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Projecting the USMNT roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup

The Concacaf Gold Cup is less than a month away, meaning Gregg Berhalter is already putting the finishing touches on the squad he will choose for the U.S. Men’s National Team, and it will be an almost completely different squad from the one that won the Concacaf Nations League title.

The European-based stars who helped topple Mexico and win the USMNT’s first trophy since the 2017 Gold Cup are well into their summer vacations ahead of the start of European club preseason, leaving the 20201 Gold Cup as a showcase tournament for the MLS-based contingent in the USMNT player pool.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Berhalter won’t try to convince some European teams to allow some players to take part. We aren’t talking about the Christian Pulisics and Weston McKennies of the world, but someone like Julian Green or Chris Richards would be an excellent addition to the pool of available MLS options.

For now, what we do know is that the roster will be made up mostly of MLS players, and as much as there are several exciting young prospects in the pipeline, we shouldn’t expect Berhalter to turn the Gold Cup squad into a gloried U-23 team.

Something else to remember is the Gold Cup allows teams to bring in replacements for the knockout rounds, an option multiple USMNT coaches have used to bring in top veterans later in the competition. Berhalter could choose to do that, which would give him a chance to see some younger faces in the group stage, and save some veterans for the latter stages.

The preliminary USMNT Gold Cup roster was submitted to Concacaf by U.S. Soccer on Monday and should be released by Concacaf this week, but for now here is a look at the 23-player USMNT Gold Cup roster we could see Berhalter call up in July:


Projected USMNT Concacaf Gold Cup roster


Goalkeepers


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Matt Turner, Sean Johnson, David Ochoa

When neither Turner or Johnson were included in the Nations League setup it seemed clear they would both be part of the Gold Cup. Turner has continued to play well in 2021 after his breakout 2020 and looks like the favorite to start.

David Ochoa was the third goalkeeper for the Nations League. Will he fill that role again, or will Berhalter go with a third veteran, like a Hamid? Guzan has not officially announced his international retirement, but at 36, you wonder if Guzan will earn another look.

Missed the Cut: Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid, William Yarbrough


Defenders


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Aaron Herrera, Sam Vines, Julian Araujo, George Bello, Miles Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, Auston Trusty, Justen Glad

Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman could be the starting centerback tandem in the Gold Cup unless Berhalter can secure the services of someone like Chris Richards, but some of the bench spots in central defense are particularly intriguing.

Auston Trusty is having a good season with the Colorado Rapids, and is one of the few natural left-footed centerbacks performing well at the moment, so he is someone Berhalter should take a good look at, if only for the group stage. Justen Glad is a player Berhalter has called in before, and someone who he rates as a prospect.

One player who appears to be a long-shot despite being a very talented centerback option is James Sands. The young and technically-sound NYCFC defender could be excellent in Berhalter’s system, and it remains a mystery how he wasn’t part of the Olympic qualifying squad.

The number of options at right back is impressive, but you have to think Berhalter would have an eye on Araujo as someone who could be cap-tied. Of course, he would have to accept the call-up, but even if he didn’t, Berhalter would have any number of options to replace him, including the attacking-minded Brooks Lennon and versatile Kyle Duncan.

Left back has some solid options in Sam Vines and George Bello, who are both on the younger side.

Missed the Cut: Brooks Lennon, Kyle Duncan, Alex Roldan, James Sands, Jaylin Lindsey, Mauricio Pineda


Midfielders


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Sebastian Lletget, Kellyn Acosta, Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan, Gianluca Busio, Caden Clark

Lletget, Acosta and Yueill should all be on the squad, while Roldan is a safe bet to be included as well. That leaves two spots that should go to some very exciting young prospects.

Busio has really evolved as a well-rounded two-way central midfielder for Sporting Kansas City, and though he is just 18, both Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah have already shown 18 isn’t too young to impress with the USMNT.

