The United States Men’s National Team may launch a title defense on Friday night, but you’ll have to forgive most for seeing their Concacaf Nations League games in a different light. The 2022 World Cup overshadows and colors everything the United States does, from club performances and trips to national team matches by the end of the United States’ run in Qatar later this year.
Gregg Berhalter has spent his time as manager cultivating the USA player pool, exploring his options and building the depth chart, and right now a good chunk of USA’s ideal roster for the competition is informally defined. There are, however, a few problems with this. First, there’s the fact that USA have never had their ideal XI on the pitch together due to injuries and other absences and are destined for a curve ball or two, and second, there are key areas that are still very much up in the air. .
With little time together before the United States’ roster for Qatar is set – two Nations League games next week and two September friendlies in Europe against Asian competition – that’s all that’s left. – every remaining match will be put under the microscope to a greater extent. Even a Friday night fight against 170th-ranked Grenada and a game in El Salvador on June 14, where the United States began their World Cup qualifying journey, will make more sense for a select group of players in contention. for tickets to Qatar.
It was said that these were not full auditions and that the upcoming performances, just like the friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay last week, are not the end. What happens in training behind closed doors and how certain players change the dynamics of the team will certainly be taken into account when Berhalter make their final cuts. But the games will provide data points used as part of the bigger picture, and there are some positional battles worth watching more closely as the US adjusts with all eyes. on November dates with Wales, England and Iran.
The centre-forward struggle is nothing new. MLS co-top scorer Jesús Ferreira has started both friendlies in this window and has provided more of the same than he has shown in his time with the national team. He gets into dangerous places and his movement opens up opportunities for the American wingers, but his finishing touch was missed. Maybe with a better cross he converts his best chance against Uruguay, but regardless, USA are lacking goals from above. Haji Wright scored from a penalty that Christian Pulisic earned against Morocco and then had little to do at the scrappy end of the game against Uruguay. You expect him to get more time in the next two games, with limited exposure opportunities and a desire to determine if his late-season form in Turkey can be translated to the national team. With others like Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent, Daryl Dike and Jordan Pefok waiting in the wings for a September recall, now is the time for Ferreira and Wright to distance themselves from the pack or further cloud the picture.
Scroll to continue
REAR LEFT BACKUP
The starting position is Antonee Robinson’s up for grabs, but if he gets injured or has to miss a game through suspension, there’s no clear heir. Sergiño Dest’s move to the left would make more sense, especially given the depth at right-back, but he’s injured and not in this side. Joe Scally, who started and struggled against Uruguay, and George Bello, who didn’t play in either friendlies last week, are the current inside options, and it shouldn’t be surprising to see them getting looks. extended in future games as Berhalter seeks to increase the evidence at his disposal.
Matt Turner started against Morocco, while Sean Johnson looked over against Uruguay and neither did anything to hurt their cause. Neither conceded a goal – although the United States were lucky to have escaped Uruguay with the draw thanks to Edinson Cavani’s failure in stoppage time – and both seemed able at the time. The absence of Zack Steffen and the fact that he, Turner and Ethan Horvath are all currently on track to be substitute goalkeepers in the Premier League does not help clarify the situation. If finding answers is one of the goals of this camp, then giving Horvath a run-out on Friday in Texas or four days later in San Salvador would make a lot of sense, but it’s a positional run that should be continue until fall.
CENTRAL DEFENDER NO. 2
Walker Zimmerman seems to be pretty entrenched as a starter, but Miles Robinson’s long-term injury, Chris Richards’ short-term injury and John Brooks’ prolonged exile have opened up a pretty big opportunity in the back. Aaron Long has started both matches in camp so far, indicating that if he isn’t the leader of the pack, there is at least value in giving him every chance to become one. Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers each played a second half in the first two games, and it would behoove them both – and Berhalter – to extend their playing time into the next 180 minutes. , so that the United States can have a better idea of what he is working with in a position of the utmost importance.
More football coverage: