Nine U.S. players in the running to get first Octagonal call-ups

The USA called up 26 players for three World Cup 2022 qualifying games in September. Two MLS players -- Sean Johnson and Jackson Yueill -- were emergency call-ups during the window.

Here's a look at nine players who weren't called up to the national team in September but might be on the plane for the opening of the October camp in Austin ahead of the first of three Octagonal matches against Jamaica on Oct. 7. Most of players would have been in the mix for consideration for the September qualifiers though not necessarily been called up.

Injuries and yellow-card situations will be some of the issues U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter will have to deal with as he decides how many players to take and at what positions. At least half a dozen of these players might end joining the team in October.

1. Chris Richards (Hoffenheim, Germany). Richards, who has made just three appearances off the bench for the USA, could be set for his first extended look on the national team. He has stepped back into his starting role at Hoffenheim after Bayern Munich decided to extend his contract and send him out on loan for the second time. In the battle of American center backs, Richards came out ahead of John Brooks on Saturday as Hoffenheim beat Wolfsburg, 3-1, to hand Die Wölfe their first loss of the season. Miles Robinson started all three games in September as the right-sided center back, but Richards can also fill in at right back.

2. Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew). Zardes started for the USA in its 1-0 win over Mexico in the Gold Cup final but missed the September qualifiers with a hamstring injury. His absence likely propelled 18-year-old Ricardo Pepi into the national team up front, where he upstaged Josh Sargent and Jordan Pefok with a goal and two assists in his debut, the 4-1 win over Honduras. In his last two starts for the Crew, Zardes has scored three goals, including a golazo in the 2-1 win over CF Montreal on Saturday, and has been a big part of its renewed bid to get back in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. Zardes will likely be called up as a third striker behind Pepi and Pefok or a fourth striker if Sargent also returns.

3. Joe Scally (Bor. M'Gladbach, Germany). The 18-year-old Scally is the only player in the mix who has never been called into a national team camp, but it will be hard to keep him of the U.S. squad much longer. He was outstanding on Saturday at right wing back as Gladbach picked up a 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund. He is one of two Gladbach field players who has played every minute in six Bundesliga games. He isn't flashy but offers the added value of being able to play at outside back on the right or left side.

4. Paul Arriola (D.C. United). Like Zardes, Arriola started for the USA in the Gold Cup final but missed the September qualifiers. He has recovered from a strained hamstring and has started D.C. United's last four games, scoring twice in the first half of its 4-2 win over FC Cincinnati on Saturday. Arriola might rank behind the top four U.S. wingers -- Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson and Tim Weah -- but the winger corps is a concern on the eve of the October call-ups. Pulisic and Reyna are injured and haven't played since the September qualifiers while Konrad de la Fuente has faded since his fast start at new French club Marseille.

5. Yunus Musah (Valencia, Spain). Musah, another 18-year-old, played all four games in the November 2020 and March 2021 friendlies but was the only field player who did not play for the USA in the Nations League final four. He is being brought along slowly but offers a skillset few of the U.S. midfielders possess. An ankle injury suffered early in preseason set him back at Valencia, but he has played in its last four games, starting his first game on Saturday in Valencia's 1-1 tie with Athletic Bilbao.

6. Matthew Hoppe (Real Mallorca, Spain). Hoppe was the third forward on the U.S. frontline in the Gold Cup final alongside Zardes and Arriola, both veterans. Hoppe, 20, immediately became a fan favorite and might have been called up in September but for the uncertainty surrounding his club status. He played only 16 minutes for Schalke 04 after returning from the Gold Cup and was transferred to Mallorca on the final day of the transfer window after the Nashville camp opened. It's been slow going since the move to LaLiga -- he didn't get off the bench on Sunday after starting his first game on Wednesday, a 6-1 loss at Real Madrid -- but the issues in the winger corps might prompt a call-up.

7. Gianluca Busio (Venezia, Italy). Of the four Americans now in Serie A, only 19-year-old Busio is starting regularly. Indeed, he has played all but 14 minutes over promoted Venezia's last four games and taken on a prominent role in midfield. Busio struggled at times with the physicality of midfield play at the Gold Cup, where he started four games. He didn't start the final but came on in the second half against Mexico and did well. Busio's chances of getting called up for the October qualifiers may depend on the status of Tyler Adams, who missed RB Leipzig's game on Saturday. If Adams is available, it will be likely be between Musah and Busio for a ticket to Austin. If Adams is out, they might both get call-ups.

8. Luca de la Torre (Heracles, Netherlands). A strong first season at Heracles earned the 23-year-old de la Torre a call-up for the March friendlies. He declined a call-up to the Gold Cup in order to be sure to keep his starting spot at Heracles, which he felt was essential to be in the consideration for a call-up in the fall. Considering the problems the four European-based players who went to the Gold Cup have had after their return -- they've started a combined two games -- it was probably a wise decision. De la Torre has started all six games for mid-table Heracles. Whether he can beat out Musah or Busio for call-up remains to be seen, though.

9. Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy). Another player who declined a Gold Cup call-up, in his case to keep his options open with Mexico for which he would have to file a switch of association to play. He wasn't on the U.S. roster for the September qualifiers though he could have helped, given the absence of Reggie Cannon and Shaq Moore and the injury to Sergino Dest that left the USA with DeAndre Yedlin as its only regular right back for the Honduras game. Araujo was a 2021 MLS all-star pick for the Galaxy, which has slumped after starting out so well in 2021.

