Today, we move on to the #9 spot. I tend to keep this one more crowded in the wings because forward is such a fickle position. Someone can turn torrid or go to the shelf in a matter of weeks. Even so, the top two remain the same.
We shall see: Terrence Boyd
A lot can happen in a month: Aron Jóhannsson
On fitness watch: Gyasi Zardes
Emergency numbers: Alan Gordon, Chris Wondolowski
Much to my continued surprise, so many fans (including some longtime regulars here) would prefer to ditch Altidore from the starting line-up. Of course, it will come as no shock to anyone that I would have no intention of doing that. He's our most complete lead striker, the US Soccer player of the year, top returning scorer, etc. Yeah, the idea of benching him sounds crazy to me. Cushioning him in bubble wrap until March, not so much.
Wood is a terrific change-up that can do major damage to a tiring defense. Another thing to consider when promoting him to usurp Altidore in the US line-up: he's also not exactly hot at the moment. The HSV man has scored but twice in his last 15 league games. Agudelo has the skills to rise above the third slot here, but needs to put it all together for an extended run like last season's with New England. That said, the fragile state of our other choices make him the obvious stand-by.
Boyd is still getting back to former business at Darmstadt, Jóhannsson gets injured (or oddly sent off) every time he starts to heat up with Bremen and Zardes is on the mend yet again. Because of all this - and Agudelo's international inconsistencies - I'd keep a couple CONCACAF-capable vets in the glass box on the wall, just in case. Like I said, there's nothing wrong with keeping a deeper stable up front, as goals (and knees and hamstrings) tend to come and go.
- Greg Seltzer