There were few surprises on the roster that interim United States Men’s National Team manager Dave Sarachan named for the team’s upcoming friendlies against England and Italy. While the 28-man squad is composed of regulars such as John Brooks, Christian Pulisic, and Tyler Adams, there were a few players who were snubbed.
Here’s a look at some of the players that arguably deserved a call up, but ultimately didn’t receive one.
Alfredo Morales starts in the Bundesliga for Fortuna Düsseldorf and has been consistently average this season. Granted, his team is sitting in 17th place in the 18-team Bundesliga, but Morales is hardly the reason for Fortuna’s struggles. How many Americans are starting and putting on average or better performances in one of the world’s top four leagues? Like all defensive midfielders, Morales rarely appears on a traditional stat sheet (and that’s true this season as he has just 1 goal in 10 league games), but the tackles interceptions, and clearances he makes are vital.
Morales’ age is not a valid reason to exclude him from the USMNT in the coming years. He’s 28 years old and will only be 32 in 2022, which hardly makes him too old for the next World Cup. I’m not arguing that he should be a starter for the USMNT, but he could provide much needed depth in defensive midfield. Morales is in far better form than fellow central midfielders Marky Delgado and Sebastian Lletget (although, admittedly Delgado and Lletget are more attack-minded).
I’m not entirely sure if Lynden Gooch’s lack of a call up should be considered a snub. His numbers this season have been impressive (3 goals and 7 assists in 13 league games) and he’s played a key role in helping Sunderland to second place in the EFL League One (England’s third division).
However, League One isn’t a particularly high level of play and is perhaps worse than any league that members of the current USMNT roster play in. While Gooch is a promising young player at 22 years old, it seems unlikely he’ll be a part of the national team picture unless he moves to a more challenging league.
Since returning from a knee injury in July, Russell Canouse has been one of the top defensive midfielders in MLS. The 23-year-old completes high percentage of his passes and is an excellent tackler. He played a key role in D.C. United’s late season resurgence that pushed the club into the playoffs. While Canouse doesn’t deserve to start over Tyler Adams or Weston McKennie, he could have been a valuable backup defensive midfielder for these matches. With D.C. United’s season over after a penalty shootout loss to the Columbus Crew, it’s especially surprising Canouse didn’t get a call-up.
I personally don’t rate Gyasi Zardes that highly, even considering he scored 19 league goals in the 2018 MLS regular season and was named 2018 MLS Comeback Player of the Year. His first touch is still subpar and I believe that his success is a fluke, that is largely the result of Gregg Berhalter’s tactics and Federico Higuain’s stellar playmaking.
Despite what I think of Zardes, his excellent club season and the USMNT’s lack of depth at striker means he was deserving of a call up. While I believe the three other players on the roster who would likely play forward are superior to Zardes, none of them are both in good form and playing in a top league. Timothy Weah has struggled to earn playing time for Paris Saint-Germain, Bobby Wood hasn’t scored a goal in a month, and Josh Sargent has been excellent for Werder Bremen II, but the team plays in the German fourth division. Whatever you think of Zardes, it’s hard to deny that his recent club form has been more impressive than that of the other forwards on the roster.
Which players do you think were snubbed?