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Projecting the USMNT roster for the March friendlies

The U.S. Men’s National Team will convene a full-strength squad for the first time since November, and given the fact the March friendlies against Jamaica and Northern Ireland will be Gregg Berhalter’s final chance to see his best options ahead of a busy summer and fall, the next camp will be a crucial one for players vying to secure their places in Berhalter’s plans.

There is an impressive number of Americans earning regular minutes in Europe right now, and many of those players are not only playing, but standing out on their respective teams. As a result, there is a good chance some very good national team candidates will be left off the March squad.

Could Berhalter choose to bring in some MLS-based players? Don’t bet on it. Not when the current MLS player pool hasn’t begun preseason and not when there are so many European-based options in the middle of their seasons.

The focus should be on the European-based contingent, and the March friendlies should offer a chance for some new faces to earn their first looks. Matthew Hoppe has cooled off after his torrid start to the year, but he is a good candidate for a look, while Daryl Dike’s red-hot form should earn him a call.

Will Berhalter bring in a veteran like Tim Ream despite Ream’s lack of playing time at Fulham? Given the lack of options in the 30+ age range, you could very well see Ream get one more call.

The rest of the team should be very young though, offering a good glimpse of the bright future the program is eyeing.

A big wild card in the building of the March USWNT squad is the potential impact that quarantine restrictions could have on the availability of players. With South American World Cup qualifiers recently postponed due to teams not wanting to release players due to the quarantines players could face, there could be situations where clubs choose to keep players rather than releasing them for friendlies.

If that happens, then the squad Berhalter ultimately winds up having available could look different than the ideal group he would bring in if he could have all of his best options?

For now, here is a look at the squad Berhalter could call in barring any unforeseen obstacles, injuries or club refusals of call-ups:


Goalkeepers

Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, Chituru Odunze

Steffen is a lock, but Horvath’s recent COVID-19 infection leaves his availability in doubt, and given the lack of European-based goalkeeper options, we might just see an MLS goalkeeper called upon.

Teenager Chituru Odunze should earn another call. Though he isn’t seeing first-team minutes with Leicester City, Odunze has started earning minutes with Leicester City’s Under-23 team and is a bright prospect for the future.

Missed the Cut – Josh Cohen, C.J. Dos Santos


Defenders

Sergino Dest, John Brooks, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson, Reggie Cannon, Mark McKenzie, Matt Miazga, DeAndre Yedlin, Tim Ream

The biggest question in this group is whether Sergino Dest plays right back or left back. Dest is clearly a natural right back, but does Berhalter prefer a Reggie Cannon-Dest fullback pairing, or will we see the Dest-Robinson combination we saw in November?

At centerback, Chris Richards has catapulted himself from prospect on the fringes of the full team to a leading candidate to start alongside John Brooks. Richards has been very impressive since joining Hoffenheim on loan, and the sooner we see a Brooks-Richards tandem the better.

Matt Miazga gets the nod ahead of the likes of Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers, but you can make a strong case for both being in better form than the Anderlecht defender. Carter-Vickers has been playing well for Bournemouth and merits a look, while Palmer-Brown is someone who was pegged to take part in Olympic qualifying before an ill-timed injury derailed that plan.

Ream’s inclusion may anger some who don’t see the point of calling in a 33-year-old who isn’t getting minutes at Fulham, but at this point Ream would be as much assistant coach as actual starting option for Berhalter on a team made up mostly of players in their mid-20s or younger.

Missed the Cut – Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Bryan Reynolds, Shaq Moore


Midfielders

Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, Yunus Musah, Duane Holmes, Owen Otasowie.

Will Yunus Musah accept another call-up? If so, then he absolutely should be part of the group again, and the aforementioned six is as safe a bet as there is on this projected squad. Otasowie is the one on the list not playing regularly, but he’s a top prospect who showed well in the November camp.

Julian Green’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis has sidelined him, making his already slim chances of earning a March call even more remote. Luca De La Torre has settled into a starting role for Dutch side Heracles and he should be on Berhalter’s radar. Taylor Booth’s loan to Austrian side St. Polten has opened some eyes, but he’s probably still not quite ready for a look.

Missed the Cut – Julian Green, Luca De La Torre, Taylor Booth, Chris Durkin


Forwards

Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Daryl Dike, Paul Arriola, Matthew Hoppe

Berhalter doesn’t normally like to bring more than two strikers to camp, but it will be tough for him to limit his strikers to just two given all the candidates in the picture. Sargent is a lock, and red-hot Daryl Dike has to be called up. That leaves Matthew Hoppe as a fringe option. He has cooled off considerable since his impressive January run of goals, but he has continued to start for Schalke and Berhalter has expressed interest in taking a closer look. Could Berhalter pass on Hoppe to have another look at Nicholas Gioacchini, who impressed in November? Don’t rule it out.

And what of Jordan Siebatcheu, the American-born French striker lighting it up for Swiss side Young Boys? He has been contacted by Berhalter in the past, and given his recent exploits in Europa League, March could be a good time to have a look, though the striker pool is pretty loaded heading into the March friendlies.

In terms of wing options, Weah, Pulisic and Reyna are three obvious choices, though Reyna’s status is in doubt right now given his mysterious recent absence from action for Borussia Dortmund. Even before he was sidelined, Reyna was in the midst of a tough start to 2021, and has looked burned out at times. If Reyna isn’t available, then De La Fuente should be brought back in.

Could Tyler Boyd merit a look now that he has broken into the starting lineup for Turkish side Sivasspor?

Missed the Cut – Konrad De La Fuente, Jordan Siebatcheu, Nicholas Gioacchini, Aron Johannsson, Tyler Boyd, Emmanuel Sabbi, Andrija Novakovich, 


What do you think of the squad? Who made the cut that you’re hoping to see in the March friendlies? Who missed out that you think absolutely should be called in?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Just got a video message in the US Soccer app that seems to confirm that Musah is committed to US Soccer. Pretty good little video if you all have the app

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  2. I will be interested to see if Musah comes into this camp. Hopefully the rumors out of the UK saying they believe he will play for them are false. If he does commit does that help our chances at securing Folarin Balogan since they are friends.

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  3. musah should be shifted to RW where he plays in Valencia. we need someone to replace morris and reyna is really a 10 who plays less productive on the wing. swap them. fixed like magic. play people where they play club, but i know this is crazy talk…..

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    • All your rest the starters malarkey is what the GC is for. This is prep to win NL. Whether that’s a worthy goal or not doesn’t matter because that’s what USSF has prioritized. Play first team for two weeks in June and then give them their Summer break before qualifying.

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  4. rest pulisic and arriola as known quantities, drop dike, call siebatcheu konrad green and/or AJ. i like taking a diceroll on Hoppe. i think there is more upside on that than dike.

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    • When was the last match Pulisic played for the US (I don’t expect an answer, but just wanted to say too lazy to look up)? Would be nice to get him back on the pitch with the nats before quals, especially given his lack of PT with Chelsea right now.

      Dike is making a name for himself, I don’t see any fault in bringing him in given his performances of recent. Saying that I can’t disagree with many (if any) of the players you suggest in place.

      Given siebatcheu’s recent comment about being honored to rep the US, I would like to see him get a chance sooner or later.

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  5. i would rest mckennie because that teaches you nothing and it will be a busy year. push reyna back to 10 mid, add Green, drop Otasowie. i think Adams and Holmes cover 6.

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  6. i would bring in lichaj plus every back off the “missed the cut” list eg ccv epb moore and leave off miazga yedlin ream for sheer proven suckage. i am not a robinson or dest fan but think that in a friendly set of limited access why not give them a chance to put up or shut up in a second half.

