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Projecting the USMNT’s Nations League roster

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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


Goalkeepers


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


Defenders


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


Midfielders


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.


Forwards


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.

Comments

  1. Richards has not played due to injury since the weekend of April 25. He has only one more chance to suit up this season.
    Long looks to have sustained a serious injury yesterday.
    There may be some changes the defenders called up. Miles Robinson and McKenzie now look more likely to make the squad.
    Sadly injuries may determine who gets on the squad.

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  2. i think he has to bring 6-7 forwards (though not all may be on NL) because pulisic has UCL initially. ditto steffen. so the 23 for the swiss game may not quite match the NL roster (and there is also the rumor weston plays one and done). we might call 26 and swap 3, and one of those would be forward.

    you forgot sargent. i would be curious if he moves zardes out wide in morris’ absence and given the abundance of 9s now (as well as zardes mediocrity IMO). but the coach is glacially slow and not a risk taker. he would have already called him to try that. so i think he plays reyna wide and zardes middle. jordan played the best of the noobs but i think he favors dike on “club form,” even though he’s had 2 just ok caps.

    pulisic and arriola L reyna and boyd R. the man is a creature of habit. if you want habits broken wait for gold cup.

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    • When you include Aaronson and Reyna as wings which is where they play for their clubs (Reyna both W and AM) and where they played for the US in March it equals 7. Zardes would be terrible as a wing in what Berhalter wants wings to do and I’m a Gyasi fan. If he isn’t a CF he doesn’t have a place on the NT. He isn’t going to tuck inside and dribble at defenders like Pulisic, Reyna, and Aaronson. He’s not great at crossing either if stayed in a wide wing mode. He is good at making well timed runs in the box and drawing defenders with his positioning to open up space for others.

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      • whether people like or realize it, the productive big 4 for recent years has been arriola pulisic morris mckennie. some woudld add zardes. if arriola is healthy he is the backup. did you miss his fall scorelines for the Nats? still scoring. aaronson is being groomed but when everyone is present he’s going to sit a lot. he will get his chance if the central mids struggle or arriola gets hurt or falls off.

    • I could see Arriola making this roster just because he’s more a two way player than Aaronson, Konrad, or Weah so you could bring him on for CP or Reyna to kill off a game for the final 10 minutes. I don’t think Berhalter is going to put a ton of stock in his production against El Salvador and TnT though.

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      • arriola is underrated. he had a goal on TnT in WCQ. he had a goal on costa rica in a friendly. he had a couple goals and some assists last gold cup. he then had 3 goals in recent friendlies. if you pretend the coach “disregards” recent form then he has a track record before that, and the coach plainly likes him. more to the point, as with morris while he was healthy, a conservative NT coach isn’t going to sit a productive veteran to get a promising kid on the field. this is not klinsmann with green and morris. he will run out zardes and arriola until someone out-does them. which he makes it hard to do when he hands them most of the minutes. this is my whole complaint on his pro veteran bias when i suggest experiments. you mostly back the man and then suddenly become an experimenter like me when you don’t like someone. well, expect this coach to be consistent.

  3. if you view the man as incumbent favoring and transparent with his allocation of caps, then he will favor the often used yueill over the recently trialed acosta, who didn’t play well his second game. i think we need a more physical 6 for a tournament among these particular teams, his idea of a delicate passing 6 is “punch down” tactics. i don’t see anyone i like for that role on this list. i dislike yueill slightly less than the cuts, he has good soccer IQ. i like the first 5 and would like to see reyna as an AM where he is best for dortmund.

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  4. miazga and yedlin have played as poorly in recent caps as ream has. and brooks and robinson are weak sauce. but that list you probably have him accurately ventriloquized. i think we need some fresh looks but those will have to wait for gold cup. GB is of the recent USSF school where you conservatively “play to win” tournaments with the same people who cost you recent games. we generally lack the guts to take “green” or “morris” gut guesses in tournaments since klinsi’s 2014 term. which favors incumbents, which favors continuity of struggle.

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  5. think the keepers are all wrong (in terms of who he wants). the coach is very incumbent biased and fairly transparent. you seem him coming a mile away from previous use. in terms of previous use, behind steffen (1) it would be sean johnson (2), matt turner (who does have a recent cap) (3) leaving out horvath who hasn’t been capped since march 2019 or ochoa who is the U23 rep. that might be fudged for the first friendly because steffen has UCL.

    i don’t like how he handles keeper because no one has to earn their roles. steffen hasn’t had to actually play well in years, the opposite of how keeper has traditionally been handled here. he does not have to share much friendly time with a second who pushes him. the second and third have barely played in years and not earned their slots through good performances, but rather circularly by being assumed to be second or third best. steffen has been hurt as recently as last year, and sits a lot, and having roster competition is just common sense.

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  6. Acosta at least will be acclimated to Denver’s lack of oxygen. It will interesting to see the players coming from the Switz game and how they handle the altitude.

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    • swiss game is close to sea level. the view will be pretty but it’s low ground high mountain situation not mile high colorado plains.

      my best guess is however much the altitude burns us they are hoping it hits mexico and honduras in their offseasons. but mexico are probably used to it, ditto CR. i don’t quite get it but assume they knew where the gold cup games were going and tried to avoid that.

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  7. I know we are talking the A-team right now, but what I’ve seen of Matthew Hoppe at Schalke makes me hungry to see him in national team camp.

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    • this is kind of like our dated affection for a coach that had one decent season in 2015. hoppe had a good run in january. by the end of the season he hadn’t scored in months, had barely put a shot on net, and his team got relegated. dike is the “club form” guy and nico or soto were the ones who actually scored in friendlies.

      fwiw i think they are watching the first 2 strikers for NL anyway. i wish we were doing some experiments, this will be conservative “play to win” selections and if a noob makes the team other than reyna or musah, it’s probably to sit and maybe play in friendlies.

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  8. With Ives roster here’s what Gold Cup could be:
    ————Siebatcheu————-
    Konrad——————Clark——
    ———Luca———Pomykal——
    —————Yeuill——————
    Vines——McKenzie-MRob-Reynolds
    ——————Ochoa——————
    ———————————————
    GK: Johnson, Miller?
    Def: Ream, Zimmerman, Gutman (seriously he’s been really good for RBNY), Araujo
    MF: Green, Booth, Roldan, Uly, Mendez
    For: Nico, Cowell, Arriola, Mueller
    Euros are allowing 26 man rosters so I added 3. Other guys I’d be happy about Nyeman, Busio, Sands, Otasowie, Bello. Dream pick Che over Ream.

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  9. For the most part I like this 23. There are just a couple names I wish were not included.
    1) Yedlin – While not a bad choice, I don’t think his skill set works all that well with the way the team wants to play. Reynolds is potentially a better fit style wise and has more upside so I’d like to get him experience.
    2) Acosta – This inclusion bothers me. He proved in the past camp he is incapable of holding possession when an opponent puts any type of pressure on him. He’s a liability even as a back-up. I don’t think Yueill is much better, so would prefer Otasowie or Cardoza (even after a bad Olympic Qualifying) to Acosta.
    3) Zardes – I see no benefit (NONE) to his being with this team. If any 2 of Sargent, Dike, or Siebatcheu is in the 23 than leave Zardes home for another winger. Of the options available from the 40 I’d go with Boyd, Konrad, or Luca.
    Unfortunately I fully expect Zardes, Acosta, & Yedlin to be there. I also think we’ll see Ream selected ahead of Richards.

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    • Johnny was one of our three worst players at OQ, constantly out of position and terrible in possession. He couldn’t hold possession against DR U23s and you’d take him over Acosta who struggled against NIreland? Yueill is better than both by leaps and bounds today. Johnny has a huge upside but he’s just athleticism right now. Otasowie has been pretty bad in his appearances for Wolves, even if it is the EPL he’s seemed far from ready for consistent adult minutes. You’re using the grass is greener theory, anyone I haven’t seen play much must be better.

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  10. On another front, Tata not listing in Chicharito is one of the more surprising things from a National team coach. Coaches do not always share their reasoning with the fans!

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    • It grabs the headlines but Jimenez and Pulido are better at this point and Martin has been quite productive for Club America. If Chicharito is still hot this summer they can bring him in for GC or use him as an overage at the Olympics. Their are quite a few Olympic eligible guys in Mexico’s list so maybe Tata goes first eleven and then Olympians as prep for Tokyo. Not a lot of wing players if someone gets hurt Efra is up. Heard rumors he’s about to sign with Chivas so that would wrap up his USMNT chance.

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  11. I think Zardes is likely to be on the 23 if for no other reason than that GB trusts him to give an honest effort. I don’t think GB sees him as the answer going forward, but that he still has a role to play. I also think Dike needs to be included if only because he is a strong player who is presently improving by leaps and bounds.

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  12. Richards has been suspect as a defender for Hoffenhiem who are low mid table in the Bundesliga. He is quick enough, but I think he needs to show that he can play the whole 90 at club level without the gaffes I have seen him commit. I would go with McKenzie instead.

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    • McKenzie has been used of late as a late sub because he was performing poorly. I haven’t seen Chris play since probably March but if you look at his analytics numbers they are almost identical to John Brooks, on whoscored he’s rated as the 3rd best American in the Bundesliga behind Brooks 6.97, Reyna 6.84, then Richards at 6.79, Sargent 6.75, Adams 6.7. In a weaker league McKenzie is a 6.36, 6.54 in starts. Sofa score has Brooks as 6.94 in Bundesliga, Richards 6.91, McKenzie in Belgium 6.79. I don’t know how they figure these numbers but it gives a picture. I’m guessing you’re just seeing more Richards so you’ve seen more of his mistakes.

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    • Richards has made some mistakes, but overall he’s been pretty solid for Hoffenheim. But point out a player who hasn’t made mistakes in the season. McKenzie has played 631 minutes for Genk in a total of 23 games (all comps) which is averaging 27 min/game. McKenzie doesn’t make the 23 for NL.

