On Friday, the US National Team will have a secret spaghetti dinner, prepared by Giulio Caccamo. This dinner will involve every single player and coach on the World Cup roster, but the federation is also discreetly flying in every single living player who has received a cap to take part in the feast. It's a gesture of goodwill to the players let off the roster and a symbolic passing of the torch from the past generation to our current stars. However this dinner presents a great danger to the national team, as agents from MI6 have uncovered its existence. Intelligence passed on from Agent Marsch suggests that the Agency will attempt to infiltrate the dinner and contaminate Chef Caccamo's secret sauce, giving every person at the dinner crippling food poisoning.
Rather than canceling the event, the USSF has boosted security, hiring a team of elite mercenaries to poses as waiters and busboys. However, should MI6 successfully introduce a foreign substance into the zesty and rich marinara sauce, the federation has created a backup plan, codenamed Operation Zero. In the worst case scenario, Operation Zero will see the quick construction of a roster of uncapped players who will immediately be flown out to Qatar.
By happenstance, (they accidentally emailed it to me), I have gotten my hands on the details of Operation Zero. I'm releasing the plan to the public, as they have a right to know exactly what the Federation is up to. So behold the USSF's plan of last resort.
Gaga Slonina (Chelsea), Josh Cohen (Maccabi Haifa), Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders)
Many fans were surprised when Gaga Slonina was not given a start during the June international window. However his absence was planned as a fail safe for this exact scenario. Josh Cohen has undergone Mossad training during his time in Israel, and will provide an extra level of security should MI6 attempt another assualt. Frei will provide veteran leadership and guidance to young Gaga, ready to step in if the situation calls for it.
Auston Trusty (Birmingham City), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Justin Che (Hoffenheim) , Dave Romney (Nashville SC)
With Trusty's great performance in the Championship, and an exellent year last season in MLS, he will be expected to anchor the defence. Justen Glad's strong MLS season and experience in international youth programs has led to him being selected as Trusty's partner. Justin Che presents the most natural talent among the CBs, while the federation is hoping that Dave Romeney's expeierence lining up between Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore has seen some of their skill and knowledge rub off on him.
John Tolken (New York Red Bulls), Ryan Hollingshead (LAFC), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Brandon Bye (New England Revolution)
As the top young defender in MLS, Tolken takes the starting job at the tradionatlly thin left back portion. Hollingshead offers more experience on the right side, though may be subbed out for Bye should the new head coach op for a wingback approach. Jones will be expected to push Tolken for the starting job, and offers a more experienced option if necessary.
Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Leon Flach (Philadelphia Union)
Operation Zero takes a rather young approach at defensive midfield, hoping the natural talent from the like of Aidan Morris and Leon Flach, can make up for their lack of experience. Flach's time with the Philadelphia Union will hopefully make him compatible with other Philly midfielders on the roster.
Alan Sonora (Independiente), Alex Mendez (Vizela), Christian Cappis (Brøndby IF) Chris Durkin (DC United), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union), Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Sonora's expected to be the main force of the midfield, and will hopefully pair well with Alex Mendez. Cappis is seen as the first man off the bench, and should provide significant value as a box to box midfielder. Durkin's time in Belgium and at the U-20 WC will also prove invaluable in a roster with little overseas experience. He also provides a nice bit of versatility and can step into the DM role if neither Flach nor Edelman can handle the pressure. McGlynn and Aaronson favor a talent over experience approach, though neither have been deemed quite ready for a starting role. Furthermore their inclusion would hopefully provide should they return for 2026.
Alejandro Zendejas (Club America), Taylor Booth (FC Utrecht), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg), Benjamin Kikanovic (San Jose Earthquakes)
Zendejas and Booth will provide the main support to the team's strikers, while Paredes will offer significant value coming off the bench. Kikanovic will act as a break the glass option off the bench, coming in when the others falter.
Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Malick Sanogo (Union Berlin), Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Brandon Vazquez is the best striker available, and will likely be the primary engine behind Operation Zero's attack. After Vazquez it's a pretty steep drop-off since Folarin Balogun runs the risk of being an MI6 double agent. Also his one time switch paperwork would take too long to process. That leaves Operation Zero with fairly sparse options in youth player Malick Sanogo and MLS vet Brian White.