Gregg Berhalter calls in extra cover for USMNT: 'Every window has its own little story to tell'

U.S. national team coach Gregg Berhalter named 28 players who will head to Columbus, Ohio, beginning this weekend, for camp ahead of three World Cup 2022 qualifiers against El Salvador Jan. 27 in Columbus, at Canada three days later and against Honduras in St. Paul, Minnesota, three days after that.

The squad included one last-minute scratch due to Covid-19.

"It's spreading like wildfire," Berhalter said on Friday's media call, "and there's a chance that anyone that is coming into camp can potentially be excluded based on that. We already had one player have to drop off the roster because of it."

He later confirmed that the player was Gianluca Busio, who plays for Venezia, which has suffered a Covid-19 outbreak.

He said all players who are in the squad — the largest of the qualifying cycle — will be allowed to enter Canada for the second match in Hamilton, Ontario, though he said other players are on standby in case of a Covid-19 outbreak. Even without Busio, the camp roster of 28 players will be the largest of the qualifying cycle.

"When I look at the threat of Covid and how quickly this new variant has been spreading it," Berhalter said, "we can expect guys to come into camp and test positive. That's just the nature of it. So we need some protection on that. When we think about the potential of playing three games in seven days, that's enough right there to need a bigger squad. We think about yellow cards accumulation. We can be missing some guys that have potential for injuries. And then finally, any potential wear and tear that the turf in Hamilton can bring, so that's exactly why we increased the roster size a little bit, and we feel that we'll have enough cover."

The most notable exclusion again was John Brooks, who has been starting at relegation-threatened Wolfsburg.

"There's absolutely nothing beyond form with John," he said. "We think that he has the opportunity to play a role with us in the future. For this window, we decided based on how we're looking at these games, and what are the strengths of our opponent, that he wouldn't be the best fit for this particular window. We're hoping that he regains his form for Wolfsburg and they can start winning games and move themselves up the table and he's a key part of that."

Three players earned their first call-ups of the qualifying cycle: 17-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, right back Brooks Lennon and winger Jordan Morris. Slonina, a fourth keeper, is eligible to play for Poland. Lennon is one of four right backs who will be at camp — Antonee Robinson is the only natural left back — and Morris is one of five wingers.

Fitness is an issue with MLS players who returned to training two weeks ago in Arizona. The starters on the wing in November were Brenden Aaronson (who has been in winter training camp with Red Bull Salzburg) and Tim Weah (who just returned to action at Lille after being injured in December).

"There's some positions that we purposely loaded up for that case," Berhalter said of fitness concerns. "We don't expect the players to be 90-minutes fit. We expect to be approaching it in a platoon type of method where we put guys on, we take guys off, and we work that way as long as they can go."

Berhalter insisted he will have enough cover to handle anything that happens.

"Every window has its own little story to tell," he said. "And we're expecting for this one not to be any different."

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Man. City/ENG; 26/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 13/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 15/2), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United; 1/0), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 6/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 19/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 15/3), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 71/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 23/2)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 45/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 22/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 4/0), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 28/8), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 11/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 30/0)
FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 15/5), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 42/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 40/10), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg/GER; 7/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 42/17), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 18/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 66/14)

41 comments about "Gregg Berhalter calls in extra cover for USMNT: 'Every window has its own little story to tell'".
  1. Santiago 1314, January 21, 2022 at 6:34 p.m.

    Josh Sargent scores 2 goals today and NOT Included.???
    Starting Line-Up Looks Good...

    CP.     Pepi.     Weah

    aRob.                     Dest
            Richards mRob

    Let's just Hope they can Go Full 90 x 3...
    Because the MLS Bench Players(NOT ONE OF THE A STARTER)
    mRob only Starting because Ggg is in a Pissing Match with Brooks.
    He should have Brought Everyone, and let it Sort itself Out in Practice.

  2. John Sabala replied, January 23, 2022 at 4:59 a.m.

      Santi, I like the starting line up.  I think Richards is athletic and can cover A. Robinson on the left. I would put Pulisic on the right.....Weah in the center and Aaronson on the left.  All three are great one and one and can pass in the box.  Better chances to score early to create more pressure on the opponent. I think we can press better with them as well.

  3. Donald Lee replied, January 24, 2022 at 3:25 a.m.

    WHen the decisions had to be made Sargent was struggling -- scoreless and not in form.  Then one game after the decision deadline he gets a fluke goal after timing his run poorly and a nice finish for a 2d goal -- and you are whining and screaming like a baby.   I'm pulling for Sargent to gain form over a sustained period of time and to then contribute to great success for our USMNT. Until then this decision cannot be argued with.

  4. Santiago 1314 replied, January 24, 2022 at 12:33 p.m.

    Donald; you are Talking about Lack of Finishing; 
    Granted Sarg has Struggled at that; But, if you have been watching his games at Norwich ( English PREMIER LEAGUE) He is a STARTER as Wide Midfielder in a 4-4-2.... He is Consistently Pressuring the Ball and Winning it....
    I don't think we have a Current Ct.Foward who is IN Form Scoring Goals...
    So, the Next things to look at are, How does each player do in; 
    1. Link/Hold Up Play; VERY Marginal advantage to Pepi(When he plays for USA)(On their Club Teams; Sarg WAY AHEAD)
    2. Next thing to Look At; "GegenPress"... Pepi always Late and NOT in Synch with other 2 Forwards and Midfielders Behind Him...
    Sarg has always been EXCELLENT at Leading the Press...
    So, All things being Equal... The Best Chance USA has to WIN, is High Press and Play OFF others Teams Turnovers/Mistakes in their own Third... Because we have yet to show that we can Build an Attack/Rhythm out of a BROWN PAPER BAG.!!!!

  5. Peter Bechtold replied, January 24, 2022 at 1:12 p.m.

    Santi, I like your choices here, also your preference. My only question concerns gk. You seem to agree with ggg about Steffen; I feel more comfortable with Matt Turner. Arsenal seems to agree with me even though they have 4 gks on their books.
    I have been wondering if ggg likes Steffen because he used to be his keeper at Columbus when ggg coached there ?

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, January 24, 2022 at 3:37 p.m.

    Peter; from the Limited amount we get to see Steffen; He clearly has better Footwork... Almost Arrogant about it... Similar to the Starting Keeper at ManCity... Hope it doesn't come back to Bite us in the Arse...Steffen does have a More Commanding Presence in the Goal...Turner is the: Braver, Pure Shot Stopper...
    For example: I would play Turner in the Cold of Canada on Turf( New England plays on Turf)
    To me the Best overall Package was Horvath; but he has Fallen Off the Radar with his move to Notts Forest .. Not Good if you can't Start in English D2.... Something Wrong there.
    I think there are Quite a Few players that are on the Team; because Ggg "Likes" them... Which is Fine; ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL...
    Which they are Clearly NOT.!!!

  7. Santiago 1314, January 21, 2022 at 6:51 p.m.

    Ok, Who do you Prefer;???

    Arriola or Hoppe
    Morris or Konrad
    Ferreira or Sargent
    Zardes or Dike
    Lletget or Busio
    Roldan or Tessman
    Acosta or Sands
    Zimmerman or Brooks

  8. Santiago 1314 replied, January 21, 2022 at 8:17 p.m.

    Oops, Missed the Part about Busio OUT with Omi WuFlu...
    Why is he Not bring Brought IN.???
    It's only a 5 Day Quarantine Now.!!!
    Should be Ready for 3rd Game

  9. John Sabala replied, January 22, 2022 at 11:03 a.m.

    Hey Santi, you have a lot of posts to respond to, will do my best.

    Hoppe - For sure
    Sargent - No brainer
    Pefolk - over both of them
    Have to take Lleget due to Covid - but could try to get him in the cycle
    Sands if we went with a back 3.  Just not a good D-mid guy in a back four. Maybe a wingback.
    Brooks, Miazga and Carter-Vickers before Zimmerman - All are playing very well. Brooks has been starting almost all games at Wolfsburg.  Losing games because they can't score, not Brooks defending play.

  10. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 9:08 p.m.

    JS, Pefok vs Dike...
    kind of a Toss Up, I could go with Either
     Pefok has more Experience, Dike; Better athlete, Younger(21)
    Pefok Out because of my Rule with this Team;
    Trust NO One over 25.!!! (Turns 26 in April)

  11. oswaldo rodriguez, January 21, 2022 at 7:19 p.m.

    Brooks, Acosta, Lleget, Roldan, Zardes and Arriola = rewarding mediocre and repeat of France 1998! 

  12. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 7:17 a.m.

    Ossie, Brooks not here... Did you mean someone else.???

  13. John Sabala replied, January 22, 2022 at 11:06 a.m.

    Amen brother!!

  14. Santiago 1314, January 21, 2022 at 8:15 p.m.

    "IF", If it Snows; We have No "Snow Plows" up front to Push Thru and Power-In a Goal... And Playing on Frozen Turf,???..Need to have Runners, Not "Technicians"

  15. John Sabala replied, January 22, 2022 at 11:08 a.m.

      GB is thinking he is using MLS players to bull his way through the whole match.  The bad weather conditions don't favor our better skilled players.  Will slow us down just like all the bad fields in third world Concacaf countries. Stop trying to freeze out the opponents. All lungs bring the same frigid air.

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, January 22, 2022 at 6:57 p.m.

    My experience is that the worse the field conditions the more good skills are needed to overcome the conditions. A bad field does take away dribbling, but if you pass the ball a few inches above the field the field conditions don't matter.

    Also my experience is that when the field is frozen, good positioning (and possession) is even more important than running fast. (You can't cut or turn at speed on a frozen field so successful pressing is very difficult, and defensive adjustments to a smart attack are also very difficult to make.)

  17. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 8:43 p.m.

    Yes Bob, it's like playing on Slippery Astroturf... Every Pass must be Perfectly PACED & PLACED to Just give your Teamate a Chance to control it... Then Your Teammate MUST Control it Crispyly & Cleanly to maintain Team Possession and Flow to the Next Player... Does that Sound like Something our Current Crop of u23's are Capable of.!?!?!?

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, January 23, 2022 at 3:40 p.m.

    Some of them, Santi. Well, a few at least. 

    I think part of the problem is mental. The rest is coaching. The US game is so wedded to what Frank calls "turbo" that the players play that way out of habit. Playing indoor (or futsal) gives a whole different perspective on space and movement. If...if...if. I think Busio and Dest are up to it, but I don't know who else has the skills. I have to defer on that to you and the others who keep current.

  19. Santiago 1314, January 21, 2022 at 8:18 p.m.

    Good thing we got 4 Right Backs!?!?!?... And only 1 Left Back.!!!

  20. John Sabala replied, January 22, 2022 at 11:04 a.m.

    Hence as I stated we need Scally and Vines to balance out.  I am sure the plan it to move Dest to the left side.

  21. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 8:52 p.m.

    JS, You probably correct about Dest as Left Back Reserve, Does that mean he doesn't Start as Rt.B.???...
    That will Weaken our Right side. 
    Dest at Lf.B hasn't Worked out Well for USA: And you know what the Definition of Insanity is:???
    "Repeating the Same Mistakes again, and Expecting a Different Result".!!!

  22. Santiago 1314, January 21, 2022 at 8:21 p.m.

    Let's see, if Team performance and League Standing is used to Determine USMNT Selection, THEN What are Pepi and Ferreira doing here.???... Dallas was doing Terrible and they still got Invited.!?!?!?

  23. John Sabala, January 22, 2022 at 10:58 a.m.

      Hello All,
    I have been off for a while. Quite busy with work and staving off Corona as we have so many infected where I am.  Lets get to it!

    This roster does not make much sense given the current environment.  Don't say you have people in waiting....bring them into camp and let the first 48 hours sort out Covid-19 positives and who is available to play.  Just list the 35 or so you believe have to potential to play.  Your best depth is using all your European players and very limited MLS based on no playing time or form.  Not to mention the ones in Europe a just plain better.  The field and weather conditions may very well backfire on us trying to make it too uncomfortable for our opponents.  Better to have a high quality playing surface for your players use their skillsets which should be better than all of our opponents.  

    Goalkeepers - How do you leave Horvath off for a newbie?

    Fullbacks - How do you not bring Scally and Vines for leftback since you plan on playing a back 4, instead of a back 3. Idiot move.

    Midfielders - Not enough for this cycle period.  The MMM trio will not hold up for 90X3.

    Forwards - Sargeant left off is a travesty - dude is flat our performing at Norwich in a losing cause, Pefolk is scoring goals for Young Boys 

    Again all about MLS loyalty and not putting the best team togetgher. When does GB think cohesion will be built with all his European players. Embrace the suck all....his WC roster will not be the best team we can field, but MLS players like Arriola, Roldan, Llegett, Morris, Zardes..etc....

