USMNT: Hold My Beer

InstaFace

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I guess James Sands at the 6 is the only real competition for Acosta, which is why I've got Adams' backup ranked 16th here. Sands was last seen being largely unable to dispossess or trouble Napoli in any way for 90 minutes at the double pivot - but then again, he was at least on the field against Napoli.

But yeah who is even taking CM minutes right now after the lock starters?
 

Jimy Hendrix

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4-2-3-1 as the next option if any of MMA can't go seems to make more sense given where in our pool there's depth and where it's thin, get four of Pulisic, Reyna, Weah and Aaronson on the pitch rather than just two of them, but I think Berhalter would rather die on his 4-3-3 shield, with Aaronson/Reyna or maybe Acosta as one of those 8s.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I low-key think McKennie and Musah are 1A/1B on the scale or irreplaceability. McKennie is the lifeblood of the team but without Yunus I think we would be destined to watch them resort to hoofball or endless FB runs and wayward crosses when they can't move it through the midfield with actual calm possession

I'll caveat the above by saying I don't have a strong sense of how Gio/CP/Weah/etc will even be deployed as they have so rarely been healthy altogether at the same time. And a further caveat that I am not much of an Xs and Os guy. But I know we love hoofball.
 

sezwho

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I low-key think McKennie and Musah are 1A/1B on the scale or irreplaceability. McKennie is the lifeblood of the team but without Yunus I think we would be destined to watch them resort to hoofball or endless FB runs and wayward crosses when they can't move it through the midfield with actual calm possession

I'll caveat the above by saying I don't have a strong sense of how Gio/CP/Weah/etc will even be deployed as they have so rarely been healthy altogether at the same time. And a further caveat that I am not much of an Xs and Os guy. But I know we love hoofball.
Maybe I’m on an island but I’ve got Turner just after MMA. He can cover up a lot of mistakes that a young aggressive team might make, where Steffen is more like to create a howler opportunity than cover one up.
 

rguilmar

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I always rated Richards ahead of Robinson and would have him ahead of Robinson on this list, even more so since Richards has gotten much more dominant in the air.

McKennie and Musah are the top two for me. Even with LDLT the dropoff is huge. Musah has improved by leaps and bounds this season. I’m not sure most USMNT fans understand how good he is right now. McKennie is an absolute goal threat, which is essential at all times but doubly so if Ferriera is the 9. If either of them can’t go, who plays? Players who haven’t played the position for the USMNT or just are significant steps down. I’ve been all aboard the “Reyna as an 8” train, but it’s too late to try something new. It’s MMA for every game of the World Cup.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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McKennie is out for at least 2 weeks with a quad issue per Juve reporter.

I’m fine, really, everything is great, it’s gonna be great.

 

Titans Bastard

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McKennie often gets small injuries and beats the expected recovery timeline every single time. Now is not the time to break that streak, Weston. The dropoff from McKennie to LDLT is huge, and the dropoff to LDLT to whoever else isn't huge in talent but is significant in familiarity at this point.

The lack of urgency in attempting to develop more of a depth chart at the 8 is the real Berhalter roster sin, IMO. I guess the plan is just to roll with Reyna, Aaronson, or (hopefully not) Acosta if there are injuries, given the lack of interest in other alternatives once Lletget faded and Busio was deemed unready.
 

67YAZ

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To be fair, I’ve been predicting the firing of Julen for a while now. The fans hold him accountable for the second half of last season when the team could not win and we’re almost passed by Betis (and probably would have been if Betis were not focused on the Copa). The failings this year are on team construction and the club knows it, but at some point you fire a manager to get the pressure off yourself. I agree if he stays at Sevilla or lands another top job in Spain he might not be tempted. He did request an interview last time around but we know how that went.

Martinez would be a disaster. I like the Mancini shout and could possibly get behind Matarazzo but would prefer someone with national team coaching experience.
The Guardian reporting that Wolves are now confident of landing Lopetegui, letting him take over during the WC break.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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We’ll see if it’s accurate, but the roster leaks are starting and we have the CBs.

