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

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

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

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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.

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