USMNT 2022 World Cup roster – who will make Gregg Berhalter’s squad?
USMNT coach Greg Berhalter announces his World Cup 2022 roster on November 9th. Who will join Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie on the plane?
There are 52 days to go until the United States return to the FIFA World Cup after a long, eight-(and-a-half) year wait. Excitement amongst fans should be building but, as evidenced by uninspiring showings in this week’s friendly matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia, all is not well with the USMNT’s ‘golden generation’.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter, who has come under criticism for his team’s set-up and style of play, confirmed that he will announce his World Cup roster on 9 November and has claimed that the anxiousness felt by his players ahead of his decision was a possible explanation for lacklustre performances in the last couple of games.
Let’s take a look at the players who are in contention to make the 26-man squad, some of whom have more reason to be hopeful than others.
Goalkeepers – Two certainties out of three
Matt Turner of Arsenal and Middlesbrough’s Zack Steffen are certain to make the squad, with Turner likely to start after playing well against Japan and Saudi Arabia. One more goalkeeper – Ethan Horvath or Sean Johnson – will travel to Qatar but will almost certainly not feature.
Barcelona’s Sergiño Dest and Antonee Robinson of Fulham will start at right-back and left-back respectively. Robinson has been injured but is expected to be fit to travel to Qatar. The experienced DeAndre Yedlin and Boavista right-back Reggie Cannon, who missed this week’s friendlies due to injury, are regulars in the squad. Teenager Joe Scally, now a regular starter in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach, impressed as a substitute against Saudi Arabia and can play on either side, which may have moved him ahead of Sam Vines of Antwerp.
Central defence – Robinson injury opens up a spot
The Achilles tendon injury suffered by Miles Robinson in May will, barring a minor miracle, keep the Atlanta United defender out of the World Cup and has opened up a starting spot in central defence alongside Walker Zimmerman. Having started the last six games, Aaron Long of New York Red Bulls looks likely to take the second starting place. Other centre-back options are less experienced, unless either Tim Ream (Fulham) or John Brooks (Benfica) earn recalls, either of which would be a big surprise considering neither has featured under Berhalter since October 2021. Cameron Carter-Vickers of Celtic and Crystal Palace youngster Chris Richards may edge out Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie for places on the bench.
Central midfield – Adams-McKennie-Musah the best trio?
A trio of captain Tyler Adams, Juventus’ Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah of Valencia is almost certainly the USMNT’s strongest line-up here, although they have rarely played together with Berhalter having rotated his midfield frequently. With Musah unavailable this week, Luca de la Torre and Jonny Cardoso had opportunities to shine and although neither particularly impressed, at least one of them will probably go to Qatar. Kellyn Acosta, who has amassed 53 caps, should also be on the plane as a defensive midfield option.
Wingers – Pulisic, Reyna and Aaronson the stars
Most of the United States’ recent issues have centred around a lack of spark in attack. Christian Pulisic, top scorer on the roster with 21 international goals, Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson are Berhalter’s star turns although, as confirmed by ESPN as they picked their squad for the tournament, they have never all appeared in the same game. Timothy Weah hasn’t featured for Lille this season because of injury but should be called upon provided his return to fitness goes as planned. Seattle Sounders’ Jordan Morris could be the back-up for Pulisic, although he faces competition from Paul Arriola.
Strikers – the greatest cause for concern
The lack of a reliable striker is perhaps the greatest cause for concern, with experienced frontmen thin on the ground. Jesús Ferreira appears to be in pole position to lead the line after a fine goalscoring season for Dallas in MLS. 19-year-old Ricardo Pepi did have a run of games under Berhalter towards the end of last year but hasn’t scored a goal since moving to Augsburg at the start of 2022 with the player now on loan in the Dutch top flight. He could find his place on the roster under threat from in-form players such as Josh Sargent, who has started the English Championship season well with Norwich City, and Jordan Pefok, who has helped lead Union Berlin to the top of the Bundesliga.
November 9th in New York City. The anxiousness will be over and we’ll know who’s in and who’s out.
The United States start their 2022 World Cup campaign against Wales in Al Rayyan on 21 November 21. Their other Group B matches see them take on England in Al Khor on 25 November and Iran in Doha on 29 November.
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*Data updated to date September 29th, 2022