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Balogun, Tillman and the other USMNT players needing a strong June window

The U.S. men’s national team’s upcoming friendlies vs. Colombia and Brazil will certainly be important for the team’s continued growth as a whole, but they also will be crucial for several players needing a strong international window.

Folarin Balogun, Malik Tillman, and Joe Scally are just three USMNT players that are coming off busy European campaigns and will be fighting to boost their stocks in Gregg Berhalter’s squad. Balogun endured an up-and-down season with AS Monaco while Tillman enjoyed a productive loan spell with PSV, one that helped him earn a permanent move to the club.

Scally continued his growing role with Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach, but will try and fill in for injured right back Sergino Dest.

Several others will also try and make the most of their opportunities, especially with the Copa America competition only weeks away.

Here is a closer look at which USMNT players need a strong international window:

Folarin Balogun

Doug Zimmerman/ISI Photos

Out of all four of the forwards called up by USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter, Folarin Balogun is coming off the toughest challenge at club level.

Balogun made a permanent move to AS Monaco last season, proceeding to score eight goals and add five assists in 32 combined appearances. However, the 22-year-old struggled at times for the Ligue 1 side, scoring just four times in 2024.

Balogun has two goals and two assists in eight USMNT caps since his international switch from England, but faces growing competitions from Josh Sargent, Haji Wright, and Ricardo Pepi, all of whom who scored more than Balogun during the last club season.

Malik Tillman

Malik Tillman’s impressive loan spell at PSV earned him a permanent move to the Eredivisie champions, but the American midfielder still has a lot to prove with the USMNT.

Tillman finished his season with nine goals and 15 assists for PSV, helping the Dutch side win the league title. The 22-year-old hasn’t found immediate success on the international stage though, failing to score or assist in his six USMNT caps to date.

Tillman was one of the more productive American midfielders in Europe this past season, and a strong June window could be what keeps him in Berhalter’s squad for the Copa America and beyond.

Joe Scally

Sergino Dest’s absence has opened a major hole at right back for the USMNT and Joe Scally will hope he can fill it for the foreseeable future.

Scally is coming off a career-best season with Borussia Moenchengladbach, logging 35 appearances, one goal, and four assists. The 21-year-old has registered 30+ appearances in each of his three seasons with the Gladbach first team, taking major steps forward in his development.

With the USMNT, Scally’s opportunities have been limited due to Dest’s availability, but with Dest now sidelined for the remainder of the year, the former NYCFC academy product could lock down his role with a strong window.

Johnny Cardoso

Dave Bernal/ISI Photos

Not many players are able to make a smooth transition to La Liga but Johnny Cardoso was one of those few exceptions.

Cardoso made 19 appearances during the second half of the season with Real Betis, scoring one goal and adding two assists. After logging 49 appearances with Internacional the prior campaign, the New Jersey native jumped right into Manuel Pellegrini’s squad and didn’t look back.

This might be Cardoso’s best chance to pad his USMNT status, especially with Tyler Adams coming off minimal involvement this calendar year.

Ricardo Pepi

Doug Zimmerman/ISI Photos

Another forward that will be fighting to get his name on the scoresheet is Ricardo Pepi.

Pepi scored nine goals and added three assists in 40 combined appearances for PSV last season, mainly featuring off the bench. However, with Haji Wright and Josh Sargent both coming off sensational EFL Championship campaigns, Pepi might need a positive pair of performances to stay in the Copa America plans.

Luckily for him, his 10 USMNT goals are the most of any striker in the current squad.

Mark McKenzie

John Dorton/ISI Photos

Mark McKenzie remained a stalwart in the Genk backline this season, but that might not be enough to earn him a long-term role with the USMNT.

McKenzie’s 44 combined appearances last season were a career-high for the 25-year-old, continuing what has been a positive spell in Belgium. However, with a good mix of youth and experience in the USMNT centerback ranks, McKenzie has had limited opportunities over the past two years (five combined caps since Jan. 2023).

Tim Ream and Miles Robinson are the veteran leaders in the June squad while Chris Richards and Cameron Carter-Vickers are coming off positive European seasons of their own.

McKenzie could be in line for his first USMNT appearances since last September.


  1. If this is a repeat I apologize, I don’t see my post from yesterday.
    -for me it’s Berhalter that needs a strong window you’ve got 4 strikers that have had limited production under Gregg.
    -Gregg needs to change his tactics to get the CF involved beyond just occupying the CBs. Wright as a SS against Jamaica 2g, as a lone striker against Mexico (was he even on the pitch?).

