The U.S. Men’s National Team is weeks away from the first of several important competitions when the Concacaf Nations League semifinals kick off in Denver, and Gregg Berhalter will have some very difficult decisions to make as he whittles down his roster from 40 to 23.
The 40-man preliminary USMNT roster was unveiled on Monday, and the collection of talent showed just how deep the current group is, and also showed that there will be some good players left out when the final squad is ultimately chosen.
There are still club games to be played though, and it remains to be seen which players will be available, but it isn’t too early to look at what the final USMNT squad might look like when the Americans take on Honduras in the Nations League semifinals.
Here is the 23-player roster we could see Berhalter choosing for the June competition:
Projected USMNT Concacaf Nations League roster
Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, Matt Turner
Steffen is the clear starter, while Horvath comes in after the end of his club season. That leaves a third spot for the winner of the Sean Johnson-Matt Turner battle. Both have had their share of call-ups, and starts in recent years under Berhalter, but we’ll give the edge to Turner as the more recent call-up of the two.
Missed the Cut: Sean Johnson, David Ochoa
John Brooks, Sergino Dest, Reggie Cannon, Aaron Long, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson, Chris Richards, DeAndre Yedlin
There are some very intriguing battles to be decided. Start in central defense, where Brooks is a lock and Long is a safe bet. Miazga leads the rest of the field as the third central defender, leaving one spot to be fought over between Richards, Miles Robinson and Mark McKenzie. Richards has played more minutes in 2021, and has been with the USMNT more recently.
The fullback situation is tricky because Sergino Dest can play either position, so if Berhalter wants to just bring three fullbacks he could. The Deandre Yedlin-Bryan Reynolds decision is a difficult one, and Reynolds has been with the team more recently.
Another thing to consider is whether Berhalter brings in Tim Ream, who has been a regular call-up as the back-up left centerback and also as a much-needed veteran presence in the locker room. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Berhalter included him, but for this projection we will leave him out.
Missed the Cut: Mark McKenzie, Tim Ream, Bryan Reynolds, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines, Walker Zimmerman
Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, Sebastian Lletget, Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta
The first five names on this list are pretty set in stone based on form and Berhalter’s preferences, while Aaronson’s excellent form with Red Bull Salzburg makes him a safe bet as well. That leaves Acosta as a back-up defensive midfielder, getting the call over Jackson Yueill in another tight battle.
Some of the players missing out in this positional race will be leading candidates for the Gold Cup squad, including Yueill and Cristian Roldan.
Missed the Cut: Jackson Yueill, Luca De La Torre, Owen Otasowie, Cristian Roldan.
Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, Gyasi Zardes, Daryl Dike
Berhalter normally only brings two strikers, but it may be tough for him not to bring three given the wealth of options at the position. As it stands, this group would mean leaving out the very promising Siebatcheu as well as Gioacchini.
Could Berhalter leave Zardes and Dike out in order to leave them with their MLS teams, freeing them up for the Gold Cup and allowing him to bring in Gioacchini and Siebatcheu? It wouldn’t be the worst idea, especially if Berhalter is going to roll with Sargent as his starting striker, which is very likely to be the case.
In terms of wing options, Pulisic and Weah are the only two listed here, but Reyna and Aaronson can also play on the wing, and Zardes has also been used on the wing in the past. Arriola should be considered an option once he’s had more games under his belt, but for the Nations League he’s probably going to miss out due to his lack of recent minutes.
Missed the Cut: , Paul Arriola, Tyler Boyd, Konrad De La Fuente, Nicholas Gioacchini, Jordan Siebatcheu
What do you think of this group? Who made the cut that you were happy to see included? Who missed out that you feel should have made the team?
Share your thoughts below.