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USMNT analysis

Berhalter names 27 players for camp and Switzerland friendly

United States national team manager Gregg Berhalter named a strong roster for the upcoming friendly against 13th ranked Switzerland. The roster is missing a few players, and it might be further trimmed in the coming days, but contains most of the core - along with a few surprises. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks it down.  
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
May 18, 2021
8:00 PM

ON THURSDAY, United States national team manager Gregg Berhalter unveiled a 27-player roster for training camp and an upcoming friendly against Switzerland on May 30 in St. Gallen. This roster will allow the coaching staff to evaluate yet another group of players before the Nations League semifinal and final.

The roster for the Nations League final rounds is not due until Monday, May 24 and this roster for Switzerland contains many players who not even on the preliminary roster for that tournament. Young players such as Matthew Hoppe and Justin Che are particularly noteworthy in that they will attend their first camp while not being part of Nations League. Meanwhile, Julian Green makes his return to the team and his most recent time was under interim manager Dave Sarachan in 2018.

As for the rest of the roster, there are few surprises. Players begin reporting May 23,

Here is the roster along with some of my thoughts.

The roster


GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/0), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; 0/0), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (10): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 40/3), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 14/0), Justin Che (Bayern Munich/GER; 0/0), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 7/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 2/0), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 21/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 42/1), Bryan Reynolds (Roma/ITA; 1/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 10/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 62/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 27/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 12/1), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 15/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 20/6), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 21/6), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 4/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 9/0)

FORWARDS: (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 4/2), Daryl Dike (Barnsley/ENG; 2/0), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke/GER; 0/0), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 4/2), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 13/5), Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI; 2/0), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 10/1)


First callups for Che & Hoppe

 "In every camp we like to integrate young players into it," Berhalter said. "We feel like the program will benefit from giving these young players experiences early on."

With that said three players who stand out the most on this team are Justin Che and Matthew Hoppe who are both earning their first call-ups to the U.S. team and Real Salt Lake keeper. Here is a look at what probably drew Berhalter to each player.

Matthew Hoppe: is wrapping up a season where he showed a lot of promising for a very poor Schalke team that has long since sealed its relegation fate. Last weekend he scored and assisted for the club and the California native now has six goals on the season. In normal times, Hoppe would be in Thailand with the United States U-20 team at the World Cup but this camp will allow him to both get a taste of international play as well as potentially help him with a U.K Work Permit.

"It's been really great to watch his rise at Schalke," Berhalter saidl. "To come on and score three goals in a Bundesliga game is amazing. He's a young attacking talent - really good work rate, really good energy. We're really excited to see what he can do with our group."

It remains to be seen if Hoppe will remain with Schalke next season in the 2.Bundesliga. He has publicly stated his loyalty to the club, which is fine, but what happens if serious offers come in for him? The club needs money and Hoppe might feel he benefits moving to a more stable club. The striker pool has filled out nicely the past year and Hoppe remains behind other players such as Josh Sargent, Daryl Dike, Jordan Siebatcheu, and Gyasi Zardes. But he’s at a position where he could make huge gains in 2021/2022.

Justin Che: is an FC Dallas academy product on loan at Bayern Munich where he has been playing in central defense for the club’s second team. As a 2003-born player, Che is one of the top American players of what looks to be a very talented birth year for his generation. He is very highly rated and should have a permanent move to Bayern Munich wrapped up early in the summer. He’s also a triple-national with Germany and Russia.

In February, Che spoke with ASN and indicated that he would be interested in playing for Germany and the German national team was one of his biggest inspirations growing up. But Berhalter has acted quickly to at least get him into the fold now – which isn’t easy due to the recent U-20 World Cup cancellation and the fact no major U.S. youth national team camps are scheduled.

Che’s inclusion also comes at a time when the team is hurt by injuries in central defense. Aaron Long is out for 2021, Chris Richards has been missing time with Hoffenheim, and John Brooks missed training this past week with a bruised foot. Given the situation with the player pool, Berhalter saw an opportunity with Che and took it.

"He's a kid on loan at Bayern Munich," Berhalter said. "He's done a great job with their youth and reserve teams - and has earned the opportunity to get called into camp. That's going to be fun observing him and integrating him into what we do."

One thing to watch for both Hoppe and Che is that while they are not on the Nations League preliminary roster, it is possible that both players could be involved in the Gold Cup campaign in July.

On anther note, Berhalter also made revealing comments in call-up Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa to this camp and it seems like a Gold Cup call-up could be possible given the stated urgency to get him involved.

"We felt he had a strong Olympic qualifying," Berhalter said of Ochoa. "The last game didn't go as planned but overall he played well. We realize our goalkeeper pool lacks youth and it would be good to get him integrated as soon as possible."


Green & Yedlin return


Two 2014 United States World Cup teammates will make a return to the team on this roster in Julian Green (schedule pending) and DeAndre Yedlin.

Julian Green will make his return to the national team for the first time under manager Gregg Berhalter. The 2014 World Cup veteran has been working extremely hard for Greuther Furth and has been a key player for the club in its effort to earn promotion to the Bundesliga – where it currently sits third heading into the final weekend of play.

Berhalter has always been adamant that the door is never closed for players – and he pointed this out when Alfredo Morales made a comeback in 2019. Kellyn Acosta was sent home early from Berhalter's camp in January 2019 but has lately emerged as a contender to be part of a top 23-player roster. Green has his work cut out for him to make a full-strength roster but this at least gives him a platform to impress. It seems like a good camp could get him involved with the Gold Cup team.