View: https://mobile.twitter.com/Nicocantor1/status/1589737342579113985


Zimmerman, Long, Ream and CCV, in case Twitter melts before I hit post.

If true, no Richard’s which isn’t shocking, he hasn’t gotten healthy in time. No Brooks, which is even less shocking, he’s barely played and Berhalter doesn’t rate him.

Happy for Ream, he’s in the form of his life at the right time and seems like a lovely dude.

Only moderately grumbly about Long, I find him not compelling as and option but I don’t feel strongly about any of the remaining options.

I will upgrade to “fairly grumbly” if he starts over Ream though.
 

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Imagine watching both Aaron Long and Mark McKenzie, and thinking "yeah, that guy who watched Brandon Vazquez go by him like a turnstile for their season-ending goal two weeks ago - THAT's who I need out there against Gareth Bale, Sardar Azmoun, and Sterling / Foden / Saka / etc!" I was pretty down on McKenzie myself for a while, not for the Mexico mistake but because he didn't appear to do anything extremely well. But after watching more of his games this fall, he has turned from "good passer" to "massive strength" on that count, while being quicker to react and seemingly better footwork. He'll never dominate the air, but he's partnered with Thor, God of Thunder - we don't need that out of him.

If that list is accurate, though, Berhalter at least got 3 of our top 4 healthy CBs right. Justice for Tim Ream has come at last. And no reason you can't bring Richards to camp and see how he's doing. Scuffed made the point that unlike forwards, from whom you're just hoping for one moment of magic, you can't have out-of-form CBs on the field - they need to be reacting the right way to everything for 90 minutes, you need reps or you're running big risks. Brooks... hasn't earned his way into starting, and "starting at Benfica" was probably the only way he'd have even deserved (nevermind gotten) a rethink, so I can't say the situation is unfair to him. It's just unfair to all of us to have Miles and Richards both out with injury, that's the damnable misery of it.
 

Titans Bastard

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Several sources are reporting that Zack Steffen did not make the World Cup roster. I have heard this today privately as well.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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That's shocking given how much rope he got in qualifying (and I feel bad for him given the expectations that may have set). I'm beyond thrilled that Berhalter finally moved on from him, because I was worried he would start in Qatar and cost us a game at some point.
 

dirtynine

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sezwho

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That's shocking given how much rope he got in qualifying (and I feel bad for him given the expectations that may have set). I'm beyond thrilled that Berhalter finally moved on from him, because I was worried he would start in Qatar and cost us a game at some point.
Exactly where I was. Wonder if this implies anything about the style of play Berhalter envisions.., ie making the practical choice of not committing to dribble out/play from the back when it seems they just never grasped.
 

dirtynine

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Because these are primarily fun rumors to ruminate over while we wait, I'll quote this unsourced Reddit thread that claims to have all but one of the roster spots.

1 Turner
2 Johnson
3 Horvath
4 Robinson
5 Dest
6 Yedlin
7 Scally
8 Cannon
9 Zimmerman
10 Long
11 CCV
12 Ream
13 McKennie
14 Musah
15 Adams
16 Acosta
17 LDLT
18 Pulisic
19 Reyna
20 Weah
21 Aaronson
22 Tillman
23 Ferreira
24 Sargent
25 Pepi
26 — TBD

Might be down to Morris vs. Roldan for the last spot.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I'd take that.

Too thin on CMs, but the logic there is probably using Reyna/Aaronson in that kind of emergency.

Surprised to see Tillman in and Arriola out, but it might just be when the rubber hits the road in the world cup and we're that deep into the bench, a total wildcard who might be able to hit a spark of magic is better to have than a reliable decent floor, low ceiling guy.
 

