New USMNT boss B.J. Callaghan on how he picked squad for Concacaf Nations League final four

B.J. Callaghan, 41, went into coaching after playing college ball at Ursinus College. He coached youth, high school and college. After seven years coaching with the Philadelphia Union, as academy director and serving as Jim Curtin’s first-team assistant, he became been a U.S. national team assistant coach in January 2019.

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, Callaghan got the call that he would step up to interim head coach, replacing Anthony Hudson, who had been in the interim role since Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of 2022.

“Anthony and I worked close together for a long time,” Callaghan said, “so it was never a surprise to me that Anthony had personal ambitions to be a head coach again at the club level … I certainly didn't know that it was going to happen this quick and this immediate … but in professional sports a lot changes in a short amount of time.

“I'm just super happy that he's happy, going to pursue something that he's had his eye on.”

Callaghan’s first task was to name a 24-man roster for the Concacaf Nations League final four, at which the USA faces Mexico in a June 15 semifinal, which will be rematch of the USA’s 3-2 final win in the inaugural 2021 Concacaf Nations League. (The squad will be reduced to 23 ahead of the June 5 deadline.)

U.S. Roster
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Drake Callender (Inter Miami) 0/0 (25)
Josh Cohen (Maccabi Haifa/ISR) 0/0 (22)
*Sean Johnson (Toronto FC/CAN) 12/0 (34)
*Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG) 26/0 (28)

*Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA) 24/2 (22)
Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG) 8/0 (23)
*Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG) 34/2 (25)
Miles Robinson (Atlanta United) 21/3 (26)
*Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER) 4/0 (20)
Auston Trusty (Birmingham City/ENG) 1/0 (24)
*Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) 39/3 (30)

Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA) 6/0 (21)
*Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP) 14/0 (25)
*Weston McKennie (Leeds United/ENG) 43/11 (24)
*Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP) 25/0 (20)
*Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER) 18/4 (20)
Alan Soñora (FC Juárez/MEX) 2/0 (24)

*Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG) 30/7 (22)
Folarin Balogun (Stade Reims/FRA) 0/0 (21)
Taylor Booth (Utrecht/NED) 2/0 (22)
Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED) 14/6 (20)
*Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG) 58/23 (24)
*Tim Weah (Lille/FRA) 29/4 (23)
Alex Zendejas (Club América/MEX) 3/1 (25)
Note: *Members of the USA's 2022 World Cup squad.

Included in the roster is center forward Folarin Balogun, who switched allegiances from England to the USA last month. The 21-year-old, who was born in New York and moved to England as a 2-year-old, played for Reims on loan from Arsenal for the 2022-23 French Ligue 1 season and has scored 20 goals with one game to play.

Callaghan was asked about the high expectations of Balogun following his exceptional season in France.

“We’ve got a clear style of play that we’ve been building over the last four years,” Callaghan said. “And that is the only thing that we're focused on with Flo, is getting him up to speed with how we play. And I think as long as we do a good job, spend a little extra time with him before training, after training and reflecting on different things, then he'll be able to reach all those expectations."

“But he still has to come in and compete. Ricardo Pepi is coming off a great season, and it’s going to be fun watching these guys compete.”

Pepi scored 12 goals nd added three assists in 29 Dutch Eredivisie games for Groningen, which managed to score only 31 goals while finishing in last place. Pepi also scored three goals for the USA in Concacaf Nations League wins over Grenada and El Salvador.

SA ReadingFolarin Balogun picks USA: 'In the end, it became a no-brainer'

The two other uncapped players are goalkeepers Drake Callender (Inter Miami) and Josh Cohen (photo), who last month won his third straight Israeli Ligat Ha'Al title with Maccabi Haifa. (With four goalkeepers called in, one will likely be dropped to reach the 23-player limit).

SA Reading: Move to Israel via USL leads to California keeper Josh Cohen joining an elite list of U.S. players

Defender Chris Richards, who missed the 2022 World Cup with an injury, returns for the first time since January 2022. He made only nine Premier League appearances for Crystal Palace this past season and only one in the last three months.