Caden Clark is even younger at 17, but there is no denying his dynamic attacking qualities in the final third. He is listed in the midfield group here, but it would not be at all surprising if Berhalter used him in a wing role, much the way he has used Brenden Aaronson.

As far as European-based midfielders go, Julian Green took part in the pre-Nations League camp, but didn’t get to play in the friendly against Switzerland. Could Berhalter talk Gruether Furth into having Green take part in at least the group stage of the Gold Cup? Might he sell Valencia on the benefit of giving Yunus Musah a chance to showcase himself on the international stage?

And what of Michael Bradley? He seems an unlikely inclusion to the full squad, but as a replacement for the knockout rounds, where his experience and poise could help in the closing stages, Bradley could make some sense. It would also allow Berhalter to see just how viable Bradley would be as an option for the early stages of World Cup qualifying, particularly in early road trips to Honduras and likely El Salvador.

Missed the Cut: Djordje Mihailovic, Eryk Williamson, Tanner Tessmann, Russell Canouse, Keaton Parks, Frankie Amaya, Hassani Dotson, Marky Delgado, Andres Perea


Forwards


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Daryl Dike, Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Cade Cowell, Rubio Rubin, Corey Baird

Yes, Dike could theoretically be heading back to Europe via a summer transfer, which would get in the way of a Gold Cup call-up, but the more realistic scenario is Dike starts in the Gold Cup and boosts his stock even more, giving him another month before the close of the transfer window.

Some of you may have forgotten about Zardes, or think he’s been passed over by the wave of young strikers in the USMNT player pool, but don’t go counting him out just yet. He still knows Berhalter’s system all too well, and the likely absence of Jozy Altidore keeps Zardes in the mix.

Altidore’s unsettled situation with Toronto FC is likely to drop him out of the USMNT picture until he finds a new team and regular playing time. Ayo Akinola is still eligible for both the USA and Canada, so the 21-year-old may not be in a hurry to cap-tie himself just yet.

Speaking of cap-tying, Rubio Rubin has been courted by the Guatemalan national team, but Berhalter has reached out, and given Rubin’s hot form to start the 2021 MLS season, he should be considered an option.

Cade Cowell is another exciting young prospect who has multiple national team options. The San Jose Earthquakes teenager has been on a tear in 2021, and his explosiveness and skill on the ball make him someone Berhalter should bring in for a long look.

One European-based option to consider at striker is Sebastian Soto. The Norwich City striker is unlikely to be part of the newly-promoted English team’s plans, so Soto could be called in and be cap-tied, while potentially earning some official competition appearances to help his chances of securing a U.K. work permit.

Missed the Cut: Jozy Altidore, Ayo Akinola, Chris Mueller, Jeremy Ebobisse


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. ochoa turner frei
    richards CCV EPB zimmerman reynolds moore vines lichaj
    green gall holmes ferreira dotson johnny
    AJ wood arriola konrad musah llanez

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  2. I dont put much value on these projections and I hope Im right again after reading this one. I dont see us doing well if this works out to be true

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    • the costa rica game should be a reminder of the value of some foot speed players. if all you field is a bunch of touch players the other team can sit on the marks without fear of being caught up. if you have a deep threat or two then they have to play a softer line which then ironically creates more space to maintain possession between the lines.

      if people need specifics, bradley’s team of 2011 slowpoke semi-technical players who struggled to keep up with panama or mexico and got him fired. people tend to overrate how technical is “technical” if you run out a bunch of finesse players. there is a reason spain’s short passing style is a stalemate machine most years and was only a monster with the right talent alignment of stars.

