U.S. Hot List: John Brooks back to full fitness, Brad Guzan frozen out
With less than two weeks to go before U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his 23-man roster for November's pivotal World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica, here's a look at how nine Americans vying for spots have been faring recently with their club teams.
John Brooks, DF, Hertha Berlin
Why he's here: Brooks started Hertha's last two games -- including Saturday's 2-1 win over Cologne -- after serving as an unused substitute following his return earlier this month from a muscle injury.
What this means: Klinsmann's decision to send the towering 23-year-old back to Berlin before the U.S. played New Zealand to a 1-1 tie on Oct. 11 appears to have paid off, as he reclaimed his regular club place immediately after the international break.
Jermaine Jones, M, Colorado Rapids
Why he's here: The veteran destroyer made his first MLS appearance since July 4 in Sunday's "Decision Day" regular season finale, coming off the bench in the second half of Colorado's 1-1 draw versus Houston.
What this means: With the Rapids already through to the Western Conference semifinals, Jones, who turns 35 next week, gets two opportunities before the national team gathers in Columbus next month to prove he can play an entire 90 minutes. A spot on the Americans' 23-man roster isn't out of the question if he does.
Matt Miazga, DF, Vitesse Arnhem
Why he's here: It took the 21-year-old Chelsea loanee just six weeks to carve out a regular spot in the Netherlands, where he's started Vitesse's last two league games.
What this means: Miazga remains behind Geoff Cameron, Steve Brinbaum and Omar Gonzalez on the Yanks' right center-back depth chart and a long shot for next month. But the ex-New York Red Bull could move up the pecking order quickly if he keeps his place with the mid-table Dutch club.
Christian Pulisic, MF, Borussia Dortmund
Why he's here: The 18-year-old started a midweek Champions League win at Sporting Lisbon, then scored a stoppage time equalizer (after an earlier assist) in Saturday's 3-3 come-from-behind tie against Ingolstadt.
What this means: So much for the fear that Pulisic would find playing time harder to come by in his first full season with Dortmund's senior side; the Hershey, Penn. native has two goals and four assists in nine appearances for BVB in all competitions so far. As a result, he's making a compelling case to start against El Tri.
DeAndre Yedlin, DF/MF, Newcastle United
Why he's here: Since joining Newcastle in late August, Yedlin has been used mostly off the bench by manager Rafa Benitez, often on the wing. But after not playing in last week's 2-0 loss to Barnsley, Yedlin started at right-back and went the distance in Saturday's 3-0 drubbing of Ipswich.
What this means: The big win could go a long way toward Yedlin keeping his place on the back line. The Magpies play three games -- including Tuesday's EFL Cup tilt against Preston -- before next month's international break and having an in-form, match-fit Yedlin available would be a godsend for Klinsmann and Co.
Graham Zusi, MF, Sporting Kansas City
Why he's here: Yes, Zusi's numbers have been down the last two years but the 2014 World Cup vet reminded U.S. fans what he's capable of with a peach of a goal -- one that sealed a postseason berth for SKC -- in Sunday's 2-0 victory over San Jose.
What this means: Another strong performance by the 30-year-old in Thursday's knockout match in Seattle would help him lock in a trip to Ohio's capital, where Zusi has enjoyed some of his best moments for the national team.
Brad Guzan, GK, Middlesbrough
Why he's here: Guzan is firmly rooted to the bench at 'Boro and that doesn't seem likely to change after No. 1 Victor Valdes' brilliant display in Saturday's scoreless draw at Arsenal.
What this means: Unpredictable as Klinsmann can be, it's hard to see the coach starting a keeper who hasn't played in over two months -- Guzan's last appearance for club or country was the World Cup qualifying win in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2 -- over Tim Howard, who will arrive in camp straight off a pair of playoff games. Howard got the nod over Guzan the last time the U.S. beat Mexico in a competitive match, in Columbus, back in 2013.
Alfredo Morales, MF, Ingolstadt
Why he's here: The 26-year-old German-American recently lost his spot in Ingolstadt's lineup after two-plus years as a fixture as a left-midfielder in the club's 4-3-3 formation.
What this means: If Morales wasn't a regular call-up for the U.S. despite being a starter in one of the world's elite leagues before his recent benching, it's hard to see him returning to Klinsmann's plans anytime soon.
Julian Green, FW, Bayern Munich
Why he's here: Back on Oct. 14, Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti said that Green -- who has never appeared for the club in Germany's top flight -- would "get his chance to play in the next few games." But Green hasn't seen the field in the three matches since.
What this means: Green's best opportunity could come in Wednesday's German Cup contest against Augsburg. Yet that still might not be enough to convince Klinsmann that the 21-year-old is deserving of a spot on his next 23. On the other hand, the U.S. manager picked Green for a World Cup squad when he had virtually zero first team club experience. So you never know.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.