USMNT World Cup roster and lineup projections as Qatar 2022 nears

September 28, 2022

US head coach Gregg Berhalter reads a book during a training session of the US soccer team in Cologne, Germany, prior to a friendly match against Japan, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. The USA will play Japan in a friendly soccer match as part of the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar in Duesseldorf on Friday. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter used a September coaching camp to get one final take a look at gamers earlier than he names his 26-man roster for the 2022 World Cup. (AP Photograph/Martin Meissner)

Gregg Berhalter has 11 gamers in thoughts who, “ideally, in an ideal world,” would begin for the U.S. males’s nationwide crew in its 2022 World Cup opener.

The USMNT coach is aware of, after all, that “that is not worldwide soccer”; that this world is way from excellent and that accidents will certainly disrupt his plans. However he has been concocting them, steadily, for years now. On what’s successfully World Cup Eve, along with his closing warmup friendlies performed, he has nearly all the data he wants to select a beginning lineup — and, for that matter, a roster.

Berhalter has not but settled on a 26-man squad for Qatar 2022, however he’s shut. The roster, he indicated, was 80-85% set previous to a September coaching camp. A 2-0 loss to Japan final week and a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday offered additional clues — and for Berhalter, “some readability.”

He and U.S. Soccer will reveal the World Cup roster on Nov. 9. He’ll then sweat by way of one final weekend of membership video games earlier than submitting his closing record of 26 gamers to FIFA by Monday, Nov. 14. By then, the whole USMNT can have gathered in Qatar, at their luxurious lodge on The Pearl, and at their Al-Gharafa coaching base.

And by then, barring any last-minute health doubts, the beginning 11 will even be determined. Right here, with lower than two months to go, is what we predict it will likely be.

USMNT projected beginning lineup for 2022 World Cup

Over the previous 12 months, Berhalter’s perfect beginning 11 has crystallized. Assuming full well being, except for Miles Robinson, it seems to be this — with just a few caveats beneath:

Goalkeeper: Matt Turner
Proper again: Sergiño Dest
Heart again: Walker Zimmerman
Heart again: Chris Richards
Left again: Antonee Robinson
Defensive midfield: Tyler Adams
Central midfield: Yunus Musah
Central midfield: Weston McKennie
Proper wing: Tim Weah
Striker: Jesús Ferreira
Left wing: Christian Pulisic

Caveat No. 1: In his “excellent world,” Berhalter would love to begin Zack Steffen, who’s extra succesful than Turner with the ball at his ft. However Steffen’s type and health have been unstable. He would wish to get again onto the sphere and right into a groove for Middlesbrough, his English Championship membership, if he’s going to begin on the World Cup forward of Turner — who performed all 180 minutes (and performed properly) within the September friendlies.

Caveat No. 2: Identical goes for Chris Richards. He’s probably the most gifted middle again within the U.S. pool, however missed all six World Cup tuneups as a consequence of damage. In his place, Aaron Lengthy was the one USMNT participant, no matter place, to begin all six. If Richards is not able to play 90 minutes — and on condition that he has no clear path to common enjoying time at Crystal Palace, he won’t be — Lengthy seems to be the deputy, irrespective of how uncomfortable he has appeared. (Lengthy may additionally be the perfect matchup for 6-foot-5 Welsh striker Kieffer Moore.)

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The one different slight query mark is at striker. Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi stay in rivalry to begin up prime. However Berhalter heaps reward on Jesús Ferreira at any time when he can, and mentioned this month that Ferreira “checks all [the] bins.” If Weah and Pulisic are each within the lineup towards Wales, Ferreira also needs to be in it — with some rotation potential additional into the event.

USMNT 2022 World Cup roster prediction

The roster is a tad extra sophisticated. However 20 outfield gamers and one goalkeeper look like locks or near-locks. Earlier than we get to position-by-position evaluation, and determine these locks, here is our greatest guess on the 26:

Goalkeepers: Zack Steffen, Matt Turner, Sean Johnson
Fullbacks: Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon
Heart backs: Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, Aaron Lengthy, Cameron Carter-Vickers
Central midfielders: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta
Attacking midfielders/wingers: Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna, Malik Tillman, Paul Arriola
Strikers: Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok, Ricardo Pepi

GOALKEEPERS

Locks: Matt Turner
Doubtless: Zack Steffen
Bubble: Sean Johnson, Ethan Horvath, Gaga Slonina

Turner might be both the starter or the No. 2.

Steffen might be the starter. If not, he might be the No. 2, or he might be off the roster altogether.

For the remaining one or two slots, Berhalter has two choices: choose a “locker-room man,” or peer into the long run.

Within the first situation, Johnson versus Horvath is a coin flip. Within the second, the 18-year-old Slonina is an apparent selection. He is the perfect goalkeeper prospect the U.S. has produced in a while, and the early favourite to begin in 2026. He hasn’t performed for the nationwide crew but, however might be dropped at Qatar for the expertise.

FULLBACKS

Locks: Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson
Doubtless: DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon
Bubble: Joe Scally, Sam Vines

Berhalter dropped an enormous trace on Tuesday when he began Dest at left again and Yedlin at proper again, relatively than giving Scally a official look on the left. Scally was considerably spectacular off the bench — however on the best, which is telling.

