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 By Arch Bell

U.S. Hot List: Jozy Altidore and Tim Ream step up, Sacha Kljestan slumps

Max and Herc recap a wild night in Liga MX, compare resting players in MLS to the NBA and chat with Union star C.J. Sapong.

In less than a month, the United States national team will be returning to CONCACAF World Cup qualification, and spots on coach Bruce Arena's roster will be at a premium for the players scattered throughout North America and Europe.

Here is the latest on who stood out and who did not in the past week.

Heating up:

Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC (MLS)

Why he's here: Altidore scored the game's lone goal via penalty in Toronto's 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders in a rematch of MLS Cup 2016. It was the U.S. forward who drew the penalty, and he could have had another score if not for a sensational save from Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei -- sound familiar? To boot, Altidore led TFC to victory in Seattle without the help of two of the club's major stars, Sebastian Giovinco (five goals) and leading MLS assist man Victor Vazquez (six).

What this means: With six goals in 10 games this season, Altidore continues to prove that he's arguably in the best form of his life. The work rate that Altidore has shown in both the second half of last season and so far this season makes him a slam dunk to start for the U.S. in next month's key qualifiers.

Tim Ream, DF, Fulham (Championship)

Why he's here: Ream was once again excellent for Fulham, which is on its way to the Championship playoffs, in a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday. The center-back was nearly perfect in his passing on Saturday, which followed a similarly pristine effort in a 1-1 home draw vs. Brentford that clinched a playoff spot for the Cottagers.

What this means: After figuring in the March qualifiers after the injury to John Brooks against Honduras, Ream has shown no reason why he should not be in Arena's plans for next month's qualifiers, especially with Brooks struggling to regain form (see below).

Jozy Altidore's arguably in the form of his life and should be the USMNT's main threat vs. Mexico.

Ethan Horvath, GK, Club Brugge (Jupiler League)

Why he's here: Horvath became the first American to start in the 125-year history of Belgian side Club Brugge in Friday's 3-1 win at Charleroi. While Horvath did commit a howler for Charleroi's lone goal, the former Molde man rebounded nicely with a pair of second half saves and even registered an assist.

What this means: Horvath is considered by many to be the goalkeeper of the future for the national team, but he still has some way to go to unseat the likes of Brad Guzan. However, it was certainly a positive to see Horvath keep his poise after his gaffe, and it will be interesting to see if the 21-year-old can sneak his way onto the Gold Cup roster this summer.

Joe Corona, MF, Club Tijuana (Liga MX)

Why he's here: Very quietly, Corona has helped Club Tijuana to a 30-point season in the Mexican Clausura and started for the 14th time this campaign, playing 66 minutes in a 1-0 win over Veracruz in itsregular season finale.

What this means: A call-up for next month's qualifiers is likely a stretch, but Gold Cup consideration would be a fair reward for a player who has delivered a number of workmanlike performances this season for Tijuana boss Miguel Herrera.

Cooling off:

John Brooks, DF, Hertha Berlin (Bundesliga)

Why he's here: Brooks returned from a hip injury but got beaten twice (once in the air and once on the ground) in Hertha Berlin's 4-1 defeat to RB Leipzig on Saturday.

What this means: Brooks appeared out of sync, but he wasn't alone as Hertha looked like a very slow, fatigued team. Still, for the hulking center-back to get beaten so easily on an aerial ball is worrisome. Was it the injury? It's tough to tell, but at this very moment, Arena has to think hard about starting Brooks against Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico.

Kljestan's declining form makes him an outside pick to start for the U.S. next month.

Sacha Kljestan, MF, New York Red Bulls (MLS)

Why he's here: Kljestan endured a rough night in New York's 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union (who were winless in previous 15 games) and has now gone without an assist in three straight matches, two of those being starts.

What this means: It could be just a mini-slump, but Kljestan's form has not been to its usual high standard. The former Anderlecht man was a late call-up for Arena's last roster, and the soccer he's played in recent weeks could see him on the outside looking in come the qualifiers.

Emerson Hyndman, MF, Glasgow Rangers (Scottish Premier League)

Why he's here: The Texan has performed very well for Rangers since arriving on loan from Bournemouth with four goals in 16 games but ends up in the "Cooling Off" section this week because of an ill-timed injury. Hyndman will miss the remaining three games of Rangers' season with a foot injury.

What this means: It's a tough break for Hyndman, but perhaps it is best for the 21-year-old to sit out international play and completely heal in order to be ready for parent club Bournemouth in 2017-18.

Rubio Rubin, FW, Silkeborg (Danish Superliga)

Why he's here: Rubin did not even make the 18-man roster for Silkeborg's 1-0 win over Aalborg. While he did feature as a substitute in last week's 2-0 loss to AGF, Rubin has made just three appearances totaling 60 minutes since his arrival from Utrecht in January 2017.

What this means: Once thought to be a rising star of the national team, Rubin has struggled to find playing time, let alone score goals. Still just 21, there is plenty of time for Rubin to rediscover his 2014-15 form when he scored three goals in 28 matches for Utrecht, but as far as a national team call-up is concerned, he is miles away from that.

Arch Bell covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .

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