USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson has called in a 24-man roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada and El Salvador, in the first gathering of the first-choice regulars since last year’s World Cup.
While leadership of the team is still in flux until the new US Soccer sporting director and USMNT head coach are named later this year, the competitive calendar continues churning along.
Next up for the Stars & Stripes are the last two group games in the current edition of the CONCACAF Nations League, where they need to finish atop Group D in order to qualify for the final round scheduled for June, in an attempt to add a second straight title in the competition to the trophy cabinet.
While not having the luxury of long-term job security, Hudson still has the luxury of a FIFA window, allowing him to call in the cadre of European-based stars, who make up 20 of the 24 spots on the roster.
Notably, Borussia Dortmund starlet Gio Reyna was included in the roster by Hudson, amidst the recent resurgence of the drama surrounding him ad his family that first engulfed the US Soccer world shortly after the completion of the World Cup.
However, team captain Tyler Adams is missing due to an injury that he picked up in training with his club team Leeds United.
Confirming a long-rumored coup on the dual-national front, Club América forward Alejandro Zendejas has also been called into the camp after opting to represent the US over Mexico in international competition. A likely cap in either of the games will make his decision permanent.
The roster includes 20 players from European leagues, one based in MLS, three in Mexico and one representative, Johnny Cardoso, from Brazil’s Serie A.
According to Hudson’s comments in the press conference shortly following the roster announcement, the exclusion of nearly all MLS players is likely taken with an eye towards the recently announced April friendly against Mexico. As this game will occur outside of an official FIFA window, it is unlikely that any European players will be available for selection, leading US Soccer to count upon the charity of MLS clubs to release players for the midweek game.
The list of players includes only two uncapped players. Auston Trusty, who has been a rock-solid mainstay for Birmingham City in the English second-tier, and Taylor Booth, who has stood out for FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie, will both be looking for their first ever senior USMNT appearances.
Zack Steffen, who started between the posts for much of the qualifying campaign only to be dropped before the trip to Qatar, returns to the roster after performing admirably for Middlesbrough in England.
Westerlo’s Bryan Reynolds is also a returning face, after impressing in recent months in his Belgian team’s defense. Similarly, Daryl Dike, seen by many as one of the best chances for the USMNT to front a true #9, rejoins the team after a series of injuries disrupted his first year with West Brom.
The lone MLS representative is Atlanta’s Miles Robinson, who only returned to the field several weeks ago after missing most of 2022 due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. His inclusion in this roster will come at the cost of an appearance in April against Mexico, according to Hudson, as US Soccer and Atalanta United look to manage his workload.
Two games are on the docket for the upcoming window. First, the team will travel face Grenada in the Kirani James Athletic Stadium in St. George’s, followed by a home match against El Salvador in Orlando’s Exploria Stadium.
Currently, the USMNT are in second place in the three-team Group D, albeit with one game less played than their two opponents this window. With a vastly superior goal differential and only one-point deficit compared to first-place El Salvador, Hudson and his squad are almost guaranteed of a first-place finish, with only the most unlikely of disasters enough to allow the Salvadorians to win the group.
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough/ENG; 29/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 24/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 23/2), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 10/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 50/1), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo/BEL; 2/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham; 33/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 20/3), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 3/0), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City/ENG; 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 28/6), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; 4/0), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 12/0), Weston McKennie (Leeds United/ENG; 41/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 23/0), Alan Soñora (Juárez/MEX; 2/0)
FORWARDS (7): Taylor Booth (Utrecht/NED; 0/0), Daryl Dike (West Bromwich Albion/ENG; 8/3), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 12/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 56/22), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 16/4), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 29/4), Alex Zendejas (Club América/MEX; 1/0)