The CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on June 15th, and United States Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter will soon have to name the 23 players that will make up his roster. The USMNT will seek to defend its title from 2017, but will do it with a squad that would be considered almost full strength, save a few injuries.
From Berhalter’s 40-man provisional roster will come the 23-man roster, and that roster will be firm thanks to new CONCACAF rules that will be implemented at this tournament. Because of this, the task of trimming 17 players to form the final roster is a difficult one. Berhalter is having a joint camp with the U-23s this week in Annapolis, Maryland before calling in a full USMNT senior roster to compete in the first Gold Cup warm up friendly against Jamaica on June 5th in Washington, DC. On June 6th, Berhalter will announce that final squad, who will head onto Cincinnati to face Venezuela on June 9th before competing in the Gold Cup.
So, who do we think Gregg Berhalter will select to form the final Gold Cup roster? We predict, by position, who we think he eventually selects:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)
Zack Steffen is Berhalter’s number one goalkeeper, and he gets the first call amongst the shot stoppers. It will be a decent competition for the other two spots, but in the end they go to Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson. They appear to be the two that Berhalter feels most comfortable with in terms of distribution out of the back. If Berhalter thinks he needs some more experience between the posts, he could opt to bring Brad Guzan instead of Johnson. In the end, it’s likely Johnson that gets that 3rd goalkeeper spot.
DEFENDERS (8): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club)
There are several players that hope to play themselves into the mix for the 23-man roster, but there are a few that are solidly in Berhalter’s plans. Tyler Adams will be the starting right back in the hybrid formation that Berhalter employs. Nick Lima will also be brought on to back up Adams in that position. Whoever mans that right back position will be called on to also shift at times into the center defensive midfield position as well.
On the left side, Daniel Lovitz, Tim Ream, and Antonee Robinson will be named to the team to hold things down. Greg Garza’s injury puts Berhalter in a tough spot, as he probably makes the team ahead of Robinson if he’s 100%.
For centerbacks, Matt Miazga, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and even Tim Ream will battle for the starting spots. They all will be expected to be ready to play as the squad rotates throughout the group stage.
MIDFIELDERS (6): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
The main midfielders of Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie are going to be the go-to players each match. Michael Bradley and Wil Trapp will be called upon to serve in the center defense midfield area, while Sebastian Lletget and Cristian Roldan will provide cover off the bench. Still, it will be about where they play Pulisic. Will he be on the right, as he was for most of the year with Borussia Dortmund, will he play on the left, or will Berhalter place him in the center?
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (MKE Ankaragücü), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)
Jozy Altidore is back, he’s currently healthy, and is scoring or assisting (or both) in each match he plays in. If he can maintain his health, he’s Berhalter’s first name for forwards. Tyler Boyd’s ability to work the left side will mean he makes the roster along with Paul Arriola, whose work rate will get him in the starting lineup either at left attack wing or right attack wing.
Jonathan Lewis will also be able to play either wing, though he appears to be most comfortable on the left. Josh Sargent and Gyasi Zardes could be options at center forward or withdrawn behind Jozy Altidore on either side.
Gregg Berhalter will likely bring in players who can play multiple positions while letting them know exactly what their role will be for the Gold Cup. His meticulous approach to establishing and executing a game plan will mean that while the versatility of this predicted roster will be utilized at times throughout the tournament, it will be done in a controlled way that maintains the structure of Berhalter’s desired hybrid 4-3-3 formation.
To recap, here’s who Gregg Berhalter will likely name to his final Gold Cup roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Zack Steffen
DEFENDERS (8): Tyler Adams, Nick Lima, Aaron Long, Daniel Lovitz, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Walker Zimmerman
MIDFIELDERS (6): Michael Bradley, Sebastian Lletget, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, Tyler Boyd, Jonathan Lewis, Josh Sargent, Gyasi Zardes
We will find out who is actually selected on June 6th. For now, hit the comments and let us know who you think Gregg Berhalter names to the final Gold Cup roster. Most importantly...do you think this roster will be enough to win America its 7th Gold Cup?