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COVID travel restrictions leave some USMNT prospects waiting for their call

Matthew Hoppe’s hot January, which saw him score five goals in three matches, looked like it might be enough to earn a look from the U.S. Men’s National Team when the March friendlies rolled around. Unfortunately for the young Schalke forward, competition at the position coupled with restrictions that would have limited him to just one of the two friendlies ultimately cost him his chance.

Hoppe is one of several players who wound up in that sort of situation when the USMNT’s roster for the March friendlies was unveiled.

“He’s one of those guys that just from a numbers standpoint didn’t work out,” Berhalter said of Hoppe. “It’s highly likely that our striker will play 90 minutes in that game in against Jamaica, and we’ll have to make six other changes. He wasn’t going to get on the field.

“I had discussions with (Hoppe),” Berhalter said. “I talked about his progress at Schalke, I talked about some of the things we really liked with him. I also told him that what you know, we’re going to continue to monitor him and and hopefully get a chance to look at him before the World Cup qualifiers start.”

Berhalter also mentioned Jordan Siebatcheu as another player the team had considered bringing in, but the dual national from Young Boys was also limited to being available for just the first March friendly against Jamaica, which is expected to feature Josh Sargent at striker.

DeAndre Yedlin is another player who missed out due to only being available for the first match, but the Galatasaray fullback had done enough to be on Berhalter’s radar.

“This was a juggling act, this roster,” Berhalter said. “I wouldn’t read into the guys that weren’t on the roster because of the extenuating circumstances behind the roster.”

It was difficult not to read into some of the selections, particularly the inclusion of MLS players who are currently not in season. Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget and Aaron Long were all included despite there being European-based options available in the middle of their club seasons, such as Cameron Carter-Vickers, Mark McKenzie, Duane Holmes and Julian Green to name a few.

“The objective was to get our best possible team and preparations for Nation’s League and these guys are in it,” Berhalter said, referring to the MLS-based inclusions. “When we talk about Julian Green and Duane (Holmes), I had conversations with Duane and talked to him about things he could be doing better at times for Huddersfield. He’s playing on the wing, and we see him more central. So that’s something that again, that we’re going to work with. A lot of it was due to just the complications of who can come in and who can stay for both games and who can’t stay for both games, and we had to juggle that. So that was an issue.”

The competition in the USMNT midfield continues to grow, not only with the permanent inclusion of Yunus Musah, but also with the emergence of prospects such as Luca De La Torre. The former U.S. Under-20 World Cup midfielder is enjoying a breakthrough season with Dutch side Heracles, emerging as a regular starter and difference-maker in an attacking midfield role.

“Luca’s a great story of a guy just being patient, finding the level that he can compete at week in and week out, and he’s been doing a good job, you know, scored some goals is a big part of their midfield,” Berhalter said. “We know that our midfield has a lot of options, but it’d be nice to see him and hopefully he’ll be able to get on field.”


  1. How in the Hell does Acosta meet the quote ““The objective was to get our best possible team and preparations for Nation’s League and these guys are in it,” {Berhalter said, referring to the MLS-based inclusions.} He was below average in the December & January friendlies against El Salvador & Trinidad.
    Ream is a traffic cone who’s played 1 game since October.

    If these are the types of players who Gregg see’s as his best possible 23 than he needs to be fired.

    • So, out of a roster of 26 players there are only 3 MLSers and people are still acting like life is coming to an end….this really does prove that some folks will never be happy about USMNT call ups no matter what! Cry me a river bro, get over it bc MLS will always be involved in the NT. While I don’t agree with the call up of Acosta, it doesn’t matter because not everyone will get to play anyways and hes just ONE player, so this idea that Greg is somehow MLS biased is laughable considering he only called in 3 out of possible 26 selections

      • Seconded! I was just about to say the same thing before I read your reply. Why people feel the need to nit pick the edges of the roster for a couple friendly games is beyond me.
        I get the feeling more and more that many”fans” do not actually enjoy watching the USMNT. They may have a happy memory from 02, 07, 09 or 10 but now just moan about perceived grievances. Ie:Kellyn Acosta being included on a 27 man roster for friendlies…the horror

