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Projecting the USMNT roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup (Again)

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We are a week away from the U.S. Men’s National Team submitting its final 23-man roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup, and while we went through the exercise of trying to project the squad earlier in the month, there are a few reasons to go through the exercise one more time.

For starters, Concacaf has done away with its recent tradition of allowing roster changes after the group stage. The USMNT benefited from that rule on its way to the 2007, 2013 and 2017 Gold Cup titles, but will not have that luxury this time around.

The elimination of knockout round roster changes comes as a surprise, especially considering Concacaf’s decision to have teams submit up to a 60-man preliminary roster. It was mistakenly believed that the large preliminary roster would be better-suited to allow teams the flexibility of dealing with injuries and/or COVID-19 outbreaks, but instead, the large preliminary rosters will be rendered irrelevant in a week once final rosters are set.

The reality is the old roster change rule was a clear benefit to Concacaf powers Mexico and the United States, which both boast the kind of deep player pools (relative to Concacaf) to be able to take full advantage of being able to bring in reinforcements for the knockout rounds, whereas the rest of Concacaf rarely took advantage of the rule.

Berhalter will have to make do with 23 players he chooses one week from now, which could alter his decision-making process. Will he gamble on someone like Jozy Altidore, who hasn’t been playing and is injury-prone, when he won’t be able to replace him? Will Berhalter be less inclined to bring in more young prospects now that he won’t have the luxury of replacing them for proven veterans when the knockout rounds arrive?

Berhalter’s inclusion of several European-based player also adds some mystery to the squad, as we are left to ponder which of the Americans Abroad are realistic options. Julian Green, Matthew Hoppe and Reggie Cannon have all been identified as players who stand a very good chance of taking part, while Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown would definitely add some quality to the centerback selection.

With all that in mind,  here is a look at the 23-player USMNT Gold Cup roster we could see Berhalter call up when rosters are due to Concacaf on June 30:


Projected USMNT Concacaf Gold Cup roster


Goalkeepers


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Matt Turner, Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid

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.

Who will be the third goalkeeper? The USMNT’s group stage matches are all being played in Kansas City, which would make Melia a reasonable pick. Not just for convenience’s sake, but because Melia has earned a look as one of the top MLS goalkeepers for several years.

Unfortunately for Melia, Bill Hamid is also in the conversation, and Hamid has been part of Berhalter’s setup many times before.

And what do we make of Brad Guzan’s inclusion? The veteran goalkeeper could be given a shot to make a run at the starting role, but would Guzan be interested in serving as a third goalkeeper at this point in his career?

Missed the Cut: Brad Guzan, Tim Melia


Defenders


Photo by John Dorton

Reggie Cannon, Sam Vines, Julian Araujo, George Bello, Miles Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers

The Reggie Cannon inclusion is a surprise, but given his desire to leave Boavista, having him take part in the Gold Cup makes plenty of sense, even if it makes a crowded right back pool even more crowded.

Now, if Cannon winds up not taking part, you have the in-form Aaron Herrera as well as European-based Shaq Moore, who has become a regular starter for Spanish second division side Tenerife and hasn’t had a USMNT look since 2018.

Centerback is particularly interesting, with European-based options Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers getting their chances to show they can compete for a spot in Berhalter’s top four central defenders. The Gold Cup would allow them to compete against MLS standouts Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman, and potentially boost their stock as they seek summer transfer/loan moves.

If Berhalter can’t secure Palmer-Brown and Carter-Vickers, he has some other promising options, including NYCFC’s James Sands, who is definitely worthy of a place, and Auston Trusty, who merits a look given his MLS form and standing as one of the few true left-footed centerbacks in the pool.

Justin Che is a promising prospect, but it’s a long shot for Berhalter to include the 17-year-old as one of his four central defenders.

Missed the Cut: Aaron Herrera, Kyle Duncan, Shaq Moore, Justin Che, James Sands, Auston Trusty


Midfielders


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Sebastian Lletget, Julian Green, Kellyn Acosta, Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan, Gianluca Busio

The Julian Green inclusion is surprising only in that he is set to begin his season with newly-promoted Bundesliga side Gruether Fürth, but it is clear if Berhalter brings him to the Gold Cup it is with an eye towards giving him a chance to show he can earn a role in World Cup qualifying. If Green is open to a Gold Cup inclusion —and all signs point to that being the case — it speaks volumes about his desire to play his way back into the USMNT picture.

