With the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup about to start for the USA tonight against Guyana, it got me thinking about where the team is now. I believe that the squad is currently in a very transitional period at the moment. A lot of the highly rated talent right now is very young, and a lot of the old guard like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are still important to the team. However, players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams have lead the way making splashes in Europe and have shown the youth talent that Europe is the way to go.
At the helm of this team, I still trust Gregg Berhalter. I think that it’s on the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for not bringing Berhalter in for over a year, when it was clear to see they weren’t going to throw money at Tata Martinez, who went on to become the head coach of the Mexican National Team, and now going into a tournament designed for these two nations to win, he hasn’t been given ample time to implement his intriguing tactics.
Berhalter’s tactics, as I understand them, is a 4-3-3 formation, where at times, the RB (usually Tyler Adams) comes up into the midfield to help the midfielders that Berhalter refers to as “dual number 10s” and helps to overflow the midfield. We have yet to see how major players like Deandre Yedlin fit in this system, and Yedlin is easily the best RB the US has. The Gold Cup is also the first time we’re going to see a lot of the main squad in competitive games under the former Columbus Crew manager, so a lot is still up in the air. However, I think he will still be around for the 2023 World Cup, or at least I hope so. With that in mind, here is my 23 man roster for the USMNT if they make the 2022 World Cup, along with a Starting XI.
Player Ages Listed as of June 18th, 2019.
Zack Steffen, 24, 6 caps, Manchester City
Recently scooped up in a big money move to Manchester City, Zack Steffen is the best goalkeeper the program has had since Tim Howard in his prime, it’s a no brainer that he gets the starting spot, despite some shaky showings between the sticks as of late.
Ethan Horvath, 24, 3 caps, Club Brugge
Another talented young keeper, Horvath has Champions League and Europa League experience playing for Club Brugge in Belgium’s top flight. While he has been error-prone in past showings with the national team, I still think his european experience gives him a spot on the roster.
Brad Guzan, 34, 60 caps, Atlanta United
Speaking of experience, Brad Guzan will be 38 when the World Cup begins in Qatar. He’s shown that in the MLS he’s still got it, even at the ripe age of 34. His experience at the highest level will be crucial to the team, and while he probably won’t play, the mentorship role he is here to provide will be very important.
John Brooks, 25, 36 caps, VfW Wolfsburg
John Brooks is easily the best center back the US has right now. He has had his injury troubles as of late, but when healthy, he’s a starter in the Bundesliga. His stock has dipped, but his physicality is incredible and will be needed in the future.
Aaron Long, 26, 2 caps, New York Red Bulls
Aaron Long has been playing incredible soccer in the MLS, and made the most of his two caps this year against Italy and Peru. In my opinion, Long could easily be playing in Europe right now, and I think his talents compliment those of Brooks very well.
Matt Miazga, 25, 11 caps, Reading
Miazga had a very poor first half of the season on loan from Chelsea at FC Nantes in France, but recovered in the second half when he was recalled from the French outfit and loaned out to Reading in the Championship back in England. He helped the team avoid relegation, and if Miazga can continue his improvement like he did when he was on loan at Vitesse, he can easily make this team.
Chris Richards, 19, 0 caps, Bayern Munich
Richards made waves at the 2019 FIFA Under 20 World Cup, and caught my eye as well. Considered one of the 10 best youngsters in the entire tournament, Richards can make waves if given a shot at Bayern. With the Bavarian giants undergoing a defensive revolution under Niko Kovac, Richards could make his breakthrough sooner rather than later, and join the likes of Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams as the next big American star in the Bundesliga.
Antonee Robinson, 21, 6 caps, Wigan Athletic
Left back is the weakest position in the entire player pool. Robinson was playing well for Wigan Athletic on loan from Everton this past season, but rolled his ankle and missed the year-end friendlies in 2018. The young LB has pace and range, and I like his prospects at becoming the nation’s starting left back.
DeAndre Yedlin, 25, 71 caps, Newcastle United
I love me some DeAndre Yedlin. It’s weird to think of him as a “veteran” at the age of 25. He’s got pace, and he’s got talent. The biggest worry is his maturity, despite having said talent. Against Italy, he was a healthy scratch, so if he matures more, he’s an easy starter to me.
Reggie Cannon, 20, 2 caps, FC Dallas
The young right back has been given plenty of playtime by FC Dallas over his three year career. A product of their academy, he’s made the most of his chances and invitations to camps, and gets another stab at showing what he’s got in this Gold Cup with Tyler Adams withdrawing due to injury. I expect him to be far enough in his development to beat out Nick Lima of the San Jose Earthquakes into the role behind DeAndre Yedlin.
