The United States men's national team will head into the upcoming stretch of Concacaf World Cup qualifiers (Paramount+) in decent shape after picking up four points during the November international break. They currently sit second in the Octagonal, only one point behind a Canada side that they'll face in Hamilton next week. They also hold a one-point lead on Mexico and Panama with a three-plus goal differential on El Tri.
On Friday, Gregg Berhalter announced the list of 28 players he'll call up to camp in Columbus, Ohio, ahead of qualifiers against El Salvador (Jan. 27), Canada (Jan. 30) and Honduras (Feb. 2) in a window that could secure a World Cup bid depending on how results shake out. Thirteen of the 28 are in MLS.
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In his presser, Berhalter did acknowledge that a player missed out due to testing positive for COVID but he did not comment on who that player was.
Wit the heavy MLS contingent that was brought into the roster, Berhalter doesn't have any fitness concerns with the season ending in November as players like Brooks Lennon were able to turn January camp into an opportunity,
"We pushed them hard this camp enough so that we're confident that they'll be fit enough to compete with the European guys." Berhalter said, "Most of them have been playing and if not they've been training regulations should be at a good level as well. We think fitness won't be an issue in this camp, that will be wrong."
USMNT World Cup qualifying roster (Jan. 27-Feb. 2)
Goalkeepers (4): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 26/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 13/0)
Defenders (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 15/2), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United; 1/0), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 6/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 15/3), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 15/3), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 71/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 23/2)
Midfielders (7): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 45/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 22/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 4/0), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 28/8), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 11/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 30/0)
Forwards (8): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 15/5), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 42/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 40/10), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg/GER; 7/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 42/17), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 18/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 66/14)
It's an intriguing roster that again sees John Brooks left out as the changing of the guard has taken place with Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson becoming the preferred central pairing. With how fast the games are coming, there will be rotation among the other names as well.
Brooks' exclusion was down to form per Berhalter but he did reiterate that he will have an opportunity for this window. But as he spoke about Brooks not being a fit for these opponents it does make you wonder what opponents Brooks is a fit for. His experience would be useful for the World Cup but as the team gains more experience and the center back group grows together, it is tougher to see a place for Brooks moving forward.
Gio Reyna was left at Dortmund as it is better for him to integrate with the squad there after a long injury recovery but Sergino Dest is back with the squad as he offers something different than DeAndre Yedlin. Being able to leave Reyna in Germany does speak to the strength of the midfield and the form that Benden Aaronson and Timothy Weah have been in for the national team.
The midfield group is anchored by Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, as expected, but Yunus Musah will have quite an opportunity to take hold of this third spot in the midfield. Luca de la Torre will also be exciting to watch if he gets a chance and Jordan Morris' return to the squad gives a late game option off the bench for Berhalter.