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Projecting the USMNT roster for the Portugal friendly

It’s been nearly one month since U.S. Men’s National Team doomsday, and a lot has happened in that month. Bruce Arena has moved on, and a number of the players from that fateful day in Trinidad & Tobago will likely join him. There has been plenty of criticism and calls for reform in the past few weeks, and the reverb from the 2018 World Cup failure will ring out for a long time.

But that cycle is over and, for the U.S. at least, a new one is beginning. That begins with a friendly against Portugal.

The U.S. is set to take on Portugal on Nov. 14 in the first game of the post-apocalyptic era. It’s a friendly that will almost certainly feature a slew of new faces and bright prospects as the team now looks to build for a tournament five years from now.

A lot can change in those five years, but it’s important to start building a foundation. You can start that against Portgual, although there will be some missing pieces.

With the MLS playoffs looming, you can count out a number of potential call-ups, while the date with Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal may come a bit too soon for U-17 stars like Josh Sargent and Andrew Carelton.

Knowing that, here’s a look at one possible USMNT squad:


Jesse Gonzalez, Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath.

Outlook: If Zack Steffen and the Crew somehow crash out of the playoffs, expect him to almost certainly be on this list but, given the scoreline, Steffen stays in Columbus as the Crew look to march on.

Even without the in-form Crew star, there’s a talented pool of young goalkeepers involved. Hamid is the elder statesman of the bunch and, with his own European adventure set to begin, he finally looks ready to compete for a starting gig. Ethan Horvath also remains in that mix after receiving several call-ups over the past few years, and many still see the Club Brugge goalkeeper as the brightest prospect of the bunch.

Jesse Gonzalez is the most likely third goalkeeper after joining the team for the Gold Cup this summer. Despite all of FC Dallas’ struggles, Gonzalez is still more than worthy of a call-up.

Missed the Cut: Alex Bono, Jonathan Klinsmann, Tim Melia


Danilo Acosta, Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Justen Glad, Matt Miazga, Shaq Moore, Brandon Vincent, DeAndre Yedlin

It’s time for the youth movement at centerback, although you could see Geoff Cameron as the lone real veteran in the mix if Sarachan wants to bring in an older face. Now healthy, John Brooks could also be that face as he is now officially taking the leap from young star to focal point.

Alongside him, the U.S. has a number of relatively tested centerabacks that might have come knocking for a 2018 spot anyway. Matt Miazga certainly would have been in contention while Cameron Carter-Vickers has done more than well enough with Sheffield United. Add in Justen Glad, a player that shined down the stretch for Real Salt Lake and you have a good, young central defense pool.

At full back, it’s time to throw left backs at a wall and find a few that stick. Danilo Acosta and Brandon Vincent are young, but both have plenty of experience in MLS. At right back, Shaq Moore should push DeAndre Yedlin after breaking through at Levante and earning a few first team nods, which could push Tyler Adams into a midfield spot.

Adams’ growth is very much a  wait-and-see sort of thing as both the U.S. and the Red Bulls iron out a consistent position. Though for my money, he’s a midfielder.

Missed The Cut: Geoff Cameron, Erik Palmer-Brown, Matt Polster, Jorge Villafana, Walker Zimmerman


Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, Jonathan Gonzalez, Lynden Gooch, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic.

The midfield features a combination of new and familiar young faces, but two stand out.

Jonathan Gonzalez and Weston McKennie probably would have made cases for 2018 but now, especially in Gonzalez’s case, it’s time to get the involved. With Mexico looming, convincing Gonzalez to get into and stay in with the USMNT will be vital, and a partnership between the Monterrey midfielder and McKennie could provide a spine for years to come.

Christian Pulisic, meanwhile, suddenly becomes the leader, despite his age. He’s showed signs throughout his national team career and he’s displayed the bravado necessary to be that go-to guy on and off the field. It’s almost certainly too soon to name him captain but, from this point forward, he’s your guy.

As for the playoff-eligible players, look for Darlington Nagbe, Marky Delgado or Cristian Roldan to sneak in should one of their teams go down.

Missed the Cut: Andrew Carleton, Luca de la Torre, Marky Delgado, Emerson Hyndman Darlington Nagbe, Cristian Roldan, Kenny Saief


Juan Agudelo, Christian Ramirez, Bobby Wood, Haji Wright.

Bobby Wood remains a focal point, despite the recent struggles that could have him benched by Hamburg. Maybe a friendly goal or two is what he needs to snap out of it, even if it will be tough to find them against Portugal.