    • there was a whole fanboy aesthete dustup a few weeks back about precisely how good a skill player haaland is. little edited snippets arguing he’s really lower division material ball at feet (as opposed to finishing). don’t agree with it or think they fully understand how strikers operate, but i bring this up because people don’t factor scheme in enough. you watch man city and for long stretches the 9 is simply uninvolved. they perimeter pass sideways until boredom. finally when sleep sets in someone runs between the backs or haaland ducks into space, and they play a ball behind the backs or cross it in. they have good finishers and they get to work.

      i say this because (a) maybe this is a scheme thing in general — or at least GB’s version of it and (b) we don’t seem as interested in making the sort of interior runs i see teams like ACM do with this formation. that instead of turning wide and playing keepaway, the wing might turn the run interior between backs and be played behind the line. we also rarely get the wingbacks or mids selling a sleepwalking effort then going straight to goal and banging one from the 18 — adams mexico, dest and jedi have done some. we seem generally stuck in take it to the flag and cross it. which, well, the striker only gets real involved if he abandons his cross-receiver spot — which you don’t want if he’s supposed to be the endgame on a 90s style english crossing offense.

      i also say this because while generally a defensive guy, i could respect — and expected for all the talk — some more Clockwork Orange or 2010 Spain type ball which included interior passing, wall ball kind of stuff. i thought this was what the aesthetes were talking about when they said bradleyball was too crude and we need to get like the brazilians where we can take people on directly. more snazzy dribbling. more taking people on. more wall ball. that gets you your 9 involvement. that makes useful guys like sargent and ferreira who have some touch. but i rarely see this unless reyna is on the ball.

      nah, what i see is perimeter passing, often very static in positioning. we then try and score goals off dead balls, crosses, the odd wing run squared back to the spot. you then want a finisher and at least one guy who can bang in headers. and the 9 may very well disappear right until the ball gets sent in the box. to me it’s 90s english soccer — before chelsea and continental stuff came in — minus the directness of sometimes just playing kickball from the back to speed progress to the frontline. more possession than that, but fewer chances, as you can’t much be bothered.

      if they don’t change anything, to me it favors pepi and wright who will finish. should favor balogun but he seems off. should favor vazquez for headers but snobbery. but circling back to my haaland comment, you want the 9 on the ball more, it can’t be deliberate sleep inducing perimeter mess around. the play needs to at least sometimes go between the backs, or right at the goal. more egg them out and behind the backline, or reyna passes, or guys cutting in and taking pot shots. that will then make the defense take the ball seriously, because you could be going straight to net and i can’t be stuck on my man if you do it, at which point the 9 can shake lose and run, wall ball, etc.

      otherwise i am sitting on my guy in the middle waiting for you to quit farting around and cross it. and not moving off him one inch. and you’re not making the other interior people playing the passing lanes and draping the 9 have to honor that someone else might try and score.

      it’s either that or show the 9 out to the ball wide and have an AM or wing make the run into the striker slot for crosses.

      anyhow, i keep hearing about so many reads but our offense in reality feels very basic and more english than really dutch/barca. i think purists of that vein be embarrassed if you did all that ground possession only to whack a ball in, and not like dropped on a targeted head so much as whizzed in a general area out of hope……

      • IV: it seems we completely abandon the middle third of the field. What it appears we’re doing is going into a 2-3-5 in the attacking third.
        Because push the FBs so high the two 8s have too go very wide to cover and also form triangles with the W and FBs. That leaves 1 guy in the middle of the field. Most of the time there is literally no one to cut the ball back to at the penalty spot. We’ve seen a little Reyna as a 10 that does at least provide an option but then the opposite wing needs to show to the space created by the CFs run. And after one match Gregg dropped Gio into that deep space by the CBs which helps 100% in the buildout but takes that one offensive threat back out of the middle. When Puli is able to come in on his right foot there are often 2 or 3 unoccupied defenders who have no other responsibility but to double or triple him because there is nothing else to do. Both goals against Mexico came directly after set pieces. I mean it did create space for Adams but not sure it was drawn up for Tyler to hit it from 35 yds. The second came off a free kick wher Gio played CP to the endline, we did have Balo near post and Weah back post with Wes at the spot (likely drawn up set piece) Johnny at the top of the box. The rebound came out and Reyna was first to react. Maybe that’s a sign Gregg is discovering the need to occupy that space or maybe just luck. We were told Gregg wasn’t going to manage GC because he and Crocker were doing a deep dive into changes that needed to be made. We haven’t seen many changes in the 12 months since.

    • JR,

      Gregg has looked to his “wingers”, Timo and CP to score.

      With Wright now nominally a “winger”, things could get interesting

      • He had chances even before the WC, he played in a few gold cups and couldn’t score either. That’s not to say he shouldn’t get chances, because he should, but we have to stop acting as if players aren’t being given chances

    • ?? Sargent was the starter at 9 in the world cup; he got injured against Iran. I’m pretty sure he has missed every camp since the world cup due to injury.