  24. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 2:45 p.m.

    JS.. Glad to see you back... We been missing your Posts... 
    you are Spot on
    MLS Pay Back for the Dec and Jan "Camps", I get it.
    But Why not Bring All the "Euros" and Sort it Out there...
    This whole "Octagon" has been a Unique chance to bring in Larger Groups of Players and let them Sort it Out on the Field... At Minimum, you would have a Large Pool that is "Integrated" with the Teams; Tactics, Roster and Coaches...
    How many times have we heard excuses about; Never enough Time or Chances to "Get together", "See them 1st Hand", "Do our own analysis"; Because their Club Team, "Sucks", their playing minutes are Limited or Out of Position".???
    If Ggg ever got "The Whole Group" together; it would be Painfully Obvious the difference in Quality; and there would be NO Excuse for Playing the MLSers.

  25. John Sabala replied, January 22, 2022 at 5:14 p.m.

    Hey Santi,
    Yes this was the exact time to load up with as many European based players as possible. So many seem to foget a lot of them played youth US soccer together and there is some cohesion already. It is one reason why the younger players have performed well in these big matches.  It is when the core is gutted that you see these crap games against inferior opponents. 

    The thing that worries me most is the playing surface. I think we can lose guys to injuries from the conditions.  Hell Reyna is still out for these must remember the other teams are going to just foul us to death. Very cold and hard surface does not help.

    I have been trying to read and stay up to date. Spend my bit of free time trying to catch all of our European based players in some match action. Easier since I am on Central European Time in Germany.  One of the few perks....before having to get up at 1 to 3am to watch the USMNT. 

  26. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 9:23 p.m.

    JS ... Horvath made a Bad Career Decision going to Notts Forest... Sitting Bench in 2nd Division England
    Sean Johnson is 3rd GK... Youngster is 17... Just along for the Ride...
    SO, if we are Going to bring Youngsters "For the Ride"... Why Not Tessman and Scally and CCV and EPB and Hope and... etc..etc...etc.!!!!

  27. Ted Morehouse, January 22, 2022 at 11:50 a.m.

    1.  Hoppe
    2.  Morris if 100%
    3.  Ferrierra - Sargent has done nothing here 
    4.  Dike - immense potential 
    5.  Busio ( and he was selected )
    6.  Haven't ever seen Tessman - no vote 
    7.  No preference 
    8.  Zimmerman  -  he has been outstanding 

  28. John Sabala replied, January 22, 2022 at 5:02 p.m.

      Ted, have you watch Sargent at all this season with the Canaries? He plays well, even on the wing.  Hard to do anything when you are playing 9 behind the ball in so many games.  Ferrierra plays against third rate defenses at best against PL talent. 
    Dike has potential, but Pefolk is proving himself in the Swiss League and the Champions League.  Dike getting back overseas will help him immensely, but he does not help the US now. That is the whole point of this team selection. Bringing in guys who will win, while also preparing to play the WC.  The time to bring in guys he did in JAN is when the WC cycle is over.

  29. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 9:18 p.m.

    Ted; Sargent is our Best "GergenPressing" Ct.Forward...
    Granted; he hasn't scored for us, but neither has Pepi Recently.
    I Fear that a Front Line of CP-Pepi-Weah; will be Dijointed at Pressing together.
    I would have Started: CP-Sargent-Aaronson.
    Then bring in Pepi and Weah when Opposition is Tired.
    I do like Morris and the "Old" Arriola... Maybe they can "Resurrect" and Help USA
    Tessman getting ALOT of Minutes for Vinezia... More Defensively Inclinded than Roldan.
    Julian Green might be a More "Straight Up" Comparision.

  30. Anthony Petgrave, January 22, 2022 at 1:52 p.m.

    ....from deciphering his news conference, it appears that COVID concerns was a major determinate of the side he chose, IMHO.

    I think this window teters on a knifes edge. WE have rarely look good in a post January camp match-up, and GGG has made the Dec/Jan boys the backstops for this can only hope they come good.

  31. John Sabala replied, January 22, 2022 at 5:08 p.m.

    Anthony, you make a very good point. It does not have to hang on a Knife's edge.  There are so many quality guys in Europe who have been training all along.  No need to bring in any MLS guys if you ask me....they have not been playing and there is a deep enough pool Covid-19 should not deter us from fielding quality teams.  This is GB stuck in his MLS ways period. So now we must endure another roller coaster next week and hope we don't screw it up. One thing helping us out is that Canada is a bit light with their best players at the moment.

