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Pulisic, Reyna, Dest: Projecting the USMNT squad for potential November friendlies

The October international fixture window came and went without U.S. Men’s National Team matches, but with rumors of looming matches in November, it is time to consider what a potential USMNT squad will look like when Gregg Berhalter calls his first camp since the January camp wrapped up.

With the MLS regular season wrapping up, and the playoffs kicking off in November, Berhalter is expected to focus on a European-based roster for the November friendlies. Sergino Dest let the cat out of the bag recently when he told reporters that Australia and Wales would be the USMNT’s opponents, though as things stand there have been no official announcements yet.

The USMNT camp is expected to take place in England, though you have to wonder whether the worsening COVID-19 pandemic situation in that country is going to force a change, or worse yet, a cancellation. The England national team has already seen one of its November opponents — New Zealand — pull out of their friendly.

For now, we can at least consider the possibilities of what a USMNT squad might look like for a November camp. Here is the European-based squad we could see Berhalter turn to for these matches:

Goalkeepers

Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, C.J. Dos Santos, Josh Cohen

Ethan Horvath’s recent Champions League heroics with Club Brugge give him some momentum heading into this camp after going more than a year without minutes. He and Steffen are the obvious picks.

Josh Cohen is the only American starting in Europe at the moment, having been the number one for Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. He’s worth a look, though Berhalter could choose to focus on youth and bring in Benfica prospect and U.S. Under-20 goalkeeper C.J. Dos Santos. If Berhalter still needs a fourth goalkeeper then Bill Hamid should be available since D.C. United won’t be in the MLS playoffs.


Defenders

Sergino Dest, Reggie Cannon, John Brooks, Chris Richards, Matt Miazga, Erik Palmer-Brown, Antonee Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin

This group is pretty straightforward, though the big question is whether Gregg Berhalter will bring in Tim Ream or focus on younger options. If he goes younger, then Erik Palmer Brown should get a look.

At right back, Cannon and DeAndre Yedlin are the picks, with Spain-based Shaq Moore someone who could be worth a look if one of the aforementioned players isn’t available.

Centerback is a bit more wide open, with Cameron Carter-Vicker having recently completed a loan to Bournemouth in search of playing time. Richards, Miazga and Palmer-Brown are in the right age range and also all seeing some minutes.

Dest and Robinson are the left backs in this group, and with Dest currently playing left back for Barcelona, it would make a good time for Berhalter to look at him there so he can let Reggie Cannon have a run as the starting right back now that he is starting regularly for Boavista.


Midfielders

Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Gio Reyna, Duane Holmes, Julian Green, Bryang Kayo

The surprise on this list is Kayo, the 18-year-old midfielder at Wolfsburg. He has yet to be part of Wolfsburg’s 1st team, but has already made the jump to become a starter for Wolfsburg’s Under-23 team. He fits in well as a defensive midfield prospect in this group.

Brazilian-based midfielder Johnny Cardoso was reportedly part of the preliminary roster for the November friendlies, but he has been sidelined in recent weeks by injury, leaving his availability in doubt.

McKennie is recovering from COVID-19, so his availability for a November camp and friendlies is up in the air. If another spot opens up, then Wolves midfielder/defender Owen Otasowie is a prospect worth considering. He has made the bench with the Premier League side, and while he has yet to make his Premier League debut, the versatile 19-year-old is a name to remember.

Another name to consider is Chris Durkin, who is one of the few Americans earning regular minutes as a defensive midfielder in Europe. The former D.C. United and U.S. Under-20 midfielder has the versatility to play centerback, but has played more as a defensive midfielder throughout his career.

Julian Green makes our list, but Berhalter has long seemed hesitant to bring him into camps, but given how consistently he has produced in Germany, and given the fact he is still just 25, Green should be in the mix.

Richie Ledezma is a talented prospect who has been mentioned before as a potential call-up, and could merit a look from Berhalter.

There are some potential MLS options depending on which teams don’t make the playoffs, with Sebastian Lletget among the possible MLS inclusions who could be available.


Forwards

Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Konrad De La Fuente, Sebastian Soto, Ulysses Llanez, Haji Wright, Tim Weah, Tyler Boyd

There are plenty of question marks in this group. Including the following:

  • Will Sebastian Soto accept a call-up, or continue his apparent courtship with the Chilean national team?
  • Will Ulysses Llanez be called in despite his slow start at Heerenveen?
  • Does Tim Weah come in despite his limited minutes at Lille?
  • Does the red-hot Aron Johannsson get a call despite being on the older side at 29, or will Berhalter focus on younger strikers?

Soto should be called in, and you do get the sense Soto’s flirtations with Chile are about forcing the USMNT’s hand, but the fact remains he is one of the better young striker options in the pipeline and should be called in.