The rest of the midfield group consists of veterans, though you have to think Berhalter can find room for Busio, who is in outstanding form, and could be poised for a summer transfer to Europe.

If Berhalter isn’t ready to include Busio, then Eryk Williamson would be a worthy option, though his exclusion from the U.S. Olympic qualifying squad makes you wonder where he stands in the USMNT pecking order.

Missed the Cut: Johnny Cardoso, Leon Flach, Eryk Williamson, Cole Bassett, Djordje Mihailovic


Forwards


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Daryl Dike, Matthew Hoppe, Paul Arriola, Cade Cowell, Rubio Rubin, Caden Clark

We have long assumed that Daryl Dike would take part in the Gold Cup, but given all the striker options at hand, you have to wonder if Berhalter might let Dike have a break given the long year he has had between MLS, national team duty and his loan to Barnsley.

If Dike is part of the squad, then he’s a player who could be the showcase striker, but reports have Matthew Hoppe playing a role in the Gold Cup also. Whether Hoppe will operate purely as a striker, or be used in a wide role to give the team an added wing option, remains to be seen.

If Dike and Hoppe are the strikers then that means veterans Jozy Altidore and Gyasi Zardes would be ruled out. Altidore’s exclusion wouldn’t be the biggest shock given the fact he isn’t playing with Toronto FC, where he is essentially in exile while he waits a move away from the Canadian club. Zardes’ exclusion is more surprising, though it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Zardes might not still have a part to play in World Cup qualifying. Berhalter knows Zardes all too well, and doesn’t need a Gold Cup to convince him that he can call on Zardes if he needs him.

Another option for Berhalter if he chooses not to bring in Dike is Nicholas Gioacchini, who impressed in the November friendlies.

The wing options are a bit thin, with Arriola the only pure winger in the group. Rubin has played on the wing before, and his excellent MLS form coupled with Guatemala’s attempts to lure him away from the USMNT picture would make including him for the Gold Cup a sensible maneuver. Caden Clark isn’t a traditional winger, but he can operate in that role in Berhalter’s 4-3-3 system, much like Brendan Aaronson has blossomed in that role.

If Berhalter finds himself wanting other wing options, then Corey Baird and Chris Mueller are the best of the rest of the natural wing options available.

Missed the Cut: Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes,  Nicholas Gioacchini, Corey Baird, 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. 4-3-3 Lineup I would like to see (Vs Mexico specifically)
    LW- Mueller, CF- Dike, RW-Nico
    LMid-Green, 6-Flach, RMid-Williamson
    LB-Vines, CBs- M.Robinson, CCV, RB-Moore
    GK-Turner
    Bench- RMF-Pomykal, CF-Zardes, W-Clark, LMF-Busio, LB-Bello, GK-Melia, CB-EPB, 6-Perea, W-Hoppe, CB-Sands, RB-Araujo, GK-Hamid

    Reply
    • I’ve got no problem with that lineup, I don’t think Gregg will go quite that inexperienced though. Dike was awesome last night, it looked like Nani got that early penalty and then just tried to see how many goals he could set Daryl up with.

      Reply
  2. Most of the suggested roster I agree with. There are a few exceptions:
    Hamid – I don’t see the point in 3 veteran keepers. 2 Vets makes since, with young 3rd stringer.
    Yueill, Roldan, Acosta, & Lleget….we’ve seen all too often. I’d be fine with 2 of the 4….but all 4 seems unnecessary. Would like to see Flach, Williamson, or Cardoso given the opportunity.
    Rubin doesn’t make much since to me. Yes, he’s had a good start to this season, but he’s done little over the past 3 years of play. It’s not like he’s young or has history with these players so would prefer someone who could have a future (Gioacchini) or someone who’s produced beyond the past 2 months (Zardes).

    Reply
    • Not sure on Johnny, he was playing for his club then missed time for Olympic Qualifying and the new manager didn’t play him. That guy is gone and the interim guy has been playing him again. So maybe it’s better he just stays in Brazil and gets minutes. Plus he was so bad during qualifying. I watched his match last week, he turned it over in the first minute then couldn’t win the ball back which led to a 1 minute goal. He settled in after that and was fine. I do think he’ll do better playing in Berhalter’s system with Gregg managing and not Kreis trying to coach Gregg’s way.