Chris Gloster, 18, 0 caps, Hannover 96
Another player that caught my eye in Poland at the U20 World Cup, Gloster has the skills to become a bright prospect in the very weak left back position. However, his spot comes down to his development, and if he doesn’t make it, I could easily see the aforementioned Nick Lima slot in this spot.
Christian Pulisic, 20, 23 caps, Chelsea FC
This is a no-brainer. After making his name at Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea coughed up $73 million to bring him to Stamford Bridge. Berhalter plans on playing him in one of his “dueling 10” roles in the midfield, and I can see why. His creative ability is unmatched in the squad right now. He is our golden goose.
Paxton Pomykal, 19, 0 caps, FC Dallas
The midfield general for the U20 team, Pomykal has made strides in his development at FC Dallas, and has long been considered the best player in their academy. I can see him playing alongside Christian Pulisic as a “dueling 10” come 2022.
Weston McKennie, 20, 7 caps, FC Schalke 04
McKennie was a bright spot in what was a very rough season for Schalke. He was a swiss army knife, playing in all central midfield spots, center back, and even right back. His versatility means he can really play anywhere in Berhalter’s midfield, and the young Texan will most definitely have a spot on the 2022 roster.
Tyler Adams, 19, 9 caps, RB Leipzig
Adams is the latest star to make his name in the Bundesliga, making his move from the New York Red Bulls to sister club RB Leipzig in January. Since his debut, the club only lost one game with him in the lineup. Sadly, he had to withdraw from the Gold Cup roster with a chronic groin injury, but come 2022 he is an immediate starter.
Alex Mendez, 18, 0 caps, SC Freiburg
Yet again, another star performer at the U20 World Cup, Mendez was one of my favorite players to watch. His tireless motor and beauty of a left foot have the former LA Galaxy academy product on the fast track to the senior national team.
Paul Arriola, 23, 16 caps, DC United
Since moving to DC United from Club Tijuana, Arriola has become a big part of the national team setup, and a versatile playmaker I quite enjoy watching. I expect him to be starting on the right wing for the US come 2022, when the SoCal native should be hitting his prime.
Jordan Morris, 24, 28 caps, Seattle Sounders
Now, there are many other players that could be in this spot, I know. But I really enjoy Morris and think he’s still got a lot of talent we have yet to see. Morris’ growth has really been slowed by injury woes, most recently a torn ACL that kept him out most of 2018, but the former Stanford Cardinal has returned to goalscoring ways, and I’d like to see him playing on the wing for the US come 2022.
Ulysses Llanez, 18, 0 caps, VfL Wolfsburg
Yet again, another U20 WC star I’m gushing over, his ability to take on defenders and his game breaking speed have me mesmerized. I’m so thankful he chose to stay with the US over Mexico, because they need another speedy, talented winger (I’m looking at you Chucky Lozano and Diego Lainez). Officially signing with Wolfsburg when he turned 18 on April 2nd, Llanez could become a breakout star next season in the Bundesliga.
Josh Sargent, 18, 3 caps, Werder Bremen
The surprise exclusion from Gregg Berhalter’s Gold Cup squad, Sargent is the best pure talent the US has up front. After storming through the Bremen youth setup and scoring on his debut, Sargent has a bright future ahead of him. I would have loved to have seen him in the Gold Cup this year, but he’s still 18, and has plenty of growing to do. By 2022, we shouldn’t have to rely on Jozy Altidore anymore.
Timothy Weah, 18, 8 caps, Paris Saint-Germain
The son of George Weah had the choice to play for three countries other than the US, but I am so glad he chose us. Weah was clutch when he was needed in the U20 World Cup, providing 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games from the left wing. Weah can play both up top as a striker or out on the left wing, and in my roster, he’ll more than likely be playing on the left.
Sebastian Soto, 18, 0 caps, Hannover 96
Say it with me now, another U20 World Cup standout, I hopped right onto the Sebastian Soto hype train. In 5 games at the tournament, he had 4 goals. 2 in a crucial group stage tie against Nigeria and yet another brace in the quarterfinals to propel the yanks past an incredibly talented French squad. Soto reportedly won’t sign a new contract with Hannover, and Borussia Dortmund are looking to potentially scoop him up.
Jozy Altidore, 29, 114 caps, Toronto FC
Altidore will be 33 when the World Cup rolls around, and like Brad Guzan, he’ll be here to play a mentorship role. Altidore has been the most reliable striker for the US with 41 goals, but has had plenty of injury troubles as of late, going under the knife twice in 2018. Hopefully he can be there to provide leadership, and maybe a goal or two.
Now that you’ve sat through all of that, here is my ideal Starting XI for the 2022 World Cup:
There are plenty of players I left out of this roster, and some were hard to not include. Special mentions to Tottenham Hotspur CB Cameron Carter-Vickers and Ajax RB Sergino Dest. Goal.com has a great look at the top 100 players in the national team pool for the future which I highly recommend checking out.