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  3. There is no way Greg brings Lleget, Yueill, and Acosta. There will be some younger options and some european players on this roster, because we need to continue to build depth, quality depth, instead of carrying players we already know a lot about from the Nations League roster. I think we’ll see the likes of Julian Green, Luca De La Torre, Paxton Polmykal as well as Eryk Williamson. Corey Baird is a no for me, his time has come and gone, there are just better, younger options we need to be looking at in his stead. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with those CB options either, as I’d love to see a EPB and CCV added to this roster

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    • I think there will be a lot of moving pieces this summer with respect to both MLS and Euro players, club situations, and transfers. So I think it’s likely that who we’ll see will be a bit of a hodgepodge that maybe looks a bit incoherent to an outsider. Why Zardes and no Hoppe? Why Palmer-Brown but no Carter-Vickers? And so on.

      In other words, I think everyone who wants to complain about something will have something to complain about. I just hope we’re able to get some up-and-comers some competitive experience and some time with the team. If availability weren’t an issue, I’d like to see a midfield with Flach, Williamson, and Green/Pomykal.

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    • I can see Lletget making the squad to provide a veteran presence, but bring back Yueill and Acosta seems a waste. Yueill has had lots of looks and his Nations League opportunity bombed. We need to look at alternatives. Acosta is a known but limited quantity but there are others we can bring in. In midfield I think we need to bring in two young players with massive upside in Williamson and Pomykal. I would absoutely bring in Flach since he has played so well for Philly and perhaps Sands from NYCFC. Mueller seems an excellent addition rather than someone like Baird. If he could get Luca and Richards they would be great additions also but I understand they could be tricky. I bring these players up because most of them have big upsides and by the fall or next year could really be pushing for a role in the WC team.

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  4. I would want to see Tyler Boyd & Mueller over Baird. Boyd, Mueller, Clark, Cowell on the wings should give CONCACAF defenses fits. Emmanuel Sabbi would be a nice surprise. Can we see Durkin? He’s a pure 6!, as well as Servania. A Green & De La Torre combo in the midfield would be nice to see, also. Can’t believe I’m admitting to this but I wouldn’t be upset if Arriola & Roldan should back them up. Roldan is having a great start to the season. Tessmann or Williamson is better combo in my opinion. All bets are off if Musah is available. Shaq Moore > Herrera and you see if he can play CB in a pinch. Araujo to back him up. LBs (Vines & Bello) are solid picks, considering Gloster isn’t in form. Leaving Lovitz & Sweat? (Pass) Miles Robinson has good change of direction but his passing isn’t better than Zimmermans. If those 2 are the CB pairing, then it’ll be a struggle playing from the back. Will Atl cooperate? Trusty is true LCB and Glad was solid on the left during OQ, both have been playing together since YNT. If Richards & Che are available, then Trusty & Glad are dropped. I’m fine with Zardes & Dike but in case Dike is transfer negotiations, then I hope Super Nova over Rubin. I hope it’s not majority MLS players but a combination of the US player pool, participating in the GC. If we win a trophy, then journey won’t really matter.

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  5. Ives – I hope you’re wrong on your projected squad. There are far too many “Dead End” players for my taste…and not enough players who could actually help the USMNT pool come WCQ. I’m hoping we can pull at least a couple European players into the squad. Maybe Boyd, Luca, Green, Richards, CCV…guys who may actually provide some decent depth quality ahead of WCQ.
    Defense: While the outside backs are not spectacular they’re not unreasonable for a “B/C-Team”. I can live with these 4. The CBs are just scary outside Robinson. Here’s hoping we can get Richards & CCV released to go along with Zimmerman (not a fan) & Robinson. Otherwise the center is going to be overrun.
    Midfield: is full of “Gregg’s Guys” who’ve shown time and again they are not up to the standards of the international game. I like the possibility of Clark & Busio and could live with Lletget & Acosta (although their limited). Yueill & Roldan have shown they are not capable. Would much rather see Green, Flach, Sands, Luca or Pomykal. (I like Sands as a utility player for CB & CDM).
    The attack is underwhelming to say the least. I like the idea of Dike getting a string of games. He’s raw but deadly. Cowell is a nice call to provide some creativity. I can even accept Arriola, but the rest are dead ends and pointless. Would prefer to try some options who could actually help in qualifying….Mueller, Boyd, maybe Konrad (if we can get him).
    I’m sick of seeing retreads (Arriola, Roldan, lletget, Zimmerman, Lletget, etc…). These guys have been given multiple opportunities and shown that they’re placeholders at best. Even the thought of Ream, Jozy, and/or Bradley being included would have made the 23 worse. All 3 should retire from the international game. Hell, I’d call Geoff Cameron in before even mentioning these 3.