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      • Cardoso was/is a bit of a reach, but I’d still much prefer him than trotting out Roldan again. It may be better for his development if he stayed with his club, but its important that we find a real back-up to Adams.
        Yueill has a good range of passing when given time, but cannot handle any kind of press from the opposition. That was made plainly obvious in NL. When combined with his low athleticism it doesn’t fair well for him long term.
        Acosta may be the best we have right now to back-up Adams….but would hope that someone would emerge to beat him out.

    • The other two keeper choices are Melia and Guzan 35 and 36. Hamid as actually 2nd youngest at 30 behind Turner 26. But after Turner I don’t care who makes the roster. They’d be battling for 5th keeper behind Zach, Ethan, Turner, Ochoa in overall order. I was a little surprised no Marcinkowski.

      Reply
    • I don’t disagree with anything you said! I do have to point out, Rubin is from the U23s of ‘16 (Steffen, Arriola, Acosta, Horvath, Morris, CCV, Miazga, Moore, Trapp, etc) US pipeline! Trapp isn’t in the national picture, anymore. GKs are known quality. We know what Miazga & a healthy Morris bring! Arriola & Acosta have hit their ceiling. I’m looking forward to where CCV & Shaq Moore fit into all this?!

      Reply
    • statistically the veteran GK are worse than the kids. the only reason they would be favored now is for being favored before. which is circular and begs the question. this is precisely why i go off on incumbency bias. now if guzan was actually playing as well as the others, or had been dominating in his caps, tie goes to the runner.

      i mean, to me, “qualitative” experience (how the game went) is more valid than “quantitative” experience (that you just played). guzan and hamid are both inconsistent and give up howlers periodically, for the Nats, and they are statistically worse than their competition at club. other than inertia i am not sure why they are favored. horvath just looked better in 2 games than we have looked at the position in years. but of course he didn’t have experience after 2018.

      Reply
  3. First, no Altidore, please. Second, if the goal is truly to develop the next generation of US players, please do not include Zardes, Lleget, Roldan and Acosta. We know what they can and cannot do already.

    Reply
    • I don’t think anyone would want to see all those veterans but putting out a team with no one with more than 1 or 2 caps seems destined to not get out of the group or past the quarters which would be a huge problem and kill the recent momentum of the NL. I think 1 or 2 vets each position group and then 2 or 3 with Jan camp experience, and 1 or 2 fresh faces in each group.

      Reply
  4. This is about more than testing out young players. This is our regional tournament and we want to win it. Looks like Mexico is bringing their A squad so we should bring the best team possible. I am sure GB will go with a mix of veteran players and promising young talent as he has in the past.

    Reply
    • I still think Mexico will end up with a B, B+ side. They’ve got some factors like their Federation runs Liga Mx and most of their first choice squad play in Liga Mx, Tata is no doubt feeling pressure after struggling in 2021 2-2-2 and struggling in those two wins against CR and Iceland, last they’ve got to field an Olympic team so youth are not available that may force a better side than they want to use.

      Reply
    • When you look at how WCQ is arranged for the 2022 WC Depth is going to be vital. This will favor nations that have enough depth to rotate their players based on the opponents. This should favor the US & Mexico as we have more players playing at a higher level of quality.
      Due to the congested fixtures this year; NL, GC, Olympics, WCQ….If Mexico brings their A-Team they might very well burn out some of their players. Mexico also has some Aging players in key roles. For them to go from League play to NL to Gold Cup, back to League play….they aren’t going to get much of a summer break. That opens the door to injury & burn-out. That could weaken them to the point where they drop points come qualifying.
      Would love to see Mexico not make the WC.

      Reply
  5. I don’t see the need to bring in Lleget, Acosta and Yueill again, as a matter of fact I’m guaranteeing it doesn’t happen, especially when you consider we need to recognize more depth options in midfield and looking at guys we’ve seen recently in friendlies and in Nations League limits that recognition ability. Furthermore, with MLS still playing season games during the GC, it’d be hard to get the clubs of those three players to release them again after having done so for NL! I’m looking forward to seeing Paxton Pomykal and Eryk Williamson, both of whom in my opinion are better than Yueill!

    Reply
    • I disagree with you Ronniet, I fully expect to see Roldan, Zardes and Lletget on this team. All have played vs Mexico and other concacaf teams. I don’t think we will see Yueill, I am unsure of Acosta.

