USMNT: Time is running out for players to make their case

The USA will play the third game in its four-game June window on Friday (9 p.m. local kickoff in Austin) when it hosts Grenada in its opening group match in the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League.

Gregg Berhalter and his staff have working with a group of 26 players since Memorial Day, but between recovery and travel they have not had much more time than they did during the crazy three-game windows in World Cup qualifying -- three games over a 12-day window vs. three games over a 10-day window.

"We’re learning the most from these guys in the games,” Berhalter said on Thursday. “Our idea in this camp is to evaluate every player, so we’re running out of game time to do that."

He has started 15 of the 26 players in camp and given minutes to 22 of them. He'll likely clear his bench so that every player gets at least one start in the four-game window that ends on Tuesday when the USA faces El Salvador in San Salvador.

"We’re going to have to use some players that we haven’t used yet and give them the opportunity to prove themselves either in [the Grenada] game or the next," he added.

During the previous windows, players were focused on the goal of qualifying for the World Cup. Now it gets intense at another level, trying to make the squad for Qatar. Berhalter downplayed the change in approach.

"I'm sure there's some type of feeling the guys want to impress the coaching staff or make their claim on the team," he said, "but you really don't see it. It's really such a good group, a supportive group."

What adds a lot of uncertainty is that no decision has been made by FIFA on the size of World Cup rosters for the World Cup.

In announcing his squad for the June window, Berhalter said he was assuming FIFA will approve an expansion of World Cup 2022 rosters from 23 to 26 players. There was a lot of talk at meetings ahead of the World Cup draw on March 31 about expanding the rosters to 26 players, but the French newspaper L'Equipe reported this week that the expansion is no guarantee.

At last summer's European Championship for men rosters were expanded to 26 players from which 23 were allowed to dress. Copa America 2021 rosters were 28 players. This summer's Euros for women will be 23 players.

The decision to expand rosters in 2021 was to protect teams from being depleted by mass Covid-19 outbreaks though that threat has lessened (for now). L'Equipe reported many federations don't want to expand rosters. Cost was cited as one factor. Another: morale issues coaches will face dealing with three more players who won't play. (At last year's Euros, coaches had to made decisions each game on up to three players who didn't dress -- a thornier issue.)
The USA used 38 players in qualifying, dressed five other players and called in four more players -- Djordje Mihailovic had to drop out because of an injury ankle -- so that's 47 players right there from which Berhalter will have to cut down to 35 players on his release list (FIFA's term for a preliminary list).

Right now, the FIFA regulations for the 2022 World Cup still call for a final roster of 23 players chosen from the release list, though it has set no dates for what those deadlines are.

Whether it is 23 players or 26 players who will go to Qatar, Berhalter will be faced with some difficult decisions to cut his squad down to size and he will have to make some very tough calls to tell players they aren't going.

"What I think is going to happen -- I'm pretty confident in this -- is that the players that do make it will be just as upset for the guys that don't make it as the guys that aren't there," he said. "That's how tight this group is. It's going be very difficult for us as coaches to pick the final squad. All of us are going to be sad when we have to tell a player that he's not going to be part of this World Cup group."

Right now, though, he says the group is in a good spot.

"They're pulling the same direction, they're supporting each other," he added. "And it's been one of the best June trips we've had or the best June trip we've had since, since we've taken over the team."

* * * * *

USMNT: June minutes

Goalkeepers (3):
Matt Turner
90 minutes (720), Sean Johnson 90 minutes (0), Ethan Horvath 0 (0).

Outside backs (5):

Joe Scally 135 minutes (0), Reggie Cannon 90 minutes (105), Antonee Robinson 74 minutes (1,062), DeAndre Yedlin 61 minutes (502), George Bello 0 minutes (135).

Center backs (4):

Walker Zimmerman
, 135 minutes (815), Aaron Long, 135 minutes (37), Erik Palmer-Brown, 45 minutes (11), Cameron Carter-Vickers, 45 minutes (0).

