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Breaking down the USMNT roster vs. Switzerland

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s roster for its upcoming friendly against Switzerland might have felt a bit anti-climactic considering it isn’t the roster for the highly-anticipated Concacaf Nations League, but a closer look at the the roster revealed on Thursday helped provide some clues about what we should expect on Monday when the Nations League roster is revealed.

Whether a hint at how Gregg Berhalter might account for the loss of Aaron Long, and potential absence of Tyler Adams, or even a look at what he may do with his abundance of striker options, the 27-player squad chosen by Berhalter provides plenty of insight into how he sees his current options.

Here is a closer look at some of the storylines from the USMNT training camp squad called in to face Switzerland:


Julian Green’s chance


There are few midfielders who have enjoyed better seasons than Green’s current campaign with German second-division side Greuther Fürth. He has been one of the best players on a Fürth squad that has already secured a top-three finish, and could potentially win the 2. Bundesliga if results fall their way. At the very least, Fürth will have a chance to play in a promotion playoff, giving Green and his team a shot at moving up to the Bundesliga.

Whether or not Fürth gets the job done, Green has already shown more than enough to justify Berhalter finally calling him in. In fairness to Berhalter, Green might have earned a call sooner if not for being sidelined by COVID-19 back in March, just before the USMNT’s March friendlies. After overcoming what reportedly was case that was not asymptomatic, Green eventually worked his way back into the starting lineup and continued his strong season.

Berhalter is on the look for central midfielders who can play in the Dual-10 roles in his 4-3-3, and with those roles functioning more like dual-8 roles, a player with Green’s ball possession skills and improved work rate could be a perfect fit in Berhalter’s system.

Unfortunately for Green, along with not being on the provisional roster for the Nations League, he could very well miss out on this camp and the Switzerland friendly if Fürth winds up playing in the Bundesliga promotion playoff. Even if he winds up missing the camp, the fact he has been called in shows he is on Berhalter’s radar, and under consideration, which is a major step for a player was starting to look like he might never get another call-up.


The Tyler Adams contingency plan


When word hit earlier this week that Tyler Adams would return to the United States for rehabilitation of a back injury, the immediate thought was that the Nations League was out of the picture. Gregg Berhalter clearly hasn’t given up hope, but he is also preparing contingencies.

Kellyn Acosta and Jackson Yueill both earned call-ups, and while it may still be the case that one of them misses out on Nations League if Adams can recover in time to play, there is also now the possibility that Acosta and Yueill both make the Nations League team and spend the next two weeks fighting it out to see who is Berhalter’s starting defensive midfielder in Denver in June.

Whether Adams can recover is being figured out over the next handful of days, before Monday’s deadline to submit the Nations League roster. The USMNT actually has until June 2nd to make a roster change related to an injury, so Adams could be named to the roster and then given more time to recover, but then be replaced if his back injury fails to heal in time to be available to play.

Acosta has the advantage over Yueill at the moment, having shown some good things in the March friendlies. He is also one of the few players who A) plays regularly at altitude, which is a plus given the Nations League is being played in Denver and B) has played in a meaningful game against Mexico, the USA’s likely opponent in the Nations League final barring an upset or two.

Yueill isn’t very far behind Acosta, and he wasn’t part of the March friendlies due to his participation in Olympic qualifying, where Yuiell was one of the few bright spots for the Americans.

The most likely scenario would be to name Adams and Acosta to the Nations League roster, and replace Adams with Yueill if Adams is unable to recover in time.


The centerback picture after Long’s injury


Aaron Long’s recent ruptured Achilles injury has shaken up the USMNT’s centerback position, but the pecking order at the position hasn’t really changed in the wake of losing a projected starter.

Matt Miazga is expected to be the frontrunner to replace Long as the starter, and is called up, while Tim Ream remains an option for the Nations League roster due to the need for a left-footed centerback to back up John Brooks. Long was capable of playing on the left, more so than other right-footed central defenders like Miazga might, but with him out, Ream’s stock has suddenly received a boost, and his chances of being on the Nations League roster are high.