      Reply
      • i think he has the mentality of some US coaches — more justified when the team was more successful — that veteran = winner. historically this would have been reflexively true. we were very successful and this favors incumbency. you need to somehow outplay an already successful unit to make the team. the reality is before this NL tournament we were fairly trash for about 6 years. and lost the last gold cup. i get we assume our best chance to win is the veterans but based on how 2019 went that is unjustified. roldan did jack. jozy had one goal all tournament and was scoreless in the knockouts (particularly the final we lost 1-0). zardes didn’t do much. why are we going back there? to try to win? they couldn’t win for 6 years.

        with this particular young pool the odds of success are actually going with the younger players. they also have downside risk as unknowns but that goes down to picking the right ones. and let’s be real, running yeuill or roldan out there is not risk free either. we forget that part.

    • I think Berhalter wants to bring in some veterans because he would like to at least make the finals of the tournament. I don’t know that a team filled with young kids can do that. Look at what happened with our Olympic team.

      Reply
      • the U23s were very educational. personally i think it’s more valuable to toss interesting players out there and see what happens than to assume my conclusion and protect my thought process. personally i would rest anyone from NL except Musah. but while i think lletget has earned his role on the team, if the more dubious yeuill and acosta get more minutes it has the effect of locking them into the team and protecting them from competition regardless how the games go. there are only so many remaining MF roster spots after they are included, who then are likely to be used as subs. if you call in more MF then more people get a chance to make a case and some of them can do so in starter minutes with more confidence.

        to use another position, if the only new back i call is mckenzie that protects ream and brooks and miazga and whatnot because fewer people try out for their position and have a chance to outdo them. and if mckenzie struggles or even is a mixed bag it tends to favor inertia and continuity. you revert back to the old even if it sucks. i believe in throughput and if you run 4 prospects through a camp probably 1-2 of them work out well and you have created real position competition. but i think GB picks his teams off spreadsheets and the last thing he wants is his favorites picked to play his way having to fend off a real challenge. it might threaten his tactical wishes, and it would definitely threaten his selection. unlike klinsmann he’s not the sort to just toss 2 guys out there for 45 each and thunderdome a position decision. to me he tends to decide on a starter. and run with it for months. and only after much angst reconsider, and then replace them with someone who plays for months.

      • the olympic team didn’t have free run of a senior roster and FIFA’s rule demanding player release, it was a U23 B side of players we could get released.

    • IV your selective memory of Klinsmann continued to astound. JK was fine throwing players into friendlies for sure but not in competitive matches. Pulisic made 7 sub appearances before his first start in any match. Julien Green wasn’t inserted into the World Cup in the first 375 minutes. Jordan Morris made starts under JK the match with Mexico that was not in a FIFA window so European players were not available and Canada in a Jan camp, his only competitive minutes were 22 against St VG when the US was up 5-1.

      Reply
  6. have already voiced my beef about the exclusions, but within the universe of the provo list:
    turner melia mehwhateverdude
    CCV EPB trusty zimmerman moore vines herrera gasper
    green pomykal busio clark johnny dotson
    dike ferreira arriola zardes (wide) clark lewis

    i like lletget and cannon but see no point (and injury risk when we need them for quali) to them playing a second tournament.

    yeuill guzan johnson hamid roldan acosta are perseverating.

    i like backs who can defend and at least some wings with some foot speed.

    i think hoppe’s flavor of the month status expired and ferreira gets everyone else involved.

    Reply
    • Ferreira just played his first match Saturday because he’s been injured. He did go 45 so maybe he is fit enough. Pomykal hasn’t gone more than 45 as FCD slowly bring him back after missing basically all of last season. I would like both to make it but not sure their health will allow it.

      Reply
      • sorry, neither of those would change anything. pomykal is healthy now just getting the white glove treatment. that’s FCD’s coaching choice not an injury we have to defer to. ferreira is closer to my “adams” concern — and i would be curious what his fitness is — but i’ll point out he has a shoulder issue rather than a leg one. this is not a hammy or broken leg or back. if he’s healed and fit a shoulder is not the category of risk we baby. if he’s out of shape, different story.

