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Steffen forced out of USMNT Nations League squad while Dest, Morales and Brooks are in

The good news for the U.S. Men’s National Team is that John Brooks and Sergino Dest have been called in to provide a big boost to the USMNT defense.

The bad news is that defense won’t be playing in front of first-choice USMNT goalkeeper.Zack Steffen.

The Fortuna Dusseldorf goalkeeper has been forced out of the upcoming USMNT Nations League squad with what ESPN is reporting as knee tendonitis, and was not among the nine foreign-based players called in for the upcoming matches against Canada and Cuba.

Steffen is fresh off posting a shutout in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Rhein Derby victory over Cologne on Sunday, and after that win he discussed how much he was looking forward to the upcoming Nations League matches, and the opportunity to help the USMNT exact some revenge after October’s loss to Canada.

With Steffen out, Berhalter will turn to Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson to handle starting goalkeeper duties. Guzan has moved ahead of Johnson on the depth chart in recent months and is the frontrunner to start the crucial November 15 Nations League match against Canada in Orlando, Florida. New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner looks set to be the third goalkeeper after recently taking part in the USMNT pre-camp.

The final 21-man USMNT squad will be finalized on Monday, with Gregg Berhalter choosing from the MLS contingent he brought in early for a pre-camp, and from the MLS Cup final participants, the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC. Michael Bradley, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan are the safe bets to be included from the MLS Cup contingent, with Jozy Altidore also a possibility depending on his injury status.

Dest joins the team after sitting out October’s Nations League matches as he finalized his decision on his national team future. After considering playing for the Dutch National Team, the Dutch-born Dest ultimately decided to keep playing for the United States. He will become officially cap-tied to the USMNT if he plays in either of the upcoming Nations League matches.

Brooks is back with the national team after missing October’s matches with an injury that also forced him to miss the USMNT’s September friendlies. The Wolfsburg defender recently returned to action and is a frontrunner to start in central defense for the USMNT.

Here are the nine foreign-based players called in for the USMNT Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba:

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Sergiño Dest (Ajax)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf)
Tyler Boyd (Besiktas)
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)


What do you think of the list? Who are you disappointed to see miss out? Who are you happiest to see called in?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Wayne Rooney has a great quote as he departed MLS. He said the quality of player is good, but American coaches over-complicate things by trying to force upon ok players Barcelona’s style of play. He said soccer is a simple game, but sometime our American coaches get distracted from this fact by trying to emulate Pep—perhaps not only with the style of play but with their slim fit sweaters. GB is the worst example of this.

  2. Ives:
    “what ESPN is reporting as knee tendonitis”
    Whenever US players are on a run of good form in Europe and critically important to their club teams, like Steffen who has recently been the keeper with the most saves in the entire Bundesliga (well, don’t ask about his back line), they rightly become suddenly more susceptible to these minor niggles that conveniently prevent them from wearing themselves out and breaking their concentration and routine by wasting a whole week of tiring trans-Atlantic travel for only 1 or 2 marginally important Concacaf games, risking injury on dubious surfaces.
    The same goes for Brooks and Yedlin and others who may have gotten a misleading reputation in the past as injury-prone. “Better safe than sorry” might be a fairer description. More power to Zack for taking care of himself and to Berhalter for letting him. If Guzan and Johnson and a healthy US defense can’t handle Canada, we’re screwed anyway, right?
    “reps together as a group is the best development tool for our near-senior prospects. Spain/Germany/Belgium set the template over the past 15 years”
    It makes sense to me that guys need days or weeks getting to know each other and practicing together. To state the obvious. That’s a point against experimentation and calling in players who aren’t getting high-level starting minutes elsewhere. I like Chandler too, but he had been out for quite a while.
    Perhaps teamwork and stamina are especially key if Berhalter’s vaunted “system” is the steepest part of the learning curve. What do we know about whether it’s really worth the mental fog it seems to cause? What exactly does it entail, and why do so many other coaches seem to manage with a more straightforward plan?
    It’s OK:
    “Tyler Boyd scored today”
    I was surprised by that too, but good for him. He does seem to have some energy and spark when other factors come together.
    bizzy, Joe:
    “weakest links” … “slow tempo of passing”
    It seems to me that if you want a team to pass fast and pass forward, you need a critical mass of players who can reliably receive and control the ball fast, and keep going forward without losing possession. If you’re not sure you really have that advantage over the opponents on a given day, discretion might be the better part of valor, and you might have to focus on possession before all else.
    “IS Ventura Alvarado injured?”
    I believe he missed a recent game for Necaxa, so maybe so. While he seems solid and energetic and I too would like to see him still on the radar, I’m not sure he definitively beats out either Miazga or Ream at the moment. (Long and CCV, though, probably.)
    “Please, God, let Morales start”
    Amen. He’s been a bright spot for Fortuna, and the US could really use his energy, grit, and maturity. I’m glad he got the call and hope he will have a good showing.

