USMNT: Hold My Beer

SoxFanInCali

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They wore this shirt in the first two games, but a plainer white kit against Algeria and Belgium, which are the two likelier of the games of the four to pop up in short highlight vids on social media, etc.
Yeah, the white ones had the sash as well, but it was light gray on white, so it wasn't all that visible.
 

biollante

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That Lydia Wahlke looks different in several photos. Someone really bungled that lawsuit, but was she the one that wrote that complaint ? I am way behind in figuring out how dysfunctional the national soccer teams for the U.S. have become.
 

Titans Bastard

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Yeah, the white ones had the sash as well, but it was light gray on white, so it wasn't all that visible.
If I were in charge, we'd be alternating between sash kits and the Waldos in perpetuity!

That Lydia Wahlke looks different in several photos. Someone really bungled that lawsuit, but was she the one that wrote that complaint ? I am way behind in figuring out how dysfunctional the national soccer teams for the U.S. have become.
There a lot of unresolved "who knew and when did they know it" type questions about the affair.
 

Titans Bastard

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The USMNT last played on February 1 and it may well not play again until March 2021 at this rate. As we've discussed in the Americans Abroad thread, there's a lot of young players coming through but the lack of USMNT games has somewhat masked the changes that are afoot. So in this long drought during which there are no games to talk about, we might as well take a crack at the depth chart.

Compared to ten years ago — or even five years ago — there are a lot more young players getting professional opportunities, both in the US and abroad. I think this is in part a reflection of a stronger cohort of players and in part a reflection of better developmental infrastructure in the US. Namely, more MLS clubs have established reserve teams and figured out how to use them more effectively. Foreign clubs, especially in Germany, are continuing to scout the US heavily. Nowhere else in the world can you find a 16 year old Pulisic or Reyna and sign them basically for free.

What that means is that aside from the players I included there are tons of young guys grinding away and undoubtedly some of those included in this large group will emerge as a better player than anyone expects. In youth development, there is safety in numbers.

GK
Likely in the 23 right now

Zack Steffen, 25, Manchester City
Brad Guzan, 35, Atlanta United

Steffen is the clear starter for me right now, though time will tell if he can ascend to Howard/Keller/Friedel levels. I'm fine with Guzan as a backup, but he's getting old and could start to noticeably slip at any time now. That's a bit of a concern because Steffen has had some injury woes and I see a significant dropoff in the pool after these two.

In the picture
Sean Johnson, 31, NYCFC
Bill Hamid, 29, D.C. United
Ethan Horvath, 25, Club Brugge
Matt Turner, 26, New England Revolution

3rd goalkeeper debates are usually tedious and rather pointless, but Guzan will age out soon and Steffen spends too much time on the shelf, so it's actually more pressing than normal. Johnson and Hamid are okay and mostly, are what they are: good MLS keepers, but definitely a step down from the heritage of USMNT GKs.

Horvath has had an up-and-down career. Club Brugge decided to spring for Simon Mignolet, which pushed Horvath to the bench. He badly needs a move this summer. He's capable of the spectacular, but needs to polish his distribution and aerial command (which are no small things!). He appears to be very much a confidence-based player.

Turner is a homer Revs pick, but hey — he was in January camp. Never a heralded prospect, he's now made 50 MLS appearances and was epic down the stretch in 2019. He's a great shot-stopper and we'll see how far his improvement curve takes him.

Prospects for the medium/long term

It's so hard to tell with young GKs that I almost don't even want to do this section. IMO, we have a lot of eggs in the "Stay Healthy Zack Steffen" basket. It's very difficult to imagine any of these guys really entering the picture by the next World Cup.

The favored GKs in our current U23 pool are:
J.T. Marcinkowski, 23, SJ Earthquakes
Matt Freese, 21, Philadelphia Union
David Ochoa, 19, Real Salt Lake

None of them are starters in MLS.

The favored GKs in our current U20 pool are:
David Ochoa, 19, Real Salt Lake (he's arguably good enough to be the #1 for the U23s as well)
Damian Las, 18, Fulham
Chituru Odunze, 17, Leicester City
John Pulskamp, 19, Sporting Kansas City

Ochoa won a USL title with RSL's reserve team and his stock has been rising more than the rest. RSL's presumptive starter is Zac MacMath, who does not represent an insurmountable challenge if Ochoa develops well.


RB
Likely in the 23 right now
DeAndre Yedlin, 27, Newcastle United
Sergino Dest, 19, Ajax
Reggie Cannon, 22, FC Dallas

Suddenly, we're flush with talent at RB thanks to the development of Cannon and, especially, the sudden emergency of Dest. I've listed all three as "in the 23" because I think right now Dest goes to LB due to team need. There are a lot of good things that could be said about all three players and I haven't felt this upbeat about RB in years. We are decently insulated from injury or loss of form.

In the picture
Nick Lima, 25, San Jose Earthquakes

It's hard to imagine Lima advancing past any of the three ahead of him. He's a decent stopgap should injuries crop up.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Julian Araujo, 18, LA Galaxy
Aaron Herrera, 23, Real Salt Lake
Brooks Lennon, 22, Atlanta United
Kyle Duncan, 22, NYRB

Herrera, Lennon, and Duncan have logged good minutes in MLS, but ultimately I'd bet on them topping out as Lima-level types.

Araujo has more upside, but is much younger and hasn't yet progressed past being a rotational starter for LAG. One challenge he's faced is settling on a position — he's played CB, DM, and RB. He's a bit short for CB, so hopefully he settles well at RB. He'd probably be more of a stalwart defender, but is unlikely to ever be a Dest-like dashing attacker.

Dest and Cannon will hopefully be around for a long time, so not as much as riding on this group, who are of the same general age cohort.

CB
Likely in the 23 right now
John Brooks, 27, Wolfsburg
Aaron Long, 27, NYRB

These are the only two center backs I'm 100% confident would be selected if the US were going to a tournament tomorrow.

