The U.S. Men’s National Team roster for October’s Nations League matches didn’t have many surprises, and featured plenty of names we have grown accustomed to seeing, but also some omissions that could be considered head-scratchers.
Brenden Aaronson was the only new face in the mix, and could be considered the biggest surprise, but some fringe selections probably also came down as surprises even though they have been called up by Gregg Berhalter on multiple occasions, including Daniel Lovitz and Corey Baird.
Who are some of the players who missed the cut, but deserved a spot on the USMNT Nations League squad? Here are five:
The Derby County midfielder returned from injury and has been in good form since breaking back into the Rams lineup. Berhalter chose to bring in Weston McKennie, Cristian Roldan and Sebastian Lletget as his options at the number 10 positions in his system, which is understandable, but Berhalter certainly could have made room for Holmes.
One option for Berhalter is moving Roldan into contention for the defensive midfield role. Roldan performed well as a number 10 against Uruguay, but he has also shown he can play in a deeper midfield role.
The last time we saw Robinson in a USMNT uniform he was struggling against Jamaica in a friendly last June. That match wasn’t particularly impressive, but Robinson has continued to play regularly and play well for Wigan as a natural left back.
Daniel Lovitz earned another call-up despite having yet to impress in his multiple cameos with the USMNT. Berhalter did point to Robinson being eligible for the U.S. Under-23 team, meaning he could be a part of a U-23 camp in October, but that doesn’t change the reality he could have been called into the USMNT squad.
Berhalter only called up one new face for October, and it was a player who isn’t expected to contend for a major role. Alvarado has been playing well for Necaxa, but has yet to earn a look from Berhalter.
The current state of the USMNT centerback position is underwhelming. John Brooks is injured again, and Tim Ream is likely to shift into a centerback role for October’s matches. Matt Miazga recently returned from injury, while Walker Zimmerman is back in the fold despite a lackluster showing in September. Ream and Long should likely be the featured tandem, but it feels like a missed opportunity to have Alvarado in a camp to see him in person.
If not wanting to bring in a new face to the defense was a part of why Alvarado wasn’t included in the October squad, then Miles Robinson could also have a gripe about not being included. Sure, he only just made his USMNT debut in September, but he has continued to play at an MLS Best XI level with Atlanta United.
Ultimately, Zimmerman’s experience gave him the edge over Robinson this time around, and Berhalter also noted that Robinson will have a major part to play on the U.S. Under-23 national team that will convene in October.
Brad Guzan was chosen to join Zack Steffen and Sean Johnson in the goalkeeper pool, which isn’t a huge surprise considering he earned the start against Uruguay in September. That being said, you can make a strong argument that Bill Hamid has had a better season in MLS play than Guzan, and his stellar showing for D.C. United last Sunday against the New York Red Bulls only served as a reminder of his form.
The big knock against Hamid is that he isn’t good with the ball at his feet, a key requirement to play in Berhalter’s system. Guzan has improved his ball-handling skills since joining Atlanta United, but calling him a sharp passer would be a stretch.
No Julian Green on this list?
So I’ve been a believer in JG since the beginning. I made a few posts a year or so back explaining that in the way the Fureth uses Green as an ACM he was basically being asked to learn this position from nearly scratch. In Bayern’s youth system he played striker nearly all of his youth career. It was only JK that decided to use him as a winger on the left that’s not where he was playing for Bayern’s U23 or youth squads and neither was ACM.
It was always going to take him some time to adapt to the new mindset of setting up your strikers/wingers and positioning as an ACM from someone who played almost exclusively at striker at youth levels. He ‘could’ be having the beginnings of a breakout season with Fureth and maybe the new ACM position is finally starting to click for him. It would be so unfortunate if our NT manager and we as fans write him off now.
“Five most glaring omissions from the USMNT Nations League roster….” is an understatement
Hahahaha ?, I said it…..US Soccer promotes certain players surprisingly and THEY ARE SO CALLED “DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS” (why ?????).
