Predicting the USMNT and U-23 rosters for October
The rosters for the U.S. national team and the U.S. U-23 teams are soon to be released. So what will they look like and what are some of the factors that will go into decision making? ASN's Brian Sciaretta gives it his best guess.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedTHIS WEEK, U.S. Soccer will release rosters for both the full national team and the U-23 national team which should provide for a very busy October international window.
September 30, 2019
September 30, 2019
So what will the rosters look like?
For the full national team, the team is getting set to participate in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. It is an official competition and the roster should resemble close to a first team choice of available players and it should also be closer to the standard 23-player roster used for an official tournament. It is also unlikely that head coach Gregg Berhalter gives consideration for MLS playoff teams.
For the U-23 team, it is always a little bit trickier due to the fact clubs are not required to release players for youth national teams. Some of the MLS teams heading for the playoffs might be skeptical of releasing players and it is always a coin-flip to determine whether or not teams based abroad will cooperate.
But it is also important to consider the overlap between the two teams. In this regard, the players who are eligible for both teams who are likely to play a lot for the full national team, the players who have only been getting occasional full national team minutes are probably best served playing with the U-23s where they will likely start.
So here is a final prediction for the two rosters:
Full national team roster
1) Zack Steffen
2) Sean Johnson
3) Brad Guzan
4) DeAndre Yedlin
5) Reggie Cannon
6) Aaron Long
7) Matt Miazga
8) Walker Zimmerman
9) Omar Gonzalez
10) Tim Ream
11) Nick Lima
12) Michael Bradley
13) Wil Trapp
14) Weston McKennie
15) Christian Pulisic
16) Sebastian Lletget
17) Duane Holmes
18) Paul Arriola
19) Tyler Boyd
20) Jordan Morris
21) Jozy Altidore
22) Josh Sargent
23) Gyasi Zardes
The big question is Sergino Dest. Will he take part or will he not take part in these games that will permanently cap-tie him to the United States? The Dutch Federation has been in hot pursuit and had recently met with Dest to explore opportunities for him to make a switch.
I don’t think Dest will be part of the upcoming U.S. roster. For one, this is an awfully big decision for him to make at a young age and at a time when he is only breaking into the first team at Ajax. Common sense suggests that a player who was born and raised in the Amsterdam area and is starting for Ajax is only going to naturally be more drawn to the Dutch national team compared with a country he had little contact as a child.
At the same time, U.S. Soccer gave itself a decent chance. He was given starting roles on the U.S. U-17 and U.S. U-20 World Cup teams over the past two years. All this was done while the Dutch gave him no consideration. He was called-up by the full national team as soon as he made his first-team debut.
But it’s hard to see Dest feeling the need to make this decision right now if he doesn’t have to. With the way he’s been playing, both federations will be just as interested in the months and years ahead. If the U.S. U-23 qualifies for the Olympics, maybe U.S. Soccer offers him a spot on that team to keep him in the program while not pressuring him to be cap-tied?
Berhalter will also not have his full slate of players available. John Brooks, Tyler Adams, Alfredo Morales, and Tim Weah remain out of action for their clubs with injuries.
DeAndre Yedlin only recently returned from a long-term absence and while he is listed above, he is still questionable. But with the likely bet that Dest is out, that only increases Yedlin’s chances.
Potential upgrades from September
While still missing players, there are some areas where this roster is an upgrade from September.
For one, don’t expect any players to leave camp early after the first game. Players should be here for both games.
Duane Holmes is back with Derby and is playing very well. His grit and playmaking ability should be an asset in the attacking third. His defensive instincts are also useful in the press.
Similarly, Paul Arriola needed personal time off during the September window but he is back and playing well at the moment. His defensive instincts also work well in the press.
Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley should also rejoin from Toronto FC – who were busy during the September window. Altidore’s return gives more forward options and help alleviate pressure on the promising but youthful Sargent and the struggling Gyasi Zardes.
Bradley is older now but still plays a No. 6 position where the U.S. team lacks depth. Berhalter was smart to call-up Alfredo Morales last camp but he is injured, as is Tyler Adams.
