The US men’s national team may start defending its title on Friday night, but you have to forgive a lot to watch CONCACAF Nations League matches in a different light. The 2022 World Cup casts a shadow over everything the US does and colors it, from club performances and moves to national team matches between now and the conclusion of the US Grand Prix in Qatar later this year.
Gregg Berhalter has spent his time as a manager cultivating the US player pool, exploring his options and building a depth chart, and so far, much of the perfect US roster to compete has been unofficially set. There are two problems with that, though. First, there’s the fact that the US has never had their perfect 11th goal on the field together due to injuries and other absences and it’s tied into a curve ball or two, and second, there are some key areas that are still up in the air. .
With so little time left together before the US roster is set for Qatar – there are only two Nations League matches left next week and two friendlies in Europe against the Asian competition – every remaining match will be put under a greater scrutiny. Even Friday night’s match against 170th-ranked Grenada and a match in El Salvador on June 14, where the US begins its World Cup qualifying journey, will make more sense for a select group of players vying for tickets to Qatar.
It has been expressed that these are not external tests, and that upcoming performances, such as the friendly matches against Morocco and Uruguay over the past week, are not the end. What happens in training behind closed doors and how some players alter the team’s dynamic will certainly be taken into account when Berhalter makes the final cuts. But the games will provide used data points as part of the bigger picture, and there are certain spot battles worth watching closely as the US sets dates in November with Wales, England and Iran.
The center forward struggle is nothing new. MLS top scorer Jesus Ferreira started the two friendlies in this window and did more of the same he showed in his time with the national team. He enters dangerous areas, his movement opens opportunities for the American wings, but his final touch is stopped. Perhaps with a better cross, he converts his best chance against Uruguay, but regardless, the US is lacking in goals from the top. Hadji Wright scored from Christian Pulisic’s penalty against Morocco and then had little to do in the disjointed end of the Uruguay match. You would expect him to have more time in the next two matches, with limited opportunities to appear and a desire to determine if his late-season form in Turkey can be translated to the national team. With others like Ricardo Pepe, Josh Sargent, Daryl Dyke and Jordan Pivok waiting in the wings for a call-up in September, it’s time for Ferrera and Wright to either distance themselves from the pack or further blur the picture.
Go to follow
The starting position is for Antonee Robinson to lose, but if he sustains an injury or has to miss a match due to suspension, there is no clear heir. Sergiño Dest’s shift to the left would make more sense, especially given the depth at right-back, but he came out injured and not in this camp. Joe Scully, who started and struggled against Uruguay, and George Bello, who didn’t play in any of the friendlies last week, are the current internal options, and it should come as no surprise to see them get an extended appearance in upcoming games as Berhalter seeks to increase the evidence at his disposal. .
A goal keeper
Matt Turner started against Morocco, while Shawn Johnson took a look at Uruguay and did nothing to hurt their cause. Neither conceded a goal – although the United States were fortunate to escape Uruguay with a draw thanks to Edinson Cavani’s stoppage-time miss – and both looked capable in the meantime. The absence of Zack Steffen and the fact that he, Turner and Ethan Horvath are currently on track to be Premier League reserve goalkeepers does not help explain the situation. If searching for answers is one of the goals of this camp, giving Horvath a final run either Friday in Texas or four days later in San Salvador would make a lot of sense, but it’s a spot race that deepens in the fall.
Rear center number. 2
Walker Zimmerman appears well-established at first, but Miles Robinson’s long-term injury, Chris Richards’ short-term injury and John Brooks’ extended banishment opened up a very big opportunity at the back. Aaron Long has started both games in camp so far, which suggests that if he’s not the leader of the group, there is at least an interest in giving him every chance of becoming him. Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers played the second half in their first two games, and they – and Berhalter – will have to extend their playing time over the next 180 minutes, so the US can get a better idea of what they’re working on in a position of paramount importance. .
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