  3. They’ve released a U-23 roster for a November camp. I’d much rather see that roster paired with the 9 European players named in this article compete against Canada than the roster we’re going to see in these Nations League games against Canada & Cuba.

    Honestly, how bad a roster do we have to field before someone holds Berhaulter accountable?

    I firmly expect us to lose to Canada again….and if by some chance we do eek by Greg shouldn’t be given a pass (credit) considering he’s had the MLS players in camp for an extended period of time which is not indicitive of the timeline he’d have during the WC Qualification process.

    • Apologies — bit of a tangent — but I’ve become somewhat curious where all these additional camps have come from. We are talking about them as though they are a bad thing, but it’s actually unprecedented and awesome how many u-23 and supplemental camps we have had during this otherwise unpleasant period. This wasn’t how it used to be…. so I guess I’m happy about this development. For me, reps together as a group is the best development tool for our near-senior prospects. Spain/Germany/Belgium set the template over the past 15 years.

      • I’m not knocking the additional/extended camps…especially those for the U23s. The more time our teams/players are able to train together the better. It’s actually why I actually look forwards to the annual January camp. What I’m disappointed with are the players selected for these camps. I realize that this most recent “Pre-Camp” was limited to MLS players who’s season was over, but there still have to have been better options available for selection than Trapp, Lovitiz, etc…
        I’m also disappointed/concerned in the fact that once we were able to add European players to the equation we’re only seeing 9 guys called to bolster the MLS call-ups. It’s insane to me that the coaching staff appear to believe that 14 of our best players players are playing in MLS and only 9 (10 one Adams is healthy) are playing in Europe.

        I’ve always thought/wanted the annual January camp to be a double camp each year. Call in a U-23 squad as well as a Sr. squad of available players and have them train together. Play a charity scrimmage between the 2 squads before whatever “Friendlies” are planned.
        This would accomplish 3 things….
        1) Give us 4 years of camps to help groom players for the Olympic Qualification, and integration into the Sr. USMNT Team.
        2) Put all Veteran players on notice that their replacement is being prepared if they stumble.
        3) Fans will hopefully get a chance to see how the younger generation of players match-up against their veteran counterparts. Than there won’t be as many questions/concerns about where/what the pecking order is.

      • Yup I think you make good points. Didn’t mean to disagree with your initial post, only to say we need to be treating these new camp opportunities as advantages — seems like we concur.

  4. Tyler Boyd scored today. Club & country have been waiting.
    Who I think, we will see… 4-3-3. LW-Boyd, CF-Sargent, RW- Morris
    CP-10, 8-McKennie, 6-Morales, LB-Dest, CB- Brooks, Long RB-Yedlin GK- Guzan

    • Who I want to see… LW-CP, CF- Morris, RW-Dest
      10-Lleget, 8-Morales, 6-Yedlin,
      LB-Brooks, CB- Ream, Long, RB-Cannon
      GK- Guzan
      Out of options, with this lineup! Wishful thinking!! Very much so. Whatever lineup, is on the pitch, I’m not confident, we will like the product.

  5. It’s the pay to play that’s why the MLS players get called ahead of Europe or foreign based players that can be the only reason MLS has some contract agreement that a certain percentage of players on the National team have to be from the league. Antonne Robinson is a better left back option than any mls player ventura Alvarado should have been called he would be more reliable during qualifying Brooks is a player that has one game then gets injured. Bradley shouldnt start but he will he can’t run anymore the national team is another level he can be there to mentor on the bench. Morales and Mckinney playing together as two defensive mids would be nice. Hoping berhalter changes his tactics.

  6. Love all the technical analysis and detailed point of views. To summarized the failures of the US National team we need to look towards the weakest links on the team. We will NEVER reach the next level with a team made mostly of average MLS players. We will NEVER reach the next level with a player like Michael Bradley orchestrating the tempo of the team in the middle of the field. Call it favoritism, call it MLS bias for him and players like him, it doesn’t matter. We will never succeed with him or players like him as regulars. He has dropped down to only a shadow of his ROMA self yet he is a constant player, from the failures of Klinsmann to the horrific system of GB. He sits in a vital position that is responsible for linking the defense and offense together, blocking players with more talent, which is no place for a player with no skill or abilities. He cannot tackle or break-up plays, cannot maintain possession of the ball, doesn’t have the speed to be a threat to any team and cannot provided the spark needed on offense. There is a reason he has never developed a solid partnership with ANY CM or DM he has ever played with, and the broken midfield woes of the USMNT (unable to keep possession, disconnect between defense and offense, overrunned because of lack of make-up speed) will continue until he is out.