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    • Lichaj is without a club having been released by his club. Fatih listed him as injured throughout December and then released him so not sure if he’s healthy and obviously wouldn’t be game fit.

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  7. i would leave off steffen because it doesn’t teach you anything and it risks a meal ticket who doesn’t play much and has periodic knee issues.

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    • it’s more useful to see if horvath and some others can play keeper well enough to beat the usual suspects to the 23. the steffen obsession sucks away all oxygen from everyone else and he occasionally gets hurt which only underlines why we should look more broadly.

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      • Horvath needs another club situation, but given a lack of actual options in europe (without shipping someone from Stateside) I say give him a chance at some point. We have a cluttered year ahead of us, getting Steffen in with the team is probably for the best, but I’d give Horvath one of the matches too.

  8. I think I’m a also in the “why Ream?” camp. I understand the notion of wanting a veteran presence, but these are friendlies. Why not use the roster spot to get a real look at other players who are candidates to take part in team plans going forward? Also, while young, some of these players will have gathered enough experience so to not need hand holding from an older player anymore.

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  9. I always forget that these projections are Ives projecting who the manager is likely to call up, not who he would choose for the call up. I would hope Berhalter would rate Jordan Siebatcheu, Nicholas Gioacchini, Aron Johannsson, Tyler Boyd, or Emmanuel Sabbi as more worthy of a call in at the moment than Paul Arriola, or even add another midfielder like Luca De La Torre instead of Paul, who can barely crack the pitch at the moment at Swansea (no disrespect, he just hasn’t been playing and these guys are in better form and perhaps better players anyway).

    This is why we read the full text without jumping to reactions. Ives has been doing it this way for ages and I still sometimes forget.

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    • Since it is an international window, while there is a limit to how many are put on game day rosters, I would hope that
      Berhalter would call in the most players possible because of our depth. Is Hoppe a flash in the pan? Is he or Haji Wright better? You really can only get a good idea if you have them go head to head in practice. That’s why I’d like to see him bring in a lot of guys, but not guys over the hill (Ream) or guys not playing (Arriola, Otosowie). Then he can winnow down the roster before the games.

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    • delatorre has 1g 2a in a full season in holland. that is underwhelming for that league. he doesn’t impress me.

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    • holmes had good energy the game he played. arriola will be in the mix for wing spots whether you like it or not. top 4 most productive players…..mckennie pulisic morris and arriola.

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      • zardes was also handed a ton of caps to do so. if you go by goals per 90 he is actually tepid. if you go by scoring goals in big games ditto.

      • Arriola is failing in Wales and seem like CONCACAF level player, not beyond that. Holmes did not start last game and at his age there’s minimum improvement. I want the best for team and there younger more tech. players, at this moment.

    • Like Morris who scored 3 of his against Cuba. Of course 2 g from Zardes in the must win match with Canada shouldn’t be completely dismissed.

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  10. OMG Ives, you might as well call in Jozy Altidore!

    No way in hell for Ream to be called in over, the much younger and actually in better form as in Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers. Paul Arriola’s current form didn’t earn himself more than a few minutes at Swansea. I would argue that Arriola is NOT more deserving a spot than the red hot Jordan Siebatcheu, Green or Aron Johannsson.

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    • The projection is who we see Berhalter calling in, not who YOU or WE think should be called in. You don’t have to think Ream “deserves” a call, the fact is he could definitely be called in.

      I happen to agree that neither Arriola or Ream would be on my roster if I were picking the squad, but I absolutely can see both being called by Berhalter.

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      • I agree that Berhaulter will likely call Ream & Arriola into camp. I also am a fan who disagrees with these selections. There are others who are currently in form and have yet to be given a look under Berhaulter. Unfortunately based on Gregg’s previous camps it appears as if he doesn’t rate them.

      • Sorry Ives, I forgot the title “projection” and was too disappointed to see Ream’s name while the USMNT’s #1 goal is to rebuild for the future.