InstaFace

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That looks about right. If so, slot 26 really needs to be another 8 - Williamson, Busio, Cardoso…we just need depth there.
Cardoso is a DM, plays there for club. He's certainly still got a chance to work himself into the conversation (he's even 2024 Olympics eligible!), but I don't think he's been tested at that level. You'd expect him to be a top performer for Internacional in Brazil before really standing a chance to get more than a look in friendlies.

If we want MMA insurance not named Kellyn Acosta, I think Tillman usually plays in a McKennie-like role for Rangers, Reyna/Aaronson in a pinch as noted... if DLT can't go for Musah, though, my pick would be to go for Alex Mendez over a Taylor Booth option, nevermind Busio or Williamson.
 

dirtynine

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Ream and Moore in.

So far, through GK and defenders (and with TB’s swap of Moore for Cannon), the list above is accurate.
 

dirtynine

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Full roster:

(CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS; HOMETOWN)

GOALKEEPERS (3):
Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0; Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0; Lilburn, Ga.)
Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 20/0; Park Ridge, N.J.)

DEFENDERS (9):
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0; Southend-on-Sea, England)
Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 19/2; Almere, Netherlands)
Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 29/3; Oak Hills, Calif.)
Shaq Moore (Nashville SC; 15/1; Powder Springs, Ga.)
Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 46/1; St. Louis, Mo.)
Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 29/2; Liverpool, England)
Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 3/0; Lake Grove, N.Y.)
DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF; 75/0; Seattle, Wash.)
Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 33/3; Lawrenceville, Ga.)

MIDFIELDERS (7):
Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 24/6; Medford, N.J.)
Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 53/2; Plano, Texas)
Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 32/1; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.)
Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 12/0; San Diego, Calif.)
Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 37/9; Little Elm, Texas)
Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 19/0; London, England)
Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 32/0; Pico Rivera, Calif.)

FORWARDS (7):
Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 15/7; McKinney, Texas)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 49/11; Mercer Island, Wash.)
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 52/21; Hershey, Pa.)
Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 14/4; Bedford, N.Y.)
Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 20/5; O’Fallon, Mo.)
Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 25/3; Rosedale, N.Y.)
Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 3/1; Los Angeles, Calif.)
 
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Jimy Hendrix

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Pepi is the real shocker here. I've been seeing comments here and there that he's hurt, which would make that make sense again.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Exactly where I was. Wonder if this implies anything about the style of play Berhalter envisions.., ie making the practical choice of not committing to dribble out/play from the back when it seems they just never grasped.
Maybe, although Turner is reportedly significantly improved with the ball at his feet playing for Arsenal (based on my reading of commentary on the GK thread at BigSoccer).
 

Titans Bastard

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Pepi is the real shocker here. I've been seeing comments here and there that he's hurt, which would make that make sense again.
I'm surprised that Pepi didn't make it, but I think it's more of a shocker that Haji made it than that Pepi did not. Haji got a shot in camp, and based on Berhalter's post-game comments it appeared that Haji had been written off for the cycle.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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So what does the top XI look like? Is Gregg going to leave Weah on the sidelines to get in his “occupy space” guy up top?

Just feels like there is going to be a lot of teeth-gnashing with the striker group. Not that it’s a surprise, we always suck at creating goals in the regular run of play. Concerned we are bringing 4 guys in whom I have no confidence in their ability to create goals at this level.
 

67YAZ

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I am shocked that Haji is in. He's lighting up Turkey, so he may be the most in-form striker in the pool. But he only got 45 minutes against Morocco. It really seemed like Gregg was disinterested.

With all apologies to George Clinton, we want Pefok/gotta have Pefok.

I'm sad for Steffen, but Sean Johnson earned the call. He had a really great season. I'm so happy for him.

Aaronson listed as a mid tells us he's seen as a backup 8, even if I think his best position is on the wing.

Top to bottom, this is a very talented squad that could (should?) get out of the group. I hope Gregg re-conjure that Gold Cup magic.
 

InstaFace

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This roster gets an A- from me.

