After a lackluster start to 2018 World Cup qualifying Jurgen Klinsmann has to prove to American fans that he is the right person to be leading the USMNT and that is evident in his selection for the upcoming Copa America Centenario. Klinsmann whittled his squad down to 40 players who are currently in contention, and former Zips make up nearly 10 percent of those players.
Darlington Nagbe of the Portland Timbers, DeAndre Yedlin of Sunderland and Perry Kitchen of Hearts of Medlothian were all chosen and each has a chance to crack the final 23-man roster. Let's take a look at each player's chances to make the final cut.
Nagbe is probably the most likely player to earn a spot among these three players, despite a scary ankle injury against the LA Galaxy a few weeks ago. He has become a favorite of Klinsmann since the Liberian-born player became available to play for the USMNT.
While he and the Timbers have struggled for form at the early part of the season, Nagbe is a dynamic attacking midfielder who can be an absolute force when unleashed in his preferred role through the middle. That was proven when his coach, and former Akron coach, Caleb Porter shifted him from the wing into a more central role near the end of the season and watched Nagbe will the Timbers to their first MLS Cup.
His numbers aren't gaudy — one assist and no goals this season and five goals and five assists last season — but those stats can be misleading. If Nagbe can recapture his form from last year's MLS playoffs, he will prove undroppable for Klinsmann and an integral part of the USMNT.
Chances of being picked: 9/10
For those who haven't been paying attention to Sunderland in the English Premier League, you can be forgiven. The Black Cats are narrowly above the relegation spots and are treading water to stay in the first division. That fight has been made much more manageable by Yedlin.
Yedlin is nearing the end of his season-long loan to Sunderland and is proving that he is growing into a complete right back. Before his loan it was common to see Yedlin bombing up the field with reckless abandon and foregoing his defensive duties to join the attack. Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has put a stop to that and formed Yedlin into a more complete right back that has helped the Black Cats stay in a decent run of form after a disastrous beginning of the season.
Klinsmann has used Yedlin in a variety of roles along the right side, so Yedlin's improvement on his defensive game may allow him to permanently claim the USMNT right back spot from Timmy Chandler. It also helps that Yedlin is playing abroad, something Klinsmann has encouraged his players to do for quite some time.
Chances of being picked: 8/10
This one is more challenging. While Nagbe and Yedlin are becoming staples in Klinsmann's team, Kitchen has been left off quite a few rosters, including the American's doubleheader against Guatamala during World Cup qualifying.
His biggest obstacle isn't his play, but the other defensive midfielders in the USMNT squad. Michael Bradley has been utilized more at the base of Toronto FC's midfield this season, making him an almost automatic selection for Klinsmann, as well as Kyle Beckerman being picked in the event of a more defensive structure.
Danny Williams will also be pushing for a spot, meaning Kitchen has two established players and an up-and-coming player in Williams to contend with. But Kitchen has been playing well in the Scottish League since he opted not to resign with DC United and take his talents abroad, and Hearts coach Robbie Neilson has said that Kitchen is adapting well.
If Kitchen can continue to perform well in Scotland and impress enough before the end of his domestic season, he has a reasonable chance of cracking the 23-man roster.
Chances of being picked: 5/10