In the end it may all come down to Clint Dempsey.
The 34-year-old Sounders forward missed much of his team’s championship season in 2016 thanks to an irregular heartbeat. There were legitimate questions over whether this was the end of the line for him.
But Dempsey has since been cleared to return for the Sounders. And now he might be the USMNT’s last hope.
The Nats head into the latest round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers on the edge of a knife. Bottom of the Hex, zero points, and facing the very real possibility of missing the World Cup for the first time since the 1980s. Things are, not to put too fine a point on it, dire. Their upcoming fixtures at the end of the month— at home against Honduras and away to Panama— are make-or-break for the Americans. Get some points and they’re still alive. Lose both and it’s probably over.
No pressure, Bruce.
Without further ado, here are the 23 Americans who will be tasked with saving their country from utter ruin.
Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Bobby Wood (Hamburger SV)