In the picture
Tim Ream, 32, Fulham
Matt Miazga, 25, Reading
Miles Robinson, 23, Atlanta United
Chris Richards, 20, Bayern Munich
Walker Zimmerman, 27, Nashville SC
Mark McKenzie, 21, Philadelphia Union
Justen Glad, 23, Real Salt Lake
Cameron Carter-Vickers, 22, Luton Town
Erik Palmer-Brown, 23, Manchester City

You've got a mix of known, relatively mediocre quantities, and some youngsters.

I'm highest on Chris Richards, followed by Mark McKenzie. Richards just made his debut for Bayern Munich and this summer we'll see if they loan him out or keep him as a backup CB. McKenzie is the subject of transfer rumors right now, with (from what I hear) some very legitimate interest from Celtic.

Robinson had a breakout year in 2019 and is a very good 1v1 defender. McKenzie isn't as consistent a defender yet, but is a superior passer.

Glad is someone who hasn't been able to get over the hump and will probably be a Walker Zimmerman type (above average MLS defender who never quite makes it for the USMNT despite getting some shots) in four years.

CCV has over 6,000 minutes in the Championship and is a solid defender at that level. Will he ever be more than that? I'm not so sure. The USMNT historically and currently isn't too good to be above calling up solid Championship players, but I'd like to reach that point some day.

EPB had a good year for Austria Wien. His career has neither taken off as hoped, nor nosedived.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Aboubacar Keita, 20, Columbus Crew
Tayvon Gray, 17, NYCFC
Casey Walls, 16, San Jose Earthquakes
Tony Leone, 16, LAFC

Check back in four years.

LB
Likely in the 23 right now
Dest

In the picture
Antonee Robinson, 22, Wigan Athletic
Daniel Lovitz, 28, Nashville SC
Chase Gasper, 24, Minnesota United
Sam Vines, 21, Colorado Rapids

You could easily make the argument to bump Robinson up a category. He's back from his heart operation, in good form, and likely to move out and up from Wigan this summer.

Lovitz has been a placeholder who isn't NT-caliber, but here we are. Hopefully Gasper can be a better emergency standby, but I don't see him as likely to be a major figure.

Vines was an unheralded academy signing who broke out as an MLS starter in 2019 and had a solid USMNT debut. He still doesn't get that much press because he's not a flashy player, but maybe it's in part because he was a player without a YNT pedigree who went pro with little fanfare, and plays for an unfashionable MLS club that's rarely in the spotlight.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Chris Gloster, 19, PSV Eindhoven
Travian Sousa, 18, Hamburg
George Bello, 18, Atlanta United
Kobe Hernandez-Foster, 18, ??? (likely has an agreement to sign abroad that has not yet been publicly revealed)
Jonathan Gomez, 16, Louisville City

LB is quite thin (as usual), but we do have some interesting irons in the fire. Fingers crossed that one of them hits.


To be continued...
 

Domer

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Turner is a homer Revs pick, but hey — he was in January camp. Never a heralded prospect, he's now made 50 MLS appearances and was epic down the stretch in 2019. He's a great shot-stopper and we'll see how far his improvement curve takes him.
Matt Turner is already the best shot-stopper in MLS. I thought this was a homer opinion by me too, but if you look at the stats, Turner was the best goalkeeper in MLS by GA-xGA in 2019 (-8.29). I know xG stats can be a little wonky for goalkeepers, but he also posted -5.65 in 2018, good for 4th best in the league that year. His distribution is harder to evaluate, but I'd peg him at below average for MLS. Considering he didn't start at goalkeeper until his junior year of college, I would argue this could still be an area of growth.
 

DJnVa

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Not a fan of Jonathan Klinsmann, toiling away in, I think, Switzerland?
 

Kliq

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The USMNT last played on February 1 and it may well not play again until March 2021 at this rate. As we've discussed in the Americans Abroad thread, there's a lot of young players coming through but the lack of USMNT games has somewhat masked the changes that are afoot. So in this long drought during which there are no games to talk about, we might as well take a crack at the depth chart.

Compared to ten years ago — or even five years ago — there are a lot more young players getting professional opportunities, both in the US and abroad. I think this is in part a reflection of a stronger cohort of players and in part a reflection of better developmental infrastructure in the US. Namely, more MLS clubs have established reserve teams and figured out how to use them more effectively. Foreign clubs, especially in Germany, are continuing to scout the US heavily. Nowhere else in the world can you find a 16 year old Pulisic or Reyna and sign them basically for free.

What that means is that aside from the players I included there are tons of young guys grinding away and undoubtedly some of those included in this large group will emerge as a better player than anyone expects. In youth development, there is safety in numbers.

GK
Likely in the 23 right now

Zack Steffen, 25, Manchester City
Brad Guzan, 35, Atlanta United

Steffen is the clear starter for me right now, though time will tell if he can ascend to Howard/Keller/Friedel levels. I'm fine with Guzan as a backup, but he's getting old and could start to noticeably slip at any time now. That's a bit of a concern because Steffen has had some injury woes and I see a significant dropoff in the pool after these two.

In the picture
Sean Johnson, 31, NYCFC
Bill Hamid, 29, D.C. United
Ethan Horvath, 25, Club Brugge
Matt Turner, 26, New England Revolution

3rd goalkeeper debates are usually tedious and rather pointless, but Guzan will age out soon and Steffen spends too much time on the shelf, so it's actually more pressing than normal. Johnson and Hamid are okay and mostly, are what they are: good MLS keepers, but definitely a step down from the heritage of USMNT GKs.

Horvath has had an up-and-down career. Club Brugge decided to spring for Simon Mignolet, which pushed Horvath to the bench. He badly needs a move this summer. He's capable of the spectacular, but needs to polish his distribution and aerial command (which are no small things!). He appears to be very much a confidence-based player.

Turner is a homer Revs pick, but hey — he was in January camp. Never a heralded prospect, he's now made 50 MLS appearances and was epic down the stretch in 2019. He's a great shot-stopper and we'll see how far his improvement curve takes him.

Prospects for the medium/long term

It's so hard to tell with young GKs that I almost don't even want to do this section. IMO, we have a lot of eggs in the "Stay Healthy Zack Steffen" basket. It's very difficult to imagine any of these guys really entering the picture by the next World Cup.