GK: No complaints whatsoever. I wouldn't have minded Steffen in though.
FB: Just feel so happy for Shaq Moore. He was more consistent defensively than any other RB option for us. Might be the only Segunda player at the WCF but that's fine.
CB: Long is my biggest complaint on this roster. CCV is Zim's backup, plays a similar style. If Ream is to be his starting partner in the passing-CB role, we needed McKenzie as his backup. But ultimately, our best two CBs are injured, can only complain so much.
DM: Totally expected.
CM: I'm stoked that DLT is healthy enough to go.
AM/WG: Top 4 are automatic. Roldan *and* Morris? I'd have rather brought Bello, if we're just talking depth. If either of them see the field other than garbage time, it's an egregious error. Feels like they're both lifetime-achievement awardees.
ST: No Pepi is a surprise, but I can't call it an error given that he went Wright, who is super in-form. Wright is also stylistically is closer to Ferreira / Sargent than the Pefok target-man / poacher style. Pepi has many more cycles to make himself a no-doubter.

I can't dock points here for anything other than Long over McKenzie, and given that I thought it would be Long-over-Ream until recently, that feels like a pretty small deal. Roldan / Morris over Tillman, or Mendez? The smallest of gripes there. I can whine but it really won't have any on-field impact for us, so I'm a big *shrug* on that.

The Berhalter haters will have to focus on his tactics rather than his roster this time, imo.
 

candylandriots

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I am shocked that Haji is in. He's lighting up Turkey, so he may be the most in-form striker in the pool. But he only got 45 minutes against Morocco. It really seemed like Gregg was disinterested.

With all apologies to George Clinton, we want Pefok/gotta have Pefok.

I'm sad for Steffen, but Sean Johnson earned the call. He had a really great season. I'm so happy for him.

Aaronson listed as a mid tells us he's seen as a backup 8, even if I think his best position is on the wing.

Top to bottom, this is a very talented squad that could (should?) get out of the group. I hope Gregg re-conjure that Gold Cup magic.
I was super high on Pefok, but he’s not been a factor for Union Berlin since the first month really. He had a minor injury, and after that, he hasn’t been the same. I’d probably even say he’s lost the starting spot at this point, with Michel and Behrens seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart. He has played because of the extreme fixture congestion, but I suspect he would not have seen quite so much action if not for all of the “English weeks” Union has had lately.

That said, it seems like his form dropped pretty much precisely after he didn’t get the last call-up. Hopefully he can turn it around for the club, because he’s a hugely important player.
 

hawaiirsn

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Who are the two? I don’t follow their closely.
Chris Richards (transferred to Crystal Palace from Germany this Fall but has barely played with injuries so far, hamstring in September, held out hope would be fit for the last few months but couldn’t quite get there) and Miles Robinson (Atlanta United in MLS, tore Achilles in May).
 

Titans Bastard

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FB: Just feel so happy for Shaq Moore. He was more consistent defensively than any other RB option for us. Might be the only Segunda player at the WCF but that's fine.
Shaq signed for Nashville in the spring!

Chris Richards (transferred to Crystal Palace from Germany this Fall but has barely played with injuries so far, hamstring in September, held out hope would be fit for the last few months but couldn’t quite get there) and Miles Robinson (Atlanta United in MLS, tore Achilles in May).
Richards and Robinson are big and painful losses, but at this very moment I think Zimmerman is still our best CB.
 

InstaFace

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It's reasonable to think that Zimmerman is our best CB. I personally saw a lot more out of Miles than Zim in their long-running partnership over the last two years. And I really want a skilled passer in that partnership, because otherwise any team we face is going to press the absolute fuck out of us. Our skilled passing CBs are Richards, McKenzie, Brooks, and Ream. Richards is injured, Brooks isn't playing for his club (among other issues...). Ream is included, and has turned heads for Fulham this year. But if we're running Zim and Long out there in two weeks, it's going to be cover-your-eyes every time we recover the ball in our defensive third and try to pass out of it.

