USMNT: Hold My Beer

67YAZ

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Lalas with a ballsy 4-1-1--4 formation with his all-time USMNT line up.

I don’t mean to pile on Lalas’ picks, but they do highlight for me how the the current US talent pool is so much stronger than any time in history. While not as accomplished yet, guys like Dest, McKennie, Adams, Jedi, and Gio are more talented than any of their counterparts here.

What a time to be alive.

 
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InstaFace

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While that's an absurd work of nostalgia-and-performance-art from him (I mean, Donovan at CAM? Meola?!), we all might as well post our own all-time lineups. 1990-present, I suppose, though that's really just an invitation for TB to drop some names from 1950 on us. And let's suppose we get them at their international best - Copa America Centenario John Brooks, etc. I'll go with:

Pulisic - McBride - Donovan
Dempsey - C. Reyna - McKennie
Beasley - Bocanegra - Brooks - Cherundolo
Howard

Notes:
- Onyewu circa 2009 was really hard to leave off, but you can't have both CBs be battleships. Stoke Geoff Cameron was the hard drop for me for "speed / reaction time / sixth-sense CB" in the pairing.
- As great as Peak Michael Bradley was, you had to run a double pivot with him because he wasn't the best at recoveries
- If you were actually managing this team, Ajax-era John O'Brien would maybe push one of our AM / Winger swingmen to the bench. I just couldn't leave one of Donovan, Dempsey or Pulisic off the lineup. O'Brien mainly played LB for Ajax though, so there's an argument to drop DMB for him, too.
- Made Dempsey the one to drop to MF, because Donovan / Pulisic on the wings is a speed play, meant to seed the counter, to get us to the end line and enable pullbacks and late arrivals.
 

67YAZ

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The September camp roster is coming down soon and I'm eyeing two position groups.

Keeper - Turner and Horvath seem like locks. But who's the 3rd keeper? Steffen is injured, but may be back this week. If not, Sean Johnson should be up - heck, I might be tempted to take Johnson over Steffen anyway given the latter's sloppiness with the ball. But of course, I'm here to stump for Gaga. He's been a wall in back for months now and is the post-Qatar future for the USMNT. Maybe there's too much uncertainty for the #1 role to give the 3rd slot to a young'un, but Slonina is making himself part of the conversation.

Striker - what a topsy-turvy world. Just saw that Pepi hasn't scored for club or country in 11 months! He contributed to a goal in his first run-out this weekend and the Eredivise is a well-known cure for attackers of all stripes. I'd probably go with a larger group of 4 for this camp to get eyes on the in-form players - Ferreira, Pefok, Sargent, & Haji. And then there's Vasquez, who has been sensational for Cincy. If I'm pulling for Gaga, I have to be in for Vasquez, too.

In some ways, I think the 6 weeks after camp will decide what this group looks like more than anything that happens in camp. Can the in-form guys keep it up? Can Pepi get on a roll? WIll the MLS guys be up for a tournament after a short break (Dallas & Cincy are both in playoff position, we'll see how far they can go)?
 

Titans Bastard

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Steffen, Robinson (pick either), and Weah are injured.

The biggest "snub" is Pefok, who I think Berhalter just doesn't rate that much. He's been hot for Union Berlin, but he's left out here. I assume the rationale is that Pefok's style of play is fairly one-dimensional and doesn't fit?

Open tryouts for Zimmerman's partner continue. I hope Richards can seize the job because he has the best upside of the bunch.

Overall there's just not many new or new-ish guys. Berhalter seems to like Tillman, who is listed as a midfielder. Plenty of room for another 8, if that's how Gregg plans to use him.

Always good to see Gio's name on the list again.
 

rguilmar

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Happy to see Scally there as I think he’s earned at least another look. Ditto for Vines.

I’m not reading too much into the omission of Pefok. He had a slight knock recently. He’s a poor system fit but I think he does have a role on this team- smash glass in case of goal emergency. I’m not sure a player with his skill set needs any more time integrating into the squad. He will only play when the US is just dumping balls into the box hunting a late goal. If he’s still productive in November he still can the call to Qatar. The lack of a Vazquez call up could mean that Gregg only wants pure system fits though at striker.

I’m interested in what I imagine is a Pepi versus Sargent battle for the backup striker role. Assuming Ferreira is the starter, which is likely the case, then one of these two will be on the plane to Qatar to provide a like-for-line sub option. Pefok can still be that third guy or maybe GGG takes both of these two instead. My preference is for Pefok because he brings something different.

I’m not seeing it with Long but at this point we know he is in the top 4 CBs for Gregg. I just hope he’s there for leadership stuff and doesn’t see the field because what I’ve seen of him lately isn’t very good.
 

