October’s Nations League matches are fast approaching, leaving Gregg Berhalter only a few more days to formulate the squad he will put together to face Cuba and Canada.
Tyler Adams has yet to return to action for RB Leipzig, putting the prospects of a USMNT return on hold, with DeAndre Yedlin also likely to be unavailable for the Nations League opener after only just returning to the field for Newcastle.
Injuries continue to be an issue for Berhalter’s squad, with John Brooks and Matt Miazga also still on the shelf, and Alfredo Morales having yet to return from the injury he suffered while with the USMNT.
One of the big storylines to watch in October will be what Sergino Dest chooses to do regarding his national team future. An appearance in Nations League would cap-tie him to the United States, so if he isn’t ready to be cap-tied yet, and is considering playing for the Netherlands, then Dest could pass on an October call-up, whether to buy himself more time on a decision, or fully commit to the Netherlands.
What could the USMNT squad for the October Nations League matches look like? Here is SBI’s updated projection:
Zack Steffen, Sean Johnson, Jesse Gonzalez
Steffen is the starter, while Johnson has established himself as Berhalter’s preferred number two. The third goalkeeper spot is wide open. Could Berhalter choose to fill the spot with a promising goalkeeper from an MLS team not in the playoffs? If so, FC Dallas’ Jesse Gonzalez would make sense. Berhalter could also take the opportunity to call in Ethan Horvath, who has been stuck on the bench at Club Brugge, but who remains one of the top prospects in the player pool.
Reggie Cannon, Nick Lima, Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Ventura Alvarado, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Daniel Lovitz
There are plenty of question marks in the defender pool. Will Dest play in the October matches? Will Berhalter consider calling in new faces like Alvarado, and will he consider DeAndre Yedlin even though he only just returned from injury?
Reggie Cannon is the safest bet among the fullbacks, with Yedlin still working his way back into full fitness at Newcastle. Berhalter can turn to Nick Lima once again, and potentially capitalize on Lima’s experience playing at left back.
If Dest passes on the October matches, that should solidify Antonee Robinson’s place in the Nations League matches, and likely mean another look for Daniel Lovitz, despite his lackluster performances for the USMNT.
In central defense, John Brooks has yet to return from injury, making his return for Nations League in October highly unlikely. Matt Miazga is also still sidelined by injury. Walker Zimmerman didn’t have the best showing in September for the USMNT, and has seen a bit of a dip in form, but he has an experience edge on Miles Robinson, who is also worthy of a look, but may just miss out. Cameron Carter-Vickers has also been playing regularly for Stoke City and could be another option.
Weston McKennie, Michael Bradley, Duane Holmes, Sebastian Lletget, Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp
The hope was that Tyler Adams would make his way back into action for RB Leipzig, but while he has returned to training, he has yet to see the field in a match. That makes a call for the October Nations League matches
While Adams has yet to get back to playing, Duane Holmes has worked his way back into a starting role for Derby County, and is rounding into form at the perfect time for Gregg Berhalter to bring him in. Holmes could wind up playing a major role in the Nations League matches.
Other options in midfield include Jackson Yueill and Paxton Pomykal.
Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, Tyler Boyd, Paul Arriola
Altidore should return to the fold as the first-choice striker, while Sargent should be called in ahead of Gyasi Zardes if Berhalter only brings in two strikers. Is Berhalter ready to leave Zardes out, or will he call in three strikers instead?
Sargent’s recent run of playing time at Werder Bremen should put him in position to challenge Altidore’s hold on the starting striker role, and Berhalter could look to start Sargent against Cuba, while starting Altidore against Canada in Toronto.
On the wing, Pulisic works as a winger again, with Paul Arriola returning to the mix, providing the versatility to play on either flank. Jordan Morris impressed in the September friendlies and has carried that over into continued good form for Seattle, making him the favorite to start on the right wing for the USMNT in October.
Tim Weah remains sidelined by a serious hamstring injury, which has derailed what would likely have been his push into the USMNT.
What do you think of this squad? Who would you call in that was left out? Who are you happy to see included in this projection?
Share your thoughts below.