From the likes of veterans Brian McBride and Clint Mathis to the emerging talents of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, Bruce Arena had the opportunity utilize some great attacking talent during his first tenure as U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena.
Now in his second tenure as manager, Arena still has Dempsey as well as a strong arsenal of forwards that have all hit a good goal-scoring stride going into Friday’s World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica.
“I like our strikers here, the combination of Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Chris Wondolowski gives us a lot of options,” Arena told reporters earlier this week. “They’re very good competitors, and I think the one thing that gives me so much optimism is that fact they’re in very good form right now.”
On the club front, Dempsey, Altidore and Wondolowski all arrived in camp having bagged 11 goals in the current M.L.S. campaign. Wondolowski in particular has continued his impressive league form, racking up a league-record eighth double-digit M.L.S. season recently, while Dempsey hit his fourth and Altidore his third.
Elsewhere, Wood has started strong for Hamburg, netting two goals in his first three competitive matches of the new season. The young striker came into camp on the heels of scoring the game winner in HSV’s 3-1 win at Köln last Friday.
“We have a very good squad that’s pretty deep right now,” Wood said this week. “It’s always good to see to have players right behind you stepping on your toes. You always have to perform, and it kind of brings out the best in every player."
And then there’s Morris, whose three goals for Seattle Sounders FC this season are actually eclipsed by the four he’s tallied for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2017. The youngest of the group of five, the 22-year-old was instrumental in helping the U.S. lift a sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup title this summer by scoring the 88th minute game-winner in the MNT’s 2-1 defeat of Jamaica in the Final on July 27.
Morris isn’t the only one that has found scoring form at the international level this year. His Seattle Sounders FC teammate Dempsey leads all U.S. scorers with five in 2017, and of course sits one goal away from becoming the MNT’s all-time leading scorer. Likewise, Altidore tallied in both the Gold Cup Semifinal and Final to take his overall international total to 39.
Speaking of the forward pool’s form, Altidore said, “I think the National Team is at a good point. To have five strikers in camp that are scoring good goals at a consistent rate and playing well at a high level, I think says a lot about the program and where it’s going. Any one of those guys can be starters and guys we can depend on. To have that as a luxury is a real advantage for us, and I think we just have to push each other to be better every day.”
“Whoever we choose over the next couple games are going to be dangerous,” agreed Arena. “I’m really comfortable with the strikers we have here.”