As for the other spots, there are a number of options. Haji Wright is perhaps the most intriguing, even if we only have a limited sample size of him in the 2. Bundesliga. He’s physical and fast and could be a weapon either centrally or out wide for years to come.

Then there’s Juan Agudelo and Christian Ramirez, who probably aren’t the sexiest of picks. Agudelo will be 29 when the next World Cup hits and, if he’s played in the correct position, he can be a piece for next cycle. Ramirez, meanwhile, has earned this shot by simply scoring goals, and lots of them.

Missed the Cut: Dom Dwyer, Julian Green, CJ Sapong, Gyasi Zardes


    • I’m not sure you can count on a new mentality with a caretaker manager. I’m hoping we see a mostly younger squad, but I haven’t seen too many teams benefit from getting hammered.

      • I mean by “doesn’t matter the kids get hammered” : try play to win, stop bunkering, bring it to Portugal

      • I agree with this. The “new mentality” begins once we hire a new manager. Right now this guy is babysitting the team, and unfortunately we can’t truly move forward until we have a new leader. I said this before. it is the most inconsequential US Soccer game in 30 years.
        The objective here is give some young guys a little PT and try not to get embarrased. We’re going to need a few vets in the team to ensure that happens.

  1. I’m looking forward to the collective hysteria after Sarachan reveals a roster that is way too veteran-heavy for anyone’s liking.

  2. Call up Antonee Robinson, he’s a LB for Everton on loan at Bolton. He’s playing and hes a young 20. He fills arguably our weakest spot on the field.

  3. I’d bring in some of the veterans too to make the match even so that we don’t get clobbered by Portugal. How much would we learn from this game if we put in too many youngsters and end up losing 4-0 and get outpossessed 65% to 35%. Why not add in Geoff Cameron and maybe even (you’ll all want to kill me) Fabian Johnson (unless it truly was some sort of attitude problem that kept him off the roster)? Portugal will probably be bringing in a very strong team, and right now the only players on the roster that are at the same level as Portguals’ players are Yedlin, Brooks, Pulisic and Wood. I generally like the roster selections in the article (other than Agudelo: 7-8 goals a year in MLS? only 3 goals in 23 national team apearances?) but want to put up a better fight against a tough team.

  4. Some other names that maybe should be considered, Desavio Payne, Andy Novakovich, and McKinze Gaines. I’m concerned about the fitness of the MLS players who didn’t make the playoffs, they will have had a couple weeks of no team training before the week-long camp begins. I’m sure they are doing some training, but they are getting full work in.

  5. At this moment: 3-6-1 seems more natural this current USNT cycle.

    Example: Miagza-Cameron-CCV

    Yedellin Villafana

    • Yes, absolutely! Let’s put Novakovich in the starting line-up for USMNT right away! He is playing in Europe! Never mind that it’s in 2nd division Holland. It’s EUROPE!!!

  6. Mary S. – MNT’s Bundesliga Boys (YouTube) – I personally would like as many of our young’uns as possible.Yet, I KNOW we’re going to need some of the seniors (who were NOT involved in the T&T disaster). Why? I had the experience of seeing a game with no senior players. The 2016 season. Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich. Tuchel had to use all young guys, incl .Pulisic and Dembele, because all of their star players were out injured and had been out most of the season. As valuable –and good–as these young guys are and were then, the seniors at Bayern beat them all to hell, 5 – 0. That’s Ribery, Lewandowski, Hummels. Robben, etc. All due to their years of experience and the Dortmund players’ inexperience. The best U.S. players out there now are Yedlin (best back in the Championship league they were just in. Now in Premier League.) ANY coach will love Jermaine Jones. But if this is just the Nov. 14 game, he may not be available. Geoff Cameron is good. And experienced. But if this is just for the Nov. 14th game, I doubt you will see him or any new young ones. Just Bruce’s first choice. After all, this temporary coach has spent many, many years working under a chief coach. For the one game, the choices are going to carry a very Bruce Arena flavor. Which is just natural.

  7. I’ve been calling for a youth movement probably for the last 2 to 3 years but suggesting some of of the u17’s are ready might be getting ahead of yourselves. CP might have spoiled everybody, he didn’t get a call up till he cracked Dortmund’s first team and Weah and Sargent probably won’t sniff that this season. Sargent has already been told he will start at u19 level but could move up and Weah only shot would probably be a loan in January so let’s not think there is another CP waiting, he is special and maybe once in generation especially for the US.

    • The Pulisic equivalent on the U17 team would be Carleton. His rookie season was completely thrown off by U17 World Cup and preparation for it. Next year could be huge for him. Not unlikely at all for Sargent to end the season with the first team if he settles quickly and has success with the 19s. Weah is overrated. Still far from ready for the top levels.

  8. I hope Keaton Parks gets the call, he is a very interesting player, can play either 8/10, smart kid and big at 6’4. If Ramos would have been the intern coach, then I would have expected to see Sargent and Weah, we don’t have many wingers, speaking of wingers why not include Kenny Saeif, he is already playing close to 90 minutes and in this game, only a few will be playing the whole game.

  9. Never been all the impressed with Lyndon Gooch honestly. Then again I didn’t think much of Wood early on but a couple call ups seemed to spark his career, so why now. However I think I’d go with Hyndman over Canouse for this call up. Canouse can be in the January camp.

    • Gooch is fast and runs around a lot, two traits that some fans value. Hyndman hasn’t even been making the senior bench and Bournemouth’s U21 side doesn’t even compete in the top levels of English youth leagues. That being said if getting him some Nat team minutes might help advance his loan options if he performs well against Portugal.

  10. that great but the monterrey midfielder Jonathan González said to mexican national team
    director Dennis te Klose (Borned in Holland) that he Would Play for The United States,
    so everybody knows that he prefer to play USA,because he knos the process,he played
    Usa u17 Mnt,and20mnt,he feel proud tobe an american,what he repeat

  11. Rowe not even on the list as missed? No Sargent, Weah??? Hope you’re quite wrong. Also, I expect nothing from Arena’s assistant. Wont tell anything until new head coach is picked. Then its a new day

  12. With or without qualifying to the WC this was going to be a young roster anyway just to get a look at younger players with nothing on the line. But since they didn’t qualify I hope people don’t get to excited for Bruce’s right hand man and expect some crazy change in tactics. Let’s just hope the young ones don’t get embarrassed. I think they will hold their own as there is talent coming through

  13. It’s a FIFA date, so players have to be released, FYI.

    Seeing some stuff from the Mexican media that says J. Gonzalez has turned down El Tri overtures…interesting.

  14. I think most of us are going to be disappointed when we see a more significant veteran presence than we hope for. It’ll be justified as “needing an experienced framework in which to introduce younger players.”

    I don’t see Brook’s team wanting to release him for an utterly meaningless game just as he is regaining form. Let him be, regain his starting spot. I think Cameron should be included though.

    • Cameron should be on this squad just like he should have started vs. T&T
      apparently Dave Sarachan doesn’t like him..

      apparently Richie Williams (some how still assistant coach?) has some disagreement with McKinnie and Wright as well.

    • Having some veterans in the team does provide that framework though. It also gives us a better chance to know how certain youth players stack up. The veterans are known quantities and provide more consistent performances. Knowing what you will get from some of the lineup allows us to accurately gauge the results of the younger guys. I’m all for giving opportunities to our top young talent but very much against playing basically a u23 side.

  15. IMO, Kellyn Acosta needs to be seen as the solution at LB. Our midfielders in the center fo the park are adequate, and having a left back that can dictate the game like a central midfielder is vital if we are ever going to truly play a proactive style. Adams over Yedlin on the right for the same reasons.

  16. Christain Ramirez, Juan Agudelo wtf??? SMH! Call up Kyle Walker from Chelsea who cares if he gets first team minutes would rather see him than Christain Ramirez and Juan Agudelo.

  17. One question, is CP the only attacking CM in the pool? Why not bring in Emo, yes he is struggling for mins but who else is better. No argudelo, hasn’t he had his chances. Like to see Cameron instead of gladd and Guzan over Hamid. But for only one game why bring 3 keepers unless they have too.

  18. i like it!

    Portugal 4 – USA 1

  19. I think were likely to see a few more veterans mixed in here than are listed. Geoff Cameron should still be involved and I wouldn’t mind Guzan either. I’d also like to see Hyndman get called in along with Danny Williams.

    The World Cup is not until 2022, but we do still have at least 2 Gold Cups, Olympic qualification and World Cup Qualifying to go through before then. There should always be an eye for 2022 in every roster we call in, but we can’t ignore the squad building process over the next 3 years. Throwing every youth prospect we have out there for the hell of it is not squad building. We cannot cast off every player over 25 because the next World Cup (which we have not qualified for btw) is 5 years away.


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