"[He's] been in the national team program before but now really has taken his game to a high level at Furth," Berhalter said of Green. "He's playing every single week, the team is performing really well in the 2.Bundesliga. We wanted the opportunity to look at him."

Of course, his involvement in this camp is far from guaranteed. It is entirely likely that Greuther Furth is involved in the promotion/relegation playoff game (should it finish third, where it currently stands) and the second leg would be on May 29.

As for DeAndre Yedlin, the Seattle native deserves to be back after completing a homerun of a transfer in January from Newcastle United to Galatasaray. The veteran right back walked into Galatasaray’s starting lineup and was part of a push that nearly resulted in the team winning the Turkish Super Lig. Last weekend it finished the season by winning six straight and finishing even on points with Besiktas – only to lose by a single goal in the goal differential tiebreaker.

"What we've been observing is DeAndre's rise since he's been at Galatasaray," Berhalter said. "He's been playing consistently. He's been performing well. It's been great seeing him back on the field getting that rhythm. It's very difficult when a player doesn't get the opportunity to play. When you move to a new club, he made an impact right away. It will be graet to have him in camp. It's been awhile since we've seen him. We know his qualities and we know he can help this group."

The race for right back is very interesting. Sergino Dest is a clear starter but he might play on the left side. If that happens, it is a race between Yedlin, Reggie Cannon, and Bryan Reynolds on the right side. Yedlin clearly has the edge on both Cannon and Reynolds in terms of experience and now form. Of course, he has to prove himself in Berhalter’s system as he hasn’t played with the team since 2019.


Injury and other concerns


On of the most glaring injury notes is Chris Richards who has missed time recently with Hoffenheim due to a hamstring injury and his absence likely suggests that he still needs more time. Combined with Long’s injury, central defense has been hit hard recently with injuries.

Tyler Adams is on this roster despite having left RB Leipzig’s training camp ahead of its Bundesliga season finale. It is hard to imagine him arriving at camp at 100%. U.S. Soccer obviously is aware of this and will certainly want to bring him in, have him with the group, and see where he is at with his back injury that has kept him out of action for most of May – including the DFB Pokal final.


Antonee Robinson is another player who has missed time recently for Fulham and it remains to be seen his condition or status will be heading into the start of camp.

The Champions League final obviously ruled Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen out for this game. But there are others who might have to be removed. If Barnsley defeats Swansea City, it will head to Wembley for the Championship final and that will rule Daryl Dike out. If Werder Bremen remains in 16th place following the final weekend of the season, Josh Sargent will be forced to play in the promotion/relegation playoff and will not be able to participate. The same would go for Julian Green if Greuther Furth remains in third in the 2.Bundesliga.

In other words, this roster could be trimmed quite a bit before the Switzerland game.


Surprising omissions


There were a few omissions stood out to me – Luca de la Torre, Sam Vines, Nicholas Gioacchini, and Tyler Boyd.

Luca de la Torre stands out the most as the Heracles midfielder had a strong March camp and had a solid Eredivisie campaign where he locked down a starting role as a No. 8 midfielder. That being said, perhaps he might be given a bigger role at the Gold Cup where he can play meaningful minutes. 

Sam Vines is also interesting given the recent injury to Antonee Robinson and the potential need for another left back. But given that Robinson is still on the roster, Dest’s recent performance with the national team at left back, and the fact Bryan Reynolds started at left back two weeks ago for AS Roma – the team is covered there. Vines, however, has impressed at Colorado since returning from injury and is one of the best players there in MLS.

Nicholas Gioacchini has done well with the national team in November 2020 and March 2021 but had a tough end to his season at SM Caen – which only narrowly avoided relegation thanks to miraculous finish on the final matchday. Gioacchini is probably going to look for a new club but it was always possible Berhalter was going to keep him involved based on his solid first few caps. Instead, it appeared as if the coaching staff wanted to call-up Hoppe instead. He is on the preliminary roster for Nations League and might be in the fold if there are injuries.

Tyler Boyd was streaky on his loan from Besiktas to Sivasspor in Turkey. He is a pure winger and could have provided depth at that position (and like Gioacchini, was on the preliminary Nations League roster) but perhaps needs to show more consistency to get back into the fold.

Erik Palmer-Brown is coming off a solid season for Austria Vienna and was part of the March camp. With no Richards or Long, it would have appeared that the door would have been open to him. 

Matt Turner is perhaps the top American goalkeeper in MLS with the New England Revolution. It would be surprising if he is not added to the Nations League roster and flying him to Europe for this game unless he was going to start might not have been in his best interests. In March, Berhalter said Turner was in his plans and he’s been in good since then, so it’s probably a safe assumption he still is.


Approach vs. Switzerland?


It will come down to who exactly is healthy. My guess, however, is that Berhalter will roll out his strongest possible starting XI and then maybe hand out debuts or offer opportunities to backups later in the second half.

Look for something like this:

Goalkeeper: Ethan Horvath

Right back: DeAndre Yedlin

Left center back: John Brooks (Tim Ream if Brooks is hurt)

Right center back: Matt Miazga

Left back: Sergino Dest

Defensive mid: Jackson Yueill (if somehow healthy, Tyler Adams)

Central midfield: Weston McKennie

Central midfield: Yunus Musah (if hurt, Brenden Aaronson or Sebastian Lletget)

Wing: Gio Reyna

Wing: Tim Weah

Center forward: Josh Sargent (if he’s missing, Daryl Dike. If both Dike and Sargent are out, Jordan Siebatcheu).

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