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  6. Cowell, Busio, Bello, Flach and Clark have a future (future MLS huge transfers) but Acosta, Roldan, Vines, Zardes and Yueill are average or below in CONCACAF.

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  7. Well, I don’t agree with the near total focus on MLS players. Bring in some fringe European players, too. Possibilities include Haji Wright, CCV, and Palmer Brown. Green instead of Lletget and Chris Richards for sure if he is available. In midfield bring in Musah for sure and cap tie him and take out Roldan.

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    • Agreed. This can’t be solely MLS guys. Really would be a great time to see some of the fringe Euro guys like Green, Novakovich…and as far as MLS goes, Busio is a must with the Italy rumors coming in.

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    • I believe Wright is making a transfer if that comes through he needs to be with his new club. CCV and EPB seem in a similar position that their clubs usually wait for the last minute to loan them so they might as well be here playing. Green, I guess I’d leave up to him. Preparing for their first year in Bundesliga might be better if he’s in training there especially if they are bringing in new players. Richards if he’s going back to Hoffenheim with his old coach, no if he’s staying at Bayern he needs then to train with Nagelsman. Musah isn’t going anywhere, I’d rather he stays in Valencia and earns time with them, hopefully centrally for this season. I do wonder about younger guys though like Llanez, Kayo, Hernandez Foster, and Mendez. It’s probably not realistic to not bring in some veterans like Roldan or Lletget that know the system though.

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    • Agree, the above line up or squad esp. in midfield is so horrendous. We need some euro based players who have not played well. The above we would be lucky to get to the final and mexico would easily beat this team. Btw the winner going to confederations cup?

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      • Fifa has said it will no longer be holding the confederations cup. The plan was to hold a Club World Cup in Summer of 2021 instead but when Covid hit the Euros and Copa America got pushed into that time. Likely will be held in Summer 2023.

  8. I think getting Green some time with the team is really important, if possible. I think he’s the most promising player at the moment on the outside looking in. Lletget has excellent attributes and should be in the picture going forward, but Green brings something to the table that no one else in our midfield stable can offer. Giving him a good look should be a priority.

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  9. Bradley…….. Bradley? The mind is willing and able but the legs are not. I mean really really not. The matches I’ve seen him play were shocking- literally like watching someone running in mud. I am far from a Bradley hater but- no shame- he is done internationally. And we’ve got lots of young options that need to be exposed to international play. Building that kind of depth is what we need for WCQ and beyond. I’d say the same at goalkeeper. Should be nothing but Turner and Ochoa between the pipes. And Busio at the 6 please. Expose him to national team level, expose him to suitors abroad. He has waaaay more upside than Yueill and is already as good as a teen. Please O please let’s not let this opportunity go wasted and repeat the dreadful selection decisions we made for Olympic quals.

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  10. At this point in the program, the Gold Cup should be used to blood new players. You’ve done that for the defense and forwards but not for the midfield for reasons that escape me. We know what Lletget, Acosta, Yueill, and Roldan can (and can’t) do. They already know Berhalter’s system and are well positioned to play in WCQ this fall if our first choice XI is unavailable (or we need squad rotation). Bring Williamson, Parks, Pomykal, and Tessmann, both to position them to take place in WCQ in the fall if any of them plays lights out and, more importantly given how deep our squad is right now, help facilitate European transfers so that they can potentially participate in 2026.

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  11. Why would GB need to convince clubs to release Euro players? Is a FIFA sanction date. I can see because of the time differential from previous years is to have the blessing of the clubs for future requests.

