The U.S. Men’s National is set to play the most important match of Gregg Berhalter’s tenure as head coach, and the big question surrounding the team is how many changes can we expect Berhalter to make to his team?
Is Berhalter really ready to shake things up and look at more new faces after the disappointing loss to Canada in October, or will he stick to his guns and bring back most of the same team we saw a month ago?
We should see at least one new face in November in Sergino Dest, who passed on an October call-up as he considered his national team future.
Berhalter should look at more foreign-based players in the middle of their seasons, while looking to leave out some MLS players who have gone weeks without playing after their seasons ended. Berhalter held a pre-camp this week to try and limit the impact of having some MLS players out of action, but the reality is he should choose foreign-based options earning recent regular playing time over those MLS options that have been out of action for a while.
The MLS Cup final will feature several players who could be part of the Nations League roster, so any injuries could open the door for some fringe options to step in, while Jozy Altidore could put himself into contention for a place if he can return from injury and feature prominently in the final.
What could the USMNT squad for the November Nations League matches look like? Here is SBI’s projection of players Berhalter is likely to call, and the players we believe he should call:
WILL BE CALLED: Zack Steffen, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson
SHOULD BE CALLED: Steffen, Guzan, Johnson
There shouldn’t be many surprises at the goalkeeper position. Guzan has edged past Johnson on the depth chart as the number two to Steffen, Matt Turner is an interesting prospect who earned a look at the pre-camp, but it is more likely Berhalter stands pat in goal.
WILL BE CALLED: Reggie Cannon, DeAndre Yedlin, Aaron Long, John Brooks, Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Sergino Dest, Daniel Lovitz
SHOULD BE CALLED: Cannon, Yedlin, Long, Brooks, Ventura Alvarado, Miazga, Sergino Dest, Antonee Robinson
Brooks is back from the injury he suffered in September, and should be a USMNT starter in November.
Centerback is a position that could see Berhalter go in a few different direction. Alvarado has earned a look, though he missed Necaxa’s most recent league match with an injury, throwing his availability into question.
Robinson has been playing well for Wigan, but he won’t earn a call-up unless Berhalter is ready to give up on the Daniel Loviz experiment. There’s no reason he shouldn’t, but Berhalter will make the ultimate decision.
WILL BE CALLED: Weston McKennie, Michael Bradley, Cristian Roldan, Sebastian Lletget, Alfredo Morales, Wil Trapp
SHOULD BE CALLED: McKennie, Bradley, Duane Holmes, Cristian Roldan, Lletget, Morales
Berhalter should be looking to inject some toughness into his squad, and two players who can help in that department are Morales and Holmes. Morales impressed in September, and has returned from injury to post a recent strong showing for Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Holmes is facing a tougher battle to break into the squad, with McKennie, Roldan and Sebastian Lletget ahead of him on Berhalter’s depth chart. Holmes has played well enough to earn a spot, which could allow Berhalter to use Roldan in a defensive midfield role, something he has seemed hesitant to do, but it is a positional change that is long overdue with the USMNT.
WILL BE CALLED: Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Gyasi Zardes, Jordan Morris, Tyler Boyd, Paul Arriola
SHOULD BE CALLED: Pulisic, Sargent, Zardes, Jordan Morris, Emmanuel Sabbi, Arriola
Jozy Altidore has yet to return from injury for Toronto FC, so it’s tough to see Berhalter giving him a call even if he winds up playing in the MLS Cup final.
With Altidore unlikely to be available, Zardes is a good bet to get another look even though he has three weeks since his last game.
Sargent should be the starting striker against Canada, while Emmanuel Sabbi has played well enough to merit a look. Sabbi’s versatility would allow him to be an option at forward, as well as on the wing, but it would require Berhalter to give Sabbi his first USMNT call-up.
Tyler Boyd has been struggling for minutes with Besiktas, while Paul Arriola has been off for more than two weeks. Arriola is the better bet of the two to earn a call.
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.