Following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s stunning loss to Trinidad & Tobago and subsequent World Cup elimination, U.S. Soccer president says the road to 2022 starts right now. The hope of 2018 is over, and the U.S. now faces a massive rebuild.
That rebuild will occur from top to bottom. Changes will be made at every level, including the roster. With five years before the next World Cup chance, the U.S. will integrate a brand new crop of youngsters while saying goodbye to many familiar faces.
Over those five years, players like Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Justen Glad, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent will be handed the reigns. They’ll have five years to learn, grow and develop as players. The USMNT will look very different in five years time.
But, as the new come in, the old must go out as several players have probably played their last USMNT game. It’s a bitter end for several USMNT legends, but one necessary as the U.S. looks to reshape and reconstruct a broken team.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the player pool, who’s staying and who’s going:
HERE TO STAY
CHRISTIAN PULISIC – Not much of a surprise here. Pulisic is now the focal point, and the USMNT will be built around him well beyond the next cycle.
DEANDRE YEDLIN – The Newcastle fullback continues to grow as a defender in the Premier League. He appears to be on an upswing, one that should make him a USMNT starter for years to come.
JOHN BROOKS – It was very apparent how much Brooks’ absence hurt the USMNT down the stretch. At just 24, Brooks still has a lot of growing to do and should be hitting his prime in 2022.
BOBBY WOOD – Like Brooks, Wood will be turning 28 when 2022 rolls around and, if his club performances continue to come, he’ll always be in the mix as a starting striker.
KELLYN ACOSTA – It wasn’t the best summer for Acosta, but he remains a midfielder with plenty of promise. He’ll be in the mix when next cycle begins, but he’ll need to grow into a more complete midfielder to compete with other talented stars coming through the ranks.
JORDAN MORRIS – Although it feels like Morris has been around for quite some time, it’s easy to forget he’s just 22 years old. He’ll need to take another step, but he has time to grow into a valuable piece of the USMNT.
PAUL ARRIOLA – Arriola has shown a ridiculous motor and the ability to play in a number of wide positions. That’s valuable, especially for a 22 year old that’s hopefully set for some stability with D.C. United.
JOZY ALTIDORE – Altidore is still only 27, meaning he’ll be on the tail end of his prime when 2022 rolls around. He’ll need to continue thriving on the club level, but there’s little doubt he’ll be around for the cycle ahead.
MICHAEL BRADLEY – Yes, he’ll be 34 when the next World Cup rolls around and, yes, his status is up for debate after the recent collapse. However, it would be ridiculous of the U.S. to simply move on from their captain completely. Expect Bradley to remain in the fold as a mentor at the very least.
DARLINGTON NAGBE – It’s unfortunate Nagbe got off to a late start internationally, but he’ll be 31 when the next World Cup rolls around. He’ll probably be a piece of the next qualifying cycle, but he’ll be in a battle for midfield spots.
GEOFF CAMERON – Cameron’s involvement in 2022 might be a long shot given his age, but he’s still the most capable defender in the USMNT pool. If he keeps up his form at Stoke, he’ll be involved early in the cycle.
SEBASTIAN LLETGET – A bit of a forgotten man due to injury, but Lletget should be given a chance in the USMNT midfield when healthy.
JORGE VILLAFANA – Left back has always been rough and, while he hasn’t been faultless, Villafana has been okay. Until a more capable player rises up, he’ll be around.
BRAD GUZAN – There are younger goalkeepers in the mix, but it’s tough to expect them to be thrown in without any veteran leadership. At the very least, Guzan can be brought in as a veteran, although his days as a meaningful contributor are likely over.
MATT BESLER – One of the few defenders to escape without a major blemish, Besler remains a solid veteran presence. He’ll be 34 in 2022, but he’s a good person to have in the back that rarely makes mistakes.
OMAR GONZALEZ – It will be hard to move past everything that has happened throughout the Hex. Gonzalez will be one of several scapegoats, and it’s deserved in many ways. At 29, there’s time for redemption, but it remains to be seen if he’ll get that chance.
GYASI ZARDES – Zardes has been out of the USMNT lineup a bit due to injury and, while he remains a lightning rod for criticism, he’ll remain in the pool as depth at worst. Still, his club showings need to improve or he’ll likely fall out of the pack.
TIM HOWARD – The goalkeeper was marvelous in Brazil, but he’s clearly a step slower these days. It’s time to hand over the reigns and move on from a player that remains a legend, despite Tuesday’s display.
CLINT DEMPSEY – One would expect a few friendly matches to pursue the USMNT goalscoring record, but Dempsey’s days as a meaningful USMNT presence are over.
DAMARCUS BEASLEY – The left back was probably finished several years ago but, due to a lack of options, was a fairly consistent part of camp.
GRAHAM ZUSI – The right back experiment prolonged his career, but with Yedlin as the starter, it’s time to let the next defender serve as his backup.
FABIAN JOHNSON – Even before the USMNT failed to qualify, Johnson hinted he could retire from the team following the World Cup. That looks all but certain now, especially considering he’ll be 34 for Qatar.
ALEJANDRO BEDOYA – The Union midfielder was a key piece in 2014, but he was little more than depth throughout this cycle.
JERMAINE JONES – Even if the USMNT made the World Cup, it was unlikely Jones would be a part of the Russia squad. Now, that’s all but certain, ending his USMNT career.