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USMNT analysis

Berhalter & Kreis name January rosters for USMNT and U-23 team

The rosters for the USMNT and the U.S. U-23 team are out and ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here to go over the rosters with his analysis. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 05, 2021
3:00 AM

UNITED STATES NATIONAL TEAM head coach Gregg Berhalter and U.S. U-23 head coach Jason Kreis today unveiled rosters for separate and not combined January camps. Following January 24, several of the U-23 players will be promoted to the full national team and details of a friendly are still be worked out.

The rosters contain many of the same players from the December camp last month although the end of the playoffs allows more domestically-based players to join.

Here are the rosters as well as a few thoughts.




GOALKEEPERS (2): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (3): Tristan Blackmon (LAFC; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 18/3), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 13/2)

MIDFIELDERS (3): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 24/2), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 17/4), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 19/0)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 115/42), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 34/6), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 39/10), Chris Mueller (Orlando City SC; 1/2)




GOALKEEPERS (3): JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Brady Scott (Austin FC)

DEFENDERS (10): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), George Bello (Atlanta United FC), Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew SC), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC), Bryang Kayo (Wolfsburg/GER), Andrés Perea* (Orlando City SC), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS (7): Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC), Djordje Mihailovic (Montreal Impact/CAN)


Thoughts on the rosters

Notable absences

On the full national team, the biggest absence is Gyasi Zardes. The forward has been a regular under Gregg Berhalter and while there are some strong options emerging at the younger levels, he is one of the most experienced players at the position who can bridge the gap until the younger options emerge. With Jozy Altidore as the only center froward on the full national team, that is thin given how injury prone Altidore is. As for why Zardes has been left off, that will be a question Berhalter will be asked during camp.

While Altidore is in camp following a lengthy injury, it is typical that older veterans bypass January camp and that is the reason why Michael Bradley and Brad Guzan are not a part of this. 

The only other over 23 absence that is notable is Bill Hamid who was on the December camp roster.

Among the U-23 rosters, there are several surprises among players who are not there.

Some are easy to explain as Mark McKenzie should have his reported transfer to Genk announced this week. Brenden Aaronson has begun training at Red Bull Salzburg. Also, Ayo Akinola has elected to participate in January camp with Canada after starting and scoring against El Salvador last month.

Among the more surprising absences, Red Bull right back Kyle Duncan earned his first cap last month but is not there largely due to the inclusion of younger right back options such as Bryan Reynolds and Jurlian Araujo. Duncan, however, is more experienced than the other options.

Frankie Amaya had to withdraw from the U.S. national team camp in December due to COVID-19 but did not make this roster. New York City midfielder Keaton Parks had a very good season in 2020 but failed to make this roster as well.

Justen Glad also a noteworth absence as a U-23 central defense option. 

While Caden Clark is still very young, his absence is notable given the inclusion of Cade Cowell, who was also born in 2003.


Turner’s big chance


Matt Turner has never played for the U.S. national team yet in an official game but he has a huge opportunity in this camp to move way up the pecking order. He is the best American goalkeeper in MLS at the moment and none of the options in Europe play regularly.

It has been assumed that Turner would eventually get a chance and now he has it. The path is cleared for him to perhaps move as high as the second choice behind Steffen. Now it is up to him to take it.


Blackmon’s first call


It was particularly noteworthy that Tristan Blackmon made the U.S. roster for the first time in his career. It fits what Berhalter has been saying throughout his tenure that good performances will get rewarded. While Blackmon had some up and downs during the season, he was a standout in the CONCACAF Champions League for LAFC at right back. He played well against teams such as Leon, Cruz Azul, Club America, and Tigres.

There is a lot of competition at right back these days but it is good to see Blackmon earn the opportunity to put his name into consideration.


Dike’s opportunity


Last month, Daryl Dike earned the call-up to the U.S. national team camp and Berhalter sounded excited at what the physical forward from Orlando could offer. He even said that with Dike size and strength at 6'2", 220 lb., he could play the No. 9 role in a different way.

It remains to be seen if Dike’s ceiling is has high as advertised or if he will reach it, but he was impressive in 2020 in Orlando under Oscar Pareja. But even for his size, he was notably mobile and skillful. He is definitely a worthwhile project because if his ceiling is high, and he hits it, he could be a good player. For that alone he’s a worthwhile project.


Perea’s choice


Andres Perea, 20, told ASN recently that he is very close to making his international decision. The fact that he is involved in this camp obviously means he is still strongly considering filing a switch. The starting defensive midfielder for Colombia at the 2017 U-17 World Cup and the 2019 U-20 World Cup would be a welcome addition to the U.S. program – likely with the U-23 team to start.

The Tampa-born Perea made big strides in 2020 with Orlando where he eventually assumed the starting role down the stretch. It is particularly noteworthy in how he plays the No. 6 position and that it is similar in style to Tyler Adams. He is very strong, fast, and athletic. He doesn’t overcomplicate the game either. If he is going to emerge as a back-up to Adams as the No. 6, he offers a style that allows the U.S. team to continue to play the same way if Adams is unavailable. Most other backup No. 6 players would force significant adjustments to the midfield.


Mueller’s next step


Chris Mueller, 24, was the big winner from the first camp after he scored two goals an notched an assist in the 6-0 win over El Salvador. But that was a low bar to pass as El Salvador was poor in this game. Mueller will have to continue to play well. He’s earned the right to have elevated expectations from that camp and from his 2020 season.

If he takes advantage of this, he might continue to get call-ups during the FIFA international dates when Berhalter has his entire player pool at his disposal.


U-23 insight


In all likelihood, the U.S. U-23 team will be predominantly based with domestic players for Olympic qualifying. If that team is successful, talks can begin about getting the truly elite players like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie released.

To get to Tokyo, however, will likely include mostly players from the roster listed today. Yes, some other players based abroad might surface as some are not playing much for their clubs (like Ulysses Llanez and Konrad de la Fuente) but this is a big glimpse into where the most of the player pool stands.

Most of the key players are here - Sam Vines, Dike, Ebobisse, Yueill, Mihailovic, Robinson, Williamson. 

As mentioned, the absences of Amaya, Bassett and Parks are noteworthy in the midfield based on how each performed during the season.

In total, seven players born in 2001 or later were included: Julian Araujo, George Bello, Cade Cowell, Bryang Kayo, David Ochoa, Bryan Reynolds and Tanner Tessmann. These players were all eligible for the 2021 U-20 World Cup.

That is a rather big jump and here are some of the more interesting selections from that group.

Bryang Kayo is an interesting call-up given that he has yet to play any first-team matches and is young (born 2001 and should have been a U-20 option) but he has played well for Wolfsburg’s second team and brings a very physical edge to the No. 6 position.

Cade Cowell was also surprising given that he wasn’t a regular starter for San Jose and is a 2003-born player eligible for the U-20 World Cup 30 months from now.

Bryan Reynolds inclusion is also big considering the transfer rumors that are flying around the FC Dallas right back.  Julian Araujo was always cemented but Kreis appears to be ready to go into camp with two very young right backs eligible for the next U-23 team in 2024.


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