(Las Vegas)
Semifinals, Thursday, June 15
Panama-Canada 7 pm
USA-Mexico 10:00 p.m. ET
Third-place game, Sunday, June 18, 6 pm ET.
Final, Sunday, June 18, 8:30 pm ET
TV: Paramount+, Univision, CBS Sports Network.

“It's a group that has a lot of talent, a lot of experience in big games and big moments,” Callaghan said. “Whenever you're putting together a roster, you're faced with tough decisions and we're also faced with a number of injuries to players. But I thought we were able to put together a really strong group, for two very important matches, which is a testament to the depth of the player pool that we have here with the men's national team. ..

“The main objective that we were trying to accomplish here with the Nations League and looking to the Gold Cup [June 24-July 16], is how we can expose the most amount of players in our player pool to make them battle-tested in knockout and tournament group game type of environments.”

On selecting a roster so shortly after becoming interim head coach and whether he communicates with Berhalter:

“Anthony and I worked together, day to day. We would spend more time with each other than we spend with our significant others or any of our friends. But, no, he didn't just hand me a list. We worked diligently through this building it together, having communication with clubs, having communication with players.

“We were well into the process when I got the phone call. It was an easy transition of sort of dotting the I’s and crossing T's. …

“I can tell you that Gregg is somebody that I hold in high regard. We were obviously coaching colleagues, but we're also friends. So we talk a lot. He's somebody that I bounce ideas off, but in no way would he ever step over the line of telling people who to pick or anything like that.”

Callaghan, who joined national team staff as "as an assistant coach and strategy analyst," has mostly served as an assistant coach during his coaching career.

"Whether it was with Philadelphia or the opportunity with Gregg, and then lastly with Anthony, I've always tried to sit in the chair with my head coaching hat on, thinking about it, challenging head coaches on different aspects," he said. "I've been lucky to be intimately involved in almost every aspect of these teams that I've been part of, whether it's the game-planning, culture-building or the management of the staff."

He said the complete coaching staff has yet to be finalized.

13 comments about "New USMNT boss B.J. Callaghan on how he picked squad for Concacaf Nations League final four".
  1. Santiago 1314, June 1, 2023 at 7:50 p.m.

    Good Luck Coach... Good Roster

  2. Santiago 1314, June 2, 2023 at 6:24 a.m.

    Here's your Starting Lineup;

    CP.      Flo.        Weah
    Jedi.                   Dest
          Richards aRob

    Subs will be;
    Zendejas for Weah(Dest)
    Pepi for Flo
    LDLT for McKenNie
    Cordosa for Musah
    Aaronson for GIO

    3-1... USA WINS.!!!

  3. Andrew Megas replied, June 2, 2023 at 8:13 a.m.

    For Mexico. Flip Gio & CP. Need someone on left side who can make a key pass. That's certainly not Jedi or CP. Starting Scally relieves Weah from covering for Dest. Dest subs in if US needs a a 2nd half goal. Start Pepi, & allow Flo to be dangerous option with speed off bench. Get Zendejas on field if McKennie is ineffective. 1-1 @90 minutes. Extra time result depends on subs/adjustments. 

  4. Alan Blackledge replied, June 2, 2023 at 12:15 p.m.

    Like your choice, but think Pepi will get the start...Flo needs to get acclimated to the group and vice versa as well as comfortable with the system...

  5. John Sabala replied, June 2, 2023 at 3:58 p.m.

    Hey Santi,
    Like the line up, except you do not play A. Robinson. You have to play Scally. He can pass and play in tight spaces. I will give up the pace for those other traits any day. 

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, June 2, 2023 at 8:58 p.m.

