“The goal now is to merge our players abroad with our domestic players and come up with the best roster for those games against Honduras and Panama,” Arena said. “We’re working right now with a pool of approximately 40 players, give or take a few numbers, and we need to break it down to somewhere near 25 players to call in for March when we report to San Jose.”
Arena has already met with some of the USA's foreign-based players -- he traveled to Germany between the MLS conference finals and MLS Cup in Toronto and met Fabian Johnson, Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, John Brooks and Chandler in Germany -- and he and his staff will visit them and others over the next month.
“We’re going to visit them,” Arena said. “We remain in contact with all of these players and as of today, we’ll probably have had contact with every player in our pool … emails, phone conversations, and then visits. I’ve already been in touch with most of these players personally, visiting players in Germany in December and I plan to go back in the next week or so, as will other staff members. We’ll be going to Germany, England, Mexico, as well as following the players in the United States."
Of the players in England and Mexico, he singled out two: Nottingham Forest left back Eric Lichaj and Tijuana winger Paul Arriola.
“I think in particular Lichaj and Arriola are players right now that we have to strongly consider for the March camp," Arena said. "We’re going to get to see those players in the next couple of weeks to help make some of those decisions."
On the injury front, Arena said center back Geoff Cameron, who has been sidelined since early November, will be back in full training shortly and he hasn't given up on goalkeeper Tim Howard, who required surgery on his groin after being injured in the 2-1 loss to Mexico in November.
“He’s on schedule to hopefully start in the first weekend of the Major League Soccer season,” Arena said of Howard. “Perhaps he won’t be a candidate for March, but right now he’s in the picture and that’s a positive as well.”
Experience will count for a lot in Arena's decision about whom he'll start in goal.
“Brad Guzan’s a very experienced goalkeeper and as we saw in the case of Nick Rimando in the January camp, that experience means a lot and just because they’re not getting games on a consistent basis doesn’t mean you can rule them out,” Arena said. “Brad has shown enough that he’s still a strong candidate to be our No. 1 goalkeeper.”