Pulisic ruled out as Berhalter finalizes November roster
Berhalter's USMNT roster for November is now complete, and injuries are taking a considerable toll - now the team will be without two more starters in Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley. ASN's Brian Sciaretta still believes there is talent to make up a good team, but it is up to Berhalter to get the most out of it.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedUNITED STATES national team head coach Gregg Berhalter named his 23-player roster for the upcoming Nations League games and the team was handed a significant blow when Christian Pulisic was ruled out with a hip injury.
November 11, 2019
November 11, 2019
For now, the list of injured players is not short: Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Michael Bradley, Tim Weah, Zack Steffen, and Jozy Altidore are all not able to take part.
But the U.S. team has a critical test ahead of it against Canada on Friday, November 15 where it needs a win to advance to the semifinals of the Nations League. A loss or a draw would likely eliminate the United States.
The U.S. team is coming off two subpar international windows where it was convincingly beaten by Mexico in New Jersey during the September window and then lost to Canada 2-0 in Toronto in the Nations League.
The roster for the upcoming games is now official.
The United States roster for November
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 62/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 37/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 9/0), Sergiño Dest (Ajax/NED; 2/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 9/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 14/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 12/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 38/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 60/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 12/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 17/6), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 14/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 18/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 20/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 30/5), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 8/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 37/7), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 11/3), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 54/10)
Thoughts on the roster
Without rehashing some thoughts about players who were left off the team by coaches choice (Duane Holmes and Matt Miazga, most notably), it is important to note that the team still has enough talent to beat Canada at home and it is up to Berhalter to assemble a way to get it done.
There is a strong starting lineup in this mix. DeAndre Yedlin and Sergino Dest are fullbacks that play at a high level. John Brooks and Aaron Long have the ability to be a strong unit together. Alfredo Morales, Weston McKennie, and Sebastian Lletget are sufficient to play well against a good Canadian team. Jordan Morris has had a very solid few months on the wing while Paul Arriola is one of the best defensive wingers in the pool or perhaps Tyler Boyd has shown signs of coming out of a run of poor form. Up front, Josh Sargent has been starting the big games lately.
That is not the best U.S. lineup, but it is enough to win games against several opponents – including Canada.
It comes down to Berhalter finding a way to address the problems which have hurt the team over the past two months. Can the team play with desire? Will the players continue to play in a confused manner?
A lot of the starting lineup for the game against Canada seems fairly easy to predict. The backline, wingers, and forwards seem likely to carry over from previous camps. Goalkeeping is up for grabs with Steffen out but both Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson are good goalkeepers.
A big test for Berhalter will be the midfield. What combination from the assembled group can provide the needed combination of maintain possession, creating chances, and defend. All of the midfielders in this group seem to play a hybrid No. 8 role or a No. 6 role without much defensive bite (like Wil Trapp). How can Berhalter get this current group of players to cover the No. 6, the No. 8 and No. 10 roles effectively and avoid a similar performance to the one in Toronto?
Berhalter is a critical point in his first year as the head coach. The team already failed to win the Gold Cup and now needs a win to avoid failing to advance out of the group stages of the Nations League. Advancing would certainly not erase all doubts but failing to advance would certainly send the U.S. team into another long and disappointing winter.