Projecting 2021 U.S. Gold Cup roster: All hands on deck

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.

7 comments about "Projecting 2021 U.S. Gold Cup roster: All hands on deck".
  1. Peter Bechtold, September 29, 2020 at 7:22 a.m.

    You assume that Brad Guzan will be with the national team. Please, say it ain't so.
    Guzan was an ok journeyman gk 5-10 years ago while with Everton, but since coming to Atlanta, and starting for the USMNT under GB, he showed why he was dropped by Everton into a reserve role: age had caught up with him, as it does with all of us.
    Now he is very ordinary for AU and allows goals that a U-23 would save, BUT he starts for being a DP. The USMNT simply must produce better gk if we want to get anywhere. Bill Hamid ?

  2. humble 1 replied, September 29, 2020 at 10:13 a.m.

    I am not familiar with who's in the pipeline for the YNT,  MLS or abroad, but from what I see in youth circles, GK's is a forgotten position that no one wants to play.  I wish clubs did a better job of selling the position and training the keeps.  Simple things like long balls.  I see often field players taking goal kicks.  Seriously, the keep should have one of the biggest boots on the team.  Not hard to train this and set this expectation, here clubs and coaches struggle.  I see GK's playing on more than one team, and when teams don't have a GK available, there is a fight to not be in goal.  Hopefully, this is not the case everywhere and the pipeline has some serious candidates.  Brazil now producing worlds best keepers, USA, not sure.  Maybe the situation described above creates some chances and candidates are revealed.  For now the only names that resonate are are Brad (36) and Zack (24) - what happend during the twelve years between Zack and Brad, where is our 18 y.o. phenom?  If you think about it, GK is a key position to become world class.  Can you think of a nation that has won WC w/o world class keeper?  What about Champions League, some thing.  To get to the next level, we need GKs to make the leap.  Ready to be enlighted.         

  3. Ginger Peeler replied, September 29, 2020 at 4:34 p.m.

    Funny, I remember reading an article in Soccer America, years ago, discussing why/how the United States was developing world class goalkeepers and very, very few (none?) highly skilled, European level field players. The reason? It was because nobody in Europe wanted to be a goalkeeper. Instead, they wanted the glamour positions; they wanted to be the equivalent of today's  Messi-type player. Very few United States field players received any serious attention from abroad. We were noted for excellent facilities to train up and produce superior keepers.  Europe welcomed them!! I don't know about the keeper facilities now available here in the USA, but after several starts and stops, it looks as if we're now actually producing a small crop of field players able to compete one on one with the Europeans. No doubt, when we're producing many more high level field players, there'll be some kids who aspire to be another Tim Howard. 

  4. R2 Dad, September 29, 2020 at 12:20 p.m.

    "heavy schedule"  = more injuries. If I were USSF I would be pushing for much larger rosters for the next 2 years as COVID has simultaneously increased the work load, shortened rest periods and destroyed any team chemistry for national programs. Over the next 18 months we will have compressed league schedules, Gold Cup, Euros, WC qualifying. Great from the fan's perspective, with all these club/country matches and tournaments, terrible for players/coaches (especially those  in the UK without a Christmas break).

  5. Ben Myers, September 29, 2020 at 3:33 p.m.

    What?  No players based in Europe?  Am I missing something here?  Oh, that's right, Berhalter seems to have tunnel vision about MLS.

  6. Ginger Peeler replied, September 29, 2020 at 4:54 p.m.

    Ben, read the introductory paragraphs again. This article is about what we may be limited to if the Europeans won't release our american players for some of the tournaments that the USA is signed up for. The European clubs don't have to release the Americans for all of the US games. And with the coronavirus, quarantining when our players get to the states and then again arriving back in Europe may cut into actual games in Europe. It adds up, after all, to 4 weeks. That is, if Americans are being allowed to travel to, and in, Europe now. Last I heard, we were still banned and will be until the contagion is under control. 

  7. Ginger Peeler, September 29, 2020 at 5:09 p.m.

    Also, the U-20s, the U-23s and the Olympics!

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