With the announcement that the United States will take on Portugal in a friendly on November 14th in Faro, thoughts have started to shift from grief and outrage at the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the World Cup to debate on the direction the team should go moving forward. Who should the USMNT call up for this international window? Well, let’s start that debate.
First, we don’t know who is expected to be the interim head coach for this match. We also don’t know (but generally assume) that the USMNT will add a second friendly in Europe during the window against a team not participating in the UEFA World Cup playoffs. Second, it is expected that the team will not call in any of its main players who are participating in the MLS Cup playoffs. Any player on a team that’s currently in playoff contention is not on this list, so keep that in mind. Still, a camp of players either whose MLS season is done or are plying their trade in Europe is what we are looking to see.
To me, the road to the 2022 World Cup must begin now, and you should begin with those players who have a chance to feature heavily on the team during the next cycle. We take a look at some of the younger guys while we size up some of the young veterans and a couple set to enter their prime to grow some leadership skills that will be vital over the next 5 years. Here’s the 27-man roster I’d like to see in the November USMNT camp:
Most people debate over which goalkeeper should be our #1 going forward, but the vast majority settle on one of these three. Bill Hamid has the most experience, and at age 26, he would be one of the leaders of this team. Ethan Horvath and Jesse Gonzalez both are much younger and this would be a great competition to see who can eventually become the man between the posts during the next cycle.
Ventura Alvarado (Santos Laguna), John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Sergino Dest (Ajax), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Sheffield United), Matt Miazga (Vitesse), Eric Miller (Colorado Rapids), Shaq Moore (Levante), Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
The idea with these defenders is to trend young and see how they can do against some top competition. There should be a couple of the young veterans in this group: John Brooks, if healthy, could help shape the back line while DeAndre Yedlin can provide the pace on the right. Who else can fight to be in the defender player pool? Matt Miazga has a great opportunity and it will be nice to see if Cameron Carter-Vickers or Matthew Olosunde can also show their worth. Portugal will be an incredible test for this defense, and speed will help neutralize Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese attack.
Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Russell Canouse (D.C. United), Jonathan Gonzalez (Monterrey), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Emerson Hyndman (Bournemouth), Jerome Kiesewetter (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Weston McKennie (FC Schalke 04), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Kenny Saief (KAA Gent)
The real dilemma I had was whether I would want to see Christian Pulisic on this roster in November. In the end, I opted to include him for two reasons. First, I think the future of the USMNT should be centered around his growth and potential, and including him on this roster will be good to see who he gels with on the field. Second, could Pulisic be a leader in the locker room? I’d like to see how he can help an inexperienced squad with preparation and finding the drive to play with passion against the European champions.
There are a number of players here that people have been calling to see on the senior team. Let’s see what players like Jonathan Gonzalez and Weston McKennie can do. However, here’s one guy to keep an eye on as a possible holding midfielder: Russell Canouse. He’s paired well with Paul Arriola at D.C. United and they could bring that speed and work rate to the national team.
Up top, I thought that we should take a look at two more established players that haven’t had many opportunities on the MNT as well as two young stars that are tearing up the youth ranks. Dom Dwyer is a player who starred for the USMNT during the group stage of the Gold Cup and then was sent home, not to feature for the MNT since. Bring him and Terrence Boyd in as holding strikers and you can also give Aron Johannsson a shot to work his way back into the national team picture. After that, give the kids a shot. Josh Sargent and Timothy Weah may be the future of the USMNT striking core, and that future may be sooner rather than later. Give them this test to see if they can answer the call or, at the very least, find out what they need to do to succeed on the highest level moving forward. This experience will be invaluable for them as they develop.
This team will be young. The “old” guys on this roster are Dwyer (27), Hamid (26), Johannsson (26) and Boyd (26). The average age of this squad would be 21.93 years old. But, we will be able to truly begin evaluating the young talent to see which players can grow to feature on the MNT as we begin this cycle a bit earlier than we expected. Each of these guys will have something to prove, and taking the big stage against one of the best teams in the world and one of the best players of all time is a hell of a test.
There are obviously some players that I would consider if their teams were not in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Erik Palmer-Brown, Cristian Roldan, Tyler Adams, Andrew Carleton, Kellyn Acosta, Zach Steffen, Danilo Acosta and Justen Glad are guys you could bring in for various reasons should their teams be out by the opening of the FIFA window. However, the theme is simple: the team that enters camp should be young, hungry and coming in with the mentality that the road to Qatar 2022 starts right here, right now. And they should enter camp with the mindset to seize the opportunity to be a part of the core of the team during the next 4-5 years.
Who do you think should be called up in November? Any glaring omissions? Guys you don’t think are ready for primetime? Hit the comments and give us your preferred roster.