………..OUR PROGRAM IS JACKED-UP ? !!! ENJOY
“WHY THE USMNT SUCK AND WILL CONTINUE TO SUCK UNTIL THINGS CHANGE”
Regardless of coach – US soccer is trying to validate MLS and its players….and our league is not at a level to create world class players to automatically compete at the world stage with the best in the world. To be on par with the best in the world, you have to train and play, day in day out, with the best in the world
…..an excellent insight from one of the toughest and hardest working USMNT players in our pool. #RESPECT
That’s a good repost of Cameron’s editorial. You may disagree with his politics, but its hard to disagree with his analysis of US Soccer. Sadly, 20 months after he wrote this, it doesn’t feel like much has changed…
While i also think there too many mlsers on this roster, and probably most rosters for the usmnt, people have to realize mls has always been a conduit to the NT whether right or wrong and id argue 2 of our greatest ever players were mls products but i digress.
All the same however, who are these players in europe that are world class who Greg is ignoring? How we do know everyone got a releaae from their clubs? There is always a lot of criticism when rosters come out, I even scratch my head sometimes about them, but i’m prepared to have more patience until we’re about 2 years out from the WC
To answer your questions:
How we do know everyone got a releaae from their clubs?
Answer: On FIFA Dates clubs are required to release players. The only way a club can keep a player is if said player is injured….and even then a national team can request them attend so that their own medical staff can evaluate the injury.
Who are these players in europe that are world class who Greg is ignoring?
Answer: No-One is claiming that there is a world class player being ignored. What is being said by many is that there are European players who are better than many of the MLS call-ups. Green, A. Robinson, CCV, EPB, Holmes, etc….have all been put forth as better options than Lovitz, Trapp, Roldan, Baird, etc… Yet we continue to see an MLS heavy roster using the exact same players who have failed to look anything other than average with the USMNT.
My 5 would be – Gooch -RW, he’s playing solid for the Black Cats. CCV -(started the last 5 matches for Stoke City), to duo w/ Miazga. GK- Jesse Gonzalez, IMO, GK, who best fits a possession based, playing from the back, style o play. Green- he’s a threat to score, and is better centrally as a no.10.
RB- Shaq Moore,- I know he isn’t playing that much in Spain’s Segunda Div., but he hasn’t returned to the states to play in the MLS, (That speaks to a never give up attitude, which any fan can respect). Oh, yeah… He’s been in Spain for 2+ years. How well do you think a player’s passing ability will be sharpened, by playing in a country, where passing/possession is priority? Personally, it would be interesting to see.
Overall- Every manager has their choice of players, “My Guys” if you will. Most of us knew, when GB was hired, it would be an emphasis on players from the MLS, he coached and/or had familiarity. If he wins both matches, all is well. If he loses one, or has a draw, it’ll be even more questioning of his tactics & personnel. However, this plays out, we will be paying attention.
I am not sure I would pick this 5. I think Green would be a better choice than Roldan. There are others who would be better choices than Trapp.
I have never understood why Robles does not get called in more. He is a very good keeper who is the best PK-stopper presently in MLS and with the way the Red Bulll play, he must stop break-away opportunities, like the kind that are the bread and butter for the weaker teams in CONCACAF. He is better than Johnson and Guzan, both of whom make mental mistakes.
I guess my biggest complaint about these roster decisions is that there are very, very few opportunities to call in European/Liga MX fringe players for in person evaluation. Guys like Green, Holmes, Soto, Sabbi, EPB, CCV, Alvarado, A. Robinson, etc….are usually only able to join camps during the FIFA dates since clubs are required to release them.
MLS players on the other hand can easily get called in for an extended look during the January Camp Cup Cake. Why not leave some of the MLS fringe players….Guzan, Lovitz, Zimmerman, Aaronson, Trapp, Roldan, Yueill, Baird, Zardes….home and test the depth of the player pool a bit more. It’s not like Cuba is going to really challenge the US and there is enough regulars left to field a side to beat Canada.
If used properly these Nations League games could have helped us expand he player pool and determine what our depth chart really looked like. Who is ready for the Sr. Team and who isn’t.