Llanez and Weah are both top prospects, particularly as wide forwards, but neither is playing much for their clubs at the moment, which could lead Berhalter to leave one or both home.

Why leave them home but not Tyler Boyd, who literally isn’t allowed to play for Besiktas until January? It’s tough to see Berhalter bringing in that many wingers who aren’t seeing minutes (Konrad De La Fuente is already included and is a lock), but Boyd is more of a veteran who actually was getting games before Besiktas made a mess of its roster configuration.

Berhalter could leave out Boyd and make room for Llanez and Weah, as potentially bigger long-term prospects.

If Soto isn’t called, or passes on a call-up, then Berhalter should have a look  at Johannsson, who is 29 and scoring more goals than any other American in Europe.


What do you think of this squad? Who would you have included that didn’t make the list? Who are you happy to see on the list?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I don’t understand why Weah is still in the conversation. He hs scored only one goal at the club ever. I have not seen him play since 2018, at that time while he seemed fast and had a powerful shot in youth games, he spent way too much time disconnected from the play. He would basically disappear for long stretches of a match and did little to make his presence known unless he was found by a teammate.

    With the ball he did well, but without it he was mostly a zero. I suspect that, along with injury, is a reason he has found it so hard to find a starting position at the club level. Few coaches want a player who does not contribute most of the match, unless he is a goal-scoring machine.

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    • inaccurate. he had 4 goals and an assist in about 400 mins of PT for Celtic in SPL or cup play — when they let him see the field. you can run the numbers on how many “goals per 90” that is. he also has a USMNT goal against Bolivia. it’s like green, wood, horvath, and others i have touted. there is a difference between “sucks” and “not getting playing time.” there is a short list who you see where they don’t play alot but when they are used they play well. i wish we were not “one size fits all” playing time snobs but instead distinguished among players on talent and whether when used they still perform. i think several “wilderness” players with poor professional sitations would be “rehabilitated” if we went by either how they have already played for the US, or whether they show something in their limited minutes. to be clear, i am not advocating handing time to just any bench dweller everywhere. you have to show promise someplace.

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  2. If I was employing/coaching one of these guys, I would let it be known, I am not a fan of friendlies in these times.
    Good luck, you come back with Covid over a friendly.

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  3. I guess it’s somewhat gauche; but, I don’t see how Johannsson gets left out right now. Yes, the Swedish league is not ideal. And, really, a player should only be looked at if he’s scoring a goal a game there… Well, good news, folks: he is. He’ll be 31 in time for Qatar, going on 32. That shouldn’t rule him out of that tournament and he deserves a look here.

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    • It would seem short sighted to not bring him in. He could definitely help through qualification. For strikers, I have always believed you bring in the ones that are hot at the moment.

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    • I could go either way regarding Johannson. As you say, based on current form he should be called and maybe start. But at the same time, he is a veteran and known quantity. Pretty confident he could be counted on in a meaningful game without being at these friendlies. While the chance to get a look at younger options may be few and far between the way it looks with the covid situation.

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    • My main concern is actually with his injury prone status. It’s great he’s getting an extended run of games but you have to wonder if the injuries will come back to haunt him soon.

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    • i think it helps the coach likely cannot engage in the reflexive need for jozy or zardes, you know, turning to obvious and frustrating MLS 9 players. assuming the game goes forward, some mix of soto, sargent, wood, and AJ should probably be involved. i think sargent has quietly pushed into a starting role. i think they have to bring in soto because of the risk of losing him. it’s then between wood and AJ. personally wood is younger and has scored on better teams. but AJ had some big qualifying goals too, is on form, and i like him because on form he is a sniper who will finish. when you look at, say, the wasteful gold cup final first half, what this team really needs is some finishers. someone who gets that chance and puts it in the corner like dempsey used to. AJ had that and then got hurt. i for years would suggest him but he wasn’t producing. if he is back, it’s worth a try.

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  4. McKennie has Covid no way he is included, why risk it spreading to other players with calling him u?! Gotta use common sense!! Also Soto is pissing me off, if he chooses USA he should be left off for punishment, or until he can play and start for a division 1 or 2 side. I am now questioning if he is being cocky and not working hard in practice like Freddy Adu was doing!!! Also Mexico one of their players caught covid during their friendlies, so USA need to use common sense and not have any friendlies until we get a vaccine.

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    • He was cleared on Friday, 23rd. Which theoretically means he’s no longer contagious, if his fitness level recovers well enough over the next three weeks he’s the safest guy to call because he’s not catching it again.

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      • I had not heard, that if we catch covid, we build up enough antibodies to not catch it again. While it’s clear we do build some antibodies I was unaware it was enough to not catch it again. I thought this was not proven yet. Where did you hear this?