Some of the players on the roster are obvious locks. Others aren’t so clear. Omar Gonzalez wasn’t sharp at the Gold Cup but his inclusion here, as the fourth central defender makes sense given that John Brooks is injured. There are several good U-23 central defenders like Miles Robinson who can play for either team but the 4th central defender seldomly plays in meaningful games. Why not let a player like Robinson play for the U-23 team and use the 4th central defender as a veteran?
Tyler Boyd is still on the roster and still starting for Besiktas but it would not be a surprise to see him left off the team. He’s not playing particularly well and that trend started after an awful collision with the opposing goalkeeper in the season opener for Besiktas.
Nick Lima is also interesting. He likely makes it if both Yedlin and Dest are not on the team. But if Yedlin makes it, is Lima an option? He has been playing on the left for San Jose and Daniel Lovitz has been struggling for a Montreal team that crashed and burned the last two months.
One player to keep a close eye on is Julian Green. If Berhalter wants to go over 23 players or if he is unconvinced by Tyler Boyd, Sebastian Lletget, Gyasi Zardes or any other winger, forward, or attacking midfielder, Green could be an option. He is versatile and has a strong shot from distance – something that the U.S. team lacks.
Finally, will Ventura Alvarado make it? The Necaxa captain has had a breakout season in Liga MX and has done well to get into the mix, but it seems unlikely right now – although possible in 2020 with continued success.
THE U-23 ROSTER
For the upcoming U.S. U-23 camp, he is one potential roster. Again, this is a lot harder to predict given club releases are not required and even some MLS teams might be reluctant to cooperate. But here is a guess.
But unlike the September window which had both the U-23 and U-20 teams in action, this camp will only have the U-23 team in action – which could provide for more options.
1) JT Marcinkowski
2) Matt Freese
3) David Ochoa
4) Kyle Duncan
5) Julian Araujo
6) Miles Robinson
7) Justen Glad
8) Mark McKenzie
9) Erik Palmer-Brown
10) Sam Vines
11) Aaron Herrera
12) Hassani Dotson
13) Jackson Yueill
14) Paxton Pomykal
15) Alex Mendez
16) Richard Ledezma
17) Djordje Mihailovic
18) Keaton Parks
19) Brenden Aaronson
20) Sebastian Saucedo
21) Jonathan Lewis
22) Jesus Ferreira
23) Mason Toye
24) Jeremy Ebobisse
25) Sebastian Soto
There are a lot of questionable players in this group due to being key players for MLS playoff teams: Duncan, Araujo, McKenzie, Glad, Herrera, Pomykal, Yueill, Parks, Saucedo, Aaronson, Ferreira, Toye, and Ebobbise – all have a good chance of playing in the playoffs. That is actually a significant step up from previous cycles to have so many key players are regulars for the better teams in the league.
Some teams might be reluctant to release players but some will cooperate. None of the players are going to miss any games but this will cut into important preparation time for the post season.
The most questionable players to be denied a release are Jeremy Ebobisse, Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira, Miles Robinson, Hassani Dotson, Brandon Aaronson, and Mason Toye.
For European-based players like Antonee Robinson or Cameron Carter-Vickers, both are part of struggling Championship teams and it is hard to see teams letting players go if they don’t have to. Uly Llanez is only now just returning from injury and Wolfsburg is unlikely to release him. It is also unclear how much Bayern Munich would cooperate with Chris Richards – although central defense is not a position of need with this group.
There are some questionable injuries. Brandon Servania is in concussion protocol and Dallas might elect to play it safe with him. Keaton Parks is near a return for New York City and his involvement in this camp could go either way. Jesus Ferreira is still not eligible for the U.S. team but the federation is keeping him involved until he is.
This camp would also be a good time to keep some of the promising dual nationals from the recent U-20 team together and active within the federation. There are some fans who are hoping for these players to get called-up to the full national team to be “cap-tied.” That is unlikely.
The U-23 team has its value as Olympic soccer is important to the federation and to the American public. In the past, when successful, the U-23 team has provided an effective springboard that has allowed young players to make a smooth transition to the full national team. In the past, it worked for high-profile players like Jozy Altidore, John O’Brien, Josh Wolff, Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden, Benny Feilhaber, and plenty of others.
Ledezma and Mendez are perfect candidates to be leaders of a U-23 team that is quite strong compared with previous cycles.