Surprises and key findings on the USMNT 2022 World Cup roster

Nov 11, 2022

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The 26-man squad for the United States men’s national team for the 2022 World Cup largely performed as predicted. While Brenden Aaronson, Sergio Dest, Yunus Musah, Gio Reyna, Antonee Robinson, Matt Turner, Tim Weah, and Walker Zimmerman are also anticipated to play key roles in Qatar, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams are the main attractions. However, there were a few unexpected choices as well. 

United States on Wednesday, The whole roster was unveiled in front of a small number of VIPs, sponsors, and fans at the Brooklyn Steel music hall in New York City.

The event added a dash of absurdity to a significant event. The USMNT’s very own, extremely excited hype man, a middle-aged man by the name of Devin, who was also at every home World Cup qualifier, and were among the pre-announcement festivities. A playlist of clubby electronic music was also played. Rapper Jack Harlow’s narration of a sizzle reel served as the buildup’s conclusion. The team that head coach Gregg Berhalter will take to Qatar was then revealed.

Tim Ream of Fulham, who had been absent for more than a year, was one of the squad’s more unexpected additions. He was chosen before Mark McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown. Haji Wright of Antalyaspor, who had been a consistent call-up since the start of qualification, was chosen over Ricardo Pepi to play the position of striker. The United States’ No. 1 goalkeeper for the majority of the previous four years, Middlesbrough’s Zack Steffen, was completely left off of the squad.

Luca de la Torre, who recently sustained an injury while practicing with the Spanish club Celta de Vigo, was also determined to be in good enough health to make the team.

The other contentious selections were made further down the list and were athletes who most likely won’t have a significant impact on the competition. Jordan Morris, a forward for Seattle, and Shaq Moore, a right defender for Nashville, were selected ahead of Paul Arriola and Reggie Cannon, respectively, even though Morris and Moore participated in the qualifying process less than Arriola and Cannon did. Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan in the starting lineup replaced Malik Tillman, a young German-American who participated in the last two U.S. camps.

At center back, Ream is back

Ream making the final roster seemed quite unlikely only a few weeks ago.

Although Ream, 35, has been solid for Fulham thus far in this Premier League season and was excellent for the club in the Championship last year, Berhalter had not called Ream up since last October. Ream has also spent the last two seasons developing a good on-field rapport with American and Fulham left back Antonee Robinson. 

He had to leave the camp for personal reasons, and in none of the five consecutive international windows was he brought back to the USMNT.

Berhalter did not include the St. Louis native because of his appearance; rather, he was left out because of fit. Berhalter prefers to set up his defense in a high position. As a result, he likes his center backs to be strong and quite mobile. Ream’s shortcomings are not those, Berhalter noted after scratching him from the squad for the September friendly against Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Over the past two months, Ream’s skills and limitations remained the same, but the situation at center back for the United States changed. Chris Richards, who Berhalter claimed in September, would have been chosen for Qatar if healthy, was unable to make the World Cup roster because of a hamstring issue. When given a shot in September, Mark McKenzie fared about as poorly as Aaron Long did during that time.

Ream’s impressive performance in the Premier League, according to Berhalter, made it simple to add him to the lineup on Wednesday night.

On the other hands, McKenzie’s feelings will undoubtedly be very different. He was the center defender who was benched in favor of Ream. Although he has had a rocky relationship with the United States, he has been doing fairly well for Genk, so it seemed like a safe bet that he would make this team.

USMNT World Cup 2022 Final Squad

Goalkeepers: Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson

Defenders: Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, Sergiño Dest, Shaq Moore, DeAndre Yedlin, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Aaron Long, Tim Ream, Walker Zimmerman

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Cristian Roldan, Brenden Aaronson

Forwards: Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Tim Weah, Jesus Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Haji Wright

The No. 9 Surprise

The strikers that Berhalter would bring to Qatar have been the subject of much discussion and speculative speculation over the past year. That continued for months because none of the options were consistently scoring. Then, all of a sudden, it was because they were all scoring.

Most people believed that Jess Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent, and Jordan Pefok would be competing for the final three spots in a four-forward race. Two of those four ultimately were not included on the roster. In place of Pepi and Pefok, Berhalter chose to bring Haji Wright, who is in excellent form in the Turkish Süper Lig.

Wright is the most popular striker in the group. The 6-foot-3 forward has recently scored in a variety of ways. He has scored three goals through headers off crosses, created space with runs in behind the defense, profited from pressure and mistakes, and scored two penalties as well.

Wright ought to be able to offer something unique in tournament play compared to both Sargent and Ferreira: a target up top for more direct play who will also be useful on crosses and set pieces. If the U.S. needs a goal late in a game, that type of striker may be especially helpful.

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