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The SBI Show: Episode 324 (Breaking down the USMNT World Cup qualifying roster)


Concacaf World Cup qualifying kicks off in less than a week and The SBI Show breaks down the U.S. men’s national team squad that will begin the quest to qualify starting on Thursday in El Salvador.

Episode 324 takes a closer look at the 26-player squad chosen by Gregg Berhalter, including the headline-grabbing call of Ricardo Pepi, who has chosen to represent the United States rather than Mexico.

Host Ives Galarcep also digs into the absences of some Gold Cup standouts, including Matthew Hoppe, and why some fringe veterans made the cut over more highly-rated prospects.

Episode 324 also touches on the Americans Abroad scene, including the UEFA Champions League draw and how it went for the Americans in the competition.

Ives wraps things up discussing MLS, including the All-Star Game, the recent coaching changes with Real Salt Lake and Vancouver, while also looking ahead to the weekend’s action.

You can listen to The SBI Show on Spotify, the Apple Podcast App, and Soundcloud, and you can listen to Episode 324 here:


  1. It will be interesting if Hoppe or Green are able to replace Weah. Or is Berhalter left with domestic based attackers Mueller, Cowell, Ferreira? Ferreira has been in pretty good form for FCD and would help Pepi get comfortable. Just really hope it’s not in form Lewis.

  2. I see a lot of people talk about Luca De La Torre as if he’s a creative attacking midfielder. Maybe that’s a perception because of his youth career but he’s really been more of a defensive midfielder at Heracles. If people think he’s going to be unlocking defenses and pushing the attack that’s just not really what he does.

    • I’ll be honest I’m not tuning into Heracles on a regular basis, not even sure you can. From what I understand he plays next to a true #6 and he acts as more the connector. He seems to fit more in the dual 8 role in the US 4-3-3, as he did subbing for Musah against Jamaica. I think you do have a group that saw him as a YT and think he’s still a W or CAM, but you also have group that saw his technical and attacking savvy in the Spring friendlies.

  3. Heard your take on Lleget, but although he’s a Berhalter favorite, don’t see him bringing anything special to the team (unless it’s morale). These extended opportunities for some players like Roldán & Lleget should be used for younger and more talented players. At least Green for Roldán. Yes Roldán has more time with the team but Green hasn’t been given an opportunity to do so, and for the last year and a half he’s been performing well. Roldán has a good start to the season and he’s back in. Not a snub on MLS players because no one is really complaining about the rest so it’s not that. It’s the fan base knowing there are better options. Just like Ream instead of Richards. Richards is the future and can perform but hasn’t been granted an opportunity

    • Richards is a victim of timing. The fact is his lack of playing time has him behind other players in terms of match fitness, and an injury may have cost him a chance for looks earlier in the year.

      I’ve been on record for a good while saying Richards has a bright future as a top CB prospect, but bringing him when he isn’t playing when you already have two relatively young CBs in the group in McKenzie and Sands (and Robinson, fairly young as an international player).

      Would I have called in Ream? No, but I get how Berhalter arrived at the decision.

      As for the Green-Roldan call, I definitely see the argument for Green, and have been calling for Green to get a real look longer than anybody I know in the media side of things, but clearly Berhalter saw enough from Roldan in the Gold Cup to bring him in.

      If it were me, I would have brought in Green as a 27th player, but that’s just me.

  4. Ives…I disagree with a lot of what you said during your show regarding this WCQ roster. I think you’re conflating negative MLS bias with international playing ability. I have not heard any objections regarding Turner, Bello, or Robinson’s inclusion on the roster. Because they are good and can play at the international level. I think Both Roldan and Lletget are good players but simply are not solid international players (I think they both are a half step too slow internationally and have not added any real creativity in recent games). Nothing to do with the league they play in. There are other US midfielders who I (and many others) think are better, specifically Green. If you’re talking experience, Green has been quietly grinding it out in Germany. And he has actually scores in a World Cup. I’d reluctantly settle for Roldan or Lletget, but not both.

    Regarding Ream, we don’t need another locker room guy or “an assistant coach” given this roster. We have plenty of leadership, with big game experience (see Pulisic, McKennie, Adams, Yeldin, and Brooks to name a few). Ream has demonstrated he can be a liability due to his speed If the staff sees him in this assistant coach type of role, then bring him back as an assistant coach. To say he’s coming in for qualifying experience doesn’t make sense given the makeup of this roster. In years past this notion of experienced players may have been relevant. Not now.

    But then again I’m not GB.

    • It’s okay if you disagree, but spare me the “conflating” talk. You don’t have to hate MLS not to rate Lletget and Roldan, that’s an opinion people can have, but I do think some people will always look at MLS player differently, and in a negatively light because they don’t rate the league. That’s just reality, and if the shoe doesn’t fit in your case, then good for you.

      And you mention other MLS players who aren’t objected to, but the reality is every MLS player except for the super-young prospects face SOME anti-MLS sentiment from that same segment of the fanbase. Miles Robinson is a perfect example, there were people thoroughly unconvinced that he was any good, or worthy of being called in ahead of any number of European-based defenders. It took him having an out-of-this-world Gold Cup to silence those skeptics. Turner didn’t really start winning the masses over until 2021.

      You bring up Green, and I’m a big Green proponent and feel he deserved a call. You yourself say you’d be okay with either Roldan or Lletget, then if that’s so why not question Berhalter for not bringing 27 or 28 rather than 26? That’s what surprised me more than Roldan or Lletget being in, because Green could have been and for me should have been in.

      As for your “We don’t need another locker room guy” line, how do you know? How much time have you spent in that locker room, or how many conversations have you had with people in that locker room, to know the dynamics going on, and how much leadership there actually is in that group? Playing in big games doesn’t automatically make you a leader, and World Cup qualifying is a different animal altogether. The roster is incredibly young, and has very little World Cup qualifying experience as a group. That’s why Ream was brought in. As I said on the show, I may not have agreed with the call-up, but I can see the thought process behind it, especially given Ream’s strong form to start the season at Fulham.

      And to be fair, I fully accept that I’m playing devil’s advocate a bit in the Ream case because I’ve made it clear that I personally wouldn’t have called him in. Ultimately, Ream’s days are numbered with the national team, and I would bet the farm he doesn’t see another cap after 2021, but right now Berhalter sees him as being a good ingredient for the recipe, and the results will ultimately decide if he is right.

  5. Just because Tim Ream has played many times for the USA. It doesn’t mean he has played above average. Sounds to me that it will be GB’s excuse for having him, he has the experience, it doesn’t matter if he failed in the NL game, it doesn’t matter that each and every friendly that he has played the opponent has scored. His inclusion is becoming a catch-22 for any younger, better player to take his place in the roster.


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