      • you are usually good at ventriloquizing the coaches which is appreciated “intelligence.” but personally ream has gotten burned whenever he plays, his captaincy period was a non qualifying team, and we are running out of chances to audition anyone else before these start counting. we will look back and see where GB was perseverating here. it then gets complicated to bring in replacement ideas when the games count.

  11. I can’t belie4ve I’m the first to say this. Calling in Ream is a joke. Especially when you would be leaving off a number of better players. Siebatcheu has to be called in if he accepts the invitation. Consideration should be given to Haji Wright as a forward. Several guys listed as forwards should be considered more like mids unless you play 3 up top. Arriola has been playing very little, replace him with someone else, there are a lot of options to replace him. If Green is recovered, bring him in as a mid instead of Otosowie.

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    • I agree, but let’s wait and see if Berhalter actually calls Ream in. I doubt he will. I would really like to see Siebatcheu and Green get a shot.
      Also, SBI has 25 players picked, is that the roster limit?

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      • There is no “limit”, but rosters generally tend to be somewhere in the 22-25 range, and given it’s a two-game window, I went with the higher end. It’s probably more likely to be 22-23, but we’ll see.

    • Fair on Ream but if he’s the backup LB who cares not many options with U23s going on. If he’s going to start at CB then no. As for Green for Otasowie, I think Ives thought is to have another 6 as a backup. Wright has cooled off since the winter break, but I wouldn’t have a problem with that. 3G has been including a surprise in most windows so Balogun, Kik Pierie , or Alex Mighten?

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    • Ream would be called in to provide some experience in the locker room, on a team that would otherwise have nobody older than 27-28. Ream wouldn’t start, and probably wouldn’t play a ton, but having him in the locker room would be beneficial to a very young team. That’s why he was brought in the last time he was in. Is he a LOCK to be called? No, but all the crying about him even being mentioned is silly when it’s been made pretty clear what he would be there to provide.

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      • Although Ream did start last time at CB. He did play at least marginally better than Miazga. If you have Brooks and Yedlin you still have two guys who have been around for 8 years. Ream is easy to bring in if another CB has a late injury or is pulled because of quarantine issues, Fulham isn’t going to balk at a last minute call up for him.

      • Does Ream being a good guy in the locker room outweigh taking someone else’s spot in a busy year that has Nations League; Gold Cup; and WCQ in September, October, and November. New leaders have to emerge and purposely delaying that inevitability by bringing in Ream is a mistake.

        I agree that this is not necessarily your preference or mine, but GB’s and given his history, he’s likely to pick Ream.

      • he’s not just a camp body who leads the kids then watches the games, after leading the practices they then start him some on game days and every time it happens we either ship goals to bad teams (canada, panama) or lose the game. same thing with miazga brooks dest robinson on actual performance but they aren’t getting to sneak in as “team leader.”

      • These young ones are already playing champion’s league games on top teams. I don’t think Reams is going to teach them anything other than losing gracefully.
        I also this Siebatchue will be called. I bet he already talked to GB. Why else would he declare that he has committed to the USA program?

    • See my comment above. Also, I know these are projections of what Berhalter might do. I’m criticizing him if these projections are accurate. We already know all there is to know about Ream. These are also friendlies, so we don’t need his experience. Besides, by now Brooks, Miazga and others already have plenty of experience. Ream brings nothing and he’s certainly not needed for WC qualifying. Better to bring someone else instead of waste a roster spot, especially since we have so many younger and better players. As to Wright, I wrote that consideration should be given to him for reasons I mentioned in a post above. Likewise, I wrote if Green is available. I know he has COVID and may not be available. I sometimes wonder why I bother to write careful qualifying words if nobody bothers to read them. So often people critique what I don’t say, but what they think I say.