The favored GKs in our current U23 pool are:
J.T. Marcinkowski, 23, SJ Earthquakes
Matt Freese, 21, Philadelphia Union
David Ochoa, 19, Real Salt Lake

None of them are starters in MLS.

The favored GKs in our current U20 pool are:
David Ochoa, 19, Real Salt Lake (he's arguably good enough to be the #1 for the U23s as well)
Damian Las, 18, Fulham
Chituru Odunze, 17, Leicester City
John Pulskamp, 19, Sporting Kansas City

Ochoa won a USL title with RSL's reserve team and his stock has been rising more than the rest. RSL's presumptive starter is Zac MacMath, who does not represent an insurmountable challenge if Ochoa develops well.


RB
Likely in the 23 right now
DeAndre Yedlin, 27, Newcastle United
Sergino Dest, 19, Ajax
Reggie Cannon, 22, FC Dallas

Suddenly, we're flush with talent at RB thanks to the development of Cannon and, especially, the sudden emergency of Dest. I've listed all three as "in the 23" because I think right now Dest goes to LB due to team need. There are a lot of good things that could be said about all three players and I haven't felt this upbeat about RB in years. We are decently insulated from injury or loss of form.

In the picture
Nick Lima, 25, San Jose Earthquakes

It's hard to imagine Lima advancing past any of the three ahead of him. He's a decent stopgap should injuries crop up.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Julian Araujo, 18, LA Galaxy
Aaron Herrera, 23, Real Salt Lake
Brooks Lennon, 22, Atlanta United
Kyle Duncan, 22, NYRB

Herrera, Lennon, and Duncan have logged good minutes in MLS, but ultimately I'd bet on them topping out as Lima-level types.

Araujo has more upside, but is much younger and hasn't yet progressed past being a rotational starter for LAG. One challenge he's faced is settling on a position — he's played CB, DM, and RB. He's a bit short for CB, so hopefully he settles well at RB. He'd probably be more of a stalwart defender, but is unlikely to ever be a Dest-like dashing attacker.

Dest and Cannon will hopefully be around for a long time, so not as much as riding on this group, who are of the same general age cohort.

CB
Likely in the 23 right now
John Brooks, 27, Wolfsburg
Aaron Long, 27, NYRB

These are the only two center backs I'm 100% confident would be selected if the US were going to a tournament tomorrow.

In the picture
Tim Ream, 32, Fulham
Matt Miazga, 25, Reading
Miles Robinson, 23, Atlanta United
Chris Richards, 20, Bayern Munich
Walker Zimmerman, 27, Nashville SC
Mark McKenzie, 21, Philadelphia Union
Justen Glad, 23, Real Salt Lake
Cameron Carter-Vickers, 22, Luton Town
Erik Palmer-Brown, 23, Manchester City

You've got a mix of known, relatively mediocre quantities, and some youngsters.

I'm highest on Chris Richards, followed by Mark McKenzie. Richards just made his debut for Bayern Munich and this summer we'll see if they loan him out or keep him as a backup CB. McKenzie is the subject of transfer rumors right now, with (from what I hear) some very legitimate interest from Celtic.

Robinson had a breakout year in 2019 and is a very good 1v1 defender. McKenzie isn't as consistent a defender yet, but is a superior passer.

Glad is someone who hasn't been able to get over the hump and will probably be a Walker Zimmerman type (above average MLS defender who never quite makes it for the USMNT despite getting some shots) in four years.

CCV has over 6,000 minutes in the Championship and is a solid defender at that level. Will he ever be more than that? I'm not so sure. The USMNT historically and currently isn't too good to be above calling up solid Championship players, but I'd like to reach that point some day.

EPB had a good year for Austria Wien. His career has neither taken off as hoped, nor nosedived.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Aboubacar Keita, 20, Columbus Crew
Tayvon Gray, 17, NYCFC
Casey Walls, 16, San Jose Earthquakes
Tony Leone, 16, LAFC

Check back in four years.

LB
Likely in the 23 right now
Dest

In the picture
Antonee Robinson, 22, Wigan Athletic
Daniel Lovitz, 28, Nashville SC
Chase Gasper, 24, Minnesota United
Sam Vines, 21, Colorado Rapids

You could easily make the argument to bump Robinson up a category. He's back from his heart operation, in good form, and likely to move out and up from Wigan this summer.

Lovitz has been a placeholder who isn't NT-caliber, but here we are. Hopefully Gasper can be a better emergency standby, but I don't see him as likely to be a major figure.

Vines was an unheralded academy signing who broke out as an MLS starter in 2019 and had a solid USMNT debut. He still doesn't get that much press because he's not a flashy player, but maybe it's in part because he was a player without a YNT pedigree who went pro with little fanfare, and plays for an unfashionable MLS club that's rarely in the spotlight.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Chris Gloster, 19, PSV Eindhoven
Travian Sousa, 18, Hamburg
George Bello, 18, Atlanta United
Kobe Hernandez-Foster, 18, ??? (likely has an agreement to sign abroad that has not yet been publicly revealed)
Jonathan Gomez, 16, Louisville City

LB is quite thin (as usual), but we do have some interesting irons in the fire. Fingers crossed that one of them hits.


To be continued...
Lol please finish this. Great stuff.
 

Titans Bastard

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Not a fan of Jonathan Klinsmann, toiling away in, I think, Switzerland?
He's a backup for St. Gallen, who are currently neck-in-neck with Young Boys for the title. I haven't seen anything that indicates that he's on an NT track, but you never know with goalkeepers.

Frankly, from the 97s to the 00s, there are basically zero goalkeepers making waves right now. GKs do develop later than other positions, but it would be nice to see some action on this front. Setting aside numerous guys on USL contracts, here's what we're working with for this age group.

97s
Drake Callender (Inter Miami)
Jonathan Klinsmann (St. Gallen)
J.T. Marcinkowski (SJ Earthquakes)
Mason Stajduhar (Orlando City)
Justin Vom Steeg (LA Galaxy)

98s
Benny Diaz (Tijuana)
Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union)
Kevin Silva (Toronto FC)
Duncan Turnbull (Portsmouth)

99s
Carlos Avilez (FC Dallas)
Phillip Ejimadu (LAFC)
Eric Lopez (LA Galaxy)
Trey Muse (Seattle Sounders)

00s
C.J. dos Santos (Benfica)


It will be hard to tell who has leapfrogged who in the lower reaches of MLS GK pecking orders because teams are now allowed to have an extended bench, but I'm pretty sure that Klinsmann and Vom Steeg are #2s, Marcinkowski is probably a #2, and everyone else is #3 or lower.

