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Projecting the USMNT World Cup Qualifying Roster


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


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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


Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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.


  1. I think that the projection by Ives is sufficient and is win-able. HOWEVER, with the W/C-Q roster rules allowing anyone to be on the roster without limitation, and only having to widdle it down to size on a match by match basis, if Berhalter believes there is enough potential there for a
    substitution role for any player, that player will be on the roster. If anyone is not invited to training camp, that means they simply don’t have the ability to play at W/C level. If we get all our European Club Players
    on the team, we should be able to Quality as no worse than the 2nd team in CONCACAF

    • i think we have enough productive strikers stacked up that ship has sailed. to be fair, if the list reflects berhalter has him down as plan Z, that’s goofy.

  2. I think you need to bring Gomez and Pepi to camp. Even if they don’t dress you need to see them and maybe more importantly let them see you. Pepi has earned it with his play and Gomez has done well in USL and is at our shallowest position, LB.

    • I’d say US soccer is more lacking in the 10 spot than anywhere. Maybe you missed the nations league and gold cup, but the US men’s national team is pretty stacked at left back. And there are good options in MLS, that have not been called yet.

      • Actually the 10 spot has a number of very good options…Gregg’s formation just doesn’t field them as 10s. Reyan, Aaronson, & Clark are all Central Attacking Midfielders that Gregg uses as wide attackers in his 4-3-3 since his tactics call for Box to Box CMs.

    • I think we might have a couple of em, just sitting around. But regardless, left back is quickly becoming a power position for the US men’s team.

      • Not trying to play gotcha but who?
        LB is far from a power position we’ve got more options but none of them are even close to finished products. It is better than Lovitz and Ream, and I’ve been fond of Sam and George for a couple years but they’ve got issues too. It’s hard to tell given his competition but Gomez is dominant in USL and seems at least on level with Bello and Vines. He’ll be in Europe in January. Gregg talks about letting guys to get to know the group but with Covid guys like Araujo and Efra just got to play with MLS guys they already know. Then they go to El Tri camp and it’s HH, Lozano, Guardado etc…. it’s like Alabama having their starters give you the campus tour and LSU is like would you like to hang with the scout team.

      • Ledezma posted video of himself back on the field in solo training today. Moving pretty gingerly but good to see him back training.

      • Juan, you make a great point about finished products, and the next World Cup is like 15 months away, maybe 16. Young wingbacks don’t thrive at world cups, but savvy veterans do. History has shown that when players really want to play and commit to the US cause, they can excel. When they are wishy washy, it doesn’t work so well. Dooley was committed to the cause, David Regis, not so much. Jermaine Jones, committed to the cause, Tim chandler, uh, no. Young Gomez wants to play for Mexico, we can live with chase Gaspar, or certainly with Sergio dest playing on the left. I reckon Robinson will have a big year and bounce back into the EPL, and will be getting top competition going into Qatar. We are also developing players that can be platooned at a wingback position. I’m looking at the competition in the USL championship. He’s playing against SKC reserve team, bello just started against Mexico, and some of those guys you mentioned in your off the mark SEC analogy. Gomez and the kid from galaxy, if they feel drawn to el tri, they should go for it. I take it as motivation, of the highest kind, and would want to never let them win. Now they wanna commit to the red, white, and blue, it’s a different story.

  3. Starting 11 4-3-3






    I could see Sargent or other up top but I love Hoppe aggression. He creates a lot of chances and demands a lot of attention. I get he’s young and inexperienced but his ceiling is much higher than the others. The questions I have with him is will he press hard enough in that high role in this system which is what makes things work.

    Reyna in the middle as a cam will be sick. Konrad showing up at Marseille changes things. Those touches and that crossing from the left need to be on the field. Alternatively you could move Pulisic to cam and keep Reyna on the wing. I see Pulisic and Reyna switching positions often in game to throw off defense too. If KdlF can keep showing that skill as a true winger it opens a lot of options that upgrade the spot being given to Lleget right now.

