On Sunday, United States national team head coach Bruce Arena made his long-awaited roster announcement for the World Cup qualifiers versus Trinidad and Tobago (June 8) and Mexico (June 11). Each of the 15 MLS players on the roster has at least one cap to his name, which got us thinking: Who are the domestically based players worthy of a first cap?
Excluding those with the U.S. at the Under-20 World Cup, plus currently ineligible Columbus Crew striker Kekuta Manneh, here are five names that belong on Arena's radar in preparation for July's Gold Cup.
1. Dom Dwyer, FW, Sporting Kansas City
This is cheating, slightly, considering the England-born Dwyer just became a U.S. citizen in March, but the 26-year-old technically qualifies for this list. The Sporting Kansas City man has 55 goals in MLS since the beginning of the 2014 season, including five in 2017. No doubt he is one of the best finishers in the league and a call later this summer has to be coming. Even Arena himself has said as much.
2. Cristian Roldan, MF, Seattle Sounders
The 21-year-old continues to grow with each season. Roldan has become one of the better defensive midfielders and was a key cog in Seattle's title run last fall. This is not to say that he is purely a destroyer; Roldan's passing has improved and you'd be stretched to find another player in MLS who covers more ground. What stands out most, though, is his intensity. Roldan never backs away from a challenge and fights for every ball like it was the last. He must make the Gold Cup squad.
3. Kelyn Rowe, MF, New England Revolution
Since his rookie season in 2012, the 25-year-old has consistently delivered the goods for New England, averaging 24 starts, 31 appearances and roughly six goals and six assists a season. He has set up three goals in 12 games this year but what separates Rowe from the pack is his versatility: While he seems more comfortable in midfield and has the passing skills to go with it, he performed admirably in place of veteran left-back Chris Tierney who struggled at the start of the season. A player able to play in such different places would be a nice luxury for Arena.
4. Christian Ramirez, FW, Minnesota United
There were questions over whether Ramirez would be able to transition from playing in the NASL to MLS. but those have been answered fairly quickly. The 26-year-old striker won the starting role in the season's early stages and has notched eight goals thus far, including three scores in his last four games. The nose for goal that he showed in the NASL has translated to the next level and you have to like a striker, who has the poise to send a defender flying before sweeping into an open net.
5. Andrew Farrell, DF, New England Revolution
The first pick in the 2013 draft, Farrell has been rock-solid for the Revs since his rookie season. Eligible to play for Peru and once supposedly on the radar of the South Americans, Arena could do a lot worse than bringing him in at right-back this July. Like his teammate Rowe, Farrell is capable of playing a different position, having filled in at center-back last season. His crossing has also improved and he appears more comfortable pushing forward in attack.
Honorable mention: Tommy McNamara, FW, New York City