It's not very exciting.
 

Titans Bastard

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The emerging USMNT pool feels strongest in CMs and wingers, so the 4-3-3 that Berhalter has used lately makes sense. Of course, the midfield positions in a 4-3-3 can be fluid, and aren't possible to rigidly define. Bear with me here.

CM
Likely in the 23 right now
Tyler Adams, 21, RB Leipzig
Weston McKennie, 21, Schalke

Our clear best two midfielders right now. And yet, they've almost never played together with the NT and where they'll slot into a midfielder configuration is uncertain. When Berhalter first took over, he seemed interested in experimenting with Adams as a RB. However, the emergence of Dest and Cannon makes that a wasteful use of Adams. Nonetheless, it's still unclear how Adams will be used in the midfield because he's been injured for so long.

One conventional option would be to use Adams as a true DM, with McKennie and a more offensive player ahead of him. Another option would be to use Adams and McKennie as dual #8s, with a Pirlo/"QB" style #6 behind them. Bradley, Trapp, and Yueill have auditioned for this role. I'm ready to rule Trapp out, and have been intrigued with how Yueill has progressed.

How Berhalter ultimately envisions the midfield combinations he wants to have available will play a large role in dictating the downstream personnel decisions about how to carry at CM. Obviously, how certain young players develop will be the other major factor.

In the picture
Michael Bradley, 32, Toronto FC
Jackson Yueill, 23, San Jose Earthquakes
Sebastian Lletget, 27, LA Galaxy
Cristian Roldan, 25, Seattle Sounders
Paxton Pomykal, 20, FC Dallas
Wil Trapp, 27, Inter Miami
Alfredo Morales, 30, Fortuna Düsseldorf
Brenden Aaronson, 19, Philadelphia Union

You'll want a few players who bring a bit more creativity than McKennie and Adams. It's always hard to pin down what that hallowed term, "number 10", even means at this point, but gone are the days when defense-free maestros like Juan Roman Riquelme reigned supreme. (You can see this in the career arc of more recent players like Wesley Sneijder.) The new archetype seems to be a hybrid of a traditional box-to-box #8 and attacking #10.

So anyway, the candidates for an "8/10 hybrid" would be Lletget, Pomykal, and Aaronson. I'd take Lletget to a World Cup tomorrow, but I'm a big fan of Pomykal and Aaronson and could see one or both of them establish themselves in the squad or displace Lletget at some point. In a COVID-free world, they'd be playing significant roles on the Olympic team and start to make headway into the USMNT in 2021.

Yueill has done well with his opportunities as the "QB" type in Berhalter's system. I'm not sure that he's some who will consistently be in the XI over the long term, but he has earned continued chances in the squad for the time being.

Roldan and Trapp have gotten a lot of caps in the last few years, but my opinion is that they will get crowded out by superior talents when everyone is healthy and more players develop and drift into the NT picture.

Morales could be a useful placeholder and role player. I do not feel strongly about him either way.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Richie Ledezma, 19, PSV Eindhoven
James Sands, 20, NYCFC
Brandon Servania, 21, FC Dallas
Chris Durkin, 20, Sint-Truiden
Taylor Booth, 19, Bayern Munich
Tanner Tessmann, 18, FC Dallas
Owen Otasowie, 19, Wolves
Danny Leyva, 17, Seattle Sounders
Alex Mendez, 19, Ajax
Gianluca Busio, 18, Sporting KC

We have a variety of irons in the fire. Ledezma has a lot of fans and hopefully he'll make his first team debut next year. PSV recently extended his contract.

Sands is a DM/CB who has done quite well in MLS. If he's able to raise his game one more notch in 2020 I think he'll get the call.

Tessmann is a physical specimen who has the potential to be a defensive beast with the passing ability of someone who was a #10 as a youth player. He's one of those "what if our best athletes played soccer?" soccer players who probably would have been a football player 10 years ago because he's from Alabama.

Mendez has a lot of hype, as all protégés of the Kleiban brothers do. He has a sweet left foot and is a good passer, but there are questions about his work rate and defense. I'm holding out hope, but acknowledge there's a decent chance he'll turn out to be a "more sizzle than steak" type player.
 
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Titans Bastard

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Wingers
Likely in the 23 right now
Christian Pulisic, 21, Chelsea
Gio Reyna, 17, Borussia Dortmund
Jordan Morris, 25, Seattle Sounders

Pulisic is emerging as one of the better wingers in the world and Reyna is a prospect good enough that a club the size of Dortmund is giddy about him. It's hard to not be excited about the future of the attack.

Morris had his best season in 2019 as he's rounded out his game and become more consistent. His ACL injury is far in the rear-view mirror. I'd think his explosiveness will be a real asset later in games when he's able to come at tired defenses.

In the picture
Timothy Weah, 20, Lille
Paul Arriola, 25, D.C. United
Uly Llanez, 19, Wolfsburg
Tyler Boyd, 25, Beşiktaş
Jonathan Lewis, 23, Colorado Rapids

Weah lost a year but if he can get back on track he'll move up quickly. We're talking about a guy who was sold for $10m just a year ago.

Llanez has looked good for the U20s and in his USMNT debut. He needs to break through with Wolfsburg next year to substantially move up the depth chart for the US given his competition.

I don't see the same upside with Arriola, Boyd, and Lewis as I do with the rest, but there are injuries, suspensions, and loss of form so I'd imagine this group will still get some caps.

I try not to engage in unwarranted and overblown Prospect Hype, but the fact that players the caliber of Weah and Llanez are competing for backup slots on the NT is a major departure from the attacking landscape to which we have been accustomed. What's wild is that Pulisic, Reyna, Weah, and Llanez were all born within a four year window. They're going to be around for a long time, and there's going to be more players coming through while they are still in their prime.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Sebastian Saucedo, 23, Pumas UNAM
Jonathan Amon, 21, Nordsjælland
Konrad de la Fuente, 18, Barcelona
Jose Gallegos, 18, San Antonio FC
Cameron Harper, 18, Celtic
Indiana Vassilev, 19, Aston Villa

Some irons in the fire here. Saucedo, who never became a full-time starter at RSL, has done rather well in Liga MX since his move. It's a tough position with the NT to break into, though.

Amon is insanely explosive, but has been an injury trainwreck in the last 12-18 months.

Vassilev has made a few appearances in the EPL for Villa. Opinions vary on his upside, but it's been a positive year for him; no one expected him to play for the first team this season.

Konrad just re-upped with Barça where he'll be with the B team.

I've heard good things about Harper, but who knows.

Gallegos is an interesting and unusual case of a guy who spent time playing HS soccer and with a USL academy who is now on a pro deal. It's a lot easier to see footage of USL games than it is of, say, Celtic's reserves. Gallegos is legit, and maybe the best-ever prospect to sign with an independent USL team with a deal that wasn't just a placeholder until age 18.
 

Titans Bastard

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Forwards
Likely in the 23 right now
Jozy Altidore, 30, Toronto FC

Haterz gonna hate, he's still our best forward by far.

He'll probably be injured though.

In the picture
Gyasi Zardes, 28, Columbus Crew
Josh Sargent, 20, Werder Bremen
Jesus Ferreira, 19, FC Dallas
Jeremy Ebobisse, 23, Portland Timbers

I'd love to say that Sargent is definitively above Zardes in the depth chart, but I think that despite being a bigger talent he hasn't quite separated himself. He struggled for decent stretches this year, but my hope is that he'll clearly elevate himself above the others in this group by the winter.

Zardes is what he is. Works hard, can be a decent one-touch finisher, prone to moments of true embarrassment, not very useful in the buildup.

Ebobisse is a cerebral player who I don't think will be starting material, but could conceivably be a useful backup. Unfortunately he's stuck in Portland, who are hellbent on signing several expensive foreign signings because god forbid they place any faith in a young domestic player.

I like Ferreira's talent quite a bit, but IMO he's a man without a position. Or at least, one that exists in the modern game: I think he's a classic second striker in a 4-4-2. Still, there are plenty of examples of modern forwards who aren't classic, big center forwards and maybe Ferreira can evolve to do that.

Prospects for the medium/long term
Ricardo Pepi, 17, FC Dallas
Sebastian Soto, 19, Norwich City
Matthew Hoppe, 19, Schalke
Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, 18, Seattle Sounders

I'm not in love with the depth here. With so much quality at winger, it's worth noting that guys like Morris and Weah could be used up top, too.

I've been a fan of Soto, but he's IMO made a bunch of poor career choices, especially his recent decision to sign with Norwich on a free. He won't get a work permit, so he's guaranteeing himself probably at least two seasons of risky loans to god knows where. This comes on top of a lost year at Hannover where he was frozen out for a contract dispute, was publicly called out by the manager for his effort in training, and was suspended for violating team rules around quarantine.

Pepi is maybe the biggest hope right now — a big man with good feet — but he's raw and is a long way away. Too soon to really turn up the heat on the hype-o-meter, I think.

I've heard good things about Hoppe, but he put up unimpressive numbers in the U19 Bundesliga. I dunno.

AOC has been good at youth levels, but could wind up being a FW/winger tweener.
 

DJnVa

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Pulisic is emerging as one of the better wingers in the world
Oh my!


Tessmann is a physical specimen who has the potential to be a defensive beast with the passing ability of someone who was a #10 as a youth player. He's one of those "what if our best athletes played soccer?" soccer players who probably would have been a football player 10 years ago because he's from Alabama.
Tessman was a football player!

 

dirtynine

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Tanner Tessmann sounds like what a video game would use if they couldn’t license Taylor Twellman’s name.

Does Zardes’ game ever improve based on those around him? Maybe there’s a way to help him be more useful. I’m sure there are combos (Sargent?) that haven’t been tried yet.
 

Titans Bastard

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Yeah, "Tanner Tessmann" as strong Football Manager Regen Energy. He was recruited to kick at Clemson because, as mentioned by @wonderland he's Dabo Swinney's godson, he's athletic, and apparently he was really good for someone with no formal background.. However, he never even kicked in HS football or anything. Ultimately, he chose to sign with FC Dallas this spring and never matriculated.

@dirtynine, the trouble with a two-forward formation is that we have so many good attacking midfielders (wide and inside) that the opportunity cost is high. We don't yet know ultimately where Reyna will slot in, or exactly how flexible he will be. But ultimately, you could have a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 with Reyna in the hole, Pulisic and Morris/Llanez/Weah out wide, and a forward up top.

It's unlikely that our second best forward will be as good as the third best player from the AM group.
 

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I’d definitely expect Jozy to have a say in qualifying at least, if healthy and fit. The man can occupy defenders and clear space for the little guys. And having more than one teammate who can actually pressure defenders and handle the ball with even the slightest modicum of touch and pace would do wonders, I imagine.
 

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Kind of surprised there hasn't been any chatter about the series of transfer rumors involving Weston McKennie. Apparently, half of the Premier League has expressed interest per recent reports, including Liverpool, Chelsea, Wolves, Everton and most recently Spurs. They peg the Schalke asking price in the 20-25M Euro range, which would make McKennie the 2nd highest value transfer of a US international if that came to pass.
 

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I'm actually surprised it's that low. He looked like Schalke's best player for long stretches, and current form aside that franchise is no joke. If they're going to sell him they need to get enough to replenish the roster.
 

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With all those clubs reportedly in the hunt, and McKennie well represented by Wasserman, I suspect you are right and the number will migrate upwards, though CV-19 related financial impacts could act as a headwind.
 

67YAZ

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Choose wisely, young Weston. He needs regular playing, preferably lots of it, too. His performances have been uneven match to match. He needs a manager that will stick with him. I don’t know if any of the top-half clubs will allow that.
 

