What will the USMNT roster look like for September World Cup qualifiers?
August 02, 2021
THE SUMMER OF SOCCER on the international front is over. The next time the United States plays will be for a trio of World Cup qualifier – away at El Salvador, home against Canada, and away at Honduras. It’s a tricky start to qualifying but the U.S. team should be full of confident players after winning the Nations League and the Gold Cup this summer.
When looking at how Gregg Berhalter might pick his team for World Cup qualifying, there are bunch of factors to consider. For one, the three game windows will force squad rotation and that will require all teams to dig deep and test depth.
Here are some thoughts:
Because this is a test of depth, teams aren’t limited to having 23 players at one camp. Berhalter will most likely call more than 23 players and 25-26 is certainly possible given that he is now likely comfortable with a large group of players.
In terms of health, the team is in pretty good shape. The long-term injuries of Aaron Long, Richard Ledezma, and Jordan Morris are known. The only player in doubt at the moment is Yunus Musah who is slated to return later this month.
Mostly from summer rosters
It seems likely that the team will draw heavily from the rosters from the Gold Cup and the Nations League. Berhalter said repeatedly that he wanted to used these tournaments to prepare his team for qualifying and both of those teams were successful. The Nations League roster will make up the majority of the qualifying roster but the Gold Cup team will be well-represented.
It’s not impossible for players not on either of the summer teams to make this qualifying roster but those players will be few and far between. As World Cup qualifying progresses in October, November, and into 2022, gradual changes will be made depending on form, injuries, players emerging, others fading, etc. But the summer tournaments are still fresh.
1) Zack Steffen
2) Matthew Turner
3) Ethan Horvath
In the mix: Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson
The skinny: These three are obvious right now. In case of an injury, Brad Guzan or Sean Johnson can fill in. But the gap between these three and everyone else is huge. The gap among these three is narrow.
4) Sergino Dest
5) Reggie Cannon
6) Antonee Robinson
7) Sam Vines
8) John Brooks
9) Miles Robinson
10) Mark McKenzie
11) Chris Richards
12) Matt Miazga
In the Mix: DeAndre Yedlin, Shaq Moore, Bryan Reynolds, George Bello, Julian Araujo, Walker Zimmerman, James Sands, Tim Ream, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers
The Skinny: It had seemed like Berhalter was in the habit of taking one true left back in Antonee Robinson and three right backs with Sergino Dest having the ability to play both. Sam Vines played well at the Gold Cup and probably now gives Berhalter the ability to take two right backs and two left backs.
In central defense, it is easy to see Berhalter wanting to take five center backs given his new willingness to play in a three center-back formation. The names pretty much pick themselves and Miles Robinson is now truly part of the team - although Tim Ream has been a mainstay. Robinson will have to bump someone. It's likely either Ream or Miazga.
13) Tyler Adams
14) Kellyn Acosta
15) Weston McKennie
16) Yunus Musah (Cristian Roldan or Gianluca Busio)
17) Eryk Williamson
18) Sebastian Lletget
19) Brenden Aaronson
In the mix: Cristian Roldan, Gianluca Busio, Jackson Yueill, Luca de la Torre, Christian Cappis, Johnny Cardoso, Andres Perea, Owen Otasowie, Caden Clark, Tanner Tessmann, Moses Nyeman.
The Skinny: As of right now, Yunus Musah is the only player in limbo due to injury Adams, Acosta, and McKennie are locks. Lletget is almost certainly going to be there as he was on both the Nations League and Gold Cup winning rosters. Aaronson will be there, but perhaps with the emergence of other options, he'll return to the center of the field as opposed to the wing position.
Williamson might be a surprise inclusion but he clearly gave the U.S. team an edge in ball winning and is also has a nose to get the ball forward aggressively.
If Musah can't go, either Roldan or Busio seem likely to go in his place.
20) Christian Pulisic
21) Giovanni Reyna
22) Tim Weah
23) Matthew Hoppe
24) Josh Sargent
25) Jordan Pefok
26) Gyasi Zardes
In the mix: Daryl Dike, Konrad de la Funete, Julian Green, Paul Arriola, Nicholas Gioacchini, Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreira, Kevin Paredes, Paxton Pomykal
The skinny: Pulisic, Reyna, and Weah pick themselves. Hoppe emerged at the Gold Cup and, despite his flaws, he brings a healthy amount of energy, swagger, and cockiness. Pefok, meanwhile, is scoring goals at the start of the season and Sargent is still probably the starting No. 9. Gyasi Zardes is a good veteran to have around.
There are some tough cuts. Daryl Dike tried to play hurt at the Gold Cup. Paul Arriola still has a good chance of making the team and was the Gold Cup captain (something that can't be overlooked). Nicholas Gioacchini was an asset off the bench. Ricardo Pepi is one of the fastest rising young American players and Julian Green is preparing for his return to the Bundesliga.
There are tough cuts, but that is the benefit of a growing program.
Assuming that is the roster, here are some interesting notes:
- 9 players would have been on the Gold Cup championship-winning roster.
- 19 players would have been on the 2021 Nations League championship-winning roster.
- 3 players would have been on both the Gold Cup and Nations League rosters.
- Chris Richards would be the only player on neither the Gold Cup roster nor Nations League roster.
- 7 players would be based MLS, 19 would be based in Europe (counting Sam Vines in the MLS group, who is on Colorado but will likely be on Antwerp by the time the international window begins).