IMO this is another indication that USSF & Berhaulter have a different agenda other than building the best possible squad for the USMNT. Trotting out the same exact players who have failed to impress or are in slumps (Lovitz, Baird, Zimmerman, Lima, Trapp, etc…) instead of trying someone new or giving someone who’s been away for a while but is in good form for their club a 2nd chance just doesn’t make since to me.
Baird has 4 goals in his last 8 matches that is pretty good for a winger. I wouldn’t rate him right now but he’s not in a slump.
I wouldn’t classify him (Baird) as being in a slump for his club, but he’s been involved with multiple USMNT camps and has failed to be a difference maker when given minutes.
Some players are better at club than country and some players are better with their national teams than their clubs. It’s not necessarily a knock on the player, but if you can’t perform when called upon the coach needs to try someone else.
And how many goals with the MNT? Baird is third rate. He wouldn’t even make a Bob Gansler/Bora 23 man roster when we were even more mediocre
Sorry skimming your first comment I missed your “failed to impress” and just saw the “in a slump”.
One thing to consider might be that a number of MLS players will be finished with their season well before the next matches. Trapp and Zardes are done Sunday, others likely out the next weekend. Perhaps anticipating that Berhalter leaves some Euro guys off this time thinking he’ll take them in November, rather than take MLS guys who aren’t in regular training.
My biggest gripe is Antonee Robinson won’t get any time at left back over Lovitz. Other then that I wouldn’t go as far as saying there’s glaring omissions.
Green, Alvarado, CCV (did he start at RB last game?), Holmes and Sabbi. I don’t understand why any of these guys were left abroad while clearly lesser MLS players were called in.
Exactly, he is a perfect fit for this system, he is in between an 8 and 10 and great in possession.
Holmes would have been nice, but really these are not “glaring omissions” the pool just ins’t that great right now, thankfully we have 11 months until meaningful games.
I would like to see us using these easy fixtures to work in even more even younger kids. I hope that Pomykal, Toye, Parks, Sabbi, Dotson, Ledezma, Mendez, Araujo, Robinson, more are all on the the U23 camp and are considered for the senior team in November.
Seems like we are bringing up 1-2 first timers at a time (Aaronson and Yueill) when we need to be more proactive about ushering the future. realistically we could play a full XI under 23 vs. Cuba and do just fine when else do you get this opportunity?
trapp, yueill, and roldan all kind of SUCK. i am not sure if they would make the team under a serious head coach. i struggle to think of positive plays they have made. most of these green gall holmes etc. omissions i can say positive things i have seen. I also agree with your list of youth prospects. when the people repeatedly being used suck, and we have plenty of other interesting options, i don’t know if i am bothering to parse whether the next guy is a “glaring” omission or merely might be a little better. i am pretty darned sure anything else would be an upgrade and that should be enough.
Trapp played for the US at every youth level and saw action for Klinsmann and Sarachan. Roldan played for Arena and Sarachan. So I guess other managers would call them in. Now please try to complain Dave who you whined endlessly about trying to hard to get results isn’t a serious manager or Bruce I have the best winning percentage in USMNT history, reaches the WC quarters, and won 5 MLS Cups is not serious either. That’s non-factual as when you said Italy sent an entirely different squad to play the US in Belgium when 18 players dressed in both matches including 4 who started both matches.
I think Green should have been called in also. Why Aronson? As shown by the stats, Pomykal has been a more effective midfielder than Aronson. As for GK, I’m not a Sean Johnson fan. I have seen him make a number of what the English call howlers. I agree with Patrick that stopping goals should be the first criterion when choosing a GK. For all the dislike shown on this board for Guzan, people seem to forget that he did well for several years in the EPL and he is excellent on saving penalty kicks. Hamid couldn’t even crack the starting lineup in Denmark. For me, the best set of GK’s would be Steffan, Guzan, and Horvath, although you could replace Horvath with Robles or similar and I wouldn’t mind.
he left off horvath and that has everything to do with minutes and nothing to do with how he did when he got to play in august, which is 2 wins and 1 goal allowed in 2 games. we need to learn to distinguish between a slump and a numbers game. easy way to do it: what did their stats look like when they got lost in the shuffle. if the player looks good but just gets benched for reasons beyond their control, that’s not our problem. our problem is they get benched for sucking. wood is one of the few players with that actual issue. many of the rest it’s like the very next week sargent scores a gorgeous goal or green scores his third or horvath pitches a shutout, and if you mumble “form” at that point you take week to week too seriously.