      • @The Unmistakable Ronaldihno, I can understand a section of the fanbases’ angst about not possibly qualifying again and to me this is what all of the anger about certain callups is about. A lot in the fanbase blame MLS for us not qualifying last term, which is stupid if you look at the totality of WCQ and are using perspective to base your opinions, and not some narrative! I actually try and stay away from any roster srticles because I know it will be those(typically the same ppl too)that will be up in arms with some brought in and taking on this mentality like they know better than the professionals who are actually hired to do these jobs….what a world LOL

  2. are we seriously saying a goal and 2 assists in the eredivisie is wild club form? we’re talking about a league where 3-1, 4-0, 6-0 type scores are common. where 4 of the top 5 teams average 2-3 goals a game. he’s a starting AM involved in 10% of their 30 goals. whoop de do.

    i mean, did he see that bombazo by holmes?

    • Since being inserted into the starting lineup on a regular basis in January he has played as a deep lying 8 with a #6 next to him and #10 in front of him with three forwards. Also only 4 teams in the league average more than 2 goals per match so it’s not a defensive league but not quite MLS in the 90s.
      Off top of my head not a lot of CM options in Europe or not with U23s.
      Booth (injured)
      Servania played in 2 matches since his loan
      Green (Covid, travel restrictions)
      Kayo (4th division suspended since Oct.)
      Holmes (playing as forward/attacking player not as 8, thought this was the weirdest explanation honestly)

  3. once you can’t field 1/3 to 1/2 of the first choice what are we talking about Nations League prep?
    for that matter, with NL flowing into GC flowing into quali the idea of putting mileage on the first choice players now and/or during the summer may prove foolish. everyone is busy with dense covid schedules. i would be resting my first team until we need it. i’d be using NL and GC to test new ideas and lock down dual nationals. but we are falling right back into the “win every game” obsession at the expense of focusing on september when it matters.

  4. I can’t stand reading ANYTHING that GB says about ANYTHING. He has no clue. The fact that he talks about Lletget as being in the mix shows how wrong he is.

      • We have not seen him against a top 15 national team with all their A team. We only seen him play minnows and B teams.

    • Mysterious first off we don’t often play top 15 teams. Lletget made the pass against Mexico that Morris was found for a PK that Sargent then missed. He then played 90 vs Uruguay a few days later. Chile was ranked 13th in Mar of 2019 he played 54 that day. So in Berhalter’s reign we’ve played 4 matches against top 15 opponents Lleget has played 3 and was injured for the fourth. He’s not going to move the needle to be a top 15 squad but he’s not going to hurt you either.

      • Uruguay were not at full strength and we only tied 1-1 which was frustrating. They were missing Cavani and Suarez. Bro last time we played Mexico we got dragged 3-0 Sep 6 2019 Lleget was on the team and was a sub ?!

  5. let’s be real, we have already seen sargent, nico, and dike, with varying impressions. if the implication is he doesn’t rate jordan or hoppe — “he wasn’t going to play” — ok as far as that goes. but i kind of prefer such assessments made on the field. he’s assuming his conclusion which is why he always favors the incumbent, ie, that he already made the right choice. particularly with dike — based on january — this is debatable. also kind of underlines where our use of club form is inconsistent. less is expected of incumbents. more is demanded of insurgents. it’s a talking point posing as analysis.

    personally this is our last window to try new things and sargent is obvious and the other two are xeroxes who got their chance. coach should already know what he thinks of them. it would be more useful to see hoppe and jordan.

    even if you wanted to keep some of the winter guys over for further testing, some of the analysis seems to be “nico vs” but nico had a brace. dike was the one who looked like a mess and should be one foot on a banana peel. but that’s holding players accountable to country form.

  6. Some of these excuses are really weak. He didn’t even address Green’s omission. What he said about leaving out Siebatcheu seems bogus. Why does Sargent have to play 90 minutes? Why bring Gioacchini if that is the case?

    • No Sargent isn’t going to play 90 mins but it’s not worth it for Siebatcheu to leave his club and travel for 15-20 mins. Siebatcheu’s club has had a packed scheduled with Europa League (likely to end tomorrow) so he’s better off resting. Nico is brought in because he can play both if Siebatcheu could play both he’d have been brought.
      Green is only available for the first match as well because of German quarantine restrictions. His director said this week he hasn’t been able to go at his full level yet. Played 23 mins today. So he’s not going to be fit to start so again why bring him in for essentially three days of which there will be very little on field work for 15 mins. What can Berhalter learn that he doesn’t already know he has 14 caps?

