Who are the MLS players who could be on the USMNT team at the World Cup in Qatar?
US head coach Gregg Berhalter is expected to announce his definitive squad for the World Cup on 9 November.
Drab and uninspiring performances from the USMNT in recent friendly games against Japan and Saudi Arabia has diluted any excitement amongst fans that should be building at this stage with the 2022 World Cup set to get underway in Qatar next month.
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. With many of the US’ bigger names now playing in major European leagues, how many stars from MLS are expected to make the cut and be included in Berhalters squad?
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 – Luton’s Ethan Horvath or NYCFC stopper 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. Inter Miami’s experienced DeAndre Yedlin and Boavista right-back Reggie Cannon, who missed this week’s friendlies due to injury, are regulars in the squad and should be on the plane to Doha.
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 Nashville’s 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. The same applies to Nashville’s Shaq Moore with the 25-year-old moving from Tenerife back to MLS but the move fails to have amended Berhalter’s position on the defender.
Barring injury to one of the trio, a central set-up featuring Leeds’ Tyler Adams, Juventus’ Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah of Valencia is almost certainly the USMNT’s strongest line-up here. LAFC’s Kellyn Acosta, who has amassed 53 caps, should also be on the plane as an alternative defensive midfield option for the coach.
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 FC Dallas player Paul Arriola and Inter Miami’s Deandre Yedlin.
Finding the net has been a clear concern for the US in recent games with his team goal-shy having just found the net once in their past three outings. Jesús Ferreira appears to be in pole position to lead the line after a fine goal scoring season for Dallas in MLS but apart from the 21-year-ol, Berhalter has slim pickings in this department with 19-year-old Ricardo Pepi now on loan in the Dutch top flight after failing to make an impression with Bundesliga side Augsburg . Other striking alternatives for the 49-year-old coach include Josh Sargent, who has started the English Championship season well with Norwich City, and Jordan Pefok, who has helped Union Berlin to an inspired start in the German Bundesliga.