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USMNT announces World Cup roster with a few surprises, and two stunners

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The US men’s team will go to the 2022 World Cup with a defenseman who hasn’t played for them in over a year, a forward who has never scored a field goal for the national team, and without his No. 1 goalkeeper for most of that World Cup cycle.

This was stated by USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. Composition of 26 people on Wednesday. It includes Hadji Wright, a hot forward, but not Jordan Pefok or Ricardo Pepi. It also includes Fulham captain Tim Rome, a 35-year-old centre-back who has not played for the national team since last September.

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Most striking, however, was the absence of Zach Steffen, who has started more than any other goalkeeper since Berhalter took over in 2018. But he dropped down the depth table as Matt Turner took first place. “To tell [Steffen] That he won’t be part of the World Cup team was heartbreaking for me,” Berhalter said.

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[More: The 7 biggest USMNT roster snubs, including Steffen and Pefok]

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Other notable inclusions include Luca de la Torre, who has been on the sidelines for the past few weeks due to injury; and Joe Scully and Shaq Moore, two defensemen who beat Reggie Cannon to take over the lineup.

Down the field came Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola was out; and Christian Roldan finished 26th ahead of Malik Tillman.

Berhalter told players on FaceTime Sunday afternoon from his home to break the news – good and bad. The cuts, he said, were “really difficult.” The rest were filled with relief, joyful tears and “real, genuine happiness.” MLS players will now travel from New York to Qatar on Wednesday night to make their dreams come true. By Monday they will be joined by European teammates.

As the club seasons are still underway this weekend and the final rosters are due on Monday at the earliest, the USMNT roster is still subject to change. Several players not on the list have been ordered to remain on standby, Berhalter said. But aside from injuries, that’s likely the 26 players who will face Wales on November 21st.

US squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Goalkeepers: Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath, Shawn Johnson

Defenders: Serginho Dest, Anthony Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin, Joe Scully, Shaq Moore

Central defenders: Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Rome

Midfielders: Tyler Adams, Weston McKenny, Yunus Musa, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta, Christian Roldan

Wingers: Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah, Gio Reina, Brenden Aaronsohn, Jordan Morris

Forwards: Jesus Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Hadji Wright

DENVER, CO - JUN 06: US linebacker Weston McKenney (8), defenseman Tim Rome (13), forward Gio Reina (7) and forward Josh Sargent (9) watch in action during the CONCACAF Nations League final between Mexico and USA, 6 June 2021, Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Weston McKenny (8) and Gio Reyna (7) have long been in contention for places on the USMNT roster for the World Championship. Josh Sargent (9) and Tim Rome (13) have earned spots on the 26-man team over the past few months. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hadji Wright – handsome in uniform

Wright came of age starring on U.S. youth teams alongside Pulisic and McKenney, but his pro career until this year had been rocky and rebellious. As he survived a goalless 2019-20 league season at VVV-Venlo in Holland, he has practically fallen out of Berhalter’s radar.

A goal spurt in Turkey against Antalyaspor brought him back into the game. The challenge and debut goal from a penalty gave a glimmer of hope for the World Cup. Berhalter, however, was not overly impressed with Wright’s performance. In September, he did not receive a call. It seemed that he was clearly outside and looking at the composition.

But Berhalter continued to evaluate him; and Wright continued to score nine goals in 12 Turkish Super League games this season.

Berhalter, despite having played without a powerful, physically fit striker in years past, says he wanted him in the World Cup to complement Ferreira and Sargent in a “really well-balanced offensive line.” The solution came to Wright and Pefok. “Had we made a decision in mid-September, Jordan Pefok would probably have been blocked given his form in [the Bundesliga with] Union Berlin, Berhalter said. “But since then, it’s been a different story.” Pefok didn’t score at all. “Hadji is in great shape,” Berhalter said. Jordan may be a little bigger, but Hadji has the speed, he has the ability to go 1 on 1, he finishes with his head, with both feet. And he plays really well.”

Tim Rome’s return is unexpected but ‘not really difficult’

Berhalter was asked several times why Ream, who had seemingly fallen out of the picture, was included.

Have you watched any Fulham games lately? he answered first. “Then you know why we brought him.

“It’s really clear,” Berhalter continued. “He was in the Premier League three years ago and he had problems. The whole team fought. And he went to the Championship. [the English second tier]and it started working better. And they got promoted. And now he is in the Premier League and is the best player in his team. These things are really hard to ignore.”