    Would not be mad at about 3-4 changes to my back line. I think we’re deep at many of those positions without the huge drop in quality we used to have from our A to our B, it’s still drops but it’s not a huge drop so I’m not going to split hairs over anyone. I am hopeful Richards develops and gets minutes and think he may take the starting spot next to Brooks.

    • That’s seven players playing at Champions League squads. That’s an enormous rate of change the number of players in UCL from last cycle. You still have Aaronson, and several others. It’s almost a 10x rate of change that our roster has between UCL club players from last cycle to now. There is a high statistical correlation between minutes played in UCL for a nations national team and WC success. Long way to go still but after I typed this out and saw it I was like wow and thought I’d mention the contrast but also the ROC here.

    • Hoppe hasn’t been playing since GC. I assume Schalke is just waiting to sell him but not sure he starts if he hasn’t played in a month. I guess he started GC right away so maybe.

      • I get that. This is more my projected lineup further as we get deep into qualifying, not be just for September. But your right not playing in a month not the best even if he’s been training with club. Him not playing at club probably a good thing in that he’ll even sold soon. He might not even be called up under that circumstance to allow him to adjust to new club.

    • I think that’s a pretty good lineup but I want to see how Sargent plays at Norwich before I would start Hoppe ahead of him. And Miles Robinson deserves to start ahead of McKenzie and I would give consideration to Richards, too for that position. I just don’t like McKenzie since his poor play at the Nations League.

      • Agree with all of that…and Sargent showed once again in his 20+ with Norwich all the attributes you’d like to see…speed, skill, movement…and of course, everything except the ability to finish. He got on the end of a ball, and of course, being Josh Sargent, pulled it wide.

        The guy just does not score.

    • Yeah I like this concept. Good stuff. Would be curious to hear your thoughts on sub strategy for this XI. Seems the 5 sub rule is likely to persist for a while (maybe permanent?). Also seems GB is very much on-board with using this to make wholesale (triple and double) subs. So I’d be curious— If we were locked in a 0-0 draw at 60’ against stubborn CONCACAF opposition, how would you sub and/or modify?

      • Excellent question Gomer. The 5 sub rule dramatically changes tactics and how the game game can/could be played. I think we’ve already seen how GB sees using his subs. He’s typically subbing at least one and in some cases at GC both RB and LB. GBs system puts a heavy work rate on those positions to cover a lot of ground back and forth. I think you’ll see GB continue to sub off RB/LBs with the idea that it keeps us pressing hard throughout the match. My only concern with that thought is I believe Dest is sooo talented you need to keep him on the field for as many minutes as possible. Maybe he starts at RB or LB someone else then GB subs on a Cannon or Yelin after 60’ and moves Dest to wing mid game. I don’t know but that’s one way to eep those backs fresh and flying up and down the wings while keeping one of our generational talents on the field as much as possible. The great thing is we have the depth now to do this and with Joe Scally playing at Gladbach it’s only getting deeper then add in a JonathonnGomez or Bello we’re scary deep at RB and very soon I believe LB. the 5 subs rules plays to our strengths and depth here IMO. I think we can see GB already moving in this direction.

  4. For the love of god, please no more Roldan. Luca De La Torre showed more ability, poise, and promise in his 1 Cap under Gregg than Roldan has shown in his 25 caps.
    If Musah is healthy & playing by the Qualifier window than Lleget is another who should be left home.
    Arriola was horrid during the Gold Cup. Even with his experience he’s not worthy of being part of qualifying unless multiple players are injured. Give Clark or Cowell a chance to integrate into the team. Wide attacker may not be their preferred position, but it’s a way to get one of them into the pool/camp and groomed for the later rounds.

    • Musah said on the Orange Slices podcast he is not yet cleared to run. Their episodes are usually about a week behind so that’s not a good sign on his eligibility. At the end McKenzie said hopefully see you in a couple weeks and Musah said something like I don’t know with this injury. I think October for Yunus is more likely.

