With World Cup qualifying drawing ever closer, and the pool of viable options for Gregg Berhalter to turn to seemingly growing larger by the day, the selection process for the U.S. men’s national team’s World Cup qualifying squad won’t be an easy one.
After winning both the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup, the USMNT has a long list of player who impressed this summer, and that’s a great thing for Berhalter, who will call a larger-than-normal squad for the camp later this month due to the three-game qualifying run the team is set to face.
Of course, that still will mean some players don’t make the cut who could make good arguments for being included. That’s just the reality of having a deeper player pool, which will force players to keep improving in order to avoid losing their places in the group.
Here are the players we could see being called in for the World Cup qualifying training camp ahead of September’s qualifiers:
Projected USMNT World Cup Qualifying Roster
Zack Steffen, Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath
Steffen should still be the first-choice option in camp, though Matt Turner has a good case for playing in one of the three qualifiers given his current form.
Missed the Cut: Sean Johnson
Sergiño Dest, John Brooks, Miles Robinson, Antonee Robinson, Sam Vines, Mark McKenzie, James Sands, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon, Shaq Moore
There is a heavy Gold Cup influence in this group, with six members of the Gold Cup championship squad listed here. The big debate here is whether to go with Zimmerman in midseason form or go with Richards, who isn’t assured of seeing playing time in the coming weeks. We give the nod to Zimmerman, but if Richards settles his club future and gets some games in the coming weeks, he could earn a call.
Missed the Cut: Bryan Reynolds, Chris Richards, Matt Miazga, George Bello, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kevin Paredes, DeAndre Yedlin.
Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Sebastian Lletget, Julian Green, Cristian Roldan, Eryk Williamson, Kellyn Acosta, Brenden Aaronson
The absence of Gianluca Busio will surprise some, but unless he earns immediate playing time with Venezia it is easy to see Berhalter choosing other options who are playing regularly.
Yunus Musah’s expected absence due to injury frees up a spot, and Eryk Williamson could be the beneficiary after his good showing at the Gold Cup.
Aaronson has been used mostly as a winger with the USMNT, but he has experience operating in central midfield and should earn a look in a central role in this camp given the number of wing options available.
Missed the Cut: Yunus Musah, Gianluca Busio, Luca De La Torre, Jackson Yueill, Caden Clark, Owen Otasowie
Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Jordan Siebatcheu, Gyasi Zardes, Tim Weah, Konrad De La Fuente, Paul Arriola, Matthew Hoppe
Striker is suddenly crowded with options, and Sargent, Siebatcheu and Zardes are the top three at the moment. Hoppe can also play striker, but his work as a wide forward at the Gold Cup now has him looking more like a wing option.
Konrad De La Fuente’s fast start at Marseille should help him secure a return to the fold, where he will be competing with Tim Weah for a potential starting role or role off the bench in qualifying.
Arriola didn’t have the best Gold Cup, but his experience should earn him a camp invite. Winning the battle for playing time against the Ligue 1-based pair will be difficult.
Will Berhalter consider calling in Pepi with a nod toward potentially cap-tying him? It is tough to see Pepi moving ahead of the top three strikers, and it is tough to see Berhalter bringing in a fourth pure striker.
Missed the Cut: Daryl Dike, Ricardo Pepi, Nicholas Gioacchini, Jozy Altidore, Chris Mueller, Cade Cowell, 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.