    • Considering Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Curaçao, and Haiti the teams with an outside shot of winning have already played multiple competitive matches this summer and have qualifying in September this seems pretty short sided. What does it do for the three Cinderella sides that still have to win two matches to qualify that have already played multiple WC qualifiers in June. Jamaica is my dark horse since they missed the NL but also were already qualified, plus they have a solid GK that will keep them punching above their weight. Especially if they bring Bailey and their recent English converts. A front line of Lowe, Bailey, and Antonio would be arguably the most explosive in the tournament.

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  7. First of all, it’s pretty stupid that CONCACAF has changed the rule about allowing changes after group stages. In a normal year, okay, but COVID is still a major problem so it seems idiotic to not make some allowances for players who test positive during the tournament. At the least, they should allow bigger rosters, like 28 instead of 23. As for the projections here, I think Zardes is likely to be selected and if he isn’t because of the reason given here, then he shouldn’t call in Arriola either since he certainly knows enough about him. In his place I’d like to see either Mueller or Ebobissee. Of those two I’d probably prefer Mueller.

    Reply
    • UEFA is allowing 26 players per roster and CONMEBOL 28 for their championships this summer. I get not switching players for Knockout rounds but why not expand rosters.

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      • i would assume someone sees potential advantage in shorter rosters. uefa and conmebol have a fair amount of parity. your only chance on the US or mexico might be we are short handed and unable within arbitrary rules to staff back up. also, my theory on them ditching the knockout round swaps is most teams barely have depth for the players that see the field much less a quality 23 much less another hockey shift coming in. so while this would be a practical response to covid they might fear it as the US and mexico can stock up. it would be farcical but in think they’d want to play us depleted at the risk it’s them instead.

  8. I really don’t see the point in bringing all 3 CMs from the NL. Berhalter said he wanted to test Yueill to see what he could do against better competition and he struggled against Switzerland and failed against Honduras. I understand one of them for continuity but not all. Williamson, Busio, and Flach all play in the same league and are having better seasons. Busio and Flach missed their opportunity with no U20 WC give them tournament experience here.
    ————————————
    I think if Gomez excepts you bring him along, I expect we’ll ask that he is at least allowed to train with the team as he did with Mexico during NL. From what I’m reading if he played only 3 matches with the US he could still file a switch in 3 years since he is U21. It will be interesting if Rubin and Araujo accept call ups and cap tie themselves.

    Reply
    • I agree with your point regarding midfield holdovers from the Nations League. I see Lletget being called in because Berhalter rates him highly and he’s shown well this year with the first team, and possibly Acosta for his versatility, but I think Yuell is a known quantity at this point and perhaps showed last month that he’s not quite international caliber at the moment. Like you, I would like to see Flach and Busio, especially, at No. 6. And I know Roldan is another Berhalter guy, but I’d be happy to see him left out this time so we can take a look at Williamson in one of the No. 8 roles.

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      • I still think Busio ends up as an 8/10 at the international level or a DM in a double 6 formation. His defense and tackling is getting better but it’s still not great in MLS. I watch most of SKC’s matches I think once Ismirat-Martin returns Ilie will return to the #6 role and Busio will push up into the 8/10 space.

      • I more or less agree. I’m convinced Busio will mature into a very useful player in the Pirlo mold, but that he’s got a way to go. But I’m high on Flach right now. I think he’s got immediate upside as a No. 6 and really hope to see him in the final squad.

    • Agree on Flach, he’s a long way from Adams but if you want a backup that can play a similar style he looks more the part. If we’re high pressing we can’t have passing DMs like Yueill or play Busio as a lone 6.

      Reply
  9. We shouldn’t be bringing in Lletgett, Acosta, Yueill & even Roldan in this camp, we need to see our younger players such as Busio, Clark, Flach, Bassett, Williamson. I also think it is a perfect time to cap-tie Jonathan Gomez now I know he’s only 17 but our depth at LB isn’t that great at all, wasn’t too impressive with Vines from what I’ve seen so far why not show sometime to Bello or Gomez. Che is another option at CB but doubt GB brings him in would like to captie him he is a dual national player could potentially play for Germany if we’re not careful

    Reply
  10. i think the idea on the provo roster is to commit the big teams to their possible universe of injury/covid replacements. i doubt we’d do it but some dual national join us last minute or some other player gets healthy and you get buyer’s remorse. “oh, we’ll say x is injured.” this way you had to at least list the replacement at some earlier point. though i think a medical committee has to sign off on injury replacements after being given a presentation, it removes some of the potential for abuse if the replacement player has to already be identified.

    Reply

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