U.S. Hot List: Danny Williams, DeAndre Yedlin heating up, Geoff Cameron cold
The pivotal final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is on the horizon, so U.S. players far and wide are looking to impress national team coach Bruce Arena to earn a call. Here's a look at who's hot and who's not.
Danny Williams, MF, Huddersfield Town (Premier League)
Why he's here: In his first Premier League start, Williams was a 90-minute workhorse for Huddersfield Town in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Leicester City.
What this means: Since Arena took over in November, he has shied away from calling up Williams. But Saturday's performance, along with some of the 28-year-old's displays late last season for Reading, are hard to overlook. It seemed that Williams was involved in every challenge: exactly the type of player needed in a do-or-die qualifier.
DeAndre Yedlin, DF, Newcastle United (Premier League)
Why he's here: Right back Yedlin made his triumphant return from injury for the Magpies, going 90 minutes in Saturday's 2-1 win against Stoke. p>
What this means: This is outstanding news for Arena. If anything was learned during the Gold Cup and September qualifiers when Yedlin was absent, it's that his ability to power forward in attack, while also tracking back sharply in defense, is of immense value. The U.S. will need him on that right flank against Panama.
Dom Dwyer, FW, Orlando City SC (MLS)
Why he's here: Dwyer snapped his 12-match goalless streak in MLS with a brace in Saturday's 3-3 draw at Atlanta United.
What this means: Since Jordan Morris is expected to miss a few weeks with a hamstring injury, Dwyer's breakout on Saturday is well-timed. Already with two goals in just three NATIONAL TEAM appearances, Dwyer could get the nod as Morris' replacement.
Jonathan Gonzalez, MF, Monterrey (Liga MX)
Why he's here: The midfielder once again got the nod for the first-place Rayados, going the distance in a 2-1 win over Atlas.
What this means: Gonzalez continues to impress in the Monterrey midfield, showing maturity beyond his 18 years. He's played just eight games in Liga MX but shows great poise with the ball at his feet. A call for the qualifiers is a long shot, but Arena better not wait too long since Mexico is interested in the young Mexican-American as well.
Geoff Cameron, DF, Stoke City (Premier League)
Why he's here: Cameron did not play in Stoke's 2-1 loss to Newcastle due to the hamstring injury he suffered last week against Manchester United.
What this means: This is worrisome for Arena. Cameron has been the best U.S. center-back in 2017 despite a poor performance against Costa Rica, and is still first-choice. If his hamstring injury lingers longer than expected (1-2 weeks), Arena will have to consider other options, such as Matt Hedges, who did not impress during the Gold Cup, or the inexperienced Matt Miazga.
Fabian Johnson, MF, Borussia Monchengladbach (Bundesliga)
Why he's here: Johnson was an unused substitute in Borussia Monchengladbach's 2-2 draw versus RB Leipzig.
What this means: Johnson showed in a reserve match on Sept. 12 that he is fully fit, going 90 minutes, but the U.S. needs him to get some meaningful minutes under his belt in the Bundesliga. Johnson is an Arena favorite, and the U.S. coach has shown with others that he's not afraid to play guys who might be rusty -- Jorge Villafana, for example. But when Johnson is off, it seems to throw the U.S. midfield out of sync, and no one can afford to have a bad outing on Oct. 6 against Panama.
Eric Lichaj, DF, Nottingham Forest (Championship)
Why he's here: Lichaj was again an unused substitute in Nottingham Forest's 2-1 loss to Wolverhampton.
What this means: Seven matches into the Championship season, Lichaj is still seeking his first start. He was the club's Player of the Year for 2016-17 but has just one appearance off the bench in league play so far in 2017-18. With Yedlin on the mend, Lichaj's chances of a call-up for next month's matches look slim.
Omar Gonzalez, DF, Pachuca (Liga MX)
Why he's here: Gonzalez endured a rough night on Saturday, going 90 minutes and picking up a yellow card in Pachuca's 3-1 loss at Leon.
What this means: At the club and international level, Gonzalez is hardly inspiring confidence. Arena needs his center-backs to be flawless against Panama, and Gonzalez's inconvenient tendency to commit glaring mistakes, such as the one that led to Leon's third goal on Saturday, is not something Arena should risk in such an important game.
Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .