Who Should Be on the Plane for the USA? – The Center Circle

USMNT Gold Cup title follows Nations League for team on rise - Sports  Illustrated

The USA kicks off their first match of the 2022 World Cup in less than 75 days, which means the pressure for players looking to find a spot on the roster is on. Who are the shoe ins? Who needs to prove themselves? Who should be out? Get ready for one of the toughest roster decisions yet and learn who shouldn’t find themselves on the plane to Qatar in Novembers. 

Who is definitely in?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, there are a few players that have definitely cemented their place on the World Cup roster. 

Christian Pulisic – While the 23 year old attacker has not had an incredibly successful start to the season for Chelsea, he has continued to prove that he is one of the most dangerous attackers for the US. While still young, he has some of the best and most elite level experience out of all the players available for the nation. 

Matt Turner – The US has a pretty deep goalkeeper situation, but Turner is definitely a shoe in for the job. After a widely successful stint with the Revolution, the 28 year old keeper made his move to Arsenal and made his debut in the Europa League, just a few short weeks ago. If anything the two shoe-in keepers for the tournament are Turner and Zack Steffen, who both have great premier league and championship experience. 

Weston McKennie – The midfielder has battled injuries on-and-off the past two seasons, but has really exploded and showed the world that he is the real deal. Last week’s Champions League goal helped McKennie cement his place on the squad this winter. While the midfielder has experienced some setbacks, he has proved that his talent can be overcome nearly every obstacle. 

Sergino Dest – Something the US desperately needs is a back line with speed and technical ability that matches their competition. While the US does not have a ton of elite level experience on the back line, Dest has the most veteran experience for a Champions League club. His move to AC Milan will bolster his skills and playing time, quickly getting him ready for the World Cup.

Tyler Adams – His record transfer to Leeds has proved to give Adams more power than ever before. The midfielder is constantly proving that he can play 90 plus minutes and still offer all that speed and technical ability needed to take any team over the top. If the US want to solidify their midfield, they’ll need to make sure Adams is in the line up. 

Brendan Aaronson – The young American superstar is also making his presence known at Leeds and the Premier League this season. Making a huge impact in all the moments he hits the pitch, Aaronson will provide that speedy danger up top that the US needs. Him, Pulisic, and Adams can combine to be one of the most dangerous attacks in the World Cup this winter. 

Yunus Musah – The young midfielder is constantly proving that he is a force to be reckoned with for Valencia. He is one of the most talented midfield threats that can round out the team and Berhalter would be heavily mistaken if he left Musah off the roster. 

Cameron Carter-Vickers – The Celtic defender is proving that he is worth all the hype. Even being seen with Berhalter, he has locked down his place on the back line. Making his way onto a Champions League pitch has also made sure that the American is one of the staples for the national team. 

Other notable players: Haji Wright, Antonee Robinson, and Zach Steffen

Who needs to prove themselves?

Reggie Cannon – The right-back for Boavista is one of the United States’ best options for the back line. While he is definitely not starter material, he has proved that he can play both on the outside and center back, which is a spot the US desperately needs to fill. Expanded roster sizes for the tournament could see Cannon making his way on the roster, but he will have some serious work to do in Portugal for that to happen. 

Josh Sargent – The Norwich striker hasn’t made an appearance for the US in quite some time, but his stardom isn’t quite over yet. Serving up some of the sweetest goals and assists in the Championship, his time in Europe hasn’t been a total waste. This season has seen Sargent take on some tough competition and thrive. I think it could be enough for him to make it on the squad, but he’ll have to continue all of his success to make sure that happens.

Gianluca Busio – The midfielder has definitely made an impact at Venezia over the past two seasons. However, his minutes and call ups for the national team have been extremely limited. Before he can earn another call up, the italian-american will need to grab more goals and minutes to get ready for the roster selection. 

Gio Reyna – Whether this is a surprise to you or not, the Dortmund star has not performed much on the pitch this season. Suffering a pretty severe injury, Reyna is just now getting back on the pitch with limited time. He will really have to prove that he is ready to go in the next few weeks if he can earn his spot on the team. 

Walker Zimmerman – Nashville’s anchor in the back line has been a national team staple for years, but is that enough to cement his spot on the national team? If Zimmerman wants to compete with some of the big names in the back, he needs to really step it up for Nashville. While he has the power and ability to do the job, his competition level has pretty much extended to the MLS. Will that be enough?

Tim Weah – The Lille winger has been performing all season long, but his last few performances with the national team have been pretty much below average. Weah has proved he is a good attacker on the club level but he’ll have to keep his game moving to get one of those roster spots. 

Joe Scally – With one of the holes for the nation on the back line, Scally could be just what the United States needs. Proving his worth for Borussia Monchengladbach, the American defender could be that dark horse pick for the roster the US needs to solidify the back line. He’s become a local legend for the club, but this could be his breakout onto the national team scene. 

Other notable players: Chris Richards, Jordan Pefok, Luca De La Torre, Deandre Yedlin, Erik Palmer-Brown, and James Sands

Who shouldn’t make the trip?

Kellyn Acosta – A deep midfield with players in the Premier League and Europe’s other super leagues have Acosta’s spot left up for grabs. The MLS star just doesn’t have the speed and skills that are required to make it on the world’s biggest stage. His time on the national team is looking as though it is close to over. 

Jordan Morris – Plagued with injury, Morris has not been able to perform at the level he should be for club and country. While the forward used to have that speed needed up top, better and younger options look to be brighter for the US. Unfortunately, Morris’ inability to produce the past few years just is not going to cut it on the World Cup pitch. 

Sean Johnson – With Turner and Steffen, Johnson’s ability to make it onto the roster is not very bright. Horvath has also been performing at a high level and his heroics for the US in the last CONCACAF tournament are going to make sure that he gets his spot. This means that Johnson is just not going to cut it with such a deep pool available for Berhalter. 

Miles Robinson – Once a lock for the US, Robinson has not been able to perform since he tore his achilles tendon in May. Even worse, the defender was just recently arrested for misdemeanor theft, which doesn’t exactly put him in the best situation for success. 

John Brooks – The center back has been left off the US roster several times and just recently found himself a new club. With minimal minutes played this season, Brooks will need to show Berhalter that he is still spry and a good option in the back for the country. If the center back wants to prove himself and get on the roster, he’ll need to get some serious minutes at his new club and prove Berhalter wrong, but that just does not look likely. He could be a huge asset for the US, but leaving Wolfsburg and being unattached for such a substantial part of the season will see him off of the roster. 

Paul Arriola – While Arriola has provided the US with some substantial support over the past few seasons, the options up top for the US are too plentiful. His time on the national team has not proven to be a relative success and with his competition being in the MLS, the World Cup is not in his future.  

What’s next?

With the World Cup looming around the corner the US will be releasing the roster in early November. One thing is for certain, Berhalter has his work cut out for him when it comes to picking the winning roster. The biggest things we can come to expect is that there are a lot of unexpected players that could be making their way onto the roster. With a slurry of international talent, it’ll take some serious consideration to pick the perfect squad.

Who do you think should be in or out? Let us know in the comments!


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