23 Tickets to Qatar

8 minutes, 15 seconds Read

Now that the dust has settled after the first international break for World Cup qualification games in the CONCACAF third round Octagonal stage, the Yanks Abroad staff have been busy studying charts and videos to determine who we feel should be traveling to Qatar in November next year to take on the world in the 22nd Edition of the FIFA World Cup.

Gregge Berhalter’s men had a tough time of it this month when they went up against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras in their first three of 14 games that they will play to determine whether or not the USA will make the long trip to the Middle East. 

After winning two trophies in the summer with two different sets of players, optimism was everywhere in the American soccer world coming into these qualifiers, with the Gold Cup and the Nations League Cup in US Soccer’s trophy case.

Other than a handful of players who we feel can pack their suntan lotion and bags now, most of the 23 seats on the plane are up for grabs.  Do you agree or disagree with our picks?  Who should be on the plane that isn’t and who do you think we picked that will be watching the tournament at home on their widescreen televisions?  Drop us a line below or on our Facebook page.  If you impress us with your picks, you could join the YA staff as a guest for the next edition of 23 Tickets to Qatar.

Pack Your Bags, Boys

Christian Pulisic – F, Chelsea (England)

This pick is a no-brainer providing that he can stay healthy (MA)  If he can even drag himself to the gate with his tongue, he’s in (DS)  You can’t spell USMNT without Christian Pulisic. Well, you can, but this team will not be the same if he isn’t on the plane (AV)

Sergino Dest – D, Barcelona (Spain)

Despite a poor showing in the last few games, the Barcelona starter is in (DS)  Dest is arguably one of the most exciting outside backs the US has had since DaMarcus Beasley, and that’s not a fair comparison. The kid gets on the plane (AV)

Gio Reyna – F, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Similarly to Weah, there’s a “football heritage” to their names, game, and expectations to fulfill. A world cup cements that starlet status. (AV) Lock starter for club and country when he’s healthy (DS)  Very impressive for his age (MA)

Tyler Adams – M, RB Leipzig (Germany)

The only question is whether or not he’s the permanent captain going forward (DS)  If GB can play him in a position where he can have an impact, Adams has the tools needed to perform for the US on the big stage. He has a spot in Qatar. (AV)

Zack Steffen – GK, Manchester City (England)

He didn’t play due to injury but com’on, he’s our #1 (MA)  Now in a battle for the #1 spot, but still safe for a roster spot (DS)  Steffen has always been in contention as the number 1 keeper for the USMNT. He missed out recently, but he’s for sure got a spot in Qatar (AV)

Matt Turner – GK, New England Revolution (USA)

He didn’t do his chances any harm with those last three performances (MA)  He showed he’s up to the job when asked to stand in for Steffen (DS)  Turner has proven himself a true contender for the starting position, filling in for whoever the “first team keeper” would have gone to otherwise (AV)

Brenden Aaronson – F, Red Salzburg (Austria)

MOTM against Canada and a goal against the Canucks and Hondurans.  He’s done enough and I’m convinced that he’ll do more (MA)  Hopefully he’ll be a starter alongside captain Adams for both club and country by departure time (DS)

Nearly a Lock

DeAndre Yedlin – D, Galatasaray (Turkey)

Not a starter anymore, but his veteran experience is valued almost as much as his blazing speed (DS)  Definitely one of the best outside back options we have, but will he age out of the USMNT Plans before Qatar? (AV) He’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get (MA)

Antonee Robinson – D, Fulham (England)

Along with Aaronson, one of the few reasons for excitement in the recent qualifiers (DS)  Robinson has personality, strength, can serve the ball, scores, the list goes on. If he’s not on the plane, GB needs a pair of glasses. (AV)  He has certainly proved his worth (MA)

Miles Robinson – D, Atlanta United (USA)

Robinson showed that he is ready for the center stage at center back. Who partners him? (AV)  This is one of those no-brainers; if the team goes, he goes.  (MA)

Ethan Horvath – GK, Nottingham Forest (England)

Definitely one of our top three keepers but I don’t think you can pick a player who isn’t even playing for his club team (MA)  Traditionally speaking you take 3 keepers, and I bet that Horvath occupies that third spot (AV)  Third keeper is always in a battle until the roster is announced (DS)

Weston McKennie – M, Juventus (Italy)

