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Projecting the USMNT Starting 11 For the 2018 World Cup

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Projecting the USMNT Starting 11 For the 2018 World Cup

2014 World Cup USMNT Jurgen Klinsmann
Mark J. Rebilas - USATODAY Sports

The 2014 World Cup just ended for the USMNT, but the four-year cycle for the next World Cup in 2018 has already started. Some of the stars from this World Cup will be gone in four years, while some will be sticking around and trying to move U.S. Soccer another step forward. It’s never too early to be predicting the key players for the Americans, so here is what the starting 11 could look like.

Brad Guzan, Goalie

Brad Guzan
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

Brad Guzan, Goalie

Brad Guzan
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

Tim Howard is unlikely to be around in four years, but the U.S. will be in great shape with Guzan. He plays for Aston Villa in the EPL, where he gets plenty of work in net and was the team's player of the year in 2013. Guzan's best years may still be ahead of him, and with him, goalie will continue to be a strength for U.S. Soccer.

Fabian Johnson, Left Back

Fabian Johnson celebrates scoring for USMNT
Getty Images

Fabian Johnson, Left Back

Fabian Johnson celebrates scoring for USMNT
Getty Images

Johnson was a key for the U.S. during this World Cup as the starting right back, but look for him to move back to left back for the next World Cup cycle, which is actually the position he played when he first broke into the national team. Regardless of what position he plays, Johnson will be a big key for the U.S. over the next four years, but left back may be where he can make the biggest impact.

Matt Besler, Center Back

matt besler - Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson - USATODAY Sports

Matt Besler, Center Back

matt besler - Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson - USATODAY Sports

Besler had a great World Cup in Brazil, and he could become the lynchpin for the U.S. defense for the next four years. He's gained a wealth of international experience over the past year and has become a consistent and reliable player in the back. That could make him the defensive leader for the U.S. looking ahead towards 2018.

John Brooks, Center Back

johnny brooks golazo
Mark J. Rebilas - USATODAY Sports

John Brooks, Center Back

johnny brooks golazo
Mark J. Rebilas - USATODAY Sports

His goal against Ghana was just the beginning. Omar Gonzalez may have the inside track right now to play alongside Matt Besler, but Brooks is younger and starting to show signs of improvement as a defender. Brooks plays in the Bundesliga, which is going to help his development as a player, and in four years he'll be entering the prime of his career and could be a standout player on the international level.

DeAndre Yedlin, Right Back

DeAndre Yedlin
Mark J. Rebilas - USATODAY Sports

DeAndre Yedlin, Right Back

DeAndre Yedlin
Mark J. Rebilas - USATODAY Sports

Yedlin burst onto the international stage in a big way at the World Cup, and at just 20 years old with a move to a major club in Europe seemingly imminent, there's no telling how good he can be four years from now. He'll have to become a more reliable defender, but his athleticism and ability to create scoring chances moving forward is a huge plus for the U.S. at right back and something to look forward to for American soccer fans.

Julian Green, Left Midfield

Julian Green
Mark J. Reblias - USATODAY Sports

Julian Green, Left Midfield

Julian Green
Mark J. Rebilas - USATODAY Sports

Green clearly brings a lot of skill and ability to the table, and in four years the sky is the limit with regard to how good he can be, especially if he starts to see time with Bayern Mucnich's first team while gaining more international experience with the national team. He's definitely in Jurgen Klinsmann's plans moving forward, and Green with Fabian Johnson on the left side could be a dynamic combination.

Michael Bradley, Holding Midfield

USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley
Mark J. Rebilas - USATODAY Sports

Michael Bradley, Holding Midfield

USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley
Mark J. Reblias - USATODAY Sports

Bradley was not at his best in Brazil, but he still has another World Cup cycle in him, quite possibly as the team's captain. Unless Jurgen Klinsmann finds another Kyle Beckerman or Jermaine Jones, Bradley may actually move into more of a holding midfield role going forward, which is more in his comfort zone and could help him perform much better in 2018 as the veteran leader of what's shaping up to be a young and talented team.

Mix Diskerud, Attacking Midfield

Mix Diskerud
Evan Habeeb - USATODAY Sports

Mix Diskerud, Attacking Midfield

Mix Diskerud
Even Habeeb - USATODAY Sports

We didn't see Diskerud during the World Cup, but he could be a big part of the national team moving forward. Diskerud is best in a central midfield role where he can play with the ball at his feet and be a creator and a distributor. There's bound to be a lot of other options at this position, but right now Diskerud has the best chance to take ownership of the role of the Americans' most creative midfield player.

Joe Corona, Right Midfield

Joe Corona USMNT
Jerry Lai - USATODAY Sports

Joe Corona, Right Midfield

Joe Corona USMNT
Jerry Lai - USATODAY Sports

Corona was on the preliminary World Cup roster, so he's definitely on Jurgen Klinsmann's radar. And at 24 years old, his best years are ahead of him and his international career is just getting started. There will be other suitors for this spot, both young and old, but Corona gets the nod for now. The possibility of him and DeAndre Yedlin running up and down the right side is quite tantalizing.

Jozy Altidore, Striker

Azerbaijan v United States
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Jozy Altidore, Striker

Azerbaijan v United States
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His injury was quite unfortunate, but Altidore's career with the U.S. is far from over. He's only 24, and if he can find the right club team, there's no telling how good he can be. In 2018, Altidore will get a do-over following his injury in Brazil, and if things work out for him over the next four years, he'll give the U.S. a top-flight goal scorer who can carry them during a World Cup.

Aron Johannsson, Striker

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 19: Aron Johannsson of USA looks on prior to the International friendly match between Austria and USA at the Ernst-Happel Stadium on November 19, 2013 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Aron Johannsson, Striker

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 19: Aron Johannsson of USA looks on prior to the International friendly match between Austria and USA at the Ernst-Happel Stadium on November 19, 2013 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Johannsson is another young player who's only going to get better over the next four years. He's a pure finisher, and if he can learn to play alongside Jozy Altidore over the next four years and develop some chemistry with his former club teammate, the U.S. could have a great goal-scoring duo up top at the 2018 World Cup.