U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter unveiled his 26-man roster on Wednesday for their final pre-World Cup games against Japan and Saudi Arabia which are set to be played on European soil on September 23 and 27.
With two months left to go until the start of the big tournament in Qatar, some players who are still on the bubble will have one last shot to make impressions before the coach makes his final picks ahead of their trip to the Middle East.
Starting with the goalkeeper position, Matt Turner and Sean Johnson have retained their spots while Ethan Horvath makes his return after getting some regular playing time with English Championship side Luton Town.
In the backline, Sergino Dest has been recalled following an injury spell and a move to AC Milan during the summer transfer window. Another notable recall is Sam Vines as he has been one of the catalysts for Royal Antwerp’s undefeated run in the Belgian Pro League. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Chris Richards, Aaron Long, and Walker Zimmerman will be battling to lock down the available center-back spots.
The midfield contains the usual suspects, with Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Tyler Adams leading the way, while Kellyn Acosta, Luca de la Torre, and Malik Tillman will try to make a case for themselves to get a ticket for that plane.
In the attack, Berhalter has elected to bring Giovanni Reyna back into the squad as he has overcome his injury to make a return to playing for Borussia Dortmund. Josh Sargent has also earned a recall following his scoring exploits for Norwich City this season. Ricardo Pepi has also been given another shot to impress following his loan to the Dutch Eredivisie to play for FC Groningen.
Time is tight for the U.S. to prepare for the World Cup and Berhalter has not overlooked this fact as the tournament will be played at an unusual period. However, he is laser-focused on making sure his team will be ready for their group games in November.
“As we approach the World Cup, this is another opportunity for us to take a step forward as a group,” Berhalter said in a statement. “We have a strong roster and can use these games as a measuring stick against World Cup opponents as we continue to gain valuable experience ahead of going to Qatar.”
The U.S. will first face Japan on Sept. 23 at the Dusseldorf Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany. Four days later, they will head to Murcia, Spain, to take on Saudia Arabia at Estadio Nueva Condomina.
Players will report to camp in Cologne, Germany, this weekend.
GOALKEEPERS: Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 18/0)
DEFENDERS: Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 27/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0), Sergino Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 17/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 27/3), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 8/0), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach/GER; 2/0), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 74/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 31/3)
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 52/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 30/1), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 11/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 35/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 19/0), Malik Tillman (Rangers/SCO; 2/0)
FORWARDS: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 22/6), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 47/10), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; 13/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 48/11), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 11/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 51/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 12/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 19/3)