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USA World Cup 2022 roster: USMNT final squad and possible starting XI for Qatar

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With the nightmare of the failed qualification to the 2018 World Cup officially put to bed, USMNT fans can look forward to the big dance once again. And now they know the 26 players who will take them there.

U.S. national team manager Gregg Berhalter named his final roster on Wednesday, November 9 and there were a few surprises. 

Veteran Fulham defender Tim Ream made the cut, as did Seattle Sounders duo Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris. Nashville right-back Shaq Moore and teenager Joe Scally beat out Reggie Cannon. And Haji Wright and Josh Sargent were taken ahead of Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok and Groningen’s Ricardo Pepi, with the latter just beginning to turn things around on loan in the Netherlands.

“That was a really difficult conversation I had to have with him [Pepi],” Berhalter told ESPN during the reveal show. “He scored three goals in World Cup Qualifying and he’s not going to be part of the program. Josh [Sargent] is competing in the [English] Championship and he played in the Premier League last year. We’re playing Wales and England and both teams are stocked with players from those leagues.

“Haji Wright is in great form playing for his team in Turkey and Jesus Ferreira has been good for us and understands the game plan and how to execute it,” Berhalter continued. “Haji Wright is in better form than Jordan Pefok in this moment.”

As surprising was the exclusion of goalkeeper Zack Steffen who was the No. 1 goalkeeper for the USMNT earlier in the cycle.

“I think in some of the cases it’s more about what we have than what we don’t have,” Berhalter said about the goalkeeper situation without referencing Steffen in particular. “With the three goalkeepers on the roster we feel great.”

MORE: Latest USMNT injury news with Chris Richards ruled out, more

USMNT World Cup roster for Qatar 2022

Here are all 26 players on Gregg Berhalter’s final list:

MORE: Every known injury to players for 2022 World Cup participants

Position Player Club Age Caps 2022 World Cup
Qualifiers
GK Ethan Horvath Luton Town (ENG) 27 8 0
GK Sean Johnson NYCFC (USA) 33 10 0
GK Matt Turner Arsenal (ENG) 28 18 7
DEF Tim Ream Fulham (ENG) 35 46 1
DEF Cameron Carter-Vickers Celtic (SCO) 24 10 0
DEF Sergino Dest AC Milan (ITA) 21 17 6
DEF Aaron Long NY Red Bulls (USA) 30 29 2
DEF Shaq Moore Nashville SC (USA) 26 15 4
DEF Antonee Robinson Fulham (ENG) 25 28 13
DEF Joe Scally Gladbach (GER) 19 2 0
DEF DeAndre Yedlin Inter Miami (USA) 29 74 9
DEF Walker Zimmerman Nashville SC (USA) 29 31 10
MID Kellyn Acosta LAFC (USA) 27 52 13
MID Tyler Adams Leeds United (ENG) 23 19 13
MID Weston McKennie Juventus (ITA) 24 34 7
MID Yunus Musah Valencia (SPA) 19 18 10
MID Cristian Roldan Seattle Sonders (USA) 27 32 5
MID Brenden Aaronson Leeds United (ENG) 21 21 11
MID Luca de la Torre Celta Vigo (SPA) 24 12 4
FWD Gio Reyna Borussia Dortmund (GER) 19 11 3
FWD Jesus Ferreira FC Dallas (USA) 21 12 6
FWD Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders (USA) 27 47 6
FWD Haji Wright Antalyaspor (TUR) 24 3 0
FWD Christian Pulisic Chelsea (ENG) 24 50 10
FWD Josh Sargent Norwich City (ENG) 22 19 3
FWD Timothy Weah LOSC Lille (FRA) 22 24 9

WORLD CUP 2022 SELECTED SQUADS:
Australia | Argentina | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon 
Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | England
France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico
Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Senegal
Serbia | Spain | Switzerland | Uruguay | USA | Wales 

Berhalter indicated that three players heading to Qatar with injuries are progressing well.

“Weston McKennie’s prognosis is that he’s going to come to the World Cup in a good way,” Berhalter said about the Juventus midfielder. “Luca de la Torre is recovering from his hamstring injury. And Matt Turner is OK and was on the bench for his cup game.”

Chris Richards and Miles Robinson were two players who missed the World Cup with long-term injuries. 

USMNT stars, strengths, and weaknesses at 2022 World Cup

Stars

The unquestioned star of the USMNT team is Christian Pulisic, and his ability to stay healthy and carry the attack will determine how far the U.S. can advance at the World Cup. With his playing time at Chelsea diminished, he will need to re-energize himself ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

The Leeds United pair of Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson have also risen to significant prominence on this team, with their pressing abilities fitting the Gregg Berhalter system perfectly. Adams in particular is an engine in midfield, generating turnovers at the No. 6 position and building possession out of the back.

Weston McKennie is another fixture in the middle, and his partnership with Adams and Yunus Musah has affectionately been dubbed “MMA.” The absence of any of those three has proven costly to the U.S. and their health will be of critical importance. McKennie and Musah have developed a true No. 8 pivot, with Musah being in charge of progression while McKennie has a more box-to-box role.

Strengths

The midfield for the U.S. is the team’s clear strength. While it’s not particularly deep, the presence of the “MMA” trio is a massive boost for the U.S. and those three can match up against many of the world’s midfield players. Backup Luca de la Torre is recovering from an injury, but will be heading to Qatar.

Full-back is also a position of strength, surprisingly, after years of lacking talent in that area. The presence of Antonee Robinson on the left and Sergino Dest on the right allows Berhalter to work his tactical approach around the pair’s strengths. The depth, however, is lacking significantly, and any injury to either player would prove a significant blow.

Youth is also an extremely important aspect of this U.S. squad, as they not only enter the 2022 World Cup with energy and exuberance, but also with an eye towards the 2026 tournament that the U.S. will host alongside Canada and Mexico. Any success at the 2022 World Cup will give hope that this same group can build further on that foundation to be a true contender four years from now.

The goalkeeping position was one with a few concerns not long ago, but it’s amazing what a few months will do to change that. Matt Turner was facing playing time concerns ahead of a move to Arsenal, and form heading into the World Cup was a real concern. However, Turner has seen time as Arsenal’s Cup goalkeeper and played extremely well so things are looking up.

MORE: USA’s World Cup schedule & opponents in Qatar

Weaknesses

There are a significant number of question marks on this team heading into the World Cup.

Chief amongst those is the striker position. While Jesus Ferreira seems entrenched in the starting role, that’s largely due more to a lack of other options than Ferreira’s ability to claim the spot. But behind him the options are not guarantees. Haji Wright only has three appearances with the USA, which is the same amount of goals that Josh Sargent has in 19 appearances, a return that has been heavily criticized.

Similarly, the center-back position is one of confusion for the United States. Walker Zimmerman is a clear starter, but alongside him it’s anyone’s guess. Miles Robinson was meant to be that guy, but a torn Achilles ended his chances for a spot in Qatar. Chris Richards was also believed to be a possible option, but injury torpedoed his chances, too.

Of the players who are heading to Qatar, Aaron Long is a potential preferred option for Berhalter, but his subpar play in MLS since returning from an injury could force Berhalter’s hand. Cameron Carter-Vickers has done well at Celtic, but is only recently back in the mix after years of toiling off the radar. Tim Ream could be the surprise starter alongside Zimmerman given his run as a starter in the Premier League for Fulham.

Projected USMNT starting lineup at the FIFA World Cup

So now that we have the final 26, how will they line up? The starting lineup is pretty self-explanatory, although there are still a few decisions to be made.

Aside from the starting central defender next to Walker Zimmerman, another question is at the third midfield position. Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, when healthy, are locks for the starting lineup. The final spot seems to be more up in the air with Yunus Musah a strong option and in-form Brenden Aaronson listed as a midfielder by U.S. boss Gregg Berhalter.

  • United States projected starting lineup (4-3-3): Turner (GK) — A. Robinson, Carter-Vickers, Zimmerman, Dest — Adams, McKennie, Musah — Pulisic, Ferreira, Aaronson.

MORE: Analyzing the USMNT’s best starting XI at the FIFA World Cup

USMNT World Cup roster cuts

With just 26 spots available to Berhalter, some players were left on the outside looking in.

Up front, Ricardo Pepi looked to revive his chances at Dutch side Groningen, but the level of the league and his form were not quite enough to beat out Haji Wright and Josh Sargent. The same occurred in the case of Jordan Pefok as his great early-season form with Union Berlin essentially evaporated. And the days for Gyasi Zardes to make this squad are long gone.

The center-back battle was totally wide open, with Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie left out. Long-term injuries kept Chris Richards and Miles Robinson off the roster. 

The omission of accomplished goalkeeper Zack Steffen will be a topic of conversation through the World Cup.

MORE: Why they call Brenden Aaronson the “Medford Messi”

USMNT World Cup roster cuts and omissions

Position Player Club Age Caps 2022 World Cup
Qualifiers
GK Josh Cohen Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 30 0 0
GK Stefan Frei Seattle Sounders (USA) 36 0 0
GK Brad Guzan** Atlanta United (USA) 38 64 0
GK Gabriel Slonina Chicago Fire (USA)* 18 0 0
GK Zack Steffen Middlesbrough (ENG)* 27 29 6
DEF George Bello Arminia Bielefeld (BEL) 20 7 2
DEF Mark McKenzie KRC Genk (BEL) 23 8 2
DEF Chris Richards** Crystal Palace (ENG) 22 6 5
DEF Miles Robinson** Atlanta United (USA) 25 21 11
DEF James Sands Rangers (SCO) 22 7 1
DEF Reggie Cannon Boavista (POR)      
DEF Erik Palmer-Brown Troyes (FRA)      
DEF Sam Vines** Royal Antwerp (BEL) 23 9 0
MID Johnny Cardoso Internacional (BRA) 21 4 0
MID Sebastian Lletget FC Dallas (USA) 30 33 4
MID Djordje Mihailovic CF Montreal (CAN) 23 6 0
MID Malik Tillman Rangers (SCO) 20 2 0
FWD Konrad de la Fuente Olympiakos (GRE)* 21 3 2
FWD Matthew Hoppe Middlesbrough (ENG) 21 6 1
FWD Jordan Pefok Union Berlin (GER) 26 9 3
FWD Ricardo Pepi Groningen (NED)      
FWD Brandon Vazquez FC Cincinnati (USA) 24 0 0
FWD Gyasi Zardes Colorado Rapids (USA) 31 68 5

* On loan
** Injured


Credit: sportingnews.com

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