The summer of 2021 will be one of
the busiest in the history of the U.S. men's national team program, testing its depth like never before.
The USA could be assembling different squads of players for four tournaments in 2021:
-- Concacaf Nations Cup, early June (rescheduled from June 2020 and March 2021);
-- Gold Cup, July 10-Aug. 1 (draw was held on Monday night);
-- Olympics, July 22-Aug. 7 (rescheduled from 2020);
-- Under-20 World Cup, May 20-June 12 (no date set for Concacaf qualifying).
Except for the Concacaf Nations Cup, the USA will unlikely have its big names for any of the other tournaments even if they are qualified to play in several of them (like U-23-eligibles Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest) or all of them (in the case of 17-year-old Gio Reyna).
The No. 1 priority will be the start of World Cup 2022 qualifying, now pushed back to September 2021, and the USA will have to accede to the wishes of European clubs getting its young stars sharp for the 2021-22 season.
The congested schedule will likely force U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter to go to the Gold Cup with a third-choice team, letting European-based players return to their clubs for vacation and preseason training after the Nations League and allowing first-choice U-23s to go to Japan (assuming the USA qualifies).
The USA has won the last two Gold Cups played in pre-World Cup years -- 2013 and 2017 -- and in both cases it won with mostly MLS players, few of them national team starters when everyone was available.
With that in mind, here's what kind of MLS-based squad (23 players) the USA might have next summer:
Goalkeepers: Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/-), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/-), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 7/0).
Assumption: Brad Guzan is with the national team for the Nations League final four.
Defenders: Kyle Duncan (NY Red Bulls; 0/0), Chase Gasper (Minnesota United; 1/0), Aaron Long (NY Red Bulls; 17/3), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Keegan Rosenberry (Colorado Rapids; 0/0) Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 12/2).
The assumption would be the two right backs at January Camp won't be available: Reggie Cannon, now at Portugal's Boavista, and the LA Galaxy's Julian Araujo, likely be with U-23s (Olympics) or U-20s or in Europe by next summer. And Bryan Reynolds, Cannon's replacement as the FC Dallas right back, will be with the U-20s).
Other assumptions: center back Mark McKenzie (with the U-23s or in Europe) and RSL duo Justen Glad and Aaron Herrera (both with the U-23s).
Midfielders: Marky Delgado (Toronto FC; 6/0); Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 14/2), Keaton Parks (NYCFC; 1/0); Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 19/0), James Sands (NYCFC; 0/0), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas; 1/0); Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; 0/0).
Assumptions: Paxton Pomykal, if healthy, Jackson Yueill, Hassani Dotson and Djordje Mihailovic will be with the U-23s, just like they were called up for qualifying in March.
Forwards (5): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC; 0/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 33/5), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 39/10), Chris Mueller (Orlando City; 0/0) Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 56/12)
Assumptions: Jesus Ferreira, Jonathan Lewis and Jeremy Ebobisse will again be with the U-23s.