Berhalter added that Rome is “a guy who’s been with us since day one.” He was. a regular player in the 2019 Gold Cup and the 2021 Nations League, and even started in World Cup qualification. This did not prevent him from being withdrawn at the end of 2021 and did not result in a recall in March, May or September 2022. In those moments, the problem seemed stylistically appropriate.

But now the difference lies in the form – and in the fact that Berhalter, at the end of a four-year journey, apparently abandoned his idealism in favor of pragmatism.

“It’s not really difficult,” Berhalter repeated, again explaining Rome’s decision. “I mean he plays in the best league in the world and he plays at a very high level.”

Meet USMNT 2022

Below are the 26 players in rough order of notoriety and importance, with a bit of information about each and a suggested starting lineup. italicized.

On average, they will almost certainly be the youngest team at the 2022 World Cup.

Christian Pulisic
Club: Chelsea (England)
Positions: Left flank, right flank, attacking midfielder

A guy nicknamed “Captain America” ​​became a pioneer for Americans in Europe. He is now 24 years old and still might be the best player in USMNT. But he is no longer the only star. While his development stalled and his club position hindered him, others have risen to take on more of the attacking burden. However, Pulisic remains at the center of the US attack.

Weston McKenny
Club: Juventus (Italy)
Positions: Central midfielder

McKenny, one of the most capricious USMNT players, can lead the game as he takes the lead in the last third, winning second balls and duels. He is also an elite aerial threat. But he can be sloppy with the ball and/or be silenced by the American system if it becomes too ball oriented.

Tyler Adams
Club: Leeds United (England)
Positions: Defensive midfielder

Adams, McKenny and Pulisic knew each other and had played each other for about a decade since they played on the U.S. youth teams. They are now the backbone of the World Cup team and somewhat of a veteran despite being only 23-24 years old.

Adams was once one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. He will move around the field, rather than stand in front of the back four, and make life hell for opponents – as long as the USMNT allows him.

Yunus Musa
Club: Valencia (Spain)
Positions: Central midfielder

Musa, 19, is arguably already the most indispensable USMNT player, and he definitely has the most unquenchable smile. He is a fearless and explosive dribbler from anywhere in midfield. He single-handedly beats off the pressure and draws the US into the attacking phase.

He also has his own story. Born in New York to a Ghanaian mother, he spent his childhood in Italy and England before moving to Spain at age 16. When he began to break through in Valencia, American coaches began to recruit him. He joined USMNT in March 2021 and has worked his way up to stardom pretty quickly.

Gio Reina
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Positions: Left flank, right flank, attacking midfielder

Reina, who turns 20 on November 13, is the son of former USMNT captain Claudio and former USWNT linebacker Daniel Egan. It is no coincidence that he also the most famous American in men’s football. He’s had a heartbreaking 14 months of consecutive injuries, but whenever he returns to the field, his creativity immediately comes through.

He may not have a place in the US starting Nov. 11-Nov. 21, but he will have plenty of opportunity – whether from the bench or from the start in subsequent games – to make an impact in Qatar.

Brendan Aaronson
Club: Leeds United (England)
Positions: Attacking midfielder, left flank, right flank

The fastest rising American star has jumped from the Philadelphia Union to Red Bull Salzburg and the English Premier League in 18 months. At 22, he’s a phenomenal presser with a nervous, creative approach to the ball. Like Reyna, he may not fit into USMNT’s perfect 11, but he will certainly play his part.

And that role can be in midfield, not on the flank. Aaronson was often heard on USMNT lists as a hitter; he is listed on this as a linebacker.

Tim Weah
Club: Lille (France)
Positions: Right wing

Weah may be the fourth-best forward in the US, but he brings a directness and verticality that this team otherwise lacks. He scored and created important goals during qualifying. Turning professional at PSG, he is now firmly established at Lille. He should start in Qatar on the right flank.

And yes, he is the son of George Weah, the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year and the current president of Liberia.

Serginho Dest
Club: “Milan, Italy)
Positions: Right back, left back

Born (and raised) in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and a Surinamese father, Dest came through Ajax’s famed academy but always played for the U.S. youth teams. He joined the senior team in 2019 and has been a starting guard ever since, though his offensive qualities (and swagger) far outweigh his defensive qualities (and solidity, or lack of it).

Anthony Robinson
Club: Fulham (England)
Positions: Left back

Robinson, who has lived in England all his life, is a classic straight forward…


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