The United States has released a near-complete roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers in late January and early February, with the USMNT set for a critical trio of matches that will help determine their fate for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Currently sitting second in the CONCACAF standings, but far from comfortable, the US has called up 28 players to travel to Columbus, Toronto and St. Paul for the three games.
The squad is headed by Chelsea star Christian Pulisic, who recovered from an ankle injury and battled COVID-19 in October to make the roster. Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie is also on board, as is new Augsburg striker Ricardo Pepi and RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams.
The 13 MLS players called up to the team is Berhalter’s most on a World Cup qualifying roster since he took over.
USMNT roster for upcoming WCQ matches
: Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution).
: Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray) , Walker Zimmerman (Nashville South Carolina).
: Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders).
: Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (DC United), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tim Weah (Lille), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus crew).
USMNT List Highlights
This USMNT roster is nearly complete, with just about every young star fans have come to love on the list. Having Pulisic, McKennie, Adams and Pepi healthy and ready to play is a boost for the US in their quest for a spot in World Cup qualifying. This time there will be no excuses.
The only glaring omission is that of Borussia Dortmund winger Gio Reyna, who was expected to miss out due to his ongoing recovery from a frustrating muscle injury sustained while on USMNT duty in November.
Tim Weah is included after recovering from his own fight with a muscle injury, having recently returned to the pitch for club Lille on Wednesday.
An interesting exclusion from the list is that of centre-back Tim Ream, who has been a fixture under Berhalter and has played nearly every minute for Championship-leading Fulham this club season. Also left out is central defender John Brooks, who has struggled to maintain form with relegation-threatened Wolfsburg. At the heart of the defense, Berhalter has gone with Miles Robinson, Mark McKenzie, Chris Richards and Walker Zimmerman.
Gianluca Busio was left out, despite consistent game time with new club Venezia. New West Brom striker Daryl Dike was also excluded after making a recent winter switch. Up front, supporting Pepi, Berhalter has Weah, Gyasi Zardes, Brenden Aaronson, Paul Arriola, Jordan Morris and young FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira.
Hilariously, Josh Sargent, who has struggled all year with Norwich City, was understandably left off the list, but scored an insane goal just minutes after the list was released to give the Canaries a huge boost in the fight against relegation.
USMNT Qualifying Schedule
The United States is set to play three World Cup qualifiers in this international window, with another three at the end of March.
Those remaining six matches wrap up the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and will decide which three teams qualify directly for the World Cup, plus a fourth team that will be sent to the intercontinental playoff against the winner from the Oceania region.
|Thursday, January 27||against El Salvador||Columbus, OH|
|Saturday, January 30||@ Canada||hamilton, ontario|
|Wednesday, February 2||against Honduras||Saint Paul, MN|
|Thursday, March 24||@ Mexico||Determined|
|Sunday, March 27||against Panama||Orlando, Florida|
|Wednesday, March 30||@ Costa Rica||Determined|
CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Standings
The United States currently sits second in the World Cup standings, which would be good enough for a place in Qatar, but with six games remaining, it is far from over.
The top of the table is extremely tight, with the top four teams separated by two points. Canada topped the table with 16 points, thanks to a strong qualifying start that continues without a single loss, but the US is a point behind, with Mexico and Panama a further point behind.
The top three places automatically secure World Cup qualification, while fourth place earns a spot in the intercontinental playoff against the winner from the Oceania region. The bottom four sides are removed.
|5. Costa Rica||9||8||two||3||3||6||7||-one|
|7. El Salvador||6||8||one||4||3||4||10||-6|
Gregg Berhalter’s reaction
USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter met with the media shortly after the roster was released and discussed several different inclusions and exclusions.
“Thinking about the composition of the roster,” Berhalter said, “it’s never easy to put that together based on the playing time of our players domestically and looking at the form of our European players. So when I look at our roster as a whole, It’s a mix of guys who play regularly and guys who have been in training camp with us in December and then again in January.”
The most newsworthy moment of the press conference came when Berhalter confirmed that Busio’s exclusion was due to a positive COVID-19 test, with the Venezia playmaker initially included in the squad. “We have to be very cautious with COVID during this window,” Berhalter said. “It’s spreading like wildfire and there’s a chance anyone who comes to camp could be shut out because of it.”
Berhalter also spoke about the exclusions of veteran center backs John Brooks and Tim Ream, without going into detail about why they were left off the list, but reiterating that both players remain in the mix for future roster inclusion and that they “just they didn’t.” don’t make the cut” this time. Berhalter said nothing other than form was the reason for Brooks’ exclusion, saying he “wasn’t a good fit” for this stretch of games, but didn’t expand on what exactly that meant.
The USMNT chief also confirmed that making the trip across the border to Canada, where COVID-19 restrictions are much stricter for incoming travelers, took into account the construction of the list, and that all players on the current list are eligible to enter. the country and be available for the match.
Berhalter also noted that the weather will play a key role in the upcoming qualifiers, with an eye toward the game in Canada, as well as home games in Ohio and Minnesota. “When I think of historic world qualifiers in our history, certainly the two that come to mind are the 2001 game against Mexico in Columbus, and then the Denver game against Costa Rica, where the weather is playing a key role in that. , and it really gives us the edge. So we hope to embrace the conditions and enjoy the conditions, and really take it to our opponents.”