      • i would leave him off, abundance of caution so the game takes place, and because i don’t understand our obsessive need to run out the perceived “A” team over and over. we haven’t been much able to see players this year and you’re going to burn room on players we have seen 20 times playing one more game. to be fair, i expect GB to call him anyway.

  5. I think Morales stands a decent chance of making the squad and provides that veteran presence on the roster. Especially if McKennie won’t be released

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    • overrated. historically i would say he was anonymous. there and nothing happened. in recent years as a supposed 6 he hacks and dives in. i appreciate that someone on the team actually wants to tackle but it was imprecise and he was on the hook for one of the mexico goals. i am bored with the pecking order stuff. call adams and some 6s who haven’t had their chance and played poorly.

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  6. We need new attacking trident: Sargent or Soto, Pulisic and Reyna both inter-changing position (kinda Dempsey and Donovan in 2010).

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  7. I think the keeper options are accurate. The defenders are fairly locked down as well. CCV & EPB are both deserving to be in the camp to compete for their spot in the pecking order.
    Midfield is where I start to question the selections. Since the FIFA Window is 11/11-11/19, we could easily see McKennie called & cleared to attend. He’s been out for Covid for a week+ already….and the window is ~20 days away. Plenty of time for him to be cleared. There was an article about a young duel national that Gregg was in contact w/ about attending as a guest. Can’t recall the kids name, but I’m guessing he’ll get an invite over Kayo. Agree Durkin is an option for a call, but I’d prefer Cardoso if he’s cleared in time.
    Forwards is where I think things are most open. CF is our thinnest position at this point so I’d prefer some additional options be looked at here. I don’t see Wright getting the call….but Gioacchini & ArJo are both possibilities. One of Weah, Uli, or Boyd is going to be left off. At the moment I’d lean to it being Boyd. He’s unable to play for his club until the January Window opens and he’s traded or they trade some others to clear his clubs roster. There didn’t seem to be much interest in him the last window, so I think its going to be hard to get a club to take him. Otherwise I’m good with the SBI options.

    I don’t want to see any of the MLS guys even if their seasons are over. There will be a chance to see the MLS Players in the extended January Camp. We need to evaluate the European players in this window and leave the MLS guys off. Besides, other than Aaronson, there aren’t many MLS options worthy or healthy that won’t get a LONG look at Camp Cup Cake…(Pomykal, Lletget, Jozy Sands, Ayo, etc….).

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    • Jens Cajuste but he wouldn’t be eligible to play plus no cap on roster size so he wouldn’t eliminate anyone.
      —————————
      Internacional said Johnny Soccer was on the US prelim list but that doesn’t mean he will be there. Not sure you can travel from Brazil to UK currently.

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      • You are correct, it was Jens Cajuste. I saw him play yesterday and he looked very raw. His defense needed more bite if we thinking of him as a backup for the 6. The other player GB talked to is Niko Gioacchini (forward) at SM Caen. He seems to be more polished with a better engine than Jens.

  8. Welp. Seems Australia just pulled out. Hope we can find another dance partner — probably have to see if any African teams can be convinced at this point.

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  9. Finally. These selections are like a “breath of fresh air”!!! It will be awesome to see the young guard come into their own this 2020/2021. Cant wait for our first game….

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  10. Soto did an interview with Telstar’s production team. He made it sound like his family wants him to play for Chile. He said he’s still 50/50 but his Chilean passport has not come through yet. Really made it sound like the decision will be made in the next few days or weeks. Like Ives said he’s trying to force Berhalter to call him. Of course he could come in November but there are no cap tying events until next Summer so this could continue for awhile.

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    • GB created his own problem here. If he promptly calls and commits a leading U20 goalscorer who we knew had other options, he gets somewhere between a legal (Nations League) or moral (friendly) commitment to the shirt. If he farts around and favors Jozy and Zardes all summer, and other NTs rate him as highly as he should be, then he has a contest. Furthermore, with the indulgent way Dest was handled, Soto has been encouraged to approach this like an agent’s transfer auction. I believe in fast tracking but also think we should reward the ones who want to be here most. Fast tracking should be a reward for loyalty alongside strong talent. Personally I thought Dest should have been tossed from the camp the day he told the press he was not sure. Camp should be a reward for the commitment, not a competition for it, and worse, you shouldn’t get to practice and learn our secrets if you’re not sure.

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      • I don’t know that Chile rates him anymore than we do. They just have the advantage that he’s locked in if he plays for them. So they can give him 2 mins and he’s theirs for the next 5 years even if they never use him again. The US can play him the next three camps and it’s still an issue. Dest has been with YT for awhile starting for the U17s Soto came on late but was behind Sargent, Weah, and Akinola so never got much run until he had a big season for RSLs Academy and moved to Hannover. He doesn’t have as much connection to USSF but that’s because he wasn’t as good as those guys and probably still isn’t if all three above him are healthy which hasn’t always been the case.

