The U.S. men’s national team roster for the September World Cup qualifiers is set to be announced later this week, and with plenty having changed since the last time we projected the roster, it is time to take stock of the player pool and consider Gregg Berhalter’s options one more time.
It has been a busy August for the USMNT player pool, as transfers go through, as do loan moves, while several player continue to wait for their next club destinations. Gold Cup participants Sam Vines and Gianluca Busio have completed their long-expected European transfers, while Matt Miazga has secured a loan move to Spain.
The player pool’s depth is set to be tested as well due to a rash of injuries, as well as Christian Pulisic’s positive COVID-19 test.
The good news is Berhalter has options all over the field, and no one injury is going to leave him without a viable alternative.
With all that in mind, 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
The same trio projected earlier this month remains, even though only Turner is seeing regular playing time. Could Berhalter leave Horvath with Nottingham Forest and select Sean Johnson to give him another goalkeeper playing regularly?
Missed the Cut: Sean Johnson, Brad Guzan
Sergiño Dest, John Brooks, Miles Robinson, Antonee Robinson, Sam Vines, Mark McKenzie, James Sands, Walker Zimmerman, DeAndre Yedlin, Shaq Moore
There is a heavy Gold Cup influence in this group, with four members of the Gold Cup championship squad listed here. Chris Richards narrowly misses out due to his lack of playing time with Bayern Munich.
Ream suffered an injury in Fulham’s last match, which puts his availability in question. Bello is another player who is very close to the final cut.
Shaq Moore enjoyed a strong showing at the Gold Cup, but has not played much since returning to Tenerife. The same can be said for Reggie Cannon upon his return to Boavista. Could Berhalter choose to leave them both home and bring in a DeAndre Yedlin, who has been seeing playing time for Galatasaray? Look for Yedlin to get the call, with Moore edging Cannon for a spot.
Missed the Cut: Tim Ream, Reggie Cannon, Bryan Reynolds, Chris Richards, Matt Miazga, George Bello, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kevin Paredes
Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Sebastian Lletget, Julian Green, Cristian Roldan, Kellyn Acosta, Brenden Aaronson, Eryk Williamson
The absence of Gianluca Busio will surprise some, but Busio hasn’t played since the Gold Cup, and has yet to make his Venezia debut since completing the transfer, so it is easy to see Berhalter choosing other options who have been playing more recently.
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, and given the fact he has been playing almost exclusively in a central role for Red Bull Salzburg this season.
Tanner Tessmann is an interesting option. He has been getting minutes for Venezia, but it will be difficult for him to jump past someone like Eryk Williamson, who impressed at the Gold Cup, at least for the September qualifiers. Now, if Tessmann sees regular time at Venezia going forward, it could become difficult for Berhalter to not bring him in for October.
Missed the Cut: Yunus Musah, Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann, Luca De La Torre, Jackson Yueill, Caden Clark, Owen Otasowie, Djordje Mihailovic.
Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Jordan Siebatcheu, Tim Weah, Konrad De La Fuente, Ricardo Pepi, Matthew Hoppe
Pulisic’s availability for the opening qualifier against El Salvador is in question due to his recent positive COVID-19 test, but he should still be part of the camp and take part in at least one or two matches.
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 against El Salvador.
The injury bug has hit this group, with Gyasi Zardes sidelined by a hamstring injury, Paul Arriola a question mark after his own recent hamstring injury and Daryl Dike sidelined by ‘LoomingTransfer-itis”.
Without Zardes and Dike, Berhalter should take the opportunity to call in Ricardo Pepi, who is playing very well, is an elite prospect as a teenager, and is being highly-sought-after by the Mexican national team. He is playing with real confidence, and finishing his chances, and if he is ready to accept a call-up and ready to be cap-tied then Berhalter would be foolish not to make it happen.
Missed the Cut: Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Daryl Dike, 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.