    • Arriola,Legett and Roldan have no place on this WCQ team with Euro based players younger and much better to take their place

  5. Since the disaster in Trinidad ‘18, we’ve gotten a deeper player pool than the most optimistic person could’ve imagined. The ‘missed the cut’ list is 21 players!! I can name drop a few more players who aren’t apart of the 30 that Ives named. (Durkin, Flach, Alex Mendez, Holmes, Pomykal, Cardoso, Scally, Ferreira, Mihailovic, Novakovich, etc., not considered good enough for WCQS, ….yet). I know it won’t happen, but you can have 3 goalies start each match with no worries. (Whatever Turner doesn’t have with his feet, he makes up for it with great saves). Some talented players may do well in qualifying but won’t be on the flight to Qatar. We may see more players integrated at beginning of next year depending on who shows up and plays well for their club the next 4 months. Players playing their way back from injury could factor in also, one would think. I’m am optimistic as hell right now, no caution!

    • the disaster started by running out that ridiculous formation we had not played in that WC quali vs. Mexico, followed up by a literal trouncing in CR. I will never forgive that con man Klinsmann, what a horse’s a$$, T&T put the cherry on that horrendous cycle which JK had promised to be his breakthru. Liar selling to the feelings of the ignorant…sound familiar?

  6. What about Altidore? He’s back in training and scored a goal on his return. He has experience and is probably the best striker, even if he can’t start due to fitness, he could be a super sub and has a pretty good strike rate and lots of goals for the USMNT. He’s only 31. He hasn’t been playing with the team, but neither has Julian Green. In addition, I think he could score tons of goals with Pulisic and Reyna on the wings as he has a high soccer IQ. The only knock I have had with him is sometimes I feel like his work rate drops and he doesn’t help the team enough on defense.

  7. I would think the squad would be greater than 23 for each break, with 3 games scheduled per break. Perhaps a few extra in reserve to fill in as needed, so that may influence selections.

    Am thinking Reyna may be positioned as a midfielder as well as the wing.

  8. I think Yedlin our best RB if Dest is on the left side. Even with Dest on the right Yedlin could replace him for his better defense if we need to preserve a lead late. I am happy to see Green on the squad. If Aaronson is a winger like he should be, say good bye to Arriola. Arriola has no business being on the team with the other available talent up front.

    • Yedlin’s time has passed with the MNT. He’s struggling in the Turkish League. He can’t cross at all, despite playing for years in the EPL. He’s our 3rd or 4th option at RB or RWB and that’s only because of his experience with Newcastle and all his caps.

  9. I really want to see Hoppe at the #9 with the A team. I’m hoping he was only played on the wing because we didn’t have anyone else that could do it. He seems to have the ball skills of Sargent and the willingness to press of Zardes. He needs a chance to play with good wings to see if he can put the ball in the back of the net…which it seems like he can do based on a few of the shots he took at the GC.

  10. I am good with these, some hard choices, hard to leave Nikky off but it’s pretty crowded right now, agree on Richards, he needs to play first. Maybe Pepi for the next 3 games in November?

  11. Interesting, my takeaway from this exercise is that the top 23 is more clearcut than I thought. Hard to find much to disagree with on SBI projections. I think Yedlin will make the squad, I still think he is better than Shaq Moore and has alot of experience to add to a young team. A healthy Musah probably pushes out a midfielder. Maybe if Gioachini gets really hot, he pushes out the last striker. That’s about it.

  12. Re-writing history? I listed the other players that played in the 2014 (I think under 200 mins. combined) and ones that were involved in 2018 qualifying. I forgot Arriola but I don’t think he’s likely for 2022 with a few injuries. Brooks was injured during quite a bit of 2017 and Arena was rotating rosters almost completely changing his starters from one match to the next. Brooks would have 100% been in Arena’s WC roster if he was healthy.

  13. Shaq Moore showed well in the GC, but he hasn’t played first division football in Europe. Yedlin is better. Anyone in the others category, except Altidore, is preferable to Arriola, IMHO. I’d like to see Pepi cap tied, but I think these qualifiers are too soon and he’s better off playing with his club and getting more experience in MLS.