      • This is such bull. I think we have the upper hand. My experience is everyone we cap stays put. Whether that cap legally bound them or just was a friendly.
        I struggle to think of “ANY” NT players who have used the legal loopholes to back out of American soccer nationality after they have been senior-capped. I can think of kids who either never were ours and we couldn’t persuade, or junior players who went the other way as seniors. Or people like Aj or Saunders who go play for Guam or PR but were never called. I don’t remember anyone who used the loophole that their cap was just a friendly. We actually have a ton of experience with precisely the sort of “cap and forget” approach you act like only Chile or other teams can use. I have advocated precisely that approach. What you instead seem to be suggesting, is we have to operate by different ethics. Or that reality is the opposite of what I have seen, which is we are the team people switch “to,” not switch “from.” I can think of a bunch of Joneses and Boyds. You’re implying the polarity goes the other way. I can’t think of players who got their US cap and then shopped their status or ended up elsewhere. So can we live in reality? Even now the kid seems to be suggesting if called he would probably sign up. Pick up the phone, confirm he won’t play games, then cap him to confirm it. You can then sort out if he’s worthy of the level. I have literally seen no one leave after we kick the tires and cap and then later sour on them.

      • You think we shouldn’t have gone out of our way to get a kid who is starting for Barca? Glad you aren’t in charge. If we had locked in Subotic years ago we likely wouldn’t have missed the 2018 WC. Get the best players you can. Period.

      • JJC: there are a list of players who might run off and while dest was a concern i also didn’t think dest was one of the best options at the time. i am more concerned with losing soto than dest. you saw in the mexico game dest actually isn’t ready. and the “barca” bit is misleading chronology. he becomes barca nearly a year after he is capped. at the time he’s splitting between ajax and their U23 team. and coming off of getting burned by ukraine U20.

    • this is basically dest all over again. better, because he was born and academied here. if you ignore the noise (to the press) and look at the signal, he is a native who has a string of USAs on his resume — the conclusion is as obvious as it was for Dest. but he is in “play” and if we continue to fart around and tell him he’s a youth player when others are saying he’s senior quality — and it’s tata and ruedas, good coaches, good teams, not idiots — you may very well lose him.

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      • sorry but to me preemptively capping the co-second leading scorer from u20 worlds — behind haaland — is basic competence. i get not every U20 turns out and even he might not. but we don’t usually treat the leading players from u20 like the worst senior risks.

    • None of the other guys that scored 4g have been capped either. Only two of the guys who scored 3 g have been capped and one those hasn’t been capped since the U20 WC so out of the top 12 goal scorers at that tournament only 3 have been capped. Gaich who just scored in his Europa League debut this week for CSKA Moscow, and Hernandez who is in his second season as a regular in La Liga, and of course Haaland. Jumping even a productive U20 straight to the NT is not common unless their club career is equally as strong.

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      • your argument is misleading. for starters, there has been a pandemic — as you remind me all the time with reyna. so that cute little argument cuts both ways, doesn’t it?? second, you’re like “ignore the first place guy who has 7 norway caps.” third, the golden ball at UNDER 17 was ONLY ENOUGH to get landon a senior cap. fourth, you mention gaich who has a senior cap at 3 goals, as do cucho and koita. so you’re relying on an anomaly where in the middle of a friendly-smashing pandemic players above and below him on the list have been called but not a couple in his immediate vicinity. this is unconvincing. ever considered we’re the wierdos?

    • Tony Tchani the only guy I can think of. Which guess tells you a lot about our CM in 2016. He played once for the US then twice for Cameroon. Usually because of bias against US you don’t get teams coming after our guys. I think it will come up a lot more now that MLS Academies are developing more talent.

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      • so your argument is one guy in 30 or so years of serious soccer left, who was called for camp cupcake, and who was such a stretch he dropped down to CPL last year and for all i know is out of soccer because he has no 2020 affiliation or games. exception proves rule. thanks. amusingly, cameroon gave him 2 caps and dropped him just the same. other teams can be just as cold blooded about securing services and then forgetting your number. hmm.

    • soto said at the end of video he was chosen and his family will be happy to find out. that mean he is talking about USA already take him in the national team. he slipped at the end but made a smirk to people. he will be in USA. his bluff worked. smart move by soto

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      • JR: what you’re missing is once Dest broke spades on this, and GB played along, all sorts of mindgames are in play. the way you end this malarkey is you aggressively pursue players but then leave off those who play games. you can only play games about what you and your family want if those games are taken to heart by the coach. if the coach responds by crossing you publicly off the next call sheet, people would get in line. i don’t think someone with a string of USA wanted to leave. i think he knew the weak, gullible coach was subject to influence and pressure. sounds like he pushed the right button.

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