The question becomes which central defender will be the fourth if Brooks, Miazga and Ream are the first three? Mark McKenzie is on the Switzerland camp roster, and has earned consecutive starts for Belgian side Genk, with one final match set for Sunday.

The other player in contention is Miles Robinson, who more than likely was not released by Atlanta United for the Switzerland match, which is being played outside the FIFA window. Given Atlanta United’s track record for refusing to release called-up players it doesn’t have to release, don’t be surprised if Robinson still gets the nod when the Nations League roster is announced on Monday.


The striker situation


As things stand, the only striker who is assured of a place on the Nations League roster, if healthy, is Josh Sargent. That means there is a very long list for basically one spot, or two if Berhalter gives in and brings a third, which he generally doesn’t do.

Daryl Dike and Jordan Siebatcheu figured to be fighting it out for a place on the Nations League squad, and both are included in the Switzerland camp, though Dike could potentially miss out if Barnsley can overcome its current first-leg deficit against Swansea in the League Championship promotion playoff.

Berhalter will make his decision before camp begins, and as much as Dike feels like the obvious pick after the run he enjoyed on loan at Barnsley, Siebatcheu impressed quite a bit in the March camp, and is coming off an outstanding season for Swiss champions Young Boys.

There is also Gyasi Zardes, who Berhalter included on the provisional roster and who knows his system better than any other striker.

If Berhalter only brings two strikers, then pairing Sargent with Siebatcheu, and leaving Zardes and Dike for the Gold Cup, is a very real possibility (and would lead Siebatcheu a step closer to being cap-tied). Siebatcheu may also have an advantage from playing his club soccer in Switzerland, where he regularly plays at altitude, which would give him an edge at Nations League, which is being played at altitude in Denver.

Comments

  1. hard to say definitively until we know who all is still in their playoffs. if dike and sargent are busy then jordan starts and hoppe sees minutes. if everyone is eliminated then sargent starts, dike subs, jordan sits, hoppe gets cut. so it’s a bit contingent for the moment which is probably also why it’s a 27 man roster for a 23 man game.

    and then when they come here you know the coach thinks zardes is either starter or sub and all these guys people are excited about are really competing for 3rd striker spots and to maybe play friendlies. similar at keeper and some other positions. sean johnson or the like is going to play MLS and then join up in the US. the experimental players will be lucky to make the NL roster, and depending who is busy for switzerland, maybe get minutes or not the whole 2 weeks. maybe even get cut.

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    • UEFA using 26 man rosters for Euros so all except one might be allowed to dress not sure the number of subs for the friendly but obviously some won’t play. Judging that he pulled several other players from MLS I don’t think we’ll see Zardes. Not sure about Johnson but Berhalter’s quote was something like “we realized our GK depth was limited and we needed to get Ochoa acclimated quickly” that doesn’t sound like Johnson is seen very highly but they might be saving Ochoa for GC.

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      • no, i think that means he is awaking to my concern, that his obsession with starting type players pulls all the oxygen from deciding who the best subs are. and every so often a starter gets hurt and the sub starts. steffen already has the balky knee. so i need to know more than steffen and johnson. i need to know horvath etc. i am sure his thought process is he already knows johnson’s pluses and minuses. what he doesn’t know is his 3rd keeper from actually playing game minutes. or IMO whether we have better second and third choices than johnson. he catches on, but slow.

  2. Saw Zardes last Sunday vs the Revs. Did absolutely nothing and was given the hook for Bradley Wright Philips in the second half. Certainly nothing to deserve a call up other than GBs blind loyalty to a former player

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    • you’re still talking about it in “form” terms like GB wants to. i don’t even think this would be a debate if it was more properly framed as “talent.” zardes’ only chance would be back out wide where he belongs, and the 9 logjam would be freed up and could focus on which young players will produce in international games. instead i expect zardes and sargent to get the real game minutes at which point everyone else is making cameos or playing in friendlies to decide who gets to dress (but not play) honduras. to me it drags out a process which on actual talent favors the younger players, but if you give zardes most of the minutes he will have most of the chances to score goals and to claim to be the “experienced” or “tested” choice.