    • I wouldn’t get hung up on the division debate. Is Lynden Gooch a better winger than Johnathon Lewis? When Moore played against Ireland in ‘18, I could tell then, he was a better passer than Yedlin, plus no history back post A.D.D. moments. The France friendly that Shaq played in confirmed it. He was playing for Levante in La Liga at the time. Didn’t you want Johnathon Gomez on the GC roster? If so, you’re not the only one. Many people want him on the Nats. Spoiler alert!! He plays in the USL for Kreis sake!! If people want a player in the USL on the Nats, then we can’t knock a 2nd division Euro league, at least those leagues have promotion/relegation.

      • No, I have never voiced a preference for Gomez. And it’s not just a matter of level with Yedlin vs. Moore, but experience. In addition to over 100 appearances in the EPL, he has 64 caps and has played in the 2014 World Cup. Also, he is still probably faster than Moore and I just think he’s better.

    • This is a little nit picky but Shaq did start 5 games in La Liga including a respectable performance against Messi and Barcelona in 2018.

      • Okay, I’ll amend it to say he wasn’t a regular in a first division European league while Yedlin was for a couple of different teams.

  14. was gonna say no business taking roldan and williamson over musah but he’s hurt. personally i think if we’re calling people like that at mid then push one or both of reyna and pulisic inside and we have better depth of talent wide to replace them. the midfield is getting better but still not there. spine is important to me.

  15. Zimmerman still hurt. Arriola? He can’t hit the side of a barn. If we are bringing in cheerleaders might as well bring in Ream as well.

    • yeah, i was thinking that on zimmermann too. before the injury he was earning it, but now not sure i would depend on a hammy knacked back in quali. we start quali before labor day so the turnaround on this is faster than people realize.

      • Zardes just isn’t a very good forward, in my opinion. He has speed, but his first touch is legendarily poor. He plays with neither finesse nor strength. He almost never creates his own goals. I doubt that other teams fear him.

        Might as well cap tie Pepi, or let Hoppe play centrally, as he does for Schalke.

    • i feel like zardes and roldan would be literally unlearning the 2019 lesson but this coach perseverates. he has re-convinced himself. he will have to watch them mess up to get the lesson again.

      re pepi, quali is generally not used to experiment and i can’t see this coach doing it, even to cap tie, even at dual nationality risk. my whole argument on drip drip drip is with the exception of musah and dest he seems to view speeding such players along ahead of their proper trajectory is risky and a distraction from merit. but he also likes to call streak “form” players so he kind of contradicts himself. i think a smart coach, if we have 5 subs, would stick a player or two like this at the end of the bench and use them in garbage time up 4-0. you do “merit” for 80′, lock in the result, then start locking in some dual nationals. the two goals are not oppositional and sometimes with guys like pepi putting up similar numbers to dike, it almost feels like he’s dragging his feet because they have a choice.

      • I hate Zardes! I hate Zardes! But……….his work rate in the Gold Cup final was wonderful. He created opportunities because of it. They might not have been direct opportunities but created situations three to four touches later that we were able to regain possession. Now we need work rate and finishing from someone!

      • Sorry. This was intended as a reply to Rich below.

        I don’t know what the average number of returning players to a WC for USMNT (I know missing it last time doesn’t help), but it looks like J. Green would be the only one w/ WC experience…seems odd…a disadvantage?

      • Now I get it. Yeah, I’m not sure it’s a disadvantage. These kids are coming in fresh with some lofty ambitions. If anything, I’d suggest that their lack of experience will allow them to set their hopes and expectations high. Several of them have played in the knockout rounds of the Champions League (one of them won it) and they’re going to have to fight tooth and nail to get through qualifying matches on the road, so I feel like there could be a healthy balance of experience and enthusiasm.