      • c’mon dude, be real, what he’s trying to avoid is soto comes in and scores a brace in 10 minutes and people start questioning his choices. players uncalled cannot undermine your project. they’ll just get mentioned if your usual suspects can’t cut it later on. personally i favor klinsi’s approach where you give people chances and then select based on who makes use of them. GB is out there as walking talking confirmation bias, to prove his spreadsheets right. i prefer people who watch the games close enough to see dike struggled. for example. used to be you had a bad game like that we’d just roll on to the next candidate.

      • Some people need to work on their reading comprehension. It says clearly in the article that the striker in the Jamaica game is highly likely to play 90 minutes. The Jamaica game is where the German based players, and, likely Gioacchini will play (and Siebatcheu who would go from Switzerland to Austria, a short trip, could play). The restrictions are on European players going to Northern Ireland, not Jamaica in Austria. Thus, Siegatcheu, Green, Hoppe, et al could play in the same game as Sargent. Berhalter also says he wants use players against Jamaica who will likely play in the Nations League. That means Sargent “will very likely play 90 minutes.” So, based ON WHAT BERHALTER HIMSELF SAYS, the strikers being brought in for the Jamaica game are Sargent and Giocchini and possibly Dike while Sargent will very likely play the whole game. This is stupid. Have Dike play in Northern Ireland, have Sabatcheu play a half against Jamaica. Sargent doesn’t need to play 90 minutes in that game. What’s so hard about that?

    • A lot of this has to do with Germany’s COVID restrictions. They are having a surge right now, so the players have to clear quarantine. There are fewer COVID restrictions to travel to Germany from Austria (where the Jamaica game is) than there are to Germany from Northern Ireland. Dortmund wasn’t going to release Reyna until it was agreed that all German-based players would return after the Jamaica game. Berhalter knew he couldn’t get Greene on the field, so why bring him.

      Siebatcheu seems like a similar situation. Berhalter wants to see Sargeant, but has to send him back after Jamaica, so give him the full 90 to make his case. There are other forwards he wants to see more in the Northern Ireland game (Dike, Gioacchini).

      Not saying I agree with him with these, as I want to see how Siebatcheu can fit, but the window is extremely limited.

      • the caveat should be “others he wants to see AGAIN.” emphasis on again. he hasn’t even played hoppe or jordan so what does he even really know how they compare? he made up his mind on paper. on paper both are productive in their leagues so it really shouldn’t be so easy.

    • i am a green fan but he doesn’t have a league minute in a month after getting sick with covid. unused bench last game. tough timing.

    • Gary: Ives is making an assumption that Sargent will play 90 minutes whether that’s true or not he’s going 70-75 almost for sure. So when is Hoppe and Siebatcheu going to play in that game? Weah and Reyna also only have one game so neither can play out of position on the wing either. It’s math. Where are you getting Gioacchini is going to play against Jamaica no one is saying that. We don’t play with two strikers am I missing something. If you are so sure Sargent will play 90 minutes how are you also saying Dike and Nico are going to play?

  7. Other English-based players are on the squad, which leaves me to believe that the portion about how he’s been talking with Holmes about what he can improve means Berhalter doesn’t rate him for this level yet. I hope he gets more of a chance with all the fixtures this summer along with Green and CCV.

    • “This was a juggling act, this roster,” Berhalter said. “I wouldn’t read into the guys that weren’t on the roster because of the extenuating circumstances behind the roster.”

      • Gregg also said about the MLS guys ““The objective was to get our best possible team and preparations for Nation’s League and these guys are in it,”
        There’s too much horsesh!t in everything Gregg says. I have ZERO faith in Gregg’s player evaluations if he thinks Acosta is one of the best possible options. I’d take Holmes or Green any day of the week at the 8 position..And Dirkin at the 6 position.

    • Lost your reading it from the point of being mad about selections. He’s not saying these guys are in the Nations League. He’s saying given the restrictions placed this was the best they could do. He got 10 out of 11 of his preferred lineup only missing Wes. If you switch Green for Acosta or Luca then your down to 15 field players for 2nd match. He’s not saying these are my best 23 guys he’s saying these are the best 26 we could get.


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