The preliminary 60-man rosters for the upcoming Nations League Finals in Las Vegas were released by CONCACAF on Friday, giving a glimpse into some of the long-shots who might have some hope of donning the red, white and blue this summer.
The four Nations League finalists – the United States, Mexico, Panama and Canada – were required to name a pool of 60 players, which will eventually be whittled down to the final 23-man rosters that will travel to Vegas in mid-June to compete for the second title in the competition.
Due to the large size of this initial pool of players, the roster named by US Soccer has no surprise omissions, however has several inclusions that will raise some eyebrows, in particular considering the CONCACAF Gold Cup starting several days after the final.
The only major names missing from the list are those players who were expected to miss the summer due to injuries, including Celtic star Cameron Carter-Vickers, Fulham captain Tim Ream and PFA Scotland young player of the year Malik Tillman.
One notable, although expected inclusion is recent USMNT convert Folarin Balogun, who is a shoo-in for the final roster and can be expected to make his debut against Mexico in the June 15 semifinal.
Also noteworthy is the inclusion of team captain Tyler Adams, who has been sorely missed from the Leeds United lineup since March due to a hamstring injury.
While this preliminary roster is only for the two upcoming Nations League games, it could also give some insights into the possible selections for the Gold Cup, which will kick off on June 24 when the Americans take the field against Jamaica in Chicago.
The team faced a similar summer schedule in 2021 under previous head coach Gregg Berhalter, who opted to rely on first-team regulars for the Nations League Finals, while running with a more experimental, reserve squad for the subsequent Gold Cup. It remains to be seen whether interim coach Anthony Hudson will take a similar approach, although some rotation of key players is a given.
Several names, even if only preliminary and with no guarantee of making the final 23 for either tournament, will raise some eyebrows, especially if Hudson opts for a similar selection strategy as his predecessor this time around.
Long-forgotten central defender John Brooks could benefit from the absence of Ream and Carter-Vickers, as his generally strong showing in 2023 with Bundesliga club Hoffenheim has been enough to warrant his inclusion. The 30 year-old had the last of his 45 USMNT caps in a World Cup qualifier against Canada back in September, 2021.
Los Angeles Galaxy youngster Jalen Neal, who was blocked from participating in the ongoing U-20 World Cup, could also graduate to the senior team, should he be called upon to help solidify the depleted central defense.
The Venezia FC duo of Tanner Tessmann and Gianluca Busio were also both named in the collection of midfielders, likely spurred on by the recent uptick in their team’s form in Serie B. The team has remarkably qualified for the post-season promotion playoff after spending most of the season fighting against relegation. Tessmann has broken out in the last few months from behind Busio’s shadow, and could be a logical pick with an eye towards the 2024 Summer Olympics for which he is still eligible.
While the aforementioned Malik Tillman will miss out due to his injury, his older brother Timothy Tillman, who is excelling at LAFC after his recent transfer from hometown club Greuther Fürth, was also included after recently making his one-time switch from Germany to the USA.
Finally, a pair of once-heralded USMNT prospects who have seen their first-team club careers in Europe derailed for differing reasons, Richard Ledezma and Matthew Hoppe, were also named, although are certainly long-shots for either tournament.
Ledezma has become a regular starter for MLS team NYCFC during his loan from PSV, while Hoppe’s playing time with Scottish Premiership club Hibernian has fallen off a cliff after an initial promising start to his half-season loan.
Curiously, Columbus Crew midfielder Aidan Morris was named by both the United States and Canada, setting up a likely decision by the player, twice capped by the Americans in friendlies, whether he will make the switch to the northern neighbors.
According to CONCACAF, the final 23-man rosters must be confirmed one week before the semifinals on June 15, although an earlier announcement by US Soccer is a likely scenario.
USMNT PRELIMINARY NATIONS LEAGUE FINALS ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (5): Drake Callender, Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Zack Steffen, Matt Turner
DEFENDERS (21): John Brooks, Reggie Cannon, Sergino Dest, Marlon Fossey, Julian Gressel, DeJuan Jones, Aaron Long, Mark McKenzie, Matt Miazga, Shaq Moore, Jalen Neal, Erik Palmer-Brown, Bryan Reynolds, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson, Joe Scally, John Tolkin, Auston Trusty, DeAndre Yedlin, Walker Zimmerman
MIDFIELDERS (18): Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Gianluca Busio, Johnny Cardoso, Luca De La Torre, Richie Ledezma, Weston McKennie, Djordje Mihailovic, Aidan Morris, Yunus Musah, Paxton Pomykal, Cristian Roldan, James Sands, Alan Sonora, Tanner Tessmann, Timothy Tillman, Jackson Yueill
FORWARDS (16): Paul Arriola, Folarin Balogun, Taylor Booth, Tyler Boyd, Jesus Ferreira, Matthew Hoppe, Jordan Morris, Ricardo Pepi, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok, Brandon Vazquez, Tim Weah, Haji Wright, Alex Zendejas.