23 Tickets to Qatar

10 minutes, 47 seconds Read

With the penultimate trio of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers now done and dusted, three games where Canada made Gregg Berhalter’s boys look less than ordinary as well as a couple of USA wins on either side of the Tragedy at Tim Horton’s, it was time for the YA staff to get to work.

Preferring to have selective memory, the five of us Yanks Abroad soccer fanatics were impressed with the 3-0 and 1-0 wins over Honduras and El Salvador and were busy that Sunday afternoon when the USMNT went to Canada.

To be honest, making a few of the Hondurans suffer from hypothermia in our frozen north and praying for colder weather against El Salvador in Columbus was hitting way below the belt. 

This time around we had some guys jump up a group or two and one son of a Captain America who was packing his bags wondering if he’ll actually need to buy a couple of new suitcases. 

So with that said, have a look at who our expert YA roster analysts feel should be getting one of those coveted 23 plane tickets to Qatar later this year.

For comparisons sake, you can see our last selections following a dos a ceros over our Mexican friends and then a pathetic draw against the not so mighty Jamaica.    

Note: Michael Adubato (MA), David Smith (DS), Andrew Vorce (AV), Kenya Brown (KB) and Dan Whelton (DW) compiled this feature.

Pack Your Bags, Boys

Kellyn Acosta – M, Colorado Rapids (USA)

If Gregg is the coach, Kellyn is on the plane. If Kellyn doesn’t make the roster, it’s because Gregg is no longer the coach. (AV) This MLS lifer had a wonderful game against Honduras that should have convinced any remaining doubters. (DS) Some may not like to hear this, but he’s going to Qatar. He probably sealed after what he did in the Honduras game. (KB)

Zack Steffen – GK, Manchester City (England)

Time is against him if he wants to be the starter and not the backup. (KB) Hoping the injury is just temporary. (MA) It seems if he’s fit, he’s selected to start. (AV)

Matt Turner – GK, NE Revolution (USA)

Turner continues to stand out when standing in, but will his move to Arsenal hurt or help him? (AV) He’s a Gooner! (MA) He didn’t have a perfect window by his standards but survived the St. Paul icebox like a hero…even if he did have the whole Cornholio look going on. (DS)

Weston McKennie – M, Juventus (Italy)

McKennie is casting magic spells to make him indispensable to this team, arguably the best player in the squad right now. (AV) What a turnaround from a few months ago. Hopefully, he can maintain this form going into Qatar. (KB) Wes is the Texan Gattuso, tough as nails, has a bite like a shark, is the heart & soul of the team. (DS)

McKennie on the ball and on the plane.

Tyler Adams – M, RB Leipzig (Germany)

He won’t just be on the final roster…he’ll be in the starting 11 for every game. (DW) Obviously Red Bull does give him wings! (MA) Quickly becoming a staple in the midfield next to McKennie. He’s on the plane because he’s a starter. (AV) The captain this team needs to play behind McKennie and Musah. (KB) Still the captain, still an automatic starter when healthy. (AV)

Christian Pulisic – F, Chelsea (England)

Dropped due to form in game 3 this window, draws a foul with his first touch and scores with his second touch (nearly). He’s on the plane. (AV) Yes, he’s not been himself lately, but his goal against Honduras showed that he is still an impact player who can hurt the opposition anytime he touches the ball (DS) Still a definite pick for the team, but will it be an inform Pulisic that heads to the World Cup? (KB)

Pulisic: “I’ back!”

Tim Weah – F, OSC Lille (France)

He was so good in the two games he played that we missed him in the one he didn’t. Our best attacker should get his vaccination card ready for travel! (DW) I’d threaten to retire if I was forced to play in single digit weather too, man! (AV)

Antonee Robinson – D, Fulham (England)

Jedi has everything you want in this USMNT team, he’s on the plane. (AV) Robinson is a star in the making, he just has to be careful that his inevitable summer move away from Fulham is to a good situation. (DS)

Sergino Dest – D, Barcelona (Spain)

This is your starting right back, I don’t care what anyone else says. (AV) One of our top guys so no way he stays home. (MA) Just wonder if he’ll be game fit for Qatar as he’ll have a big challenge at Barca. (KB)

Nearly a Lock

Walker Zimmerman – D, Nashville SC (USA)

Was never a fan but the guy has shown he’s quality. I’m a fan now! (MA) Moved Zimmerman all of the way up to In a Battle, because he surely is in a battle to be on the field as a starter, which means he’s also in a battle to be on the plane. If he continues to shine at CB, he’ll be there. It’s about chemistry and clean sheets. They kept a clean sheet against Mexico. Now there’s consistency to be proven. (AV) He’s getting close to locking down one of the center-back spots. (KB)

Zimmerman defending against Honduras

Yunus Musah – M, Valencia (Spain)

Seems to be in the conversation for the starter role, and in the depth position for USMNT he has a battle on his hands. (AV) One of the most purely skilled USMNT players, he just has to be more assertive from start to finish and avoid becoming anonymous for long stretches. (DS) He’s earned it. MMA is going to be the most dangerous midfield for years to come. (KB) Musah gave less than we have grown to expect from him during this window, but still deserves a spot in the final 23…for now. (DW)

Brenden Aaronson – F, Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)

Work rate, skill, and an engine that just won’t stop make him valuable on the wing or in midfield. (DW) Whether on the left or right side of the attack, he can be effective. (KB) I think he’s closer to On the Plane than work to do, but there’s a ton of options and he has to keep producing in order to make the squad. (AV) Aaronson is the most durable workhorse on the team, always ready to give his energy to the cause. (DS)