Sure, he’s one of our best players and should be packing his bags but after his off the field silly decisions, he does have some work to do to get back into Berhalter’s good books. (MA)  If he can pull his life together, he can help pull the strings for the US. If he doesn’t come up short, he will play a big role in Qatar. (AV)

Fairly Safe Bet

John Brooks – D, Wolfsburg (Germany)

He’s actually scored in a World Cup, so… (DS)  Lacklustre performances saw him drop from Pack your Bags to Work To Do REAL quick. He’s got the tools to be on the team, but does he have the desire?  (AV)

Tim Ream – D, Fulham (England)

One of our best defenders (MA)  Another defensive option, and there is room for him to make the final cut. He’s a captain of a historied club in England, I hope he gets the chance to go to Qatar.  (AV)

Kellyn Acosta – M, Colorado Rapids (USA)

Not my favorite player, but honestly is the plug in the midfield that makes it all happen. Definitely needs to be on the plane. (AV)  His current ceiling is good enough to be called upon when needed, but not too good to avoid being surpassed (DS)

Sebastian Lletget – M, LA Galaxy (USA)

Not a big MLS fan but this guy is impressive nonetheless (MA)  He’s come up big in big moments, but is it enough to get a spot on the final roster to Qatar? Continued in form displays will see him through. (AV)

Ricardo Pepi – F, FC Dallas (USA)

Amazing debut for the USMNT, now he has to keep up the good work (DS)   He burst on to the international scene and continues to score in MLS. He’s young, hungry, and good. If he keeps it full steam ahead (Pepi train joke), he’ll win the battle and get on the roster. (AV)

Jordan Siebatcheu-Pefok – F, Young Boys (Switzerland)

Definitely one of 3 potential starters up top for the US. This can change in the next 18 months, and it’s in his hands. (AV)  He needs some strong performances in order to stand out and stake his claim (DS)

Tim Weah – F, OSC Lille (France)

His poorly timed injury record keeps him from moving upwards (DS)  You can’t be the son of a legend, playing at a high level, and not get the call up. Stay fit and healthy, and he’ll be on the field. (AV)  I love Weah, but he has to stay healthy (MA)

In a Battle

Josh Sargent – F, Norwich City (England)

Josh keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping… (DS)  Hopefully there’s a lot of maturation for Sargent at Norwich and for the National Team. Your country needs you, Josh. (AV)

Konrad de la Fuente – F, Marseille (England)

Good start to his Marseille career, but needs to translate it into solid USMNT performances (DS)

Matt Miazga – D, Alaves (Spain)

This Alaves loan is his golden chance to earn a USMNT return, but things have to go right (DS)  Chelsea’s journeyman missed this window but he’s a big defender who will benefit the team (MA)

Work to Do

Walker Zimmerman – D, Nashville SC (USA)

He has a very good chance of securing a set on the plane but he has some work to do to prove he’s worthy. (MA)

Nicholas Gioacchini – F, Montpellier (France)

He didn’t get any minutes in the latest WCQ but the fact that he has moved up to Ligue 1 should help his cause (MA)

Julian Green – M, Greuther Furth (Germany)

Needs to be called up in October so that we can get a better look at him (MA)

Yunus Musah – M, Valencia (Spain)

I really like this kid and would love to see him playing for the Nats in October so that he can show what he has to offer (MA)

Christian Roldan – M, Seattle Sounders (USA)

He has the trust of the coaching staff, but is he one of the best the US has to offer? We will find out over the next 18 months. (AV)

Chris Richards – D, Hoffenheim (Germany)

Future USMNT star in central defense… the only question is how soon the future comes (DS)

Other Bubble Battlers

Gianluca Busio, Matthew Hoppe, Sean Johnson, George Bello, Reggie Cannon, Jackson Yueill, Erik Palmer-Brown, Shaq Moore, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Sam Vines, Mark McKenzie.

Note: Yanks Abroad’s Michael Adubato (MA), David Smith (DS) and Andrew Vorce (AV) compiled this feature.


Yanks Abroad

Since 2004, Yanks Abroad has been providing coverage of the U.S. national team program and American players plying their trade around the world. We are committed to bringing you breaking news, interviews, and features that keep you in the loop with what's going with the United States in the soccer world.

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  1. avatar
    Walt says:

    Do far agree with your selections and comments except for, Yedlin, Team and Miazga. Time to drop them and move on. Give the playing time to the younger guys. See how they develop. Also, sorry to say, I think Brooks is close to being in the same position. He needs to step up like he cared.

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