Which lineup should USMNT start against Serbia?

Bruce Arena’s second tenure as USMNT manager has already begun but Sunday’s test against Serbia will be the coach’s first opportunity to make an impression with his MLS-heavy team.

January camp has traditionally become a time where domestic players from the United States compete to make a name for themselves on the international stage, and this month has been no different with several regular starters absent from the USMNT.

All four starters from last year’s Copa America Centenario backline are currently away in Europe with their respective clubs giving players like Keegan Rosenberry, Walker Zimmerman, Steve Birnbaum and others the opportunity to make some noise.

While Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) and DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) will likely figure into Arena’s plans come March when CONCACAF World Cup qualifying continues, Serbia presents a great chance for others to shine.

The U.S. roster currently stands at 27, but Arena told reporters on Thursday that he expects to cut his squad to 23 players ahead of the match on Sunday in San Diego.

Michael Bradley remains a mainstay in the USMNT midfield, but without Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood available, there’s certainly an opportunity for Arena to take a glance at players that can add another dimension to the U.S. attack.

Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris are both coming off of fantastic seasons in MLS and the forward duo now have the chance to develop a front-two partnership moving into the next round of WCQ fixtures. While Wood is surely an option going forward, the U.S. does lack depth up top and both Altidore and Morris will be relied upon heavily on Sunday and further down the line.

It remains unclear as to which formation Arena will opt for against Serbia but the key positions the former LA Galaxy boss must look hard at are holding midfield and left back.

The addition of Chicago Fire midfielder Dax McCarty gives the U.S. a legitimate defensive-minded player to sit in front of the back four, while veteran Jermaine Jones and even Bradley have previously played in a no. 6 role.

At left back, Greg Garza and DaMarcus Beasley look to be the main contenders to man the position at the stage, and it’s surely a battle worth watching as Arena looks to establish a where he can best utilize Johnson when the U.S. resumes WCQ. The German-American was long considered the first-choice left back under previous coach Jurgen Klinsmann, however, his ability to get forward in the attack makes him a dual-threat.

Here’s a full look at the USMNT roster available to Arena ahead of Sunday’s friendly:

Goalkeepers (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls), Brian Rowe (LA Galaxy)

Defenders (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Unattached), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Greg Garza (Atlanta United FC), Taylor Kemp (D.C. United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders (10): Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)

Forwards (5): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

(Photo Credit: U.S. Soccer @ussoccer on Twitter)