U.S. Hot List: Matt Miazga, Brek Shea on rise, Omar Gonzalez trends down

After a rollercoaster 10 days with the national team, U.S. players were back in club action during the weekend. With the American squad now idle until it reconvenes in the middle of May ahead of June's Copa America Centenario, that's where their focus must remain. After all, how players fare in their day jobs will go a long way toward determining whether Jurgen Klinsmann selects them for that high-profile tournament on U.S. soil.

Then again, Klinsmann learned plenty about his player pool during the USA's calamitous 2-0 loss in Guatemala City on March 25 and the 4-0 win against Los Chapines four days later in Columbus, Ohio -- lessons he's not likely to forget in the next six weeks.

Who helped themselves? Who hurt his stock? Here's a look at some of the national teamers trending up or down.

Warming up

Steve Birnbaum, DF, D.C. United (MLS)

Why he's here: Birnbaum started his first career World Cup qualifier on March 29 following the struggles of Omar Gonzalez and Michael Orozco in Guatemala City. The 25-year-old center back took his chance, too, helping the Americans keep a clean sheet in the rematch.

What this means: It's been a good 2016 for the Southern Californian, who wasn't even on Klinsmann's initial January/February camp roster. After being added, Birnbaum scored the winner in the victory against Iceland to open the year and then started against Canada days later. While he won't play over a healthy John Brooks or Matt Besler (both vets missed the Guatemala series with injuries), he's now firmly in the conversation for a Copa America roster spot.

Geoff Cameron, DF, Stoke City (England)

Why he's here: The 30-year-old was probably the best U.S. player in the two March games, and his clever long chip set up the Americans' all-important opening goal in the second match.

What this means: If there was any question that Cameron, who ended 2015 as the most reliable American defender, must start at center back for the U.S. this summer, it was erased in Columbus. Does Klinsmann agree? Who knows? But if Cameron keeps his spot in the middle for Stoke (he started there in Saturday's 2-2 tie against Swansea), the U.S. coach will be less inclined to tinker.

Clint Dempsey, FW, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Why he's here: Four days after Dempsey became the all-time top U.S. scorer in World Cup qualifying, his first goal of the MLS season (late in Saturday's match against the Montreal Impact) gave Seattle its much-needed first win of 2016.

What this means: Deuce turned 33 last month but remains the Americans' most dangerous attacking player. He'll have a huge role to play this summer and beyond. Can he make it all the way to 2018?

Fabian Johnson, DF/MF, Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)

Why he's here: A groin problem kept Johnson out of both Guatemala games, but he was back in 'Gladbach's lineup for Sunday's rout of Hertha Berlin.

What this means: It's good that Johnson's latest injury wasn't serious, but the 28-year-old German-American sure has a nasty habit of getting hurt right before international windows. That's unfortunate for the U.S., who certainly missed him last month.

Matt Miazga, DF, Chelsea (England)

Why he's here: The 20-year-old was a surprise starter for Chelsea in Saturday's 4-0 mauling of last-place Aston Villa, but the former New York Red Bull didn't look at all out of place in his Blues debut.

What this means: Miazga, who struggled for the U.S. U-23s against Colombia in Olympic qualifying last month, still feels like a long shot to make Klinsmann's Copa America roster. But that could change quickly if he continues to earn Premier League minutes.

Christian Pulisic, MF, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Why he's here: Pulisic's remarkable rookie season in the Bundesliga continues as the 17-year-old followed his midweek U.S. debut by winning the corner kick that helped Dortmund beat Werder Bremen on Saturday.

What this means: He's not quite a shoo-in yet, but only a fool would bet against Pulisic making the Copa America roster at this point.

Brek Shea, DF, Orlando City (MLS)

Why he's here: It's easy to forget that Shea was establishing himself as a U.S. starter early last year before injuries derailed his 2015. However, this all-world strike against defending MLS Cup champs Portland on Sunday served as a reminder of what he can do when healthy.

What this means: He's only 26. He still has international-class athleticism. And Shea is again playing left back in Orlando, a position the U.S. always struggles to fill. A Copa call is a real possibility if he keeps playing well.

DeAndre Yedlin, DF, Sunderland (England)

Why he's here: Yedlin finally earned a start at right back (the position he plays in the Premier League) under Klinsmann, impressing in last week's home rout of Los Chapines.

What this means: Sunderland remain in grave danger of being relegated but Yedlin's recent defensive improvement has been a genuine bright spot for the Black Cats. The Seattle native seems to be slowly earning Klinsmann's trust as part of the backline, too.

Graham Zusi, MF, Sporting Kansas City (MLS)

Why he's here: No American's stature rose more in the past week than Zusi's. The 29-year-old World Cup veteran went from not on the roster at all to starting (and scoring) in Columbus.

What this means: "He's a guy we all feel comfortable with," fellow Brazil 2014 vet Kyle Beckerman said of Zusi afterward. "Jurgen kept saying it's like he never left." Don't be surprised if he sticks around now.

Cooling down

Matt Besler, DF, Sporting Kansas City (MLS)

Why he's here: Besler was in line to start for the injured John Brooks in Guatemala City but suffered a freak concussion blocking a shot the day before the game. The injury also forced him to sit out SKC's 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

What this means: It's a bad break for Besler, who had started four consecutive U.S. games (including two November World Cup qualifiers) while the injury-prone Brooks was nursing another ailment.

John Brooks, DF, Hertha Berlin (Germany)

Why he's here: A knee issue kept the 23-year-old from playing in either U.S. game, and Brooks was not in Hertha's 18 for Sunday's loss to 'Galdbach.

What this means: The big man is still Klinsmann's first-choice, left-sided center back, but his time on the training table has cost him valuable international experience during the past year. How the lack of reps with his U.S. teammates impacts things this summer remains to be seen.

Omar Gonzalez, DF, Pachuca (Mexico)

Why he's here: The former LA Galaxy star's solid play south of the border earned him a start in Guatemala but he was pulled in the second half and didn't play in Ohio.

What this means: Klinsmann's lineup decisions, namely pairing Gonzalez with Orozco rather than Cameron, didn't help him. But Gonzalez, whose game dropped off badly at the end of 2015, also didn't reward the confidence of his boss.

Lee Nguyen, MF, New England Revolution (MLS)

Why he's here: Klinsmann called Nguyen one of the "big winners" of the January/February camp. But after starting and impressing in the first two games of 2016, the coach didn't use the Revs playmaker against Guatemala, opting for Zusi in the second game and Darlington Nagbe (as a substitute) in the first.

What this means: For all his early year praise, there's a lingering sense that Klinsmann doesn't rate the 29-year-old Texan. While it would be nice to see Nguyen get minutes in a non-friendly, his chances of making the Copa America roster (or seeing the field if he does) appear slim.

Bobby Wood, FW, Union Berlin (Germany)

Why he's here: Wood got his first start in an away qualifier in Guatemala City and kept his place in the return match. But he couldn't find the target in either game and squandered a no-brainer chance on the doorstep in Columbus.

What this means: Not much. While Wood could've done better, he remains one of the country's most accomplished young forwards. The 23-year-old is still a safe bet to make the roster for Copa, where he'll be expected to convert the sort of chance he missed last week.