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    • amen. and letting a player bed in with their new club side should be a veteran move when you have already proven yourself. if you want that liberty here it should be at the risk of your NT role this cycle. put differently, not sure when else reynolds or richards or the like plan on making their case for the WCQ team. this is not Klinsmann, he’s not going to just name talented people straight to a qualifier or the finals. this is mr. club form and mr. slow walk you into the side.

      also, fwiw, most of the schedule from now through qatar is planned out, are international windows for qualifying, and then the tournament itself is in the fall and likely a short release period. there is barely any time for any friendlies and they would be like next summer and fall. why are we kissing up to clubs? most of the schedule coming up is required release.

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      • International window schedule for 2022:
        Mar: Final matches of qualifying
        May 30- June 14: Up to 4 matches
        Sept. 19-27: 2 matches
        Nov 14: Players released for WC
        Nov 21-Dec. 18: World Cup

    • If players miss training camp unless they are established with their clubs and managers they are unlikely to see the field at the start of the season. That hurts their chances to perform well in qualifiers because their match fitness and speed of play would likely be off.

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      • (a) as you note, there will be a week release before the tournament. this is not going to be the usual month long camp with a lengthy list of extra players. it will probably be just enough for an emergency swap or two, with anyone else on call. (b) you are implying that a team having already gone through WCQ is going to swap people out in those friendlies and not use the majority to simply drill the core squad which will be developed in the WCQ. klinsi might do that — julian green — but i foresee GB basically dancing with who brung him. my point is where the window is to get into the team before we are almost in qatar. now and for the next 16 games. it’s GC or you will be lucky to crack it. there will likely be no more friendlies before we are either going or not.

  12. Soto? Why worry about cap tying a player who has barely played first team soccer, and only scored in the Dutch 2nd D? Might as well brink in Nova who could be cap tied to Serbia still….wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Just don’t see it and the US doesn’t have to pander for just “possible potential/hopeful” potential anymore. Call in Cowell, Busio, and Clark. Young potential w possible high ceilings. Two who have international options. Soto? Poorly run club career/decisions so far. Little impact. Yawn.

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    • fwiw his career pattern is he was dominant scorer on the U20 team the cycle after sargent, he was good for his german II team, and then he was good on his dutch team, and then he scored a brace for the US. he had a single bad season for a team where he no longer plays.

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      • -It was a German U19 team not a II team that designates U23 in Germany. The German U19 division or Junior A is regional so he wasn’t just playing Bundesliga U19 teams he was also playing Osnabruk and Havelse and Magdeburg.
        -Also only 2 players who played in the US friendly were on the field in the qualifier against Curaçao. That would be like justifying another US player based on the El Salvador friendly that had 2 players in common with their qualifying team tonight.
        -U20 success, Ukraine has 1 player in their Euro roster from their U20 WC winning squad, France has 0 players from their U20 squad we beat, Ecuador has 1 player from their U20 team that beat us on their Copa squad. U20 success doesn’t always translate

      • the U20 comparisons are fake because they aren’t filling 19/23 of a roster on a team that couldn’t even make russia. it’s like comparing aaronson on the union to richards trying to make BM.

      • you nitpicked the precise nature of the team but not how well he did there. my point is he did well everywhere except one team. that stands.

      • a brace in 10′ is a brace in 10′, regardless who against. any cap like that is always an opening to, “how would he do against someone better.” you’re assuming a conclusion we do not know because he only got a half hour more in one game since then. the normal process is not to mock people saying play the 2 goal guy, it’s he gets more caps to show if it’s real. you’re oddly saying deny the future caps based on theory about how they might go. that’s not supposed to be how these games work. you perform well, you earn more looks. we don’t paper-speculate how the next cap would go or deny you future caps because the past cap might have been easy. by your silly logic we could have denied pulisic any further involvement because his first cap was guatemala who don’t amount to much. you don’t pick your opponents, you make a case.

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