The 2022 World Cup may still be five months away, but there is only one FIFA international window left before the competition kicks off in Qatar. That leaves managers, including U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter, with fewer and fewer opportunities to judge the World Cup roster based on in-person access and performance.
There is still the big unknown as to whether World Cup rosters will remain at the usual size of 23 players or expand to 26, with a final official decision yet to be made. Speaking ahead of the recent camp, which ended on Tuesday night in chaotic circumstances in El Salvador, Berhalter casually indicated that he was anticipating an expansion, which would make sense given the tighter schedule for players at club level. and the tight nature of this World Cup. . This would give managers a bit more wiggle room and flexibility, while also giving players in the bubble greater hope. Every little help counts when considering everything that goes into team decisions.
With only one side left for the United States to rally as a unit before the chosen squad departs for Qatar, here is our latest assessment of the squad of players and who is fit to represent the nation at the World Cup 2022:
Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Weston McKennie ( Juventus), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tim Weah (Lille), Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United)
Not much has changed here since our last screening, which was made after qualification was sealed, but there are two new wrinkles: de la Torre’s rise and Aaronson’s club. Barring injury, these 14 should be on the plane to Qatar. The goalkeeper’s depth chart is worth watching, especially after Turner moved to Arsenal and another transfer is expected.—de la Torre would have moved elsewhere after the relegation of his Dutch club—could also become a factor, but it’s hard to see any of these players ultimately not making the trip.
No player has improved his stock like de la Torre in recent months with his individual play for club and country, and it was his last-minute delivery to El Salvador on Tuesday night that helped the United States to save the draw. That moment alone wasn’t necessarily World Cup-worthy, but it was the latest evidence in a growing case for a player who seems to have a knack for making the right decision. He received post-game praise from Berhalter, who said he was a good fit for everything the United States was trying to do. McKennie, Adams and Musah are still favorite midfield starters, but in a compressed group stage, where fitness – not to mention potential suspension – comes into play, it helps to have a drop that isn’t. so drastic.
Steffen (family reasons), Dest and Reyna (injury) may not have been available this last camp, but that shouldn’t impact their rankings, as long as they are picked up in time and closer to their peak form in five months.
THE NEXT ROW
Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor on loan from SonderjyskE)
Miles Robinson’s injury takes him out of consideration and gives a boost to Long, who was the only American player to start all four games this month, and Richards, who missed that camp with an injury but won’t shouldn’t feel too scared by the one-off performances that Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown have turned up over the past two weeks.
On the other side of the pitch, Ferreira certainly helped his cause with a four-goal performance against Grenada (despite the strength of the 170th-ranked opponent), but the same cannot be said for Wright. Berhalter said he hoped Wright could be “a force” for the United States on his El Salvador debut but, barring a few promising moments, he had a quiet night (albeit in difficult conditions). difficult) and was ripped off at half-time in favor of Ferreira. The manager was fairly candid in his assessment of the player while leaving the door open for his return, but the club goalscoring form that deserved Wright’s call-up didn’t fully translate to his brief national team performances.
“When players have an opportunity and don’t fully exploit it, it’s not nice for a coach,” Berhalter said. “It’s not pleasant for the players. It is not pleasant for the group. You know we all want Haji to be a force. It just wasn’t his night tonight, and you know that doesn’t rule him out for anything in the future. … But it was an unlucky night for him tonight, that’s for sure.
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If Pepi can start scoring goals at Augsburg at the start of the new season in Germany, he could reclaim his place as an American striker, but for now Ferreira appears to be one step ahead of his former teammate. FC Dallas.
Meanwhile, if forced to choose a third goalkeeper today, Berhalter could well tip in favor of Johnson, given his decent play against Uruguay and Horvath’s mysterious blunder in El Salvador, where he failed to protect his near post for a seemingly harmless ball. tight angle that resulted in the opener. That, coupled with Johnson’s guaranteed playing time and Horvath’s continued uncertainty in that regard, puts the NYCFC safety net in an advantageous position.
As for some of the MLS-based veterans, Morris and Arriola each had a mixed bag of one side. They both had an element of heroism (Morris’ equalizer in San Salvador and Arriola’s influential play against Grenada) and a dose of disappointment (Morris’ quiet night against Grenada and the red card of Arriola against El Salvador nine minutes after coming on), and figures to be right on the roster bubble as Berhalter ponders his final picks.
ALWAYS ON RADAR
Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), Bryan Reynolds (Roma), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United), John Brooks (Unattached), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Sam Vines (Antwerp), James Sands (Rangers), Gianluca Busio (Venice), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich), Josh Sargent (Norwich City), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca), Jordan Pefok (Young Boys), Daryl Dike (West Brom), Gyasi Zardes (Colorado Rapids)
It’s unlikely that any player’s prospects will come down to just a performance or two, especially in a friendly, but if Scally’s long stare against Uruguay was his audition, it just wasn’t enough. gone well enough to deserve an immediate jolt. pecking order. He was targeted early and often by La Celeste and was often dropped. That said, his versatility to be able to play on both sides is an asset, even on an expanded roster, and a good pre-season and start to the Bundesliga campaign with Gladbach could result in another look in September.
Tillman’s commitment to the United States rather than Germany puts him in the spotlight as a potential wild card to make a run for a spot on the roster. He didn’t wow in his first American camp, however, and an injury ruling him out against El Salvador didn’t help either, leaving him little time to make up enough ground to win favor with Berhalter.
Just as it wouldn’t take much for Pepi to reclaim his role as America’s top striker, the same could be said for Sargent, Pefok and Dike, should they catch fire in the fall and start their season on a tear. The tenuous nature of the position is such that a well-timed run of form could be all that guarantees a ticket to Qatar.
HIDDEN IN THE SHADOW OF MLS
DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Jeremy Ebobisse (San Jose Earthquakes), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati)
These country-based players aren’t likely to grab any spots on the roster at all, but they’ve all been vetted by Berhalter over the past few weeks, meaning they may not be that far off. get ready for camp. The question is whether they could come in from the cold and immediately fit into a core group that has been building together for months, but each offers help in an area that needs it.
With no clear depth chart behind Antonee Robinson at left-back, Jones and Tolkin have a chance. The aforementioned need for strikers’ goals doesn’t go away, and Ebobisse (nine goals) and Vazquez (seven) have enjoyed respective success this season. As for Williamson, he was expected to play a more vital role in World Cup qualifying before tearing his ACL last summer, and another recent leg injury suffered since returning this season hasn’t helped, but time, fleeting as it may seem, is always on his side at the moment.
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