Miles Robinson – D, Atlanta United (USA)

We’ll forgive him for doing poorly on the first Canada goal, Robinson is still quality. (DS) Lots of potential. Would love to see him in Europe. (MA)– A rough outing against Canada isn’t enough to knock him out. Miles should get ready to fly. (DW)

Fairly Safe Bet

Gio Reyna – F, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Didn’t feature, but if he’s fit he’s on the plane. (AV) His time to get back up to speed with the USMNT is slowly fading. He needs to return now, and return strongly. (DS) November is a long way away. (MA)

DeAndre Yedlin – D, Inter Miami (USA)

Back from Europe to MLS, he’s still one of your depth players. (AV) A steady and reliable backup, but could still get surpassed by the young up & comers before November. (DS) He does enough to warrant a place and now he has become one of Gregg’s beloved MLSers. (MA)

Chris Richards – D, Hoffenheim (Germany)

The Richards-Zimmerman partnership is the best we’ve got in central defense right now, but Zimm’s spot is safer from the competition. (DS) I can see him teaming up with Zimmerman, but he needs more polishing if he’s going to hold down the other open center-back spot. (KB) Finally getting some minutes before his foot injury, he showed he should be in the conversation at center back. (DW)

Josh Sargent – F, Norwich City (England)

Finally broke his duck in the Prem, but GB will take in form players over anything else, regardless of where they play. (AV) He’s a Premier League player and has started scoring; tell me why he wasn’t called up Gregg. (MA) If he keeps his recent momentum at Norwich going, he’ll be back in the March window and looking forward to a trip to Qatar. (DS) No one locked down the striker spot this window, but his time is running out to move up the list. More strong club performances at Norwich City could bring him right to the top. (DW)

Ricardo Pepi – F, FC Augsburg (Germany)

He is so young and has just moved to Germany. I think he’ll come good and make the plane. (MA) It comes and goes, he’s got the physical characteristics to be a striker for the USMNT, but he needs to focus and get back to goal scoring form. (AV) He’s in a tough spot, out of form, and on a team that will be hard to find success with. Still, his talent is undeniable. (DS) Berhalter may see a lot in him, but is the World Cup too much for him at this young age? (KB)

Luca de la Torre – M, Heracles (Netherlands)

He said he belongs and showed it on the field. LDT is challenging for a spot in the crowded midfield pool. (DW) The jury is still out on Luca. (MA) Showed he belonged on the field, and seemed confident enough to stay there. There’s a lot of talent, can he beat out GB favorites to get on the plane? (AV)

In a Battle

John Brooks – D, Wolfsburg (Germany)

Once indispensable, unless his form at club and country improves, he won’t be going back to the world cup. (DW) This guy wouldn’t be a good backup? Really? (MA) Really don’t know whether Berhalter will give him any more chances. (KB) Brooks is definitely on the outside looking in. (AV)

Reggie Cannon – D, Boavista (Portugal)

The Boavista man was good enough against Honduras, but needs a tougher test to see if he’s got what it takes to play against the best. (DW)

Jordan Pefok – F, Young Boys (Switzerland)

Keep banging in goals in Switzerland and he may be able to do the same for the US in Qatar. (DW) I remember him as a goal machine in France. He still has it and in Qatar we’re going to need him. (MA) It’s baffling why Berhalter would leave his most in-form striker out of the February qualifiers. He’ll prove it was a stupid decision. (KB)

Sean Johnson – GK, NYC FC (USA)

The #3 keeper slot is still wide open, so this could easily be Horvath or Slonina. (DS) Currently the third choice GK in this cycle, so he has to be in the battle. He’s playing more than other GKs. (AV)

Sebastian Lletget – M, LA Galaxy (USA)

Gregg just can’t help himself. (DS) 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)

Work to Do

Ethan Horvath – GK, Nottingham Forest (England)

Summer hero or not, he needs to get on the field with his club if he wants to get on the plane with our boys. (DW) In a battle for third spot. Not playing in the Championship can’t be better than being a starter in MLS, right? (AV) Come November (Thanksgiving) everyone will be saying, stick a fork in Ethan; he’s done. (MA)

Cameron Carter-Vickers – D, Celtic (Scotland)

The best defender in Scotland. Isn’t that better than a mediocre one in the MLS? (MA) Without a call up yet in qualifiers, his dominance in Scotland may not be enough to earn him a spot with the national team. (DW)

Mark McKenzie – D, Genk (Belgium)

Currently the fourth center back on the squad, but has a lot of competition coming up behind him. (DS) He has settled in with Genk and is only getting better week by week. (MA) Dropped below Chris Richards on the depth chart this window, and will need to show why he belongs in order to earn a spot. (DW)

Gianluca Busio – M, Venezia FC (Italy)

The Venezia standout got screwed by an untimely Covid result, but his stock is still as high as it was after the November window. (DS) Is there any room for him? (MA)

Other Bubble Battlers

Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Jesús Ferreira, Joe Scally, Nicholas Gioacchini, Julian Green, Matthew Hoppe, Shaq Moore, Sam Vines, Konrad de la Fuente, Christian Roldan, Jordan Morris, Bryan Reynolds


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
    Drew says:

    “He’s a Premier League player and has started scoring; tell me why he wasn’t called up Gregg. (MA)” Huh? Sargent didn’t “start scoring” until after the lineup was picked and announced (to the extent that scoring in one game is a needle mover, which for this forward group, it may be unless your name is Pefok). I find it hard to believe anyone covering soccer in America didn’t know this.

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