United States men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter announced his 27-man roster on Thursday for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, with some familiar faces and returnees among the squad.
Those making their return are the likes of Giovanni Reyna, Jordan Pefok, Aaron Long, and Ethan Horvath.
Reyna, 19, makes his return following a long injury spell that started last after World Cup qualifiers. Having made his return to play for Borussia Dortmund last month, he went down again with a less serious injury before making his return again in their previous two Bundesliga games.
Pefok, 25, deservedly made his way back into the squad after going on a goal-scoring tear for Swiss Super League side Young Boys. The U.S. most in-form striker has racked 20 goals in all competitions this season and is currently the league’s top goalscorer with 17.
Nottingham Forest goalkeeper, Horvath, 26, makes his return following some fine displays between the posts for the English Championship side in the place of regular starter Brice Samba. His form comes at a good time as Matt Turner is unavailable due to injury and Zack Steffen continues to starve for playing time at Manchester City.
In defense, there is some concern at the right-back position as Sergino Dest looks like he will be ruled out of the qualifiers after leaving with an injury in Barcelona’s Europa League contest with Galatassary on Thursday night. Either Reggie Cannon or DeAndre Yedlin could replace, while another player is brought in to fill the open roster spot.
The biggest concern on the squad is who could fill the midfield spot left open by Weston McKennie. Berhalter could either slot Kellyn Acosta or Luca de la Torre in that spot to link up with Yunus Musah and Tyler Adams.
In the attack, it’s the usual suspects, but fans will be wondering who starts in the center forward position. Berhalter has relied heavily on Ricardo Pepi, but the 19-year-old has not scored a goal since October and found himself benched at Augsburg. Could this be the chance for Pefok to lock down his spot in the team?
The U.S. will get their final World Cup qualifiers underway on March 24 against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium, followed by a return home to face Panama at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on March 27. They will wrap up qualifying on March 30 away to Costa Rica.
The team will be looking to secure four points from these games in order to secure automatic qualification for the tournament in Qatar.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 26/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 24/1), Sergino Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 17/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 21/3), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes/FRA; 2/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 22/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 17/3), James Sands (Rangers/SCO; 7/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 71/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 25/3)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 48/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 24/1), Gianluca Busio (Venezia/ITA; 8/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 5/0), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 13/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 31/0)
FORWARDS (9): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 18/5), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 43/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 7/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 43/10), Jordan Pefok (Young Boys/SUI; 8/1), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg/GER; 9/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 45/18), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund; 9/4), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 20/2)