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The takeaway is that Dest, along with his position because the beginning proper again, is the backup left again. If Antonee Robinson had been to go down in Qatar, Dest would change flanks, and both Yedlin or Cannon would slot in at proper again, relying on scenario and opponent. (Cannon is valued for his capacity to play on the best facet of a again three in possession.)

So, Scally would, in principle, be the third-string left again and fourth-string proper again. Vines, who appeared a bit out of his depth towards Japan, could be the third-string left again. Each appear pointless.

With Robinson injured, Berhalter introduced just one left-footed fullback to September camp, and his reasoning — “we did not really feel like we had sufficient depth on the left facet to go together with two left-footers” — may in all probability apply in November as properly.

CENTER BACKS

Locks: Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, Aaron Lengthy
Doubtless: Cameron Carter-Vickers
Bubble: Mark McKenzie
Longshot: Tim Ream, James Sands

Zimmerman and his two potential companions are on the airplane. Carter-Vickers is the clear favourite to affix them. These had been the 4 on this September roster till Richards and Carter-Vickers pulled out with minor accidents. Of their absence, Berhalter referred to as in McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown, however, relatively than give them actual alternatives, he saved making an attempt to forge a viable Lengthy-Zimmerman partnership.

The query is whether or not he’ll take a fifth middle again. The extraordinarily logical possibility could be Ream, who A) is at the moment captaining a Premier League membership, B) has all kinds of expertise, C) could be the left-footed ball-playing middle again that the U.S. so sorely lacked towards Japan and D) may function the third-string, in-case-of-emergency left again.

However Berhalter’s September choices and phrases recommend that Ream is, at greatest, seventh on the depth chart and out of the image.

“A few of the issues that we’re searching for in our middle backs is to play a excessive line, cowl plenty of area behind them, be dominant within the air, dominant on offensive and defensive set items,” Berhalter mentioned after naming the roster. “And that is not Tim’s energy.”

(McKenzie performed within the second halves of each September video games, and, though he’d appear redundant if the highest 4 choices are all accessible, he might be the fifth selection.)

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Locks: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta
Longshots: Cristian Roldan
Can play right here too: Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Malik Tillman

The midfield appears easy. The three starters — Adams, Musah and McKennie — are apparent. Acosta is the backup to Adams. De la Torre is a backup at both of the opposite two positions. So are Tillman, Reyna and Aaronson, who, as a trio, give Berhalter sufficient flexibility to really feel snug taking solely 5 true central midfielders.

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There stays an out of doors likelihood, although, that he may use the twenty sixth roster spot on a sixth, which might be Roldan, a popular and versatile veteran who’s at the moment injured — and whose inventory may need risen in absentia.

WINGERS/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Locks: Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson
Doubtless: Malik Tillman
Bubble: Paul Arriola, Jordan Morris

We’re hesitant to lock in Tillman solely as a result of his USMNT monitor report is so quick. However Berhalter clearly charges him. Talking previous to camp, he basically challenged the 20-year-old attacking midfielder to “enhance his degree,” then mentioned: “He can assist this group, however he wants to select it up just a little. He is a man that the teaching employees was extremely impressed with, and assume he is received an enormous ceiling.”

Berhalter then used Tillman in each September video games off the bench, as soon as in midfield and as soon as on the left wing. That he did not stand out is not all that related, as a result of no person did.

With creativity greater than accounted for, then, by that locked-in group of 4 or 5, the traditional knowledge is that Berhalter will take a extra direct winger because the sixth participant on this class. It’s going to seemingly be whoever between Arriola and Morris concludes the MLS season in higher type.

STRIKERS

Locks: Jesús Ferreira
Doubtless: Josh Sargent
Bubble: Ricardo Pepi, Jordan Pefok

Ferreira might be on the airplane, even when he does not begin. Sargent must be, until he falls again right into a rut at Norwich. After which we arrive on the most controversial choice of all.

Berhalter would do something to reincarnate 2021 Ricardo Pepi. He referred to as the 19-year-old into September camp regardless of eleven-plus months with no objective. (Pepi lastly scored one the next weekend.) He praised him effusively in information conferences, and handed him a begin towards Saudi Arabia. He desperately desires Pepi to make this 26-man squad, and to be his third striker — or one thing extra.

Whether or not Pepi finally does will rely upon his performances for his new membership, FC Groningen; but additionally on Berhalter’s reply to an occasionally mentioned query: Would possibly he take 4 strikers to Qatar?

He definitely doesn’t want 4. However he does not want a fifth fullback, a fifth middle again or a sixth central midfielder both. The separate eventualities that decision Pepi and Pefok into motion are much more believable than those that summon Scally, or Vines, or McKenzie, or Roldan.

Pefok, because the third striker, would serve a really particular position. He’d by no means begin, as a result of his profile does not jibe with Berhalter’s system; however he’d be the penalty-box goal that Berhalter would flip to when programs fly out the window, with quarter-hour remaining and in want of a objective.

Pepi would then be the fourth striker who may deputize in any of the three roles, and who, within the absolute worst-case situation, would take in the expertise and retailer it away for 2026.