Midfielders (7):
Yunus Musah, 174 minutes (732), Tyler Adams, 155 minutes (1,109), Brenden Aaronson, 116 minutes (654), Weston McKennie, 74 minutes (623), Luca de la Torre, 31 minutes (239), Kellyn Acosta, 0 minutes (678), Cristian Roldan, 0 minutes (80).

Wingers (5):
Christian Pulisic, 154 minutes (614), Tim Weah, 135 minutes (581) Paul Arriola, 45 minutes (209), Malik Tillman, 26 minutes (0), Jordan Morris, 0 minutes (139).

Forwards (2):
Jesús Ferreira, 105  minutes (229), Haji Wright, 75 minutes (0).
Note: In parentheses are minutes played in 2022 World Cup qualifying.

13 comments about "USMNT: Time is running out for players to make their case".
  1. Santiago 1314, June 9, 2022 at 10:04 p.m.

    PK... When is The 35 List Due into FIFA.???

  2. Santiago 1314, June 9, 2022 at 10:31 p.m.

    "prove themselves either in [the Grenada] game or the next,"... That's FARCICAL... GrEnada,,, An Island of 135 sq miles Pop.111,454 (Austin TX 327 sq mi 1,028,225 million)
    If Ggg thinks there is Anything to be Gained versus GrEnada, He's Delusional.!!

  3. Santiago 1314, June 9, 2022 at 10:47 p.m.

    "since we've TAKEN OVER THE TEAM.".!?!?!? .... WOW, Ggg, You better watch out or that NWSL Inquisition Committee will have you Brought-Up on "Trumped Up" charges of Insurrection.!!!

  4. Radwan Muscat replied, June 10, 2022 at 10:25 a.m.

    You need to go take a nap.

  5. beautiful game replied, June 10, 2022 at 12:01 p.m.

    Such histrionic opinion is a result of watching TC every night which agitates the level of narcissism.

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, June 10, 2022 at 8:36 p.m.

    Where's "The Love" Muscrat.???
    "Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam...
    And they whirl and they twirl and they tango
    Singin' and jinglin' a jango
    Floatin' like the heavens above
    Looks like muskrat love"

  7. R2 Dad, June 10, 2022 at 12:22 a.m.

    I think these two games are going to be considered reinforcement minutes for the players GGG already prefers, rather than another opportunity for Tillman/Scally/Wright/CCV/EPB. Let's see.

  8. Alan Blackledge, June 10, 2022 at 8:13 a.m.

    Seriously can't see any scouting your players value from the 1st game...most of these final games will simply reinforce already held beliefs...

  9. George Miller, June 10, 2022 at 8:26 a.m.

    Grenada tied El Salvador.. that summarizes all the claims of difficulty:playing the El Salvador and similar for World Cup qualifying. Since 94 United States has not improved to a  point where these are easy wins speaks to our development. We are right where we were 30 years ago versus the competition. We play such a young team because we don't have any mature better players. I can't wait another 30 years Yes we could get out of our group but the possibilities look exactly the same as they did 30 years ago. Millions and millions of youth players and resources and we still cannot find 11

  10. Ted Morehouse, June 10, 2022 at 1:46 p.m.

    Tough choices for sure.  But Gregg has to give major time to the following:  Tillman,  DLT, Sean Johnson. The two multi named center backs, Scally and Bello.  The more important minutes need to be vs El Salvador.  I think he can conclude already that Morris,  Roldan and Arriola are likely out.  The other issue is the number 9.  Better see a lot of Hagi .  Good luck.  What is the FIFA policy about injuries to someone on the named team?  If someone tears an acl one week before the first WC match ( ir during such) can they be replaced?  Or is 23 ( or 26) fixed and firm? 

  11. R2 Dad replied, June 10, 2022 at 2:06 p.m.

    I also imagine Gio is penciled in, even though he's out now and would not have any game time under his belt with the MNT after his recovery. 

  12. Wooden Ships replied, June 10, 2022 at 5:12 p.m.

    I'd be shocked if Morris and Aariola are left off by Berhalter. Reyna, barring injury, again, should be ready for Qatar.

  13. James Madison, June 10, 2022 at 3:13 p.m.

    Another justification for expanded rosters is the timing of the Qatar Cup, which essentially precluded a summer break in those nations that play September to May.

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