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Kind of surprised there hasn't been any chatter about the series of transfer rumors involving Weston McKennie. Apparently, half of the Premier League has expressed interest per recent reports, including Liverpool, Chelsea, Wolves, Everton and most recently Spurs. They peg the Schalke asking price in the 20-25M Euro range, which would make McKennie the 2nd highest value transfer of a US international if that came to pass.
Anyone have a good playing review of McKennie? Style, potential, etc...
 

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I read an interesting write up on him yesterday highlighting how he's moved back from a classic 8 box-to-box role under Tedesco to a more deep lying CM type role under Wagner. I can't find the link rt now, but here's a decent overview from the Bundesliga from this week.

 

Dummy Hoy

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Choose wisely, young Weston. He needs regular playing, preferably lots of it, too. His performances have been uneven match to match. He needs a manager that will stick with him. I don’t know if any of the top-half clubs will allow that.
Truth
 

Titans Bastard

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Prospects for the medium/long term
Richie Ledezma, 19, PSV Eindhoven
James Sands, 20, NYCFC
Brandon Servania, 21, FC Dallas
Chris Durkin, 20, Sint-Truiden
Taylor Booth, 19, Bayern Munich
Tanner Tessmann, 18, FC Dallas
Owen Otasowie, 19, Wolves
Danny Leyva, 17, Seattle Sounders
Alex Mendez, 19, Ajax
Gianluca Busio, 18, Sporting KC

We have a variety of irons in the fire. Ledezma has a lot of fans and hopefully he'll make his first team debut next year. PSV recently extended his contract.

Sands is a DM/CB who has done quite well in MLS. If he's able to raise his game one more notch in 2020 I think he'll get the call.

Tessmann is a physical specimen who has the potential to be a defensive beast with the passing ability of someone who was a #10 as a youth player. He's one of those "what if our best athletes played soccer?" soccer players who probably would have been a football player 10 years ago because he's from Alabama.

Mendez has a lot of hype, as all protégés of the Kleiban brothers do. He has a sweet left foot and is a good passer, but there are questions about his work rate and defense. I'm holding out hope, but acknowledge there's a decent chance he'll turn out to be a "more sizzle than steak" type player.
I probably should have thrown Frankie Amaya in here too. Coming out of college (well, his freshman fall at UCLA), he was an undersized attacking midfielder. As a pro, he's shown far more defensive bite than anyone expected of him. He's not going to be a #10, but he could be another box-to-box terrier with some attacking panache.

Scored his first goal today in Cincinnati's win(!) over Atlanta(!!)

View: https://twitter.com/MLS/status/1283776771905794051


He worked his way in to Cincinnati's starting lineup last year and looks to be more of a central figure this year.
 

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Berhalter did a presser today. Finally, a morsel of USMNT content to talk about!


Nothing too earth-shattering, but he says he anticipates a return to international games in October, with WCQ returning possibly in November. He wants to keep the Hex, but it's up in the air.

He did leave the door open for Darlington Nagbe, which is interesting.


I'm looking forward to seeing Adams and McKennie together in the midfield.
 

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Feels like this should be your tagline at this point.

Jokes aside, I'm a big fan of your content in this forum. Thank you for your contributions.
LOL.

I'll count myself fortunate if that's the only thing I'm guilty of repeating over and over again.
 

DJnVa

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Okay, so I kind of thought Pulisic was making The Leap. But, yeah, now I'm sure.
 

Kliq

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Bigger 2020 leap, Pulisic or Tatum?

Who in the EPL has been better than Pulisic since the restart? Sterling? KDB? It can’t be too extensive of a list.
 

tmracht

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Bigger 2020 leap, Pulisic or Tatum?

Who in the EPL has been better than Pulisic since the restart? Sterling? KDB? It can’t be too extensive of a list.
What's more amazing is he's doing this off the bench, in a starter's role, against good teams against bad teams. He is just unreal, doesn't take any chance lightly.
 

DJnVa

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What's more amazing is he's doing this off the bench, in a starter's role, against good teams against bad teams. He is just unreal, doesn't take any chance lightly.
Well, that was his first game not starting since the PL has restarted, but yeah, doing it in every role he's asked of is encouraging.

Some reading:


He’s moved well past the distinction of a promising 21-year-old. He’s the driving force for the fourth best Premier League team (current table). And it’s beautiful.

View: https://twitter.com/MenInBlazers/status/1286047186497789953?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1286047186497789953%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fweaintgotnohistory.sbnation.com%2F2020%2F7%2F23%2F21334989%2Fan-ode-to-christian-pulisic-who-made-us-believe-in-comeback-hot-pulisic-summer
 

Titans Bastard

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Interesting thread on Berhalter & the NT:


View: https://twitter.com/_Susaeta/status/1286679640983998465


https://twitter.com/_Susaeta


Given recent lineups and Berhalter comments, I think he is adjusting his system. Here is how I think the US might line up in future friendlies.

First, in possession, I think the wingers, who have historically been asked to stay wide and stretch the defense, will be asked to pinch in below the striker, playing inverted midfielder roles. The fullbacks will move much further forward.



The biggest change, though, is in midfield roles. Instead of playing as advanced CM's beneath the CF, the 2 CMs will play more traditional CM roles. The 6 drops closer to the defensive line, where long-range passing is more important, and creates a line of 3 as FB push forward.

In defense, the CMs will be asked to press more, and the wingers push back wide to provide defensive support on the wings. The 6 moves back into midfield as fullbacks move back to form a traditional line of four.



So what does this mean in terms of personnel? First, it puts Pulisic in his most dangerous spot, working at the corner of the 18 yard box and allows him to attack more centrally, while getting wide when the situation calls for it. This is the role he's thrived in at Chelsea.

Second, it means both fullbacks must be more capable of attacking. It probably means the end of the pseudo left backs we saw earlier in Berhalter's lineups. I wouldn't be surprised to see Dest on the left, Cannon on the right. It also opens the door for Robinson and Vines.

Third, it clarifies how Berhalter intends to use Adams and McKennie. They are the CMs in this formation. While I have been a fierce advocate for Adams at the 6, I like him as a CM in this setup. It also means McKennie gets to play deeper, where he is much better.