    I haven’t been proven wrong yet

    • Well said Bizzy. I completely agree we are only as good as our weakest links and MF has been a glaring problem of late both defensively and offensively.

      To piggy back on the tempo point, I would also add that this is where having a weak link with a poor first touch or inability to challenge defenders and make forward passes ruins our possession and ability to progress the ball forward into the final third. The slow tempo of the passing and the ball gives our opposition far too much time to set its defensive shape and close down any passing lanes that may have been available on a quicker counter or transition. To clarify, I am NOT talking about route 1 over the top counters but quick on the ground thru the midfield one and two touch passing that advances the ball forward quicker than we are seeing now. I was thinking about that MB pass out of the back that led to the give away against Canada just at the top of our 18 yard box and was thinking why did he do that but it makes sense if they’ve been instructed to slow the tempo down and hold possession rather than try to counter faster. When brought into this lens of GB coaching them to use a slower tempo its gives some of the offensive issues make more sense. I certainly don’t agree with this idea if its true and from Pulisic and GBs interaction on the bench after being subbed off just after trying to spring a quick counter neither does Pulisic in my opinion. I disagree with the tactic but I believe GB is deliberately coaching them to play the ball more slowly.

  7. I don’t know that I can add much to the various comments. One thing for sure is that the snubbing of Euro based players is ridiculous. At the time Klinsmann was urging US players to go to Europe when they could, Mexico made the same decision. Mexico relied almost exclusively on domestic league players up to then. More and more Mexicans started going to Europe (look at Chucky Lozano. First in Mexico, then Holland, now at Napoli in Italy and playing in the CL). and now they have left us in the dust largely because we have relied so much on MLS. We should have called in either or both Miazga /CCV, Green, maybe Sabbi, and certainly Alvarado. Of course, it will help if Tyler Adams gets healthy, but still a lot of talent is being left out.

    • Agree with the spirit but not all the names. Regardless, it’s not just that these players are being “left out”, it’s that they aren’t even being considered in the first place. There is just not enough experimentation going on to see who can add to the pool at a time when we can afford to experiment. Bring them in, see how they do, then “leave them out” if they can’t hang. As countless of others have said, we won’t have the luxury of experimenting once qualifying starts. Which means we’ll likely be stuck with the current pool that has demonstrated itself incapable of executing “The System” (TM).

    • I think you’re right that there’s definitely a case to be made that the opposite bias is occurring. Are two players *relatively* similar in stature between MLS and a foreign league? Then it’s going to go to the MLSer (never mind the discussion that Liga MX, the Champsionship, Ligue 1, and possibly the Bundesliga 2 are better). And I don’t know how much of it is down to a true bias for MLS or just because Berhalter has this godforsaken “Sytem” (trademarked, surely) for which he’s had more time with the MLS players involved. If they understand it more because they’ve been there more, that might well take precedence. But, it’s not as though we’ve seen any damn results in our favor so far…. I just feel disheartened every time he puts something out now. If these two games don’t go much, MUCH better, I think the campaign to remove him should be our only motivation as fans.

    • At least with Alvarado and Miazga there’s other CB options… But if Pulisic is a winger again, who exactly is a better option at the number 10 role right now than Julian Green? And whoever that player is, who is a better back-up option that Green should be left out again? Of the options it looks like Roldan Lleget & McKennie – and Canada made our midfield look like my Jr high school team. He can’t even get a whiff??? Whatever the reason Nagbe is declining call ups I don’t know…but Green could help right now

      • As a number 10 assists should be a big part of what Green would be accomplishing right? Did you know Green has – after 12 starts – exactly zero assists? He has 3 goals. You seem to know more about him. Do you see him playing more as a winger or centrally as the play maker?

      • Nagbe is declining call ups because he wanted to be with his family and if he was going to not play or start he would rather be with family then being wasted playing for the nats.

      • @Master re: Julian Green..
        I agree with you, but in GBs system of “dual number 10s” If Pulisic is a winger, which he’s played more of, tell me someone else who has the technical skills we have on our roster that should be ahead of him? Mckennie is one (but should be more of an 8) so we’re left with Roldan or Llegett? If anything he should get a look… It ain’t like we’re loaded up with talent- in fact we suck.. I just think he sucks less..