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MDLzera
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Biggest bonkers for me is Aaron Long over Tim Ream. Say what you will about Diego Lainez roasting him that one time last June, Ream is playing in a high line every week against the Premier League and, to most reports, doing well at it. And likewise Aaron Long apparently looks awful since coming back from his injury.

I can live with Brooks - there's something going on there that we don't know, and that's fine. I can live with Pefok - I can see why that's a style mismatch. The strikers, we're picking out of a hat anyway. But Tim "future coach material" Ream might actually be someone you want on the field against England or Wales or Iran, and I think we can all be pretty assured that Aaron Long isn't. Or, I mean, bring both! 5 CBs in camp is not the end of the world.

Berhalter:
View: https://twitter.com/svertelney/status/1570087254143401984?s=20&t=pq3w58SLCgDElEN2Y9Udig

Ream absolutely bossed a match against Arsenal Football Club, as the center CB / sweeper, including several last-ditch chase-downs, but he's a liability on a high line? YGBKM.
 
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candylandriots

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Yeah I was more shocked not to see Ream than Pefok, and I am wearing Rot-Weiß glasses. I still feel like he will have to force his way in to Qatar, but I see him as a better choice than several of the forwards who were picked. I mean compare his Bundesliga output to Pepi’s.
 

Pesky Pole

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I was hoping for a mystery candidate in the roster just for fun and intrigue (Balogun was too much to ask for). I also like Ream (as those who follow the weekly game threads know). I get that he'll be 35 by the World Cup but Aaron Long is 29 so it's not like he's got some future upside that Ream does not. Having a wily vet who has played against more than half the English team is certainly valuable.
 

wonderland

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I think he knows what he has in Ream and getting the rest is probably beneficial for Ream. Long had a a lot of success early and it’s worth seeing if he’s closer to full speed or not.
 

Yo La Tengo

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Initial reaction... I like the blue uniforms while the white look is a bit boring.

EDIT: The color/font/size of the numbers will have a big impact on the home jersey. And both shirts would look so much better if the crest was over the heart instead of centered.
 
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Jimy Hendrix

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Has a centered crest ever looked good on a uniform? I feel like I've never liked it any time I've seen it.
 

rguilmar

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El Tri finally beat the US, albeit in just having nicer WC22 kits.

Going back to the roster, I’m thinking it’s pretty much the World Cup roster now except:

Weah for Morris
Jedi for Vines (unless Vines lights it up and Scally doesn’t)
Probably Steffen for Johnson
Perhaps Pefok for Sargent/Pepi
Hopefully not Roldan for Tillman

If we assume Ferreira and Turner are the likely starters then I really only see the CB partner with Zim as the only starting spot up for grabs. For me, it’s Richards but Gregg loves himself some Long.

Did anyone else catch the Scuffed interview with Jimmy Conrad? The shade he threw at Michael Bradley was wild to me.
 

hawaiirsn

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Pretty much the World Cup roster now except:

Weah for Morris
Jedi for Vines (unless Vines lights it up and Scally doesn’t)
Probably Steffen for Johnson
Perhaps Pefok for Sargent/Pepi
Hopefully not Roldan for Tillman

If we assume Ferreira and Turner are the likely starters then I really only see the CB partner with Zim as the only starting spot up for grabs. For me, it’s Richards but Gregg loves himself some Long.
I tend to agree with everything here- can’t see much use to Morris once Weah is back. Also really hoping Richards starts, would love Ream for Long on roster but I guess that ship has sailed.

Is there a chance that Sargent starts over Jesus? In a lot of ways this would be best case scenario because it means his run of form has continued. I think Pepi making final cut over Pefok also is best case in the case that it means Pepi shows form and starts producing in this camp/friendlies/Bundesliga.

Did anyone else catch the Scuffed interview with Jimmy Conrad? The shade he threw at Michael Bradley was wild to me.
This was incredible. Not that he felt that way, but also that he was so willing to share it openly.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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Going back to the roster, I’m thinking it’s pretty much the World Cup roster now except:

Weah for Morris
Jedi for Vines (unless Vines lights it up and Scally doesn’t)
Probably Steffen for Johnson
Perhaps Pefok for Sargent/Pepi
Hopefully not Roldan for Tillman

If we assume Ferreira and Turner are the likely starters then I really only see the CB partner with Zim as the only starting spot up for grabs. For me, it’s Richards but Gregg loves himself some Long.

Did anyone else catch the Scuffed interview with Jimmy Conrad? The shade he threw at Michael Bradley was wild to me.
You broke my heart, Fredo. You broke my heart.

55530

(whether Fredo is rguilmar or Gregg Berhalter is left as a philosophical question)

This was incredible. Not that he felt that way, but also that he was so willing to share it openly.
A lot of people on the Scuffed Discord are saying that this was the best, most compelling interview Belz has ever done, and he's done a LOT.

Speaking of which, if anyone likes following the USMNT to the point of listening to a podcast, I can't recommend enough the value of paying $2 / month on Patreon to back Scuffed and thereby getting access to the Discord. That tiny little financial hurdle filters out all the riffraff / trolls, and the resulting conversation between a couple hundred members is SoSH-quality, one of the very few times I've ever been able to say that about another online community. There are some totally normal people there, and a few who make TB look like a dillettante - you can pretty much choose your preferred Sicko Level and get that there. I'll always come here to talk about it with y'all, but if you really want to gear up on the team and players before the World Cup, supporting Scuffed and reading that Discord that is absolutely the best couple dollars I spend every month.
 
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Jimy Hendrix

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Pomykal or Eryk for me.
I'd imagine Williamson of those two if any replacements are named. Almost all the system familiarity concerns that have kept Vasquez off the roster apply to Pomykal as well, although he did at least have some camps and caps a few years ago.

Paxton is just a victim of timing for this cycle I think, most of the time when he would have been integrated he spent hurt or not playing that well while recovering from that injury.

Playing very well for a former USMNT assistant in a very USMNT adjacent system bodes well for his chances post WC though, I bet.
 

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MDLzera
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As for a midfield replacement, the "invest in the future" choice would be Alex Mendez, who is well into his second season as a regular starter in Portugal at age 22, plays basically the same role as McKennie does for his club, and was a rockstar for that 2018-2019 U20 team (started 4 of 5 games).

Pomykal might be more ready right now as an emergency Qatar fill-in, given greater professional experience overall. But he has roughly about the same experience with the current A-team as Mendez does - not much - and Mendez has a fan club among the tape-watchers.

I think both of them are likelier than getting Eryk Williamson called in, but he's the other name I could see. I'd still expect Luca de la Torre to get most of the Musah-replacement minutes and test his compatibility with Wes.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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This does make the random Berhalter shoutout for him make more sense.

From what I am aware, he’s been playing as an 8 for his team and has consistently been making team of the week lists in Brazil, so he has broken through this season to some extent. What that looks like as a player, I do not know.

There are some of his club matches as replays on Paramount+, so could sneak a peek there if you are already subscribed for Champion’s League and want to slack off at work.
 

cromulence

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Going back to the Conrad interview - that was not shade, that was just him straight up taking shots at Michael (and Bob) Bradley. And I enjoyed it. He's a fun guy to listen to.
 

rguilmar

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You broke my heart, Fredo. You broke my heart.

View attachment 55530

(whether Fredo is rguilmar or Gregg Berhalter is left as a philosophical question)
Sorry dude. Just calling it how I think GGG sees it...

A lot of people on the Scuffed Discord are saying that this was the best, most compelling interview Belz has ever done, and he's done a LOT.

Speaking of which, if anyone likes following the USMNT to the point of listening to a podcast, I can't recommend enough the value of paying $2 / month on Patreon to back Scuffed and thereby getting access to the Discord. That tiny little financial hurdle filters out all the riffraff / trolls, and the resulting conversation between a couple hundred members is SoSH-quality, one of the very few times I've ever been able to say that about another online community. There are some totally normal people there, and a few who make TB look like a dillettante - you can pretty much choose your preferred Sicko Level and get that there. I'll always come here to talk about it with y'all, but if you really want to gear up on the team and players before the World Cup, supporting Scuffed and reading that Discord that is absolutely the best couple dollars I spend every month.
Fully agreed. I know a few people here subscribe to their Patreon and honestly even just the Monday Reviews are well worth it. Belz does a lot of great interviews, but I wasn't really looking forward to this one as I find Jimmy Conrad a bit much at times (I do listen to his podcast with Heath Pearce and Charlie Davies because the former player perspective is fascinating to me) but the last 30 minutes or so were very compelling. I don't want to get into the specifics of the interview because it is paid content, but some of the highlights include the verbal beatdown of Michael Bradley -I literally said "Oh shit" out loud at work after some of the comments- and Conrad's explanation of his response to being nutmegged by a teenager at an event in Minneapolis which dove shockingly far into Jimmy's upbringing.

As for a midfield replacement, the "invest in the future" choice would be Alex Mendez, who is well into his second season as a regular starter in Portugal at age 22, plays basically the same role as McKennie does for his club, and was a rockstar for that 2018-2019 U20 team (started 4 of 5 games).
To bring it full circle, a couple of the Scuffed guys have been on the Alex Mendez hype train for years now.

This does make the random Berhalter shoutout for him make more sense.