  16. I think those picks are all reasonable and expect to see something pretty close to that roster. I’d definitely like to see Richards over Zimmerman, all things being equal, and Pepi called in over Arriola for sure. While I understand our lack of options out wide, listen —— between Pulisic and Reyna and Weah and Konrad and Aaronson and Hoppe, those are SIX options who can play as wide forwards and who you’d think would have to be preferred to Arriola at this point. If Jordan Morris were fit, maybe that would be a different conversation. So getting a player like Pepi acclimated into the group and maybe cap tied? I’d think we’d want to at least give it a shot. He could be a real commodity sooner than later.

  17. What about Cristian Cappis if he does well for Brondby?
    Tyler Boyd could be in the mix if he starts for Beskitas.
    Also have my eyes on Tanner Tessman, Haji Wright, Sebastian Soto, and Richie Ledezma, though none are ready quite yet.

    • For September? Boyd is the only one of those with any sort of chance for September but even he’s facing long odds. Doesn’t mean they can’t work their way in further down the road.

      • Ives, I’ve always thought Julian Green should be the first option off the bench at the #10 spot (assuming Pulisic/Reyna stay wide) but what makes you think Greg will call him in? I remember Sarachan liked him & said something to the effect that he’s one of the mids who is not afraid to try and score.. I think he should be in but is GB gonna ever do it?

    • Cappis just came down with Covid so he’ll miss at least the next week or too. Ledezma said on Twitter he’s still a ways a way from getting back on the field but getting closer. Tyler Boyd out with muscle injury likely for the next few weeks.

  18. maybe it’s something to do with mr. analytics but on a week and a half window when you have a game within 3 days, and will bounce all over the place, this is not a camp, this is let’s gather and play 3 games in no time flate, and you really should already know (give or take discipline, injury, or rapid onset complete uselessness) pretty much exactly who you intend to play. if you are changing your mind on 3 years of feedback based on a day or two of practice you’re goofy. this is also why i tend to disdain people following the form roller coaster up and down on a weekly basis. talent doesn’t tend to change that fast.

    i think he should call 28-30, not so we can pretend to have roster competition in 2 days but so that we can rotate through these heavy duty windows and show up fresher than the other guy. those lineups should be preplanned based on what we learned and not ad hoc based on who tries hard in practice one day.

    • Pretty much any combo of players from NL and GC are good for me (heavy on NL in the attack please). They’ve demonstrated they can handle CONCACAF competition. Debating is fun but at this point it’s just preference.

      • Misplaced the previous comment. I wasn’t replying to your post IV. 🙂

        But I do think you might actually be making a point for form…at least in the most contentious positions. Not enough camp to separate Cannon from Moore or Miles from whoever so go with the more in form player?

      • i’m saying the opposite. ignore form. go with which player over several games with the NT impressed you more. to me “club form” is elevating games out of the shirt over games in the shirt which is bound to backfire. to pick a US roster you favor the players who perform well for……USA. and my argument was not just he favors streak players but he seems to favor people who probably made their case in 2 days of practice.

  19. Midfielders: after McKennie, Adams and Acosta our midfielders are underwhelming. Please bring the kids over Lleget and Roldan. They have shown that their ceiling is adequate in concacaf.

    Same with Arriola: his ceiling is barely concacaf adequate. Bring a kid.

    Zardes on the other hand won me over at Gold cup. His work rate up top is just incredible, and despite the somewhat leaden feet he finishes.

    • i think the people who encouraged skipping gold cup for club, for players with little cap history or proof of concept, have not read the room accurately. i think people are conflating “is not exiled” with “will be called next window.” and if richards and reynolds were betting the summer was would be a defensive wasteland, they got that wrong too. several CB and RB looked good. i may complain about whether B should start instead of A but at CB or RB there is no reason to step outside the summer pool. now LB could use some help but vines looked decent, and he likes dest and robinson as one way threats. i think in practice that position is a mess but NT coaches don’t tend to use quali as an experiment. so while richards and reynolds are not stricken from the black book they probably aren’t getting called, or if they do get called, it’s as bench contingency and not to play.

