USMNT analysis

Berhalter names 24 players for November; Weah & Pulisic are out, Aaronson brothers are in

Gregg Berhalter's roster for November has a lot of continuity from October but the big story is that Tim Weah and Christian Pulisic are missing due to injuries. But that will open the door for others to fill the void, including youngsters Paxten Aaronson and Kevin Paredes. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks down the roster with his thoughts. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 09, 2023
11:30 AM

ON THURSDAY, United States national team manager Gregg Berhalter announced his 24-player roster for the upcoming Nations League quarterfinal against Trinidad & Tobago which will be played over two legs this window. Should the U.S. team advance, it will play in the tournament’s semifinal and qualify for 2024 Copa America.

Here is the roster along with some thoughts.

Roster by position

(Club/Country; Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 9/0), Gaga Slonina (KAS Eupen; 1/0), Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 35/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 14/0), Sergiño Dest (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 30/2), Kristoffer Lund (Palermo/ITA; 3/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 53/1), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 14/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 37/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 27/3), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 7/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 1/0), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; 9/0), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 19/0), Lennard Maloney (Heidenheim/GER; 1/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 48/11), Yunus Musah (AC Milan/ITA; 31/0), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 22/6), Malik Tillman (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 6/0)

FORWARDS (5): Brenden Aaronson (Union Berlin/GER; 36/8), Folarin Balogun (Monaco/FRA; 6/3), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg/GER; 2/0), Ricardo Pepi (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 20/9), Alex Zendejas (Club América/MEX; 7/1)


Weah and Pulisic are out


Tim Weah and Christian Pulisic are not included in this roster. Tim Weah was subbed out of Juventus’ win over Verona at halftime on October 28 due to hip-flexor issue. It was later announced that the club expected him back towards the end of November.

Pulisic’s recent injuries are not as clear. He left AC Milan’s 2-2 draw with Napoli at halftime due to muscle “fatigue” and then did not suit up over the weekend in a loss to Udinese. Then Tuesday in a Champions League win over PSG, he left the game in second half stoppage time grabbing his hamstring.

It was reported on Wednesday that there was no muscle tear, but rather a strain and he would miss the upcoming game this weekend for Milan. Given the ongoing nature of this injury, he was left off U.S. national team roster.


Younger Aaronson arrives


Paxten Aaronson is most likely a U-23 option given that he still does not get regular minutes for Eintracht Frankfurt yet. But his versatility to play on the wing or in the middle opens the door for him at this camp. With Weah and Pulisic out and Reyna likely to have his minutes heavily managed again, there is a huge void to fill in several different positions including both wing positions and in central midfield.

Aaronson will now get the chance to fill those voids. Once these key players return to full fitness, Aaronson could shift back to the U-23 team, but if he does well, perhaps he is here to stay.

On another note, this call-up marks the first time both Aaronson brothers have been called up together for a U.S. team. Brenden Aaronson has been a mainstay for years, but now he will join his brother. The two recently played against each other as late substitutes when Eintracht Frankfurt defeated struggling Union Berlin 3-0.


Huge opportunity for Paredes


For me, Kevin Paredes is the most important player to watch on the roster for three reasons: 1) he is now playing well and starting for Wolfsburg, 2) he will likely get a big opportunity to fill the void left by Weah and Pulisic because he now has spent time with the team and should know what is asked and 3) he remains one of the more talented young players in the system.

The question is now whether he can contiue his recent surge with the national team.


Slonina gets the nod


Gaga Slonina also has an opportunity in this camp given that he has had a few good games recently for Eupen. The fact that he is playing is also huge because Matt Turner appears to have lost his starting spot with Nottingham Forest and Ethan Horvath is not even registered to play league games for Forest. Slonina is in a great position simply because he is a young goalkeeper who is playing.

Slonina is also another player who could shift to the Olympics next year but is still on the bubble of the full team now.


Roster Continuity into 2024


We are starting to see right now that Berhalter is moving forward with rosters that don’t change very much from camp to camp.

Of the 24 players on this roster, 20 were on the roster for the October camp. If Weah and Pulisic were healthy, it would have been 22 players. Then whenever Tyler Adams returns, he is likely to be a constant with the group.

It doesn’t mean Berhalter is set on his team. There are still some players who are in vulnerable positions. Lennard Maloney still has much to prove. Alex Zendejas has not made the most of the opportunities yet that have come his way. Ricardo Pepi’s minutes are limited and there could be more competition for him as the season progresses. Tim Ream is playing well but he is also older and at some point Father Time will win the battle. Kristoffer Lund will also face competition from a deeper American left back player pool.

But Berhalter also must play the short game too. The Copa America is only seven months away. That is a huge tournament and an important barometer for this team and for Berhalter. After that, there is the Olympics and many of those players will have taken big strides in their game. Some will impress at the Olympics and as Berhalter said, after next summer, he expects the U-23 pool to merge into the full national team pool. Then at that point, it will open the doors for even more competition.

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