U.S. Hot List: Dempsey, Morris impress but defensive injuries are a concern
One U.S. national team mainstay made consecutive Premier League starts for the first time since August, while another is heading back to England's top flight after a productive detour in the second tier. In MLS, meanwhile, several attacking players are showing off their sharpness, but there's also worrying injury news for Bruce Arena, both at home and overseas.
With the start of the next national team camp just over a month away, which Americans are trending north and whose stock is heading the other direction?
Clint Dempsey, FW; Seattle Sounders (MLS)
Why he's here: Dempsey took a ridiculous eight shots -- scoring once and adding an assist -- in Sunday's 3-0 rout of the reeling LA Galaxy.
What this means: With seven goals in the nine games he's played for club and country over the last month, Dempsey is back to his best. That could mean a selection headache for Arena in June if Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood are also healthy. But it's a good problem for the U.S. coach to have.
Jordan Morris, MF/FW; Seattle Sounders (MLS)
Why he's here: The 22-year-old scored his second goal of the season in the win at LA.
What this means: A pair of strikes in seven appearances is respectable enough but more impressive than the numbers is how Morris' runs have become sharper and his finishing cleaner in his second season as a professional. Both were on display last Sunday.
DeAndre Yedlin, DF; Newcastle United (English League Championship)
Why he's here: On Monday, the 23-year-old veteran of the 2014 World Cup watched from the bench as his club beat Preston North End 4-1 to secure promotion to the Premier League for next season.
What this means: Yedlin's gamble paid off. The former Tottenham full-back played well in the Prem last season on loan with Sunderland and wanted to stay there but, instead, moved to rivals Newcastle because Sunderland wouldn't pay Spurs' asking price. He's spent most of the season as first-choice right-back and now Yedlin will get to test himself against all-world competition in the run-up to Russia 2018, while Sunderland look likely to be relegated.
Darlington Nagbe, MF; Portland Timbers (MLS)
Why he's here: This brilliant individual goal in Saturday's 2-1 triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps:
What this means: Nagbe's confidence is clearly sky high after starting two World Cup qualifiers last month. The knocks against the Akron alum throughout his MLS career have been a lack of production and a tendency to drift out of games. But the technically gifted 26-year-old has been at the heart of everything for the Western Conference-leading Timbers in the seven games he's played this year, with his two goals already doubling his 27-match total in 2016.
Geoff Cameron, DF/MF; Stoke City (English Premier League)
Why he's here: Cameron has gone the distance in Stoke's last four contests after recovering from the strained quad he suffered during the U.S.' win against Honduras last month.
What this means: Manager Mark Hughes once again deployed Cameron as a central midfielder at Swansea, just as he has in the 31-year-old's eight league games this calendar year. It makes you wonder if Arena might try the versatile vet alongside Michael Bradley in the June 3 friendly vs. Venezuela and, if that goes well, subsequent qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago (June 8) and Mexico (June 11).
Brad Guzan, GK; Middlesbrough (English Premier League)
Why he's here: With starter Victor Vales sidelined by a rib injury, Guzan has been between the posts in relegation-fighting Boro's last two games -- his first back-to-back league starts in eight months -- and should keep his place for looming tests against Sunderland and stacked Manchester City.
What this means: It sure doesn't hurt Guzan to get some important games in before U.S. camp opens at the end of next month, especially with Tim Howard still serving a suspension in MLS. Still, one has to think that Howard remains Arena's first choice.
Joe Corona, MF; Tijuana (Mexican Liga MX)
Why he's here: Corona's second goal of the season -- and first since Jan. 13 -- stood up as the winner Friday against Toluca, a victory that left Xolos alone atop the Mexican standings.
What this means: The 26-year-old No. 8, who hasn't played for the U.S. since 2015, continues -- slowly but surely -- to build a case for his national team return.
John Brooks, DF; Hertha Berlin (German Bundesliga)
Why he's here: Brooks is out indefinitely after sustaining a hip injury during Saturday's 1-0 win over Wolfsburg.
What this means: If Brooks is still sidelined a month from now it will be a blow but not a disaster for the U.S., which has gotten used to being without the brittle center-back for important qualifiers. Tim Ream figures to be next man up in that scenario.
Nick Rimando, GK; Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Why he's here: Rimando has made several costly blunders this season, including two that led to goals in Saturday's 3-1 home loss to expansion side Atlanta United. The 37-year-old was later forced to leave the match with a leg injury.
What this means: Whether Rimando is even available next month remains to be seen. Either way, the door could be opening for another MLS keeper to stake his claim for the third-string job, with Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls), Bill Hamid (D.C. United) and David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes) the leading candidates.
Michael Orozco, DF; Tijuana (Mexican Liga MX)
Why he's here: The 31-year-old has missed Xolos' last three games because of a knee injury.
What this means: With just two league games left on Tijuana's regular-season slate, Orozco is in a race against time to return for the playoffs. If he's unable to participate between now and the end of the postseason, then it's hard to see him being part of Arena's May and June plans.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.