    • Completely Agree GP, for me its also a matter of us not getting guys in often enough to give them the necessary minutes to see if they could fit. A sub appearance or a couple games here or there against either minnows or giants isn’t enough. Some guys are getting chance after chance that they aren’t getting chances anymore they’re officially core players while at the same time we either haven’t even called in or very rarely other options some playing club at either higher or equal levels to MLS.

      Its maddening to me because last cycle during the Hex this was what I was screaming from the rooftop about, we keep favoring lesser quality players and ignoring players outside of MLS playing at higher club levels. We are still doing this and haven’t realized at the institutional or leadership level why this needs to change or why we as a federation need outside ideas and perspective on the international game. Instead USSF and the ‘powers that be’ have entrenched themselves into a type of insular us against them type of thinking that rarely ends well. We’re making the same mistakes of the Arena 2.0 cycle over again now and I’m not feeling confident in the slightest with GB roster selection or game management/tactics/subs decisions going into this Hex next year.

      • Just to follow up on ignored players, what about Eric Lichaj. He’s captain now for Hull City in the Championship. I’m not saying that he should be starting for us ahead of Yedlin or Dest or others playing at high levels but why is he out when we’re giving starts and sub minutes to Lovitz, Cannon, and Lima. Lichaj has played some LB too so why not at least try it again. At the very least we shouldn’t be ignoring a captain in the Championship.

  8. I don’t trust MBradley on or off the field. After he, Tim Howard and the manager who shall not be named threw the rest of the team under the bus following their T&T humiliation, that was the last straw for me. He’s in it for himself.

  9. This could get interesting…

    With Morales and McKennie called in and being presumptive and assuming that Bradley and Roldan are called in also after the MLS final who is GB going to start in midfield? Is he going to go with Bradley at the 6 with McKennie and Roldan in front or will he use Morales?

    Just to clarify.. I am going to puke if I have to watch one more match with some combination of Bradley, Roldan, and/or Trapp somewhere in our MF. Our MF has been hot garbage and these three are surplus given other options.

    No Green or Holmes either, madness. To rate Roldan so much higher than these two as GB seems to be based on the number of recent call ups is madness. To rate Bradley at all right now based on current form is also madness, how any manager expects a backline to be able to defend when its primary DMid cannot close passing lanes because he cant get there fast enough anymore and cannot run stride for stride on a counter to close the danger is also madness.

    Our pool/potential roster has so much potential if we were to use it right, this is sooo frustrating.

  10. Also Tim at Eintracht is ready to come in and is hella better at LB than anyone in this roster. Better LB’s right now



    Tim Chandler

    • Its pretty ridiculous that we have a long habit of ignoring players who are playing minutes in top five leagues or other Euro leagues… Geez I wonder why?

    • How many starts does Chandler have in the last two years?
      Full disclosure, I’m not a Chandler fan – he has never shown up in a USMNT jersey – but he needs to build his resume back up before he starts getting looks again.

      • Chandler regularly laid eggs…He would fit perfectly with the style of play the US has been displaying lately though – apathetic, low energy…

    • All of you bashing Chandler, these are ridiculous takes. Of our current player pool Chandler in the top 5 of career minutes in a top five league. Multiple Bundesliga managers and their assistants and voters who’ve voted him to the Best 11s of the week and so on all disagree with you. These sort of takes are the garbage viewpoints that hurt our NT. Chandler CANNOT be a multiple time Best 11 of the week Bundesliga player and also be trash. Maybe he’s not what he once was but we rarely used him them too even when he was fit. He won a Best 11 of the week a few months before the August or September 2017 window where BA called in Zusi to start for the injured Yedlin and didn’t even call in Chander to back up Zusi. Thats how bad this bias is, not even as a backup to the MLS guy.

      Flame away meltdown in 3…2…..1….

      • Doesn’t matter what he does in Europe when he plays poor uninspired soccer for the US. Given multiple opportunities to produce nothing…bad attitude as well. The US does not need additional uninspired players.

    • @Kevin re: Chandler..
      Yes I’ve seen him play, every game with the NT and a lot of his games 2 years ago when he was on fire with EF.
      Your comment was that he was a major reason we didn’t go to the world cup..
      You see I applied logic to your comment. We had 10 games to qualify, he played in 2. He played ok vs Mexico and like everyone else played like crap at Costa Rica.
      Never called in again.
      I amend my earlier post, your comment was really really dumb..

    • To Kevin… We are not at the point as a NT when we have the luxury to ignore players with the amount of minutes and experience he has in a top 5 league. We are not Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Spain or powers that are so deep they can ignore career players who’ve played nearly their entire career in a top five league like Mikel Arteta did and Spain ignored him, we are not at that level. If a player has enough quality and talent to earn the minutes and salary he is in the Bundesliga he can play, period. Its our managers job to figure out where to use that talent and get the most out of him and the entire squad.

