The U.S. men’s national team named 28 players to its roster on Friday, less than a week ahead of its next round of qualifiers.
The team, featuring 15 players from European leagues and 13 from the MLS, was selected by head coach Gregg Berhalter. Berhalter was hired to lead the national team in December of 2018 after the U.S. missed out on the 2018 World Cup. That was the first time since 1986 that the U.S. had failed to qualify for the sport’s biggest stage.
The U.S. is slated to begin a three game series next Thursday against El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio. From there, they’ll head to Hamilton, Ontario, to take on Canada on Jan. 30. They will conclude the three-match series in Saint Paul, Minnesota, against Honduras on Feb. 2.
The U.S. has to finish in the top-3 of the CONCACAF standings to earn an automatic bid to the World Cup in Qatar later this year. The team is currently in second with 1,948 points, 58 points behind first-place Mexico. Canada rounds out the top-3, followed by Costa Rica and Panama.
The journey to qualification began back in September with a 1-1 draw against Canada. The U.S. then proceeded to go 5-1-1 over the course of the next three months, with their lone loss coming to Panama and a 1-1 tie with Jamaica in December.
Following this upcoming trio of games, the U.S. will have one last set of qualification matches at the end of March against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica.
The top sports headlines of the day
The newly announced roster is notable for the number of players currently based in Europe. While the 2018 roster was never finalized, speculations had around eight players from European leagues representing the U.S. This follows a shift in recent years as top Americans make their name in Europe.
Among those named to the rosters from European leagues are Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, Premier League), Weston McKennie (Juventus, Serie A) and Tyler Adams (Leipzig, Bundesliga).
A native of Hershey, Penn., Pulisic has been on the radar of many USMNT fans since he signed with Dortmund at 16 years old. In 2018, he became the youngest ever to captain the men’s national team at the age of 20 years and 63 days. He is the highest scoring member of this team with 17 goals in 42 appearances.
Of the 28 names announced on Friday, only 23 will suit up come game time. This excess of available players is in part due to roster concerns as three players -- Adams, DeAndre Yedlin and Zach Steffen -- could face a one-game suspension if awarded another yellow card.
One notable absence from the list is defender John Brooks. The 28 year old, born to an American father and a German mother, was raised in Germany and has represented both the U.S. and Germany on the international stage. He rose to notoriety at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when he came off the bench to score the winning header against Ghana in the 87th minute of the Group stage. It was the first time a substitute has scored for the U.S. at a World Cup.
This roster continues to evolve with the qualifiers and it’s not unlikely that Berhalter will make changes should the team qualify for the World Cup.
The current roster for next week’s qualifiers is below:
- Sean Johnson (MLS)
- Gabriel Slonina (MLS)
- Zach Steffen (Premier League)
- Matt Turner (MLS)
- Reggie Cannon (Primeria Liga)
- Sergino Dest (La Liga)
- Brooks Lennon (MLS)
- Mark McKenzie (Belgian Pro League)
- Chris Richards (Bundesliga)
- Antonee Robinson (Championship)
- Miles Robinson (MLS)
- DeAndre Yedlin (Turkish Super Lig)
- Walker Zimmerman (MLS)
- Kellyn Acosta (MLS)
- Tyler Adams (Bundesliga)
- Luca de la Torre (Eredivisie)
- Sebastian Lletget (MLS)
- Weston McKennie (Serie A)
- Yunus Musah (La Liga)
- Cristian Roldan (MLS)
- Brenden Aaronson (Austrian Bundesliga)
- Paul Arriola (MLS)
- Jesus Ferrerira (MLS)
- Jordan Morris (MLS)
- Ricardo Pepi (Bundesliga)
- Christian Pulisic (Premier League)
- Tim Weah (Ligue 1)
- Gyasi Zardes (MLS)