It may be two months away, but the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup is right around the corner and the U.S. Men’s National Team will hope to be celebrating this July.
Gregg Berhalter will get his first taste at competitive matches as the USMNT head coach with the team aiming for their seventh title in the tournament’s history. After a strong start to life as USMNT boss, Berhalter knows the goal is to win trophies and get this team back into the limelight of international soccer.
The USMNT were handed a tough draw with Trinidad & Tobago, Panama, and Guyana being paired with the hosts in Group D. Mexico and Costa Rica are two of the clear favorites to join the USMNT in the knockout stages and Berhalter will face his toughest sides yet come then.
With planning already beginning for the competition, here is one projection of who will make Berhalter’s final Gold Cup roster:
Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson
Zack Steffen is the USMNT’s No. 1 goalkeeper and should be for the future.
The Columbus Crew man has been one of, if not the best goalkeeper in MLS over the past few seasons and will be gearing up for a strong Gold Cup ahead of his move to Manchester City.
Beneath him in the pecking order are Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson. Horvath has claimed the No. 1 spot for Club Brugge and lifted the team to strong performances on numerous outings this season. He still has room to grow and will continue to so working behind Steffen.
Like Steffen, Johnson has also risen up the charts in MLS. The NYCFC man recently started against Ecuador in March but will fight up stiff competition from veteran Brad Guzan, and fellow MLS goalkeepers Bill Hamid, Jesse Gonzalez, and Alex Bono.
Missed Cut: Bill Hamid, Brad Guzan, Alex Bono, Jesse Gonzalez.
DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson, Aaron Long, Eric Lichaj, Daniel Lovitz.
DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks will be expected to be the first two defensive names written on Berhalter’s roster.
Yedlin has grown into his role with the USMNT over the years, recently wearing the captain’s armband against Chile. The Newcastle man will always bring pace and physicality to the mix and could also see himself pushed higher up the field under Berhalter’s new system. The right back position will be his lose, pending also if Tyler Adams is moved to that spot permanently.
John Brooks has earned consistent minutes with Wolfsburg and will continue to be the USMNT’s No. 1 centerback going forward. His height and physical play will be crucial against taller forwards and is a vocal leader on the pitch.
Matt Miazga and Aaron Long will jostle for minutes but ultimately Long’s rapid improvement sees him start next to Brooks. The New York Red Bulls’ defender has grown into a confident centerback, winning MLS’ Defender of the Year award in 2018. While Miazga also brings height and physicality to the mix, Long is just too good at the moment and should fend off the Chelsea loanee.
Tim Ream saw some time on the left side of the backline in March friendlies and could provide that against in the Gold Cup. Should Berhalter want more experience in central defense then Ream could also play that role as well.
Eric Lichaj brings versatility to the mix after playing numerous spots for Hull City this season. A veteran both with the National Team and in England, Lichaj brings experience and strong defensive work to the roster.
Antonee Robinson and Daniel Lovitz are natural left backs who will battle for a starting place should Berhalter go younger at the position. Robinson’s pace adds another element to the attack, while Lovitz is a stay at home defender.
Missed Cut: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Nick Lima, Reggie Cannon, Walker Zimmerman.
Michael Bradley, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Wil Trapp, Paul Arriola, Cristian Roldan, Sebastian Lletget.
Adams, Pulisic, and McKennie are the faces of the USMNT going forward.
The three Bundesliga standouts all bring different ideas and skillsets to the table. Adams’ versatility could see him used at right back like Berhalter stated in the past, or in midfield to help spring attacks and win possession.
Pulisic is the key attacking player for the USMNT and should be the No. 10 for the next 10+ years. His durability remains a question after suffering frequent injuries with Borussia Dortmund this campaign. Finding him consistent creative play next to him however will be the question for this squad.
McKennie brings physicality to the team and like Adams, has played numerous positions for Schalke. Injuries have also hurt his playing time in Germany but he’s been able to bounce back quickly in all occasions.
Michael Bradley brings leadership to the bunch and will continue to do so until his international career is over. He may not see the field every match but he could be brought off the bench to close out wins against tougher opponents.
Wil Trapp is a shutdown midfielder who will play the No. 6 role under his former club coach. He will sit in front of the backline and shutdown attacks while also playing the ball upfield to the more-creative players.
Arriola, Roldan, and Lletget will all fight for a starting spot on the field as attackers. All three can create chances not only for themselves but also for their teammates. Arriola and Lletget will see more time on the wing while Roldan can play in the center of midfield and see more of the ball at his feet.
Missed Cut: Kellyn Acosta, Marky Delgado, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Green, Lynden Gooch, Duane Holmes.
Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes, Andrija Novakovich, Jordan Morris
When healthy, Jozy Altidore is the best option at main striker for the USMNT. Altidore has been able to rebound from injury to score a trio of goals already for Toronto FC.
His physicality will wear down opposing centerbacks while his experience will be key for this younger bunch. If Altidore can grind out consistent performances then this job will remain his to lose going forward.
Gyasi Zardes was one of the winners of March camp and deserves to be called back in. Unlike Altidore, Zardes can use his speed to go after centerbacks and he showed earlier this year he can create chances for his teammates.
Jordan Morris didn’t have the best camp in March but has experience in this competition before will be needed. The 24-year-old scored the game winner against Jamaica two years ago to earn the USMNT its sixth Gold Cup title. He brings a never-give-up work ethic and an eye for goal when given the opportunities.
Andrija Novakovich remains on loan in the Eredivisie but continues to score goals for Fortuna Sittard. He may not start for Berhalter right away but he could be a good option off the bench late in matches.
Missed Cut: Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent, Dom Dwyer, Christian Ramirez, Bobby Wood.