Pomykal is nursing an injury. Sabbi is a player of need. I do like Cappis but we have a full house of 8’s. We’ll probably see them in the U23 camp if they are released.
they need people out there more like lletget who can actually create danger. i am lost what the point is to a bunch of 8s who score or assist once a millenium and aren’t that tenacious of defenders. that sounds like what less sophisticated fans used to call a mere hustle player who you didn’t want many of. you want creators and destroyers. maybe it’s MLS now imports 90% of their 9s and 10s but we have lost the drive to have mids who are actually dangerous or destructive in some sort of way.
there is not a lack of attacking names. the issue is more than half the call sheet is mediocre two way hustle players or 6s, every time. that changes the nature of the team and also impacts the sub options available when we need something. if you called 2 DMs and then some true attackers it would be a different team. and IMO many of those attackers eg Holmes can also play defense.
I’m a big Hamid fan and would love to see him in the team. Untimely injuries were a problem when he was in the frame. Since his unfortunate public back-and-forth with Guzan, I think Berhalter decided that Bill had too much baggage. It’s too bad, but I don’t think we’ll see him called up again.
How are you not including Julian Green on this list???
I like goalkeepers who are good shot stoppers first and defenders who are good defenders forst… apparently that makes me incorrect?
i hear you. i don’t think people grasp the deeper meaning of couva yet. if we pitch a shutout we win 1-0 with a second half goal. if we rarely allow a goal we always will be in the game. i think the snobs want players to be multitalented and that is all well and good, but i feel like last cycle was what happens when players aren’t good at their primary job. we led the hex in goals but also allowed 13 goals in 10 games. and as a result lost 4 games.
Excellent point on the Goals Allowed last Hex IV. Its beating a dead horse (or is it since he keeps getting called up) but I point a lot of that blame for those GA to Bradley’s in ability to properly shield the back four as a proper DM. How many tough slide tackles did he get in last Hex? Was he reading passing lanes and cutting off thru balls? Was he leaving gaping holes of empty space in front of the CBs as he wanders forward to do his ‘I wanna be Pirlo’ thing only to jog his way back when his Pirlo impression didn’t work?
I used to complain over and over that MB was not a true DM/6 and that is always why we had to pair him with another MF who could shield him, and JJ was great at it making up for MB defensive issues and then we pulled JJ away, he was hurt and we refused to call up any of our other viable defensively minded MF options such as DWilliams or AMorales and play MB alone in deep MF.
Finding that guy that can get a little nasty in deep MF and properly shield the CBs and close passing lanes and make a devastating slide tackle to breakup a counter is a type of player I’m watching for to emerge but one that can also pass well and actually dribble at a defender once in a while when needed without dropping his cookies. This player shouldn’t look to hold the ball for 3-4 touches but get a quick transition started instead and move the ball forward passing to either AM or Winger. Tyler Adams is my nominee with AMorales also on the list as a backup or 8 if we need extra defensive support when playing a tough team away. McKennie also is a player who seems to love getting a good slide tackle in, he seems to look for it even and maybe he needs to be playing deeper at club to see if this is more of his natural position too but although I think he can play there he gets played so all over that who knows where he’s best, but I do like that nasty he has for a slide tackle. McKennie probably likes to wander a bit too forward and wide though at times and that creates spacing issue in front of the CBs but that nasty is in him, if he could learn the 6 and play there consistently for club he’d be a big contender.
I know I’m preaching to the choir on most of this just my 2 cents on things to look for going forward if we’re going to solve those GA issues from last Hex. Getting blown out by Venezula and Mexico a couple times doesn’t help me feel like we’ve solved this part yet and its also probably a problem of more than just one position one player but looking at the way we use the 6/DM spot and their roles and responsibilities makes sense as a start.
also: Pomykel, Ebobisse, Palmer-Brown, Horvath
(Assuming Nagbe turned down his call)