      Brooks and Long are shoe-ins (given GB’s track record with Long). Miazga and Richards are seeing consistent playing time for better clubs than Genk.

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  13. we need Acosta since Adams is not 100%, I agree with the comments here, I’d rather see young Reynolds and De la Fuente over zardes any day

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  14. Hard to argue with this team. I like the inclusion of Yedlin as he is our strongest RB defender. I think Jackson, having the stronger showing in his last national team appearance, and also slightly younger, gets the nod over Acosta. I think GB is going to want to get a better look at Siebatcheu. To me the only difference between him and our other strikers is that Siebatcheu will be playing in the Champions League next year. Get him in over Zardes but maybe this is just wishful thinking.

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  15. Pick young people. No one cares about the Nations League or the Gold Cup. As someone else pointed out here, we won the Gold Cup right before failing to qualify for the World Cup. Does anyone consider 2017 a success? Of course not. There is only one tournament that matters. We should be using these second-rate tournaments to gel a team for the world cup, and to cap-tie people when we can. Reynolds over Yedlin all day long, and every other tie-breaker should go to the younger player.

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    • Hardcore fans may say they don’t care about NL or GC but winning one or both will attract casual fans get Sportscenter highlights. This group has one quite a bit with their clubs but none of them are the leading star on their clubs. Pulisic was the star last summer but they didn’t win any silverware then. If we defeat the Mexican A Team in the final, even hardcore cynical fans will care.

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      • as in 2915/16 the conservatism ensures glacial process on moving the roster along and surpassing mexico. we have some people like wood green holmes soto richards reynolds he isn’t calling or isn’t using much. we have some people like zardes yueill roldan yedlin robinson he is. we’re throwing a party bradley and jozy are gone. that’s the geological timescale this is on. this is not klinsi with green in world cup or pulisic almost straight into quali and copa america. i think we eventually catch mexico but only slowly and when his favorites go past age 30.

    • The NL and GC may not mean anything in the grand scheme of things as the WC is the big prize, winning matches makes a difference. Going into WCQ with a strong showing in NL and GC (regardless of squad) will make a difference going into WCQ. Failing to qual for 2018 WC and 2021 Olympics (not to mention 2 previous Olympics) has a long standing effect and winning is the key to fixing it. Saying that, our starting XI is almost a U23 team anyways. There are a couple of players in it that are older (primarily GK and CB) but overall our squad is young. I don’t think the likes of Zardes or Acosta are necessary and would like to have seen the likes of a Clark brought in instead, but I understand the callups. They have experience, especially with the teams we’ll be facing, and Gregg needs to put up a W to get people back on board.

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  16. I think that I’d rather see Siebatcheu or Giacochinni than Zardes and Boyd/KDF over Acosta and Lleget. Honestly, what value will Zardes add to the November 2022 roster? I’d rather have as a back up younger forwards with more potential….

    Adams, Mckennie, Musah and Aaronson plus Reyna is enough central mid depth.

    A back up to Pulisic would be nice to identify given his injury track record. Hence Boyd and/or KDF.

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    • but Reyna and Aaronson won’t be filling in the midfield options regardless of what the roster indicates. They will be competing for the winger roles in GB’s 4-3-3. Also Boyd/KDF do not play the same role as Lletget and Acosta. Saying that you could move Reyna and Aaronson back and include Boyd/KDF up higher, but GB won’t.

      Who fills in after Musah, Adams, and McKennie? Lletget and Torre are obvious picks. Lletget has been solid for the US and there is no reason to discredit his inclusion. Torre has proven he’s a capable CM option in the last friendlies as well as in Netherlands. There still needs to be depth for Adams, who fills it? It has to be Yueill (my pick) or Acosta given who’s been called in.

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  17. I had Johnson for Horvath, Boyd for Zardes (and this one was a crapshoot to me), and Yueill for Acosta, but otherwise the same.

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    • i think you’re about right. the coach is a creature of habit. i think we may see someone like roldan or yedlin getting cut but they weren’t starting anyway. i wish he got religion on zardes and some of the backs but he is glacial when he wants an outcome to happen in spite of performance.

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  18. I think most people will be ok with some of the older players if they know the younger guys will get 4 or 5 games in GC. I think we’ll get a good picture on 1-11 after this roster is named but we won’t know the preferred 23 until Sept.

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    • The Switzerland game would have told us something too, but with Pulisic and Steffen out for the CL Finals, we’ll have to wait to get a better picture of the preferred 11 to this point

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      • True but pretty safe to say CP and Steffen are locked in when available. I’m still not convinced we’re taking MLS players outside an international window to Europe for two days of training then a match then flying right back home. I think they’ll be with their MLS clubs until the Euros arrive in Denver. I think we’ll have some Euro based players for Switzerland that won’t be at NL.

      • The bigger issue is that Sargent, Dike, Cannon could miss the Swiss game due to promotion/relegation playoffs. If one or all of these guys are out that will really muck things up.

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