U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter has called in a collection of familiar faces for the upcoming Concacaf World Cup qualifying training camp, with one notable exception.
FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi has accepted a call-up to his first senior national team camp, and will join USMNT stars Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie on the 26-player squad set to convene for training camp, which begins on Sunday, ahead of qualifiers against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras.
Pulisic has been included in the squad despite a recent positive COVID-19 test that threatened his availability for the upcoming qualifiers. He should be available for the matches against Canada on September 5, and Honduras on September 8, but remains a question mark for the qualifying opener against El Salvador on September 2.
The squad features a total of six players who have previously played in World Cup qualifiers: Christian Pulisic (13 qualifying caps), DeAndre Yedlin (10), Kellyn Acosta (6), Tim Ream (6), John Brooks (4) and Sebastian Lletget (1).
Pepi is the lone uncapped player included in the squad, with Konrad De La Fuente the only other player in the group that wasn’t part of either the USMNT’s Concacaf Nations League-winning squad in June, or the Gold Cup-winning squad in July.
Eligible to play for the United States and Mexico, Pepi will take part in his first senior team camp, and is coming off scoring the winning penalty kick in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday. Pepi is currently the leading American goal-scorer in MLS with nine (tied with C.J. Sapong).
While the 18-year-old sounds ready to commit to the United States, playing in the September qualifiers would not cap-tie him to the United States under FIFA’s revised rules on player eligibility.
Berhalter focused on calling in players who have been playing regularly, which ruled out a handful of Gold Cup standouts who hadn’t seen much playing time in the weeks since the Gold Cup ended, such as Matthew Hoppe, Daryl Dike, Gianluca Busio, Reggie Cannon and Shaq Moore.
Several Gold Cup standouts have been included in the group, including Miles Robinson, James Sands and Matt Turner.
Both Sam Vines and Matt Miazga were left off the squad after recently completing club moves, with Vines joining Royal Antwerp via transfer and Miazga joining La Liga side Alaves via loan.
The injury bug also kept out some regulars, including Gyasi Zardes and Paul Arriola, as well as promising young midfielder Yunus Musah.
The USMNT will gather in Nashville for training camp before traveling to El Salvador on Wednesday ahead of the first qualifier of the Octagonal round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying.
Here is the full USMNT squad for the September qualifiers:
USMNT Concacaf World Cup qualifying roster
(includes national team caps/goals)
GOALKEEPERS: Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)
DEFENDERS: George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)
FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City; 16/5), Tim Weah (Lille; 13/1)
What do you think of the squad? Who are you happy to see included? Who are you disappointed to see miss out on the call-up?
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