Chelsea forward Christian PulisicJuventus midfielder Weston McKennieand the Leeds United duo of Brendan Aaronson and Tyler Adams is among those selected for the US men’s national team’s 26-player roster ahead of the final set of pre-World Cup friendlies.
The U.S. will play Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Sept. 23, with a match against Saudi Arabia scheduled in Murcia, Spain, four days later. The team will gather in Cologne for the first day of training on September 19.
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The U.S. opens the World Cup on Nov. 21 against Wales, with matches against England and Iran to follow.
“It’s important to remember that this is not the final roster,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said during a virtual media availability on Wednesday. “It’s not the final roster for the World Cup. A lot can happen between now and November 9, which is when we announce the final roster.
“That’s been the conversation I’ve had with the players not selected in this camp is that a lot can happen. Some of the positions, we’re looking to evaluate certain guys that we don’t have enough information on. Other players just weren’t selected.”
As this is the last time Berhalter will see his players up close until the team meet in Qatar, the players absent are also notable. Union Berlin ahead Jordan Pefokwho has three goals and two assists so far this season, was among the omissions.
While recently dealing with a muscle injury, he logged 75 minutes in last weekend’s 1-0 win against FC Cologne, which sent Berlin to the top of the Bundesliga.
“As for Jordan, it’s tough,” Berhalter said. “It was a decision that we weren’t going to bring in four forwards. We didn’t feel like we had enough playing time to give four forwards a chance. So we went with these three, and we’re pretty confident. We know. Jordan’s profile. We know what he can do. We didn’t feel like we needed to see him in this camp to determine if he could be on the roster or not.”
Fulham left back Antonee Robinson was also ruled out due to an ankle injury he picked up in a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur back on September 3. His place on the roster is secure if he is healthy. Injury has also hampered the Lille midfielder Timothy Weah of participation.
Defender John Brooks is another omission. Long on the outside looking in, and despite his playing pedigree of years spent in the Bundesliga, Brooks has yet to log any minutes for new club Benfica.
Even with the absence of Pefok, the competition at the forward point figures to be intense.
Norwich City forward Joshua Sargent was rewarded for his stellar start to the season in the English Championship, one in which he scored five goals in eight league games. His call-up is his first since the first round of World Cup qualifiers in September 2021.
Ricardo Pepi earned a surprise recall, his first since the World Cup qualification window held in March 2021. Pepi has endured a barren spell in front of goal, failing to score since October 2021.
But Pepi contributed an assist for new club FC Groningen in last weekend’s 1-0 win against Cambuur and thus was included.
Pepi and Sargent are joined by an FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira, who tallied his 18th goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win over LAFC. That means FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez and that of Antalyaspor Haji Wrightboth in good form for their respective clubs, miss out.
“When you’re talking about a guy like Ricardo [Pepi]who has three goals in qualifying, played in a couple of World Cup qualifiers with us,” Berhalter explained. “When you think about Josh Sargent – started in some really big games for us, played in qualifying, played a Nations League semi-final. , final, has also been around for a while.
“The decision was made to give these guys a chance. I feel bad for Brandon [Vazquez]. I talked to him, and I told him that it’s not the end and to keep doing what he’s doing and keep himself in the conversation. I can do that.”
The goalkeeper position is another that has been of concern recently, due to the lack of first team minutes for some members of the contingent.
A knee injury to Middlesbrough’s Zack Steffen saw him miss four consecutive matches and will prevent him from appearing for the Americans. Arsenal keeper Matt Turnerthat of Luton Town Ethan Horvath and New York City FC’s Sean Johnson will compete for minutes during the next window.
“Matt Turner, I don’t expect fitness to be an issue,” Berhalter said of the former New England Revolution goalkeeper, who has made just one competitive appearance for Arsenal since joining the Premier League club this summer. “Maybe some pace and rust could come into play.
“I think for Zack [Steffen]it becomes a rhythm, it’s training with him,” Berhalter added “He’s been outside a considerable amount of time, and for him, I think, the important thing – and this is the conversation I have with him – is to stay in his everyday environment , work every day to get back on the field.”
Berhalter also revealed that he has been in contact with a dual national midfielder Alexander Zendejas. The Club America player represented the United States at youth level before later appearing in two senior friendlies for Mexico, although questions have been raised about his eligibility as he has not signed an official one-time switch with FIFA to represent. The Three.
“This is a guy who has been in our youth programs,” Berhalter said. “So when you ask if he’s on our radar, he’s been on the radar all along, and he’s a guy who’s been on youth national teams and has grown up on the radar. [U.S.] youth soccer system.
“We’ve been watching him, we’ve been monitoring him. I’ve actually talked to him on the phone, and he’s in a good place. So, we’re going to continue to monitor him in these next couple of months.”
DETAILED NAME BY POSITION (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS)
PORTABLES (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 18/0)
Defenders (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/ENG; 1/27), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0), Sergio Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 17/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 3/27), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 8/0), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach/GER; 2/0), Sam Wines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 74/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 3/31)
MEDIUMS (6): Kelly’s Acosta (LAFC; 52/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 30/1), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 11/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 35/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 019), Malik Tillman (Guards/SCO; 2/0)
ADVANTAGES (8): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 22/6), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 47/10), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 13/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 48/11), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 11/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 51/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 12/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 19/3)