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Do the U.S. and Mexico care about the Gold Cup anymore?

Gold Cup
 By Arch Bell

U.S. Hot List: Kellyn Acosta can fill a midfield gap, Brad Guzan's woes go on

Time is running out to catch the eye of United States national team coach Bruce Arena ahead of June's World Cup qualifiers. Here, we lay out who did and did not impress the big boss.

Heating up

Kellyn Acosta, MF, FC Dallas (MLS)

Why he's here: Acosta, 21, had another good performance for FC Dallas with a goal in the 1-1 draw versus New York City FC. The midfielder was also a threat in delivering set pieces.

What this means: The injury to Jermaine Jones means that Arena will need to fill the LA Galaxy man's place in midfield. Acosta is the right choice here. He has proved this season that he is ready to be part of the U.S. midfield for the long haul.

Fabian Johnson, MF, Borussia Monchengladbach (Bundesliga)

Why he's here: Not only did Johnson return from a two-month layoff due to thigh injury in Gladbach's 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg, playing the final 25 minutes, he also inked a contract extension earlier in the week that will keep him at the club until 2020.

What this means: This is great news for the national team, as it keeps Johnson in one of the more competitive clubs in the Bundesliga for the next few years. His return to action is timely, as well, with qualifiers around the corner.

Fabian Johnson had quite a week, returning from a long injury layoff and signing a new contract with his club.

Eric Lichaj, DF, Nottingham Forest (Championship)

Why he's here: Lichaj was voted Player of the Year by supporters in what was a difficult season for 21st-place Nottingham. In all, he made 45 appearances in 2016-17.

What this means: He has been largely overlooked by the national team, but with full-back always seemingly a source of consternation for the U.S., Lichaj is worth a look this summer.

Danny Williams, MF, Reading (Championship)

Why he's here: Williams was tremendous for Reading in their hard-fought 1-1 playoff semifinal first-leg draw at Fulham. He never shied away from a tackle, covered acres of space and by the end had every Fulham supporter angry at him. Job done.

What this means: Arena cannot ignore this performance. In a big spot, Williams came through with a superb display. There will be competition for midfield places, but he certainly has to be strongly considered for at least a Gold Cup call-up.

Cooling off

Brad Guzan, GK, Middlesbrough (Premier League)

Why he's here: Guzan cannot join Atlanta United fast enough. Five days after getting nutmegged three times in a 3-0 loss at Chelsea, he suffered the indignity of hearing the Middlesbrough fans chanting and asking the referee to send him off for a foul committed in a 2-1 loss to Southampton.

What this means: It's been a rough season for the goalkeeper in England, but Arena knows that, along with Tim Howard, Guzan is a perfectly capable No. 1 in the U.S. net.

Brad Guzan has had a tough time with Middlesbrough on their road to relegation in the Premier League this season.

Terrence Boyd, FW, Darmstadt (Bundesliga)

Why he's here: An already disappointing season for Boyd has come to end with a thud. The foot injury he suffered in early April has officially ended the forward's campaign.

What this means: Already well on the outside of the U.S. picture, Boyd ends 2016-17 with just seven appearances and one goal. Any hopes of a national team recall are far away.

Jorge Villafana, DF, Santos Laguna (Liga MX)

Why he's here: Villafana started in defense in Santos Laguna's 4-1 quarterfinal first-leg defeat to Toluca in the Liga MX Clausura playoffs and was beaten for the opposition's first goal. Three days later, he failed to make the matchday roster in Santos' 3-1 second-leg win.

What this means: The defender looked as if he had nailed down a starting spot, but a string of poor performances of late has changed that. He's still likely to get the call from Arena for qualifiers, but his recent form could jeopardize a starting spot with the Yanks.

Alan Gordon, FW, Colorado Rapids (MLS)

Why he's here: Gordon's first-half flub against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday could well go down as the miss of the year in MLS. Sorry, Gordo, we can't let this go unpunished.

What this means: Gordon is an Arena favorite from their LA Galaxy days. While it's difficult to see him beating out Jordan Morris or Chris Wondolowski for one of the reserve forward spots on the roster for qualifiers, he would be a good veteran presence for the Gold Cup. Gaffe aside, he used his big frame to good effect against the Quakes in the 3-0 victory and still has a nice touch.

Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .


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