From what I am aware, he’s been playing as an 8 for his team and has consistently been making team of the week lists in Brazil, so he has broken through this season to some extent. What that looks like as a player, I do not know.

There are some of his club matches as replays on Paramount+, so could sneak a peek there if you are already subscribed for Champion’s League and want to slack off at work.
He had a few goal contributions of late, including a two goal game. He's playing a ton of minutes recently for the second place team in Brazil and his increase in minutes coincides nicely with a string of good games for Internacional. I really only watch the Brazilian and Argentinian leagues over the summer and don't catch much of them once Europe kicks off, so I haven't seen him play of late.
 

Titans Bastard

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Injury changes...

Richards and CCV are out, EPB and McKenzie are in.


I think just about everyone wants to see Richards establish himself as The Guy next to Zimmerman, but stuff always seems to get in the way.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I don't think there's anything personal with Ream & Berhalter.
Ream I think it's purely the face-value "we want to play a high line with a press and don't believe in him for that situation". Brooks, it's that and also something else.

I don't love how all of this stuff seems to be rolling a red carpet out for Aaron Long to be starting in the World Cup. I'm not dead set against it (his profile at his best matches pretty well with what Miles Robinson was doing pre-injury), but he hasn't been at his best recently and if he is gonna get this kind of role I want him to really need to fight for it and show out, rather than defaulting into it by injuries.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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I don't think there's anything personal with Ream & Berhalter.
Personal? Probably not. Probably not for Brooks either. But those are the two people for whom (from what I can tell) the evaluation of the USMNT community and the evaluation of Gregg Berhalter diverge most spectacularly, on the question of how and where they can help the team. To the point where reasonable people can wonder if "bad tactical fit" is code for his actual reasoning that he just doesn't want to share.

I'll shed no particular tears for Brooks, since he isn't playing for Benfica right now. But Ream seems like a no-brainer to me, especially with now 2 CB withdrawals from the camp, and everyone seeing him looking good in the Premier League - frankly, better than he looked there 2 years ago. OK, he's not your preferred partner to Zimmerman in the starting lineup, fine. But he's behind EPB (who's playing decently for Troyes in Ligue 1 but not exactly setting the world on fire), and also McKenzie (who's barely playing for Genk in Belgium, and frankly has never looked good there)? He can't even get a look as a backup?

I was very anti-Ream a few years ago, and a healthy Richards is definitely my preferred starter, but Ream has put in the work and is in-form in the best league in the world (and for the #6 team there, it must be said - ahead of Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle, etc - you can't say they're "an EPL team in name only" right now). Not even giving him a look in this camp feels more like spite / obstinacy than a "there are too many guys ahead of him".
 

Jimy Hendrix

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also McKenzie (who's barely playing for Genk in Belgium, and frankly has never looked good there)
Not that I disagree too much about Ream (I feel like he's earned a look), but this is happily not current info for McKenzie, who has started the last 6 Genk matches and is getting good reviews out there for it. He's absolutely in-form right now.
 

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MDLzera
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thanks, yes I see he's getting regular time now - had been looking at the game log for last year, when he did not - but haven't watched any of his comps lately. If you have, I'll take your word for it that he looks good. He had always kinda profiled as a poor man's Tim Ream to me - good passing vision and execution, athleticism and recovery speed, not much of a threat in the air - so to see him behind Ream is truly strange to me.
 

Titans Bastard

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I'm just not too bothered by the decisions at CB. Ream is playing well at Fulham, but I think the rationale around playing a high line satisfactorily explains the situation. I also think that Ream is in the Jordan Pefok "we don't need to see him in this camp" bucket in Berhalter's mind. He basically wants other guys who he sees as better stylistic fits to take the roster spots, but they are available to be called on if the Pepi/EPB/McKenzie types fall on their face and look bad.

At the end of the day, if you want the US to have a clear tactical identity, that often requires a system, and if you want the system to perform at its best that sometimes means dropping better players for slightly inferior guys who are a better fit. I'm certainly open to the idea that Berhalter is making mistakes here, but I can't muster that much outrage about it right now.

With Brooks, I'm with @Jimy Hendrix in that I think there's both a "fit" issue and a personality clash. Brooks has gotten into a lot of dustups with managers. I have, on multiple occasions, heard insinuations that Brooks' personality is such that you either start him or you leave him home.
 

Vinho Tinto

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I'll shed no particular tears for Brooks, since he isn't playing for Benfica right now.
Should also note Benfica has three CBs who are injured (Lucas Verissimo, Joao Vitor and Morato). Brooks entered yesterday's game as a late sub, but if he doesn't get minutes soon he will buried beneath the guys ahead of him.
 
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