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    • Gary I’m not really sure what you are talking about with Wright, I was the only one who mentioned him and said “he’s cooled since Winter break but wouldn’t have a problem with him.” Your original comment said “unless we decide to go with three up top.” We’ve pretty consistently played with three up top throughout Berhalter’s time and I think that was the assumption Ives was operating under. Certainly everyone who comments here just to conclusions without reading carefully, myself and yourself included I just not sure where you see it here.
      ————————————
      As for Ream he has generally played well for the NT, he’s limited obviously in speed but is very good at passing out of the back. No he is not playing in the EPL, but let’s remember CCV, Miazga, and EPB rights are all owned by EPL clubs and they can’t play there either. Their clubs are certainly better than Fulham but none were even close to making rosters nor were they able to get loans to other EPL clubs.

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      • ream is overrated at the one thing he supposedly does well — pass. there used to be a really bad gaffe a season in MLS. he then sucks at defense. if you call CCV EPB etc. we’re at least trying to find someone who can mark.

        to me if ream is called at all it suggests we favor offense over defense at every position including in the back. you get down to it and someone has to play defense and mark people. you can put a lot of attackers out there but about 3-5 guys need to be out there to destroy or we will give up as much as we get. the “2026” folks only think of one half of the field and if we don’t fix the defense this will never optimize.

    • Ross, Are you talking about the names just in bold print?, or the missed the cut? It’s actually easier to list players with non-MLS experience, or came from MLS developmental academy system.

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      • I was only counting from the 25 and my point wasn’t really about the specific number but pointing out how much MLS influence there is in general.

    • Out of 42 names, SBI listed, 25 have either played a season(s) in the MLS or spent time the US academy system. That leaves 17 who didn’t. I’m not sure, where the numbers yourself (13), or J99 (14) posted, but I can break it down. (Not like SBI, needs my help, lol).

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      • If you count Ives roster that have played in MLS or an MLS Academy I think you get the 13 number.

      • My bad, I missed Josh Cohen who’s a Santa Clara native. 26 MLS affiliates out of 42 players overall!

    • I get your point! MLS is reaping the benefits of the academy infrastructure built in ‘09. Red Bull’s-Miazga, Adams, Weah, FCD- McKennie, Richards, Cannon, Union- Steffen, McKenzie, Aaronson, StL Gallagher-Ream, Sargent, Sounders-Yedlin, Whitecaps- Big O, Orlando City- Dike, DC United- Arriola, NYFC-Reyna, Real Colorado-Horvath, Az (from LA)- Hoppe. A total of 18 players from MLS or academy development system.

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  12. Is anyone else bummed that we’re playing Jamaica and Northern Ireland? What’s behind this? Are we trying to destroy people to build confidence, or are the Europeans just being snotty?

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    • Most federations are into their qualifying cycle so opponents are limited. A majority of Euro squads have 3 qualifiers this window. N. Ireland isn’t great historically but are ranked above most African, Asian, or Concacaf teams. Jamaica is 3rd in Concacaf and will have some new dual nationals because the match is in Europe. They’ll likely be English Championship filled instead of the typical USL squad.

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      • all due respect dude but my sense is the games are a mess or falling through because we wait til the last minute to lock it down. yes, there’a a pandemic, but some of the teams out there had already, say, locked down a friendly with qatar ages ago. we seem to be choosing to wait, at which point, yes, visas can mess things up, teams can drop out. that’s what happens when you slap together a game. i’d think pandemic or not if you made your matches months ahead of time then visas can get worked out, and your opponent is locked in as opposed to free to play leverage games. i am sure it is not easy now or working around UEFA. i don’t buy we are well organized or thinking things out. same team that was going to burn its qatar trip on the january second/third string, which defeats the point.

    • they’re in qualifying. someone did the hard work at some point some place and it was like 5-6 available teams in europe per game window, and you’re asking them to play 3 games in the window as we did with wales. as it is often some of the available teams were already spoken for ie had already scheduled friendlies. we do seem to be waiting until the last minute — including with bosnia/TnT — and that seems to be resulting in games that fall through or not even getting the best game in that window.