  20. strange to see Kevin Paredes listed as a defender to be honest. He’s very exciting going forward for DC United. Loves to take on defenders and attack. But I’m just sitting on my couch with a laptop, so…..

  21. If I recall correctly, Yedlin was really good for us in his recent outings, so I don’t see how you can’t select him, especially considering his WCQ experience

  22. I don’t remember ever seeing this much quality depth available for USMNT selection. And the most amazing part of it is that this is a cycle ahead of time. I have decent hopes for 2022 because there are plenty of guys playing big minutes for big clubs, but the prospects for 2026 are very enticing.

  23. I don’t know what the average number of returning players to a WC for USMNT (I know missing it last time doesn’t help), but it looks like J. Green would be the only one w/ WC experience…seems odd…a disadvantage?

    • John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin, but you are correct an almost complete roster overhaul. Even if you consider the likely 2018 roster CP, Acosta, Brooks, Yedlin were the only regulars . Lletget might have gone but he hadn’t regained his form from before injury, Arena hinted he’d add some youth after qualifying so maybe Wes and Tyler, Miazga might have gotten in but Arena had only used him once.

      • you’re re-writing history. brooks played in 3 games the rest of the cycle after playing a key role in getting klinsi fired in the costa rica blowout. two home qualifiers and a friendly. he was, for example, unused bench for the azteca tie. he was out for gold cup and the final 4 qualifiers. he then associates with a lot of the ugly year end games when sarachan was fed into the schedule buzzsaw. i can even point out to you the goals he helped allow.

        yedlin hasn’t looked any good in years and is basically living off rep. moore and cannon look pretty good both ways, and dest has his one way charm. at a loss why yedlin is necessary. find a left back.

    • sorry but most of the 2018 team evaporated for retirement or quality reasons, and i am not sure what the selling point of that “experience” is other than the circular idea that someone who started yesterday should play a role tomorrow. begs the question. no, the talent center of gravity is clearly under 23, and there is a tested set of that group with some history of success this cycle. i am unafraid to go with them. personally i would be getting as many of the guzan brooks zardes yedlin ream type players out of the team as i could and it would only look better for it. if they were as good as advertised we would be coming off a russia run. they weren’t. we aren’t. the team got hollowed out and the kids are where the talent is. i felt like from this summer they were already starting to figure out how to win in adverse situations. there may be some growing pains — particularly with this coach — but i think talent will win out.

      • That most of the 2018 squad is now retired, or heading there shortly, and that the center of mass of talent is now U-23, illuminates what we all saw when in 2018 the players under 26 could not supplant the older players because they simply were not good enough. A corollary is that those then U-26 players, not good enough in 2018, have little chance against the crop of players that are now U-23 or so.

      • Talent aside, the “kids” have what the 2018 squad was roundly criticized for severely lacking: heart. The fight that they showed in the NL, coming from behind twice; not taking any crap from El Tri; etc. after the disastrous opening minute gift of a goal was incredible.

    • Super: I think the big difference between 2018 and 2021 GC group is that feeling of team/family/brotherhood. The 2018 team was severely splintered with several different factions. Obviously there is that team mentality with the NL roster too, but their talent level was higher than that 2018 squad even if it was much less experienced.

    • Super: I think the big difference between 2018 and 2021 GC group is that feeling of team/family/brotherhood. The 2018 team was severely splintered with several different factions. Obviously there is that team mentality with the NL roster too, but their talent level was higher than that 2018 squad even if it was much less experienced.

      • i don’t think the player factions mattered. the germans got to play on into the hex and we were still struggling. i think the coach leaving the germans off mattered. i think the coach not rotating mattered. i think arena’s goofy defensive choices (omar and villafana) mattered. but any factionalism would have been a second order issue if the coach didn’t turn that up to 11 and exclude german dual nationals in bulk.

        there is zero sign any of those issues have carried forward to what is an almost completely new pool. fighting the last war.

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