Perhaps we'll agree that "two of our best four CBs are injured", the point is that if you're picking two out of McKenzie, Long, CCV, Palmer-Brown and Brooks, because ahead of them we only have Zim and Ream and don't have Miles and Richards, the differences aren't that stark at that level of the depth chart. I just think Long has done jack and shit to keep his place on the roster in the last 24 months, whether it was his mediocre club form or his disasterclass on the field vs Japan in September.


Upon reflection, I think the biggest shock for me (in terms of "I never imagined Berhalter would do that") is Morris over Arriola. Morris has been oft-injured, hasn't had the same speed or touch since coming back from the ACL, and Arriola has been a great team-chemistry and flexible-role guy with a consistent high floor, even if he's not going to positively impact the game much at this level. If we were choosing between each of them at their peak, I can understand wanting Morris to run at a tired back line for 10-15'. But Berhalter has tried both of them intermittently, and Arriola has seen far more squad time and has a much more complete toolkit in terms of his ball skills and positional awareness. Morris is a speed merchant with upper-body strength and no touch subtlety. He's going to be a human white flag if he sees the field, and doesn't fit the pressing style that so many of our AM/wingers are great at off-ball. I just don't see the value.

(bear in mind that I'm not upset about Morris over Arriola / Tillman - we have our big 4 half-space merchants all healthy, so they're the only ones who should see non-garbage-time minutes. I'm just reacting to the roster and that stood out to me even more than the striker or Steffen things.)
 
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InstaFace

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Shaq signed for Nashville in the spring!
Sigh. I knew this, don't know why I still associate him so strongly with his time at Tenerife. Probably the interview he did, talking so much about what life was like there. Also I watched every minute of his Segunda Playoff run, and he brought the intensity out there, seemed to get better as the stakes went up. That's a good quality to have.

Shows you how much Nashville I've watched this year though. Looking at Fotmob, it seems he was more-or-less an immediate starter once he got back up to match fitness in August, and had a very consistent level of performance for Nashville for them.

Either way, I'm still super happy for him. Came in on no notice in the Gold Cup after Cannon's late injury (literally like flew in overnight and started for us the next day) and performed super well out there. Had a 3-year hiatus from the team from 2018 to 2021. Earned his way back into the picture the hard way. Seems like one of the nicest guys on the team. And even though I don't dislike Cannon, he was definitely the presumed backup to Dest for a long time (him or Yedlin), and Moore was often an afterthought. He may not see the field at all, but I know he'll be ready, and what an honor after his career as a journeyman.

Has anyone else on the final squad overcome as much anonymity and career-trajectory issues as he has? I guess it's him or CCV. 5 years in Tottenham purgatory, neither given a shot with them nor sold to anyone willing to bet on him, CCV finally gets his chance at Celtic and takes it by the fuckin horns. Maybe Horvath, too.
 

teddykgb

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What I hate is that they’re mostly the choices of a short term manager, I think. I mean I’d be glad to have a new manager but in my view these back end of the roster decisions need to be made with long term development in mind. Someone like Morris will probably never see the pitch in a match that matters, probably the same for Wright. I don’t see many of these guys selected as long term stalwarts of the USMNT. Then you have a guy like Pepi who has made some wretched career choices but remains a player who could figure in for a long time. Plus the dual national thing, I think it sends a really lousy message to leave him home. When we are competing for another dual national with Mexico this surely weighs in. To me it costs Berhalter very little to get him on that plane and it probably wouldn’t have been questioned all that much and would have had some residual benefits long term. Instead he’s got an endless stable of striker JAGs and a potentially important long term cog at home. And a lot of what I just said could be said about Pefok, too. I really don’t like it. Except for Steffen, who has been poor for a while now — that was the correct decision
 
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Gunfighter 09

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Choosing Ferreira over Pepi seems all the more crazy to me considering the profile of the center backs we are going to see from Wales & England. Does Ferreira come up to McGuire, Stones or Diers collar line? Rodon and Davies will also tower over him.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Was there any serious talk about Auston Trusty making this team? From what I can tell he has never gotten a cap but he has been impressing everybody at Birmingham and was just named Player of the Month in the Championship for October. I didn't think too much of it when he signed for Arsenal, and still don't see him as an Arsenal player long term, but his career in England has gone as well as it possibly could so far and most people seem to think he'll be playing in the Premier League eventually (likely for a mid-to-lower table side, but still).

