United States men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter announced his 27-man roster for upcoming friendlies and Nations League matches in June in what will prove to be a critical international window of preparation ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in November. Nineteen-year-old Bayern Munich prospect Malik Tillman, who recently switched from Germany to represent the United States, will have an opportunity to impress as a new recruit along with CF Montréal's 23-year-old midfielder Djordje Mihailovic, arguably one of the hottest players in MLS this season.
Notably, half-an-hour before the squad list was dropped, Chicago Fire's 18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slolina announced his commitment to the United States despite not being called up for this window by Berhalter. Slolina was called up by Poland for this upcoming window but has turned down the invite in order to represent the U.S. down the road.
Miles Robinson's season-ending injury and Ricardo Pepi's poor form have paved way for the inclusion of Joe Scally, Haji Wright and Cameron Carter-Vickers as they will have opportunities to impress Berhalter during this window. When it comes to Tillman, he has represented Germany at the youth levels and is an attacking midfielder for Bayern Munich while having played every midfield position, including attacking midfield and striker at times. He has made seven appearances for the senior squad and has scored once. This could be a massive coup for the senior squad if he continues to develop his skill set.
Sean Johnson was a late addition to the squad as Zack Steffan had to withdraw due to family reasons. This will likely see Matt Turner start most of the matches with the other two keepers likely rotating in during friendlies. Johnson has anchored a New York City FC defense that has kept five consecutive shutouts in MLS play.
The United States will face Uruguay and Morocco in friendlies before the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League play begins with matches against Grenada and El Salvador. This is expected to be the longest period of time that the team will be together in a window before the World Cup, which is why it's an important time for fringe players on the bubble to make an impact as the fall window could serve for final tune-ups.
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Let's take a look at the full 27-man roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 16/0)
DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld/GER; 6/0), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 24/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 23/3), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes/FRA; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 25/2), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 0/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 73/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 28/3)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 51/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 27/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 7/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 31/9), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; 6/1), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 16/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 31/0), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich/GER; 0/0)
FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 18/5), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 44/9), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 9/3), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 46/10), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 48/21), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 22/2), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 0/0)
Injuries played a large part in who was available for selection as Jordan Pefok and Josh Sargent missed the squad due to injury. Chris Richards was expected to be back by now but he is day-to-day, according to Berhalter, who told reporters that the team doesn't want to risk aggravating the injury since Richards has been on the shelf since April 17. One player who is back in the mix is Weston McKennie. The roster was actually increased from 26 to 27 because Berhalter doesn't expect McKennie to play much at all, but his presence will be a positive so that he can build a rapport with other members of the team.
While it's not confirmed whether the World Cup squad size will increase to 26 or 23 players, Berhalter is operating under the understanding that it should be 26 players. He did, however, admit that if squads are capped at 23 for the World Cup, he'll have some tough decisions to make. With that in mind, this is a great time to cap tie players like Tillman and Scally, who, depending on form, may run the risk of not being on the larger World Cup roster.