It is just under nine weeks until the start of the World Cup and it’s getting to be decision time for Gregg Berhalter. The USMNT manager finds himself in the enviable situation of having the deepest and most talented American men’s player pool in the history of the team and it is inevitable that some players will be left out.
He commented on some of those following the roster announcement.
Kyle Bonn of the Sporting News posted on Twitter that Berhalter noted that Jordan Pefok wasn’t called in so that Ricardo Pepi could get a look.
Berhalter on Jordan Pefok: "We know what Jordan can do, he's been great in the Bundesliga, and we just went with someone else in this camp...we didn't want to just give up on Pepi."— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) September 14, 2022
Sounds like GGG isn't out on Pefok just yet, wants to give Pepi a shot to earn it #USMNT
Berhalter went on to describe that Pefok was considered but didn’t put much detail forward about anything Pefok could do to lock down a roster spot. Perhaps if Pepi had only gotten 44 minutes so far this season it would be a different story.
Elsewhere, Meg Swanick of the Guardian and Philly Inquirer noted that Berhalter is mulling over some other names for the World Cup roster.
He goes on to name specific players who could earn their way onto the team, including: Zack Steffen, Gaga Slonina, James Sands, Tim Ream, EPB, Matt Miazga, Mark McKenzie, Shaq Moore, Johnny Cardoso, Eryk Williamson, Jordan Pefok, Haji Wright & Brandon Vasquez— Meg Swanick (@Meg_Swanick) September 14, 2022
Other roster news came that an October camp for MLS players who are eliminated from the playoffs will be planned.
Berhalter says there will be an October camp for MLS players whose teams aren't in the playoffs. #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) September 14, 2022
Of course, depending on how the regular season shakes out and where teams end up finishing this could include a wide range of players from Jordan Morris to... Cade Cowell or Sebastian Lletget in a roster that will be sure to enthrall fans.
The names included in the lists above and elsewhere in the player pool do offer some interesting possibilities and gives insight into the overall strength of the player pool that’s worth reviewing.
Woof. Having typically been a strength of the USMNT with a starter usually well established, the no. 1 shirt is up for grabs. Presumably as long as Matt Turner isn’t forced to play a game on Hoth, he has the inside track to the job. The fact that Zack Steffen has been left off, and has reportedly lost a chance to be the starter at Middlesbrough, also makes it seem as if at least two keeper spots are open.
The list that was called in seems pretty solid and the names that have been left off are not totally objectionable.
John Brooks is, of course, missing as he’s taken the mantle of “guy who isn’t on the roster because the manager doesn’t rate him for reasons” in a tale as old as soccer time.
Tim Ream has not been called in, but with the USA facing England and Wales in the group it’s almost surprising that a player who has defended a fair share of players from the UK (even if Fulham isn’t exactly known for their defense in the top flight) isn’t in the conversation more.
James Sands has also been logging solid minutes with Rangers and is not on the list as well. He has the capability to play in central midfield and when it comes time to pick players for a World Cup that might see him get a bump.
Left and right back might not be the strongest spots depth-wise also. There’s no shortage of Americans in these positions, but saying that there are many pushing for callups is debatable.
The main player who could make an impact not on the list is Djordje Mihailovic, but aside from him... Johnny and Eryk Williamson aren’t exactly players that seem like the could make a big difference at this stage. If anything the list of midfielders not on the list indicates that depth behind first choice players is a bit lacking.
It’s very difficult to see a player like Pefok or Haji Wright not making a World Cup squad unless Ricardo Pepi finds the back of the net in the Netherlands on a regular basis soon. Of course, there’s plenty of time for that to happen, but striker is still an unproven position for the national team. There have been some nice performances by players here and there in a USA shirt, but there won’t be any statues built for the players on the list as of now at least.