    Andrew, while I agree with you, that depending on CP or Jedi, to make a "Key" "Entry Pass" from the Left, is "IFee" at Best...
    CP at #10 is NOT Going to happen ...
    I think we will see M.Tillman Challenge CP for that Left "Inverted Wing" position
    The "Beauty" of Dest and Weah is; They can Drive the Opponents "Crazy" by Constantly, Interchanging and Overlapping each other on the Right Flank... Scally, as you Correctly point out, is pretty much a Solid Stay at Home Defender that will only help offensively by sending in, an Occasional Long Cross from out Wide(Just watch some BMG Tape)
    You could Bring ON, Scally and Zendejas if you have a Lead, or IF you are having Trouble Containing the Mexico attack down that Wing.
    CF....#1 Priority is GETTING "FLO" CAP TIED
    You Never know what could happen.!?!?!?... Flo could get Injured Warming Up to go IN... USA could get a Red Card and have to Play without a Forward... Take the Sure Thing .. a Forward who has Trained all his Life at Arsenal... Scored more than 20 goals in a "Top 5" League vs a MLS Overachiever, who Failed in the Bundesliga and Scored some Goals for a Relegated Dutch Team, that No One Played "Hard" against.!!!
    Zendejas for McKenNie.???... I don't get that one.???.
    Zendejas Best Position,  is as a Left Footed "Inverted" Forward; (Weah would have to come out, or Bring out Dest and Move Weah to RT.Back)
    Are you saying to put him as a "Pivot" Box-2-Box Midfielder.???

  7. Santiago 1314 replied, June 2, 2023 at 10:47 p.m.

    Alan; "The Ggg System" has been THE PROBLEM.!!!
    Put the Best Damn Players out on the Field, Let them Figure it Out.!!!
    Does Anyone Believe that Coach BJ knows More about Systems of Play and Tactics than Players who have Played under World Class Coaches at Ajax, Barcelona, Milan, Chelsea, Arsenal, Juventus, Dortmund, Fulham, Crystal Palace, Celtic, Rangers, Leeds, Bayern
    They should have put the Injured Players, In Charge of the Team...
    Does BJ know more about Tactics than Ream, Adams, CCV, Tillman, Steffen, Horvath, ...???

  8. Santiago 1314 replied, June 2, 2023 at 10:52 p.m.

    John, Unfortunately, We don't have Many players that are Good in Tight Spaces to play WITH Scally on Left Defense...
    I don't think we want to get into a "Skills Match" with Mexico...
    A TRACK Match, Yes.!!!
    It would be interesting to see a Midfield of LDLT, Cardoso, GIO versus Mexico

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, June 5, 2023 at 9:33 p.m.

    Santi, can't complain about your proposed lineup, except that you are making the opponent's scouting job too easy.

  10. Andrew Megas, June 2, 2023 at 7:54 a.m.

    John Brooks still in the doghouse? Sure helped Hoffenheim after his January transfer. He would be valuable in the backline since other centerbacks don't pass well, and the #6 position is unsettled. Expect Mexico to exploit that situation and if US starts Dest they will make him attempt to.defend. Haji Wright excluded. A target option/finisher off the bench is not on this roster. Not many from this squad is in form. Expectations for these summer matches should be muted. Hire a real manager and see how we look against Germany in October.

  11. Santiago 1314 replied, June 2, 2023 at 11:06 p.m.

    Andrew M ..
    Brooks will DEFINITELY be Too Old to be there in 2026;
    And every thing must be done with one thing in Mind;
    We will probably never have a better chance...
    I wouldn't mind him being brought in as Assistant Coach.
    Got to agree with you about Haji;
    After all, How many CT Forwards do we have that HAVE SCORED A GOAL IN A WORLD CUP.!?!?!?

  12. Kevin Leahy, June 3, 2023 at 3:11 p.m.

    Scaly doesn't screw up the attack like Jedi. Pulisic plays much better with Scally on the field. Don't believe Pepi's Dutch league results translate as well as some people think. Look forward to seeing Balogun!

  13. Santiago 1314 replied, June 5, 2023 at 10:53 p.m.

    You might need Correct
    Should be interesting to see

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