It also means Jackson Yueill is the 6. His weakness in defense is mitigated by Adams and McKennie's ability to press and then cover. And it allows him to be a table-setter from a deeper position, which plays to his strengths.

The right wing is going to come down to a race between Reyna, Morris, Weah, and someone like Llanez. Who is best able to pinch in and create from an inverted winger role will win that race.

This also requires a high degree of mobility from the CBs. When the FBs are high, they must be able to cover a lot of space. This is one of the reasons I am so high on kids like Richards and Robinson. Brooks and Long remain the likely starters for Berhalter.

Finally, striker. Under Berhalter, this has typically been a finisher role. In this system, they must also be a good link in build-up play. That doesn't mean Zardes is out, but it does open the door for players like Ferreira. Altidore will be the starter until proven otherwise.

PS - I think this change is why Berhalter has publicly invited Nagbe back to camp. I think he covets Nagbe in that 6 role.

One last comment on this. I’ve been critical of Berhalter over the past 12 months because I thought his system sucked, his player selection sucked, and the results were unimpressive.

But I’m also a former coach who cheers on coaches. I don’t fault coaches for making mistakes. I fault them for not learning from them. If this is where the US is going, it’s a signal that he’s learning and adjusting. I’m all for it.

We should be 2+ years into Gregg getting to learn from mistakes. That he’s having to learn in the accelerated track isn’t his fault. That’s on Don Garber, SUM, and past shitbags at US Soccer for holding him in Columbus while the Crew situation was sorted out.
 

tmracht

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If the 5-3-2 is the plan you can get a lot of your best players on the field in their better positions. That's good national team coaching finally.
 

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If the 5-3-2 is the plan you can get a lot of your best players on the field in their better positions. That's good national team coaching finally.
Feels like sort of a chicken and egg situation where coaches have wanted to put a system in place to mimic this or that style of play that gets us away from hoofball but ultimately were stuck with the talent at their disposal. We know JK had no shortage of words to spill on the subject.

That's not to absolve poor coaching, poor decision making, and so on, but this is as good as I have ever felt about the talent pool. That makes part of the job a lot easier, but yeah, you still have to put them in the right position. I've spent the last I don't know how many years bleeding from the eyes watching every USMNT ball handler left on an island by his teammates with nobody moving or showing for the ball. I suspect this is how Michael Bradley contracted backballitis.

Pulisic nearer to goal and nearer to his teammates is an easy win here. Sure he can stretch the D out wide, but you lose a lot of the danger he poses since one defender + the sideline can keep him mostly corralled out there, and USMNT have been such shit at connecting more than 1 pass in the attacking zone that it adds up to a lot of fruitless hard work. Worlds better to have his gravity pulling 3-4 defenders out of position and creating gaps for teammates in and around the 6-18 area vs. the 12-24 area.
 

Kliq

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Any system that gets us away from Will Trapp being our talisman is an improvement, in my humble opinion.
 

Titans Bastard

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Trapp is thoroughly inadequate for the NT, but I think he was always a placeholder. He was being phased out in favor of Jackson Yueill before the COVID break.

Trapp played a ton in 2018 and in the first half of 2019. Bradley started over him in all of the 2019 Gold Cup knockout games. Trapp them started in Mexico in September, but didn't play against Uruguay, in any of the Cuba/Canada CONCACAF Nations League games, and wasn't at 2020 January Camp. Yueill started most of these games perhaps because Bradley was injured, but either way he was ahead of Trapp.

Berhalter has tried a variety of formations, but the constant is that he seems really, really married to a deep-lying #6 who acts as a possession hub. We have some guys who have the passing skillset to fill this position, but none of them bring the defensive ability you'd get from a classic defensive midfielder: Bradley, Yueill, Nagbe, Trapp.

When you have Adams and McKennie wreaking havoc and covering ground in the midfield ahead of our wannabe-Pirlo-#6, it could work. What I like about Susaeta's interpretation of Berhalter's plan is that it puts many guys in positions to succeed.

The trouble is what happens down the road if one of our attack-minded central midfielders really becomes a big-time player: Paxton Pomykal, Richie Ledezma, Brenden Aaronson. I think it's awfully hard to get someone playing that position into the lineup without sacrificing the possession-hub-#6 as a team concept. I think you'd need to switch to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 with an Adams-McKennie double pivot behind your #10. Another way to be pushed into this concept is if Gio Reyna blows up as a central attacking player more than a winger, or if Reyna proves to be highly versatile and another of our many winger prospects blow up. If Reyna, Llanez, Morris, and Weah are all killing it, there will be pressure to use more than one of them in the lineup.

At least these are good problems to have.
 

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Thanks TB - always bringing the heat into the USMNT discussion.

Aside from the Berhalter comments about possibly having Adams and McK as dual CMs, was there anything else he said that would lead us to believe the rest of the Susaeta speculation is on point? Just trying to figure out how much of this is wishcasting vs. reacting to actual public comments/actions by GGG.
 

67YAZ

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If this isn't Berhalter's plan, then Sauseta should replace him post-haste. It really plays to the current strengths of player pool.

The two issues I see are - against weaker sides that will sit deep and defend, the CBs are going to have to patrol a lot of space behind the fullbacks to snuff out counters. That's just the price to pay for having the fullbacks get up the pitch to provide width and Pulisic and Reyna operating in their most dangerous areas. But opponents are going to keep testing the CBs.

Against stronger sides that will want to play on the front foot, having a classic CF is a luxury that's going to put a lot of stress on Adams & McKennie to dominate the center of the pitch. Jozy/Sargent/Zardes are going to have to play a deeper role to help out and make smart runs from deeper than usual and/or play good balls up for Pulisic and Reyna to run on to.

But even still, it's a formation that puts our best guys in good positions. We haven't seen that often enough.
 

Titans Bastard

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Thanks TB - always bringing the heat into the USMNT discussion.