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      • Are you really this soccer illiterate or are you just feigning like you don’t know. Berhalter wings are asked to cut inside and combine with the 8s and FBs they are not going to just run at the endline. Gyasi isn’t going to dribble through people that is far from in his skill set. Berhalter’s width comes from his FBs not his wings. Gyasi gets his goals from well timed runs through the box. To Don’s point he has been in pretty poor form to start the season as really has most of the Crew. Their large amount of travel in the first month of the season is hurting them.

      • i don’t care if he’s GB’s type of claustrophobic winger, pinched in. he is a winger in terms of attributes. i don’t put GB’s goofy ideas like pinched in RBs or the other insanity on a pedestal. he started out a winger. he is a fast guy who gets in behind defenses, and a sloppy player who misses sitters. he is a wing. if he also doesn’t fit GB’s weird idea of that position, that’s his problem. but he’s not a 9, not a 10, and with his speed and limited foot skills is more suited to wide space. winger. period. you can spin all you want as a GB ventriloquist.

      • I like Zardes the person, love his work rate, but… the rise of talent has put him way down the depth chart at striker and out wide too. Zardes the winger is a late game defensive substitute at best as he has nothing much to offer going forward- he has average speed, can’t dribble by anyone, does’t tuck inside to shoot/combine and can not cross. Then there is the variety of other/superior options at the wing. De La Fuente, Weah, Aaronson, Reyna, Pulisic, Musah, Morris when healthy…. even Boyd.

    • the mids are pretty close to the first choice unit and he simply doesn’t rate there. i think acosta is there as an adams contingency and i think green got the sole trialist slot (assuming available). i think green is really trialing for gold cup and the coach will compare what he thinks of all the other experiments this year. delatorre has his own tape already. that’s at least how i think GB sees it.

      personally if i wanted to set up a roster competition i would just call the type players in competition and have them fight each other at the same camp. i don’t think a jamaica or panama friendly is the same as a swiss one. but if they are at the same camp with the same opponent it’s oranges vs oranges.

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  3. With regards to the Centerback position, what is more important: being left-footed, or being a better defender? Ream gets the nod for the former, but should not be up for consideration it it’s the latter. CONCACAF opposition eats him for lunch.

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    • Jason Kreis definitely did not see Eryc’s performance or believe it? The thing is both Yueill and Williamson would pair well together.
      If able to dribble, pass, and beat your initial defender against San Jose a lot of “chance creation” opens up for a player the way they defend and man mark. Eryc is very well suited to attack and distribute in the final third. The thing is Williamson did not have either Diego’s as outlets most of the match and carried the Timbers.

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    • form only matters for the marginal players. as i have pointed out before, steffen can sit without consequence but if horvath sits he is presumed rusty or off form.

      yueill was a non-factor when my mediocre dynamo beat SJ opening day. i think he’s overrated and that “soccer IQ 6” types tend to be out of their depth against high quality teams. it’s a “punch down” notion of how to select that only works against teams we should already beat. against a good team you need someone who can cover ground and clatter a runner.

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  4. In evaluating Acosta’s role and place in the pecking order, I’ve noticed that ever since 2017, any time there is a dead ball situation with an opportunity to shoot on goal, his US teammates always defer to him. I’m withholding judgement on him until we see him in games that matter; however, I think his threat to score from set pieces weighs in his favor.

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    • The dude can definitely whack him a soccer ball. I mean, nobody’s going to confuse him with Beckham, but he’s close to a Jermaine Jones there, got a nasty shot from distance. That isn’t hurting him when it comes to call-ups. Nor is his athleticism and the fact that he can run basically forever. Lot to like about Acosta. Willing competitor, smart player, relentless defender, an often vicious lawnmower, lot of positive attributes. It’s just, man, you put him in with some of those Euro guys and he starts looking like he’s got wooden paddles for feet when it comes to his touch.

      Reply

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