  32. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 8:37 p.m.

    Anthony, On a "Knifes Edge" Indeed... Hope our Federation wasn't TOO Cute in Picking u30 Cold Weather Scenario... Playing on "ICE" is a Great Equalizer... Minnesota will be Below 30 for a week Prior to that game...
    What kind of Grass Grows in 30 Below.???

  33. James Madison, January 22, 2022 at 6:51 p.m.

    Brooks is strong, but slow and awkward and will not be missed.

  34. Santiago 1314 replied, January 22, 2022 at 9:26 p.m.

    Let's Hope your Right JM

  35. R2 Dad replied, January 23, 2022 at 5:47 a.m.

    But Brooks is considered one of the better CBs because he is "better" on the ball. As Miazga just proved, calmness on the ball and decent passing counts.

  36. Bob Ashpole replied, January 25, 2022 at 12:31 a.m.

    R2, don't include me in that camp. He makes mental mistakes on defense and worse he plays at a snail's pace when on the ball. After holding the ball he makes long vertical passes which proponents of kick and chase find attractive. I find it too predictable to win matches.

  37. Greg Gould, January 22, 2022 at 9:34 p.m.

    Guys, it's largely a crapshoot. We have a lot of young, unproven talent, many of whom are in offseason, mid-season break, coming off injury, not playing, not starting, on weak teams, in weak leagues, and etc and etc. Who knows who is ready and will perform. 
    Fortunately we have a pretty good core of Steffen/Turner, decent center backs, MMA midfield, and CP. Beyond that not many have distinguished themselves so how much does it matter coupled with so many circumstances/distractions going on right now. Will have to be a team effort as it has been and I'm confident these guys will be giving it there all for the Stars and Stripes and the opportunity and honor of representing the USA at the WC. 
    But not sure why GB selected FOUR keepers.....! 

  38. John Sabala replied, January 23, 2022 at 4:48 a.m.

      Greg, what are you talking about mid-season break?!  Pretty much all the big European leagues are playing this weekend. The break starts after today with the FIFA window.  You talk about this unproven talent, at what level do you mean?  Many have performed in the U-20s in major tournaments. How do you think they got noticed? Almost all of the guys, with the exception of Pepi and Che, have been in Europe for a bit.  If you have seen Pepi in his first few games in Bundesliga 1, you see a lack of skill and knowledge that was not visible with guys like Reyna, Pulisic, Sargent, Richards, etc. who were quickly integrated into first team line-ups.  I believe he will grow  All of these leagues in Europe are higher quality than MLS. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.  You could argue even the Division 2 teams in Europe are stronger than MLS.  I concur on 4 keepers and go one further bringing in a 17 year old who will never see the field.  If we lost two keepers to injury of Covid, I think you see a more experienced keeper into the team.  You also point out the MMA and CP. Can't play them 90 X 3 in every match.  It is why I stated we did not bring in enough midfielders.   Like I said another roller coaster ride again. 

  39. Santiago 1314 replied, January 23, 2022 at 6:56 p.m.

    Greg; its a "Crapshoot" on a "Knives Edge" to be Played on a "Skating Rink".!!!
    What could go Wrong.!?!?!?  
    Last Game in Octagon is in Costa Rica... We are 0-9 there....Gulp.
    We Need to win all 3 this round.

  40. Santiago 1314 replied, January 24, 2022 at 10:47 a.m.

    Greg; there is some chance that Turner will Leave camp to sign with Arsenal(Makes No Sense, might have to do a Physical.???).…
    The Youngster is also eligible for Poland(Ggg must want to keep him, unlike Ochoa)... I'm ALL in favor of Bringing in Youngsters to Train and then Sit the Bench; but why Not do that with the Younger "Euros".???... How else do Ggg expect them to be Evaluated and Integrated with the Need arises.???...Tessmann would be an excellent example... Ledezma, Horvath, Reynolds, Moore, Giocochino, ... Etc...etc...

  41. Bob Ashpole, January 23, 2022 at 11:33 p.m.

    Greg, it is common to bring in someone new to a national team camp just to give the coaches a chance to work with him at the camp and give him some guidance for future development.  It also motivates the player.

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