      And we certainly aren’t at the level where we can ignore career Bundesliga players for the likes of Zusi(last cycle), Lovitz, Lima, or Cannon(although Cannon may have some upside but the others please).

      • Chandler had one sub appearance towards the end of 2018 after his knee injury took away the year.
        His one start this year was back in mid Sep. and in the six games since he’s wracked up 36′.
        He’s not ready to come back yet.

  11. 100% with you on Green>Roldan. Roldan had his shot and he’s not international quality.

    Robinson vs. Lovitz is a tough one.
    I say that as someone that doesnt believe Lovitz deserves another call up.

    Robinson had a promising start with the USMNT but his last few caps were awful.
    Lovitz doesnt bring anything but Robinson is a guy where when he is off, he is really bad.

    But Robinson has the upside.

    • Exactly KC, how many shots are guys like Roldan, Trapp, Zardes, Arriola, etc going to get. We have lots of players playing meaningful minutes in leagues around the world that play high level soccer and many of those league are higher than MLS’ level too, for instance LigaMX which is hard to argue against given the CCL head to head. Yet MLS players continue to get chance after chance after chance at the expense of giving other players these chances, some get one or two games or even only a few minutes as a sub and then we go back to the MLS guys. Its maddening. All I want is a real competition for this squad at each position and that’s what we should be using the time before the hex to do. Instead we’re still running out the same core that GB used back in the January camp.

  12. So what does antonee robinson and Julian green have to do to get in this squad? Both second tiers in England and Germany are on par with MLS, and if they were performing at that level here they would be called up. Just ridiculous.

    Also not quite sure what boyd has done to deserve this call up, would have liked to seen Sabbi get a look, playing in a lesser league for sure, but he’s tearing it up.

    • Exactly!

      How is Sabbi not getting any love! Green has actually scored and played regularly over better competition and is in a NEED position. Jiminy Cricket!!!

    • Agree Chris. To put it in some perspective, Morales had to earn over 1500 Bundesliga minutes in the 18/19 season before he got his first call up in over 3 years. The double standard is striking.

      For example, even Bobby Wood got a 1000′ minutes last season and although he’s not playing much at all this season he still could be useful. I remember back in 2010 WC cycle that we had a big hole when Charlie Davies got hurt and we tried everybody to see who could fit from Kenny Cooper to Robbie Findley, but we never really let the most talented player try for the job because he wasn’t getting playing time at this club at the time, Eddie Johnson at Fulham in the EPL at the time. I remember someone else got hurt and Bob Bradley had no choice but to sub him in one game and bam Eddie scores in the first 5 minutes he was subbed in. Point is quality is quality, form is form. Some guys may play a lot at in a lower level league doesn’t mean they have the quality to play at the international level we need to be competitive. Another example is same time frame 2009ish when Gio Dos Santos and Vela were ridding the bench with Barcelona neither get on the pitch for any meaningful minutes for practically a year or more, but Mexico didn’t call in lesser quality players over them because of playing time. Same happen to Wesley Snider and Arjen Robben when they were benched at Real Madrid back in 2005/6ish the Netherlands still kept calling them in. Of course I’m not saying Wood or others is on their type of level but why are we ignoring a guys who’s quality is clearly better than Zardes just because he’s out of favor for his club at the moment? Same argument applies to plenty of other non MLS players too.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir here just got to get it out. I’m sick of our NT making ridiculous double standards.

      • How could I forget…

        Maurice Edu getting benched for Ricardo Clark because he wasn’t playing enough for Rangers. We all remember how that worked out in 2010.

      • I’m shocked to hear someone saying nice things about Eddie Johnson. Things were more civil back then but I remember him being hated on on par with Jozy these days (both ridiculous IMO).

      • Sure he did…. but waaaaay too late, after Clark’s heavy touch led to a Ghana counter for the first goal in the Round of 16 at the 2010 WC which was our last game of that WC cycle too. So, he gets credit for realizing which player was better quality with only 45 minutes left in 2010 WC cycle?

    • I don’t think he waited till half corrected it immediately. That game went to extra time and a great play/Demerit misplay cost the US in Extra. I’ll give credit to Bradley for making a first half sub. Arena or Klinsmann would have held on to it till at least half time.

      • Klinsmann wouldn’t have called in Clark to begin with and Arena wouldn’t have called in Edu in reverse. Oh the irony but thats what most likely would have happened.

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