USMNT roster analysis

Brooks, McKennie, Yedlin, and Adams highlight USMNT roster

Dave Sarachan's roster for the upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Mexico is out. For the most part it is a continuation of the team that played Bolivia, Ireland, and France earlier in the summer. But the pool will soon expand yet again. Brian Sciaretta breaks it down
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 02, 2018
7:40 AM
MORRISTOWN, N.J. – On Sunday, United States interim head coach Dave Sarachan revealed his 24 player roster that will take part in two high profile friendlies against Brazil in New Jersey and Mexico in Nashville, Tennessee.

The team will gather in New Jersey ahead of Friday’s friendly against Brazil at Metlife Stadium. Then it will travel south to Nashville to take on Mexico on September 11.

The roster is missing its most known player, Christian Pulisic, due to a recent injury but it does consist of players with a blend of age and experience.

Here is the roster along with several of my thoughts

The Roster

(Club; Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Alex Bono (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0),
Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 3/0)

DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 33/3), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL;
4/0), Eric Lichaj (Hull City/ENG; 15/1), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 7/1),
Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu/ESP; 2/0), Tim Parker (New York Red Bulls; 2/0), Antonee Robinson (Wigan
Athletic/ENG; 2/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 52/0)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 17/1), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 5/0),
Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 16/2), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 10/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy;
3/1), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 4/1), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Wil Trapp
(Columbus Crew SC; 6/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain; 3/1)

FORWARDS (3): Andrija Novakovich (Fotuna Sittard/NED; 2/0), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER;
39/12), Gyasi Zardes (37/6; Columbus Crew SC)

Brooks arrives in excellent form

No other player on this roster is playing as well as John Brooks. The German-born Brooks along with Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin, are the only three players on the team who have participated in a World Cup. But this cycle, Brooks should be expected to be a leader among a young and promising backline.

Last year Brooks set a record for the highest ever transfer fee paid for an American player when Wolfsburg bought him from Hertha Berlin. Last year he struggled with injuries but this year he is playing to his potential to start the season. In the Bundesliga opener, Brooks scored for Wolfsburg in a 2-1 win over last year’s runners up Schalke. Yesterday he stood out as Wolfsburg defeated Bayer Leverkusen 3-1.

This will be Brooks’ first time with the U.S. team in 2018 and he is an important boost to this growing young core.

Strong defense on hand

This roster will give a glimpse of the best U.S. defense moving forward. In addition to John Brooks, fellow central defender Matt Miazga will also arrive in camp after starting consecutive games for Nantes in Ligue 1.

Meanwhile, DeAndre Yedlin has been strong for Newcastle the last two weeks and scored his first Premier League goal yesterday against Manchester City in a 2-1 loss. He notched an assist the week before against Chelsea.

Antonee Robinson is off to a strong start for Wigan Athletic where his on loan from Everton. The speedy left back has earned rave reviews with his ability to move into the attack. 

With these four ahead of Zack Steffen, that is a very good glimpse at the top American backline at the moment.

Without Pulisic, who will create?

There are concerns on this roster and chief among them is who will create with Pulisic unable to take part.

There is no number 10 on this roster but will the contingent of wingers or number 8’s such as Paul Arriola, Julian Green, Sebastian Lletget, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Cristian Roldan or others be able to serve as the valuable linkup between the defenders to the forwards?

Changes ahead

Sarachan said that this roster was set to be more of a continuation of what was building from the friendlies in June before the World Cup. He also said that in October and November there will be a broader mix of players.

On the current roster, Aaron Long is the only player who is being called up for the first time. His outstanding season for the Red Bulls so far has him in contention for the league’s defender of the year.

"With six games remaining in 2018, we felt that in beginning of the Kickoff Series we wanted to continue where we left off with the makeup of the group,” Sarachan said. “Moving forward into October and November, we will look at a broader mix of players. Overall, we don’t view the pool in categories by age. We look at what we think is the right blend that will help our team progress and ultimately get results.”

So what does that mean?

It could mean two things. It could open the door to American players who were veterans of the last cycle but who have been on the sidelines since the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup last October. That could include Michael Bradley or Jozy Altidore but others as well.

It could also mean including the growing contingent of players either abroad or domestic that are beginning to breakout at the early stages of their professional career.

Malmo’s Romain Gall, Hobro’s Emmanuel Sabbi, and Nordsjaelland’s Jonathan Amon fit the equation from abroad.

Sabbi has five goals so far in the Danish Superliga and Amon has had a lot of success for Nordsjaelland and has been singled out by U-20 head coach Tab Ramos as a key player for his team ahead of next summer’s U-20 World Cup. Gall has begun to see more minutes since joining the defending Swedish champions in July and scored two goals last weekend in a 5-0 rout over Sirius.

Domestically, a player to keep an eye on is FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon, 20, who has emerged as one of the best right backs in the league an is a clear front runner to start for the U.S. U-23 Olympic team next year.

So this roster is overall mostly as expected with all the players except for one being a familiar face on the team. But don’t expect it to last as the player pool will open up even wider in the months ahead. The team has changed a lot over the past year and it looks like it will continue to evolve soon.

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