Busio Photo: Nick Smith/Icon Sportswire

15 comments about "Nine U.S. players in the running to get first Octagonal call-ups".
  1. Santiago 1314, September 27, 2021 at 9:26 a.m.

    What Ggg needs to show is LOYALTY.!!!... Those players that have been "Punished" by their Club Teams. Need to be Supported for Supporting the USA... At Minimum,  they need to be brought IN and evaluated by OUR Coaches...There is NO Roster Limit... Bring 45 players for all I care...Your Building a "Core"... They need to Hang Out with each other every Opportunity we Get, that way Depending on future injuries, "Card Outs", WuFlu etc...etc... They will be Familiar with each other and Staff, Procedures.... Right now, we only have 2 "Locks" Starting.... CP and Adams... The rest of the 45, are At The Moment, Interchangeable... What a Nice Problem to have.!!!!... We, are Truly at a Fortunate Time to have 45 High Quality(Not World Class. Yet) players.
    As for Araujo; NO FENCE SITTERS NEEDED...(Don't we have like 6 thousand Rt Backs.!?!?!?)

  2. Ben Myers replied, September 27, 2021 at 12:56 p.m.

    Easy to say. But keep in mind that professional careers are on the line and the time in and around the transfer window can prove very difficult.

  3. Santiago 1314 replied, September 27, 2021 at 4:59 p.m.

    "Leave No American Behind.!!!"... Guess that Term doesn't go for the National Team anymore either.!?!?!?

  4. Santiago 1314, September 27, 2021 at 9:35 a.m.

    Sands{21 }
    Tell me who I'm missing.???

  5. Greg Gould replied, September 27, 2021 at 4:57 p.m.

    I count 43 so you must be missing the 5,997 other Right Backs. ;)

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, September 27, 2021 at 7:18 p.m.

    Yeah Greg... I couldn't decide on who the other 2 Keepers would be,... Neither one will be around for the "Next Round" unless WuFlu is still a UK issue in November 
    Yeah on the RB... Reynolds can't even see the Bench with Roma, and "He who Shall Not Be Named" at Boavista are 2 more RBs... ;)

  7. Sam Bellin replied, September 27, 2021 at 9:53 p.m.

    Paxton Pomykal, Alex Mendez, and Uly Llanez?  I thought they were very impressive for a really good USA U-20 World Cup team a couple years ago but haven't seen them making much progress towards the full National team.  Any ideas why?

  8. Santiago 1314 replied, September 27, 2021 at 10:37 p.m.

    Polmykal or Mihailovic.???

  9. Philip Carragher, September 27, 2021 at 12:45 p.m.

    Llanez? I only saw a small sampling of Llanez but thought there was something special there.

  10. Seth Vieux replied, September 27, 2021 at 1:38 p.m.

    Scored his first goal at his new club over the weekend, not too optimistic he'll make it into this camp, but if he regains his form for club over the coming months it would be nice to see him with the USMNT again!

  11. Santiago 1314 replied, September 27, 2021 at 4:53 p.m.

    Could be but needs to get out of D2 Austria to get Another Call-Up to National Team.

  12. R2 Dad, September 27, 2021 at 6:05 p.m.

    Scally and Busio are the in-form players at the moment. Would like to see these two get some time as they are not "the favorites". I am opposed to "favorites" getting match minutes when they're not getting minutes with their clubs. Previous regimes didn't seem to mind playing their favorites despite poor skills/poor form.

  13. Santiago 1314 replied, September 27, 2021 at 7:35 p.m.

    Did anyone see the Busio/Venezia Game today.???
    That was Brutal.!!!... I thought I had Pulled up a College Game on Steriods... Ugly, Ugly, Ugly.!!!
    And there's Light Weight Busio trying to "Mix-it-Up" with them Mashers... We almost Lost Him on a Two Players Slide Tackling at Each other Collision.... But he Hung in there... Did anyone else Notice that his Teammates, WON'T PASS THE BALL BACK TO HIM...He gives other Midfielders and Forwards passes that are clearly meant to Release Pressure and Create Rhythm, and they just act like He's Invisible, and Race off or Boot it Downfield. .. Something NO Bueno going on there i'm Afraid... Hope he doesn't end up Broken like Stuart Holden.!!!

  14. R2 Dad replied, September 27, 2021 at 10:11 p.m.

    Stu Holden went into 50/50 tackles because he felt as a Scot he had to get properly stuck in, and being a smaller/slighter player eventually got injured as a result. I think Busio doesn't have the build or game of an 8 or 6 so playing him inside in a 4-4-2 doesn't suit him so well (llke they did the past 2 matches). I did not see the game and can't find the replay, but I suspect the locker room might favor the italians in that position (Fiordilino, Vacca, Ricci, Bandinelli, Di Francesco) and this might be how they exhibit their displeasure with management (which, if true, is unprofessional). I'm just hypothesizing, if as you say there were no return passes. I don't know the Italian temperment in these situations--can anyone confirm, refute or otherwise add to this situation at Venezia?

  15. Santiago 1314 replied, September 27, 2021 at 10:32 p.m.

    Paramount+... I finally broke down and got it... for the Champions League, but they got Serie A, Scottish,  Brazilian,  Argentina,  plus Euro league and Euro Conference... Plus Star Trek.!!!... I dòn't have enough time for it All.!!!

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