  2. i like gamers and think the dude is underrated so i favor wright (morocco, holland, jamaica (2)) over balogun then pepi, in that order. if we intend on beating good teams ever, you have to be attentive to who shows up those kind of games. balogun in particular seems to disappear in the run of play offense, but he’s fairly productive until recently. balogun is ok productive in an underrated french league so i could care less about the club form noise, which often seems to promote perverse choices. but i still prefer those 3 plus vazquez over sargent.

    i like johnny, was pushing for him a while because i liked how he got stuck in as a 6 in his early caps. which i think is his role with this team. ironically the fanboys are catching up, not because he’s a thumper who can play 6, but because he now plays la liga and showed a little offense. which, well, everyone likes frosting. i think you’re missing the cake. but, yeah, like many new marginal players he needs to cash it in with consistent performances.

    scally and malik both seem nervous wrecks in international games. scally in particular flashes inconsistent promise but then makes goal-costing gaffes, which can’t happen. mckenzie, meh, to me he has a tendency to jog back, get back late, and then because he’s just getting settled, react late when he needs to help. perhaps because he’s facing his net as opposed to back in line seeing the play in front of him. personally i’d be calling other people. i even pushed for scally and tillman but scally in particular, you can’t get beat to your face, you can’t get backdoored on the blind side, this is a running theme on the wingbacks.

    • how do i put this. no. i even think dude needs some NT competition and probably a transfer. and i agree about the gaffes. but i think GB hands him the jersey as a reflex and we’re fixing to see him play — assuming advancement — 90-135 mins of the friendlies, and then probably most or all of the group (he might sit a third if we clinch) and all the knockouts. the coach doesn’t trust anyone else from his regular options, and doesn’t even play much the regular subs. so this is the sort of position i mean when i say performance doesn’t matter much. it would take an awful copa for this coach to reconsider, and even then he wouldn’t stage the open competition we need, he’d just hand the jersey to……probably horvath. like how turner got it from steffen. steffen had an extended malaise and couldn’t stay healthy. turner got tournament games. congrats, here’s the 1 jersey.

      way this used to be done the 2 GK might occasionally get his own tournament to start, and the 3 GK would once in a while actually play and have to show proof of concept. and occasionally a candidate like robles would have a nightmare and tie haiti and someone else would get brought in. horvath has survived multiple goal glitches and seanjohn has barely ever had to play.

      sorry but to me they needed to pick one of these 2 tournaments to take super seriously and call the first choice — and judge them by games like jamaica a little — and then the other tournament needed to be more experimental. if you want turner or the field players to get their act together and play better, maybe sometimes do a mix of either accountability or just using different people sometimes. it’s not the world cup final, every game shouldn’t be run like the coach is scared about his job.

      • IV

        “way this used to be done the 2 GK might occasionally get his own tournament to start, and the 3 GK would once in a while actually play and have to show proof of concept. and occasionally a candidate like robles would have a nightmare and tie haiti and someone else would get brought in.”

        You are making stuff up again. #1 Goalkeeper for the USMNT used to be a mortal lock position. Robles was never a serious candidate for the #1.

        The thing about keepers in soccer is that you don’t need a lot of them to create a logjam at the position.

        You never worried about Brad’s backup because there was plenty of reason to think that was Kasey was better. Kasey’s backup was Timmy Howard and you already knew he was eventually going to takeover. Timmy’s backup early on was Kasey himself and Marcus Hahnemann. Later on the Polar Bear emerged.

        Everyone I mentioned was as good or better than Matt. Why we suddenly lack so much in the goalkeeper depth department I don’t know. My theory is that Americans have been slow to embrace the sweeper keeper concept, a concept that is here to stay.

        Bruce named Brad #1 for the 2002 WC and he became the human wall. Brad retired from the USMNT in 2004. Handed it over to Kasey. After the 2006 World Cup Timmy became #1. Guzan subbed for Timmy in the last group game vs Egypt, shut them out 3-0, we advanced to the historic Spain game and had Timmy back in goal.

        By the time Guzan took over from Timmy, Brad was breaking down and did not last long. For 2002 until about 2017 the #1 goalkeeper for the USMNT was not a serious question. It was Brad, Kasey, Timmy and then Guzan.

        Matt is the #1 keeper because the difference between him and whoever is #2 is clear and obvious. He should stay the #1 as long as that remains the case. Gregg shouldn’t worry about it:

        1. He can’t do anything about it because there is no obvious candidate in the player pool right now. Either the candidates in the people will have to upgrade themselves or someone from outside will have to emerge.
        Your fave Cohen is just getting started with Atlanta so he has time to make you look like the genius you think you are.
        2. Matt is playing well for the USMNT. He’s not at the Holy Trinity level but neither are any other American keepers and life has gotten more complicated for keepers since BFKKTH were playing.

    • also, re giveaways, while i don’t want the game becoming too much of kickball, i want the GK and backs free to launch it when they feel stressed as opposed to getting caught in possession or forcing passes into clutter because we insist on building from the back even under intense pressure. and steffen, while slicker on the ball, had become both a weaker keeper after the knee and was worse than turner at shipping giveaway goals precisely because he’d try and get cute, and was not into hoofing it at all. so i actually see that progressing the right direction.

      no, i don’t see a lot of the barca la masia tik-tok type goals people sell this style on, the slick sweeper keeper, 30 passes to a tap-in. most of our goals are square-backs to the spot from the endline, or deadballs, or playing a guy behind the defense. i know there is a direction they wanted to take this but there is a reason the sweeper keepers and passing 6s are all gone. they proved more vulnerable than productive. anyone remember trapp? yeuill?


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