As summer winds to a close, and the memories of June’s Concacaf Gold Cup fade further away, U.S. Men’s National Team fans can start thinking about what lies ahead in the fall, and the challenges awaiting Gregg Berhalter’s squad.
The USMNT returns to action in a week, with friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, a pair of tough challenges before the Americans take part in Concacaf Nations League in October.
Berhalter will unveil his team on Wednesday and is likely to turn to a largely European-based contingent of players, with MLS playing a total of nine matches during the September international break. That includes New York City FC and Toronto FC, which will play two matches each during that time, which could lead Berhalter to let some MLS-based players stay with their clubs.
Don’t expect a fully experimental roster, not with Nations League looming. Berhalter absolutely should bring in some new faces who are emerging as promising prospects, but he will also be looking to bring the nucleus of what he considers his first-choice starting lineup.
Berhalter will be dealing with some player injuries as well, with Tyler Adams, DeAndre Yedlin and Duane Holmes working their way back from injuries that will likely keep them out of the September friendlies. Tim Weah suffered an injury on Monday that will also keep him out of action for the September window.
Something else to consider about the upcoming international break is that the U.S. Under-23 national team will be holding a camp at the same time, which could lead to some players joining Jason Kreis’ U-23 camp rather than the USMNT camp.
What will the USMNT roster look like for the September friendlies? Here is a look at the squad we could see Berhalter bring in:
Zack Steffen, Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath
Steffen is off to a strong start on his loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf, and comes into camp as the clear-cut starter. If Berhalter doesn’t factor in the MLS schedule, then Sean Johnson and Tyler Miller would be the next two goalkeepers included, but with NYCFC playing twice in the September window, and LAFC also playing, it would be a good time to bring in Hamid, who is in the midst of a standout season.
Horvath has been relegated to the bench at Club Brugge, but this would be a good camp to bring him into the fold.
Reggie Cannon, Sergino Dest, John Brooks, Aaron Long, Miles Robinson, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson, Daniel Lovitz
John Brooks returns after having missed the Gold Cup with an injury. The Brooks-Long tandem should get at least one game together. Miles Robinson took part in the May preparation camp, but will have his chance to make his USMNT debut in September. It would be a well-deserved nod for a young player in the midst of a breakout season.
At right back, Cannon is back after his impressive Gold Cup while Dest should get his first senior team call-up after breaking in with the Ajax first team. Berhalter could choose to let Dest join the U.S. Under-23 camp, which would allow him to bring in Nick Lima, though Lima’s San Jose Earthquakes have a match on September 11. Berhalter could play Lima against Mexico, and release him for the friendly against Uruguay in order to rejoin the Earthquakes.
At left back, Robinson returns after failing to make the Gold Cup squad, though Berhalter could choose Tim Ream for some leadership and experience on the squad.
The MLS schedule could keep some players from getting the call, including Walker Zimmerman and Nick Lima, who have club matches in and around the FIFA window.
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Darlington Nagbe, Wil Trapp, Emerson Hyndman, Sebastian Lletget
Those hoping to finally see the Pulisic-McKennie-Adams triangle in central midfield will have to wait a bit longer, but Pulisic and McKennie should lead the midfield in September if healthy. The real question is who will serve as the defensive midfield anchor?
TFC has two games during the September window, so it’s tough to see Berhalter calling in Michael Bradley. That leaves Wil Trapp, who has enjoyed a good run of form in recent months, which has coincided with his Columbus Crew starting to turn things around.
Atlanta United midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Emerson Hyndman are both worthy of looks, especially if Berhalter passes on calling in Cristian Roldan so he can play in Seattle’s September 7th match against the Colorado Rapids). Nagbe is in outstanding form, and seeing him deployed in a deep-lying midfield role is something Berhalter should consider looking at.
Sebastian Lletget has played well for the LA Galaxy, and should merit a call, even if it winds up being just for the Mexico friendly due to the Galaxy’s September 11 match against the Colorado Rapids.
Pomykal is in the midst of a standout season with FC Dallas, and was stellar at the Under-20 World Cup, but he is also a good candidate to take part in the U.S. Under-23 camp.
Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Tyler Boyd, Josh Sargent, Romain Gall, Jeremy Ebobisse
If Berhalter lets Jozy Altidore stay with TFC, then that will free up the lead striker role for Gyasi Zardes, who should face some competition from Josh Sargent, who has looked good early on for Werder Bremen after an impressive preseason.
On the wings, Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd reprise their starting roles, but Weah should see his first call-up from Berhalter, who should have a look at the speedy forward as a left wing option.
Tim Weah’s injury should free up a spot for Portland’s Jeremy Ebobisse, who has gained more experience playing in wide positions with the Timbers lately, and whom Berhalter deployed on the wing during the training camp at the start of 2019.
If Berhalter leaves Jordan Morris with the Seattle Sounders, that could free up a spot for Romain Gall to receive a look as a potential wing option. Joe Gyau is another option (FC Cincinnati has a match during the September window, but is out of the playoff race).
What do you think of this squad? Who would you like to see get a call that wasn’t included on this list? Who are you most excited to see be a part of the September USMNT roster?
Share your thoughts below.