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      • Some of that is likely related to Covid and ability to get players and staff in and out. The Serbia (not Bosnia) friendly fell through because they couldn’t get visas to enter the US.

  13. I really hope to see green. It has been mentioned duel 8s as a possibility in the formation and green would fit that spot well next to McKennie.

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  14. Sargent (Hoppe)
    Pulisic (De La Fuente) Reyna (Aaronson) Weah (Dike)
    Adams (Musah) McKennie (Otasowie)
    Dest (Robinson) Brooks (McKenzie) Richards (Miazga) Cannon (Yedlin)
    Steffen (Horvath)

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  15. Green over Aaronson, assuming he’s healthy. Give the guy a look.

    And Siebatcheu should be called in at striker, with Sargent and Dike. Theo has 11 goals in 28 appearances in Switzerland this year, I’d rate him ahead of Hoppe.

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    • I’m as eager to see Green get a call as anybody, but not at the expense of Aaronson, who has been in great form for Salzburg, is coming off a Best XI season in MLS, and is 20. Leaving him off would be crazy.

      Green has COVID though, so even though he’s working his way back that hurts his chances of getting back to full fitness, and if you’re Furth, and he’s just returning from Covid I’m not sure I would want him going to a national team camp right now anyway.

      If Green can finish the season strong and maintain his good form, he’ll merit a look this summer.

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      • I like Aaronson and would like to see him, but not at the expense of Green. If it’s one or the other, go with Green. If you can fit both on the team, then bring them both in. Aaronson is not only younger but more of a known quantity for Berhalter, so it’s more important to give Green a look. All of this is contingent on Green being healthy and fit, which I guess is up in the air.

      • aaronson is platooning in a league that is arguably lateral under a very friendly american coach. green has more big game history. green it’s like we’re coming up with excuses to not call a player with history in huge games. aaronson it’s like we’re pretending his cap wasn’t kind of beige. to me i favor NT performance over club scouting because one is direct proof and the other is a proxy that doesn’t necessarily translate.

        to elaborate on “platooning” his pattern has been like start sit start sit. and while productive he is also on a league leading team averaging a sick amount of GA.

      • Aaronson is not ‘platooning’. He’s started 6 of the last 7 games for RBS, including both Europa League games against Villareal.

    • Aaronson is starting and scoring goals. He has very quick feet and decent speed. His skill level is great. He works very hard for his team and takes up positions that can help his teammates out of difficult spots. For a very young player he has great tactical awareness.

      Green also has quick feet, good speed and skill, but every time I’ve seen him play he fails to do the work needed to help his teammates, now that could have improved (and may have since a coach now sees fit to start him). He does seem to be clever enough to move into good attacking spots, but his position and movement is not so good when his team does not have the ball.

      Of the two, Aaronson is playing better right now especially since Green hasn’t been playing at all due to COVID. I think Aaronson is pretty clearly the right choice of the two for the end of March.

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  16. I think Reyna should be called as one of the mids. I see our 4 mids going forward being McKennie, Musah, Aaronson, and Reyna.

    I don’t count Adams in that group. Adams is our starting 6. I would like to see EPB as his backup. I think he can do the job better than Otasawie. To me, Otasawie prefers to play higher up.

    The front 6 should be Pulisic with KDF as his backup, Sargent with Dike\Siebatcheu, and Weah with Gioacchini as his backup.

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  17. Seven forwards is a bit much. I suspect that in the end Ariola and Hoppe will miss out (though GB does seem to love Ariola). I think Luca De La Torre is likely to get a look.

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    • Six is pretty standard (two strikers, four wingers). I threw in a seventh given the fact Pulisic and Reyna can both operate centrally, and since there’s no actual roster size limit.

      De La Torre isn’t “likely” to get a look, but he’s on the radar.

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      • When will the actual roster come out? I know u will post a starting 11 when it does but who is your 3 up top if u had to choose now if he goes with a 433

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