gonzalez, and Hamid. All 4 should get a shot and whoever ends up on top should be the starter in 2019. That said, my bet is Horvath ends up on top. Right Back: Starter: DeAndre Yedlin Back-up: Shaq Moore Alternate: Timmy Chandler Contenders: Matt Polster, Desevio Payne, Eric Lichaj, Marlon Fossey, Reggie Cannon, Matthew Olosunde, Jakob Nerwinski, Sergino Dest Comments: Not much is sure about this team except Yedlin is a starter; whether at RB or RW in a 352. Who backs him up? Moore might be the leading contender at this point. Left Back: Starter: Jorge Villafana Back-up: Antonee Robinson Alternate: Greg Garza Contenders: Brandon Vincent, Danilo Acosta, Nick Lima, Marlon Hairston Comments: Wide open. Villafana is getting the nod at this moment because of his call up and that he brings experience. Hopefully, someone will knock him off and at best, by 2019, he’ll be an alternate. Kellyn Acosta may slide back to LB. Hopefully, Robinson progressss. We just need SOMEONE to step up, because if we are depending on Villafana, it’ll be because we’re hurting. Center Backs: Starters: John Brooks, Matt Miazga Back-ups: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Eric Palmer-Brown Alternate: Justen Glad Contenders: Tim Parker, Walker Zimmermann, Aaron Long, Eriq Zavaleta Comments: The one position I have some hope for, although we need to season some of these prospects. Brooks should be ready for a leadership role; then it’s a matter of who partners him. Best bets are Miazga, but there’s stiff competition. Note that it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a 352 would be our best formation; especially since fullback (outside of Yedlin) is by far our weakest link. Defensive Midfielder: Starter: Jonathan Gonzalez Back-up: Wil Trapp Alternate: Marky Delgado Contenders: Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Perry Kitchen Comment: Gonzalez is the front runner, and I’m shocked to say that Trapp is quietly putting up a case to be the back up. In the post-Bradley era, this might seem shaky at first, but even outside of this group, we could pull from one of the other midfield spots, if needed, which should inspire some confidence. Center Midfielder: Starter: Weston McKennie Back-up: Cristian Roldan Alternate: Kyle Scott Contenders: Chris Goslin, Emo Hyndman, Gedion Zelalem, Juan Torres, Djordje Mihailovic, Danny Williams Comments: let’s go ahead and get ready for the McKennie era, as this team will be the McKennie-Pulisic show. The question is who backs him up? Roldan is good enough that we should find a spot in the starting XI for him, but I feel ready confident, having him as an option on the bench. After Roldan and McKennie, there may be a budding star in Scott, who keeps making Chelsea’s bench but no appearances yet. After that we have some prospects, but they need to take their game to the next level, and we have an aging Williams we could rely on in need. Right Midfielder: Starter: Paul Arriola Back-up: Tyler Adams Alternate: Brooks Lennon Contenders: Alfredo Morales, Seb Lletget, Gyasi Zardes, Ethan Finlay Comments: I don’t know why he was left out of Sarachan’s roster, but he was about the only bright spot on the poor showing in qualifying. Arriola should get his shot to cement his place as a starter. Then? Does Adams fill in as a RM instead of a CDM or RB. He may need to, as it starts to get slim afte that, unless Lletget returns to form, Lennon takes his game up a level, or one of the other cats makes a name for himself between here and then. Left Midfielder: Starter: Kellyn Acosta Back-up: Lynden Gooch Alternate: Darlington Nagbe Contenders: Kekuta Manneh, Kenny Saief, Jonathan Lewis, Nick Taitague Comments: Where is Acosta’s best position? We’ll need to figure that out between here and then, and only if he gets over his 2017 slump. I have him at LM now, although he’s a poor man McKennie, as LB he might get too exposed. Either way, that needs to be sorted out. Gooch and Nagbe are in the dugout, where Gooch needs to step up and Nagbe needs to show up. After them, there’s still some possibility in the other guys, but we need to see some improvement. Playmaker/Striker: Starter: Christian Pulisic Back-up: Josh Sargent Alternate: Andrew Carleton Contenders: Kelyn Rowe, Jordan Morris, Joe Corona, Juan Agudelo Comments: Okay, so there’s not a Pulisic replacement, and this team needs to be built around him. In this case, we’re taking three forwards, and Pulisic is his own thing. Sargent is hoping, but we need to see him to continue to perform and show he can perform against men. Carleton is another in that same boat. Rowe had a GREAT 2017 Gold Cup showing and could reclaim his spot if he can quit being so inconsistent. Then, we need Morris also to show some consistency and the same for Corona. That said, when looking for this position, we’re looking for that player who can play off the main striker and add some creativity to the team. Striker: Starter: Bobby Wood Back-up: Haji Wright Alternate: Dom Dwyer Contenders: Tim Weah, Christian Ramirez, CJ Sapong, Jozy Altidore, Jordan Siebatcheu Comments: A lot can change. Wood needs to pull his head out of his butt because right now, he’s anything but secure as the starter, or even on the team. What’s holding that change back, is no one else seems ready to knock him off. Either way, the hot hand makes the roster.