This kind of plays into teddy's point above about short-termism but for a country that has had trouble producing CBs its a bit weird to completely neglect this guy who is doing the business at 24 in a very competitive European league.
 

67YAZ

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I see what Teddy is saying, but Gregg has also been very good about giving slots to guys who have earned them. From the outside, that seems to be part of why the program’s culture has improved so much - there are no free passes on to the roster for dual nationals, old friends, or kids too green to contribute.

Like Slonina - he certainly seems like the future in goal for the USMNT and many would argue that he should go to Qatar as the #3 to soak in the experience. But Johnson was the better keeper this year and more likely to excel in the emergency situation that the 3rd keeper gets thrown in.

There’s no single right answer here and having quality forth that generates these controversies is a good thing. But I think Gregg has been pretty steady on his principles here.
 

67YAZ

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Was there any serious talk about Auston Trusty making this team? From what I can tell he has never gotten a cap but he has been impressing everybody at Birmingham and was just named Player of the Month in the Championship for October. I didn't think too much of it when he signed for Arsenal, and still don't see him as an Arsenal player long term, but his career in England has gone as well as it possibly could so far and most people seem to think he'll be playing in the Premier League eventually (likely for a mid-to-lower table side, but still).

This kind of plays into teddy's point above about short-termism but for a country that has had trouble producing CBs its a bit weird to completely neglect this guy who is doing the business at 24 in a very competitive European league.
I thought Trusty should have gotten camp invited in 2021 when he was performing well in MLS and the CB group was thin, but Gregg didn’t agree. Once Gregg started narrowing the pool in 2022, Trusty wasn’t going to get a shot. Hopefully a new manager in 2023 brings fresh eyes to the entire pool.
 

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Choosing Ferreira over Pepi seems all the more crazy to me considering the profile of the center backs we are going to see from Wales & England. Does Ferreira come up to McGuire, Stones or Diers collar line? Rodon and Davies will also tower over him.
Ferreira is a Firmino-style 9, really he's a #10 who knows how to crash the box and find open space in it. He's not going to bang up against those backlines as a hold-up guy, as you say. But he and Sargent are both good at link-up play with the wingers and CMs, which is how we create 90% of our opportunities.

Secondly, Pepi is not any taller or stouter than Ferreira, that's not really a reason to choose one over the other. Maybe it's a reason to bring Pefok, who is "a load". Wright is also 6'3", though he's a lot slimmer.
 

InstaFace

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Was there any serious talk about Auston Trusty making this team? From what I can tell he has never gotten a cap but he has been impressing everybody at Birmingham and was just named Player of the Month in the Championship for October. I didn't think too much of it when he signed for Arsenal, and still don't see him as an Arsenal player long term, but his career in England has gone as well as it possibly could so far and most people seem to think he'll be playing in the Premier League eventually (likely for a mid-to-lower table side, but still).

This kind of plays into teddy's point above about short-termism but for a country that has had trouble producing CBs its a bit weird to completely neglect this guy who is doing the business at 24 in a very competitive European league.
Although the Scuffed community on Discord has followed him week-in and week-out, Trusty hasn't really been discussed as someone in the mix for WC 2022. His highlights get some play, but I haven't seen anyone say "hey why wasn't he in the September camp". EPB has much more of a posse, given his level of performance in Ligue 1 this season.

I think at age 24, Trusty is definitely going to get some looks as we start the 2026 cycle. We don't have a ton of left-footed CBs, and you have to assume Ream and Brooks are thoroughly out of the picture for 2026. Unlikely that Arsenal keeps him for the big squad, but if he absolutely lights it up for Birmingham the rest of the year, you never know.