Aside from the Berhalter comments about possibly having Adams and McK as dual CMs, was there anything else he said that would lead us to believe the rest of the Susaeta speculation is on point? Just trying to figure out how much of this is wishcasting vs. reacting to actual public comments/actions by GGG.
I'm not sure if it's anything Berhalter said. I think it's an inference drawn from the emergence of both Dest and Cannon, and the likelihood that we'll have Dest at LB instead of stay-at-home LBs like Ream or Lovitz. Dest at LB and Cannon/Yedlin at RB (my money is on Cannon) gives the USMNT fullbacks that can bomb forward and provide width, a feature that Berhalter has not yet had at his disposal. Antonee Robinson's continued improvement also means that it's not a scheme that has to be totally abandoned if Dest is unavailable for some reason.
 

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Trapp is thoroughly inadequate for the NT, but I think he was always a placeholder. He was being phased out in favor of Jackson Yueill before the COVID break.

Trapp played a ton in 2018 and in the first half of 2019. Bradley started over him in all of the 2019 Gold Cup knockout games. Trapp them started in Mexico in September, but didn't play against Uruguay, in any of the Cuba/Canada CONCACAF Nations League games, and wasn't at 2020 January Camp. Yueill started most of these games perhaps because Bradley was injured, but either way he was ahead of Trapp.

Berhalter has tried a variety of formations, but the constant is that he seems really, really married to a deep-lying #6 who acts as a possession hub. We have some guys who have the passing skillset to fill this position, but none of them bring the defensive ability you'd get from a classic defensive midfielder: Bradley, Yueill, Nagbe, Trapp.

When you have Adams and McKennie wreaking havoc and covering ground in the midfield ahead of our wannabe-Pirlo-#6, it could work. What I like about Susaeta's interpretation of Berhalter's plan is that it puts many guys in positions to succeed.

The trouble is what happens down the road if one of our attack-minded central midfielders really becomes a big-time player: Paxton Pomykal, Richie Ledezma, Brenden Aaronson. I think it's awfully hard to get someone playing that position into the lineup without sacrificing the possession-hub-#6 as a team concept. I think you'd need to switch to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 with an Adams-McKennie double pivot behind your #10. Another way to be pushed into this concept is if Gio Reyna blows up as a central attacking player more than a winger, or if Reyna proves to be highly versatile and another of our many winger prospects blow up. If Reyna, Llanez, Morris, and Weah are all killing it, there will be pressure to use more than one of them in the lineup.

At least these are good problems to have.
Yeah there's two parts of this that I don't fully understand:

1) You're outnumbered in defense unless you have a really strong player at that CDM who can challenge for balls and also be a great distributional passer when turning defense into the next attack. Time was that was Bradley, it's clearly not Trapp... and I really don't know enough about Yueill to have the confidence that you and Susaeta seem to. On the other hand, maybe the solution is even easier: Adams says that #6 is his best position ("Adams, however, laughs when asked about his best position. “My most comfortable position is playing in midfield and playing that number six role that I've played for so long, but I know that there are multiple ways…that they will use me.”"). So despite his chemistry from playing with McKennie on YNTs, maybe we think of someone like Reyna as being McKennie's partner in CM, and Adams more behind? At the very least, putting Adams in that role (with maybe Yueill as his backup?) helps give you more options if you end up with a surplus of attacking talent, or even alternative CMs next to McKennie.

2) The other thing this system demands that we don't have a lot of is speed on the fullbacks to bomb forward and bomb backwards a lot, and maintain endurance throughout the match. If you're not playing a traditional back four, it seems teams really know how to get behind you on a break or one bad pass. So with a back 3 plus the fullbacks, they'll have to really have eyes in the back of their head and anticipate the passing lanes. I dunno if Dest or Cannon have the requisite experience, and I'm not sure Yedlin has the speed anymore. That part makes me more uncertain than Altidore up front in CF, honestly.
 

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Yeah there's two parts of this that I don't fully understand:

1) You're outnumbered in defense unless you have a really strong player at that CDM who can challenge for balls and also be a great distributional passer when turning defense into the next attack. Time was that was Bradley, it's clearly not Trapp... and I really don't know enough about Yueill to have the confidence that you and Susaeta seem to. On the other hand, maybe the solution is even easier: Adams says that #6 is his best position ("Adams, however, laughs when asked about his best position. “My most comfortable position is playing in midfield and playing that number six role that I've played for so long, but I know that there are multiple ways…that they will use me.”"). So despite his chemistry from playing with McKennie on YNTs, maybe we think of someone like Reyna as being McKennie's partner in CM, and Adams more behind? At the very least, putting Adams in that role (with maybe Yueill as his backup?) helps give you more options if you end up with a surplus of attacking talent, or even alternative CMs next to McKennie.
I agree. If I were in charge, I'd just go with Adams/McKennie in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 with a more offensive midfielder in front of them. (Susaeta is on the record as wanting a balls-out 4-2-2-2 with Pulisic and Reyna on the wings and Morris and Altidore up top. I'm too chicken to fully endorse that plan.)

I just don't think Berhalter will do it. His ideas really seem to revolve around a possession hub at the 6. Yueill was a bad defender a few years ago, but he's gotten a lot better — you have to in order to play in San Jose under Matias Almeyda's manic man-marking defensive scheme. But he's no one's idea of an elite destroyer. Still, even if it's not my first choice I am willing to hear Berhalter out and see what happens. One benefit to playing Adams as a box-to-box mid is that we'll get more benefit out of his world-class range than we would if he were tasked with a more conservative role protecting the backline.

2) The other thing this system demands that we don't have a lot of is speed on the fullbacks to bomb forward and bomb backwards a lot, and maintain endurance throughout the match. If you're not playing a traditional back four, it seems teams really know how to get behind you on a break or one bad pass. So with a back 3 plus the fullbacks, they'll have to really have eyes in the back of their head and anticipate the passing lanes. I dunno if Dest or Cannon have the requisite experience, and I'm not sure Yedlin has the speed anymore. That part makes me more uncertain than Altidore up front in CF, honestly.
There will be growing pains around positioning and decision-making, but I think Dest and Cannon have enough speed to make it work. Or at least, it's worth trying.
 

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I saw that Susaeta post on twitter (and your contributions TB)...someone raised the idea of WM and TA with Pomykol in front of them, which would be an interesting switch I think you're alluding to earlier. Overall I think I'm more inclined to see Adams at the 6, but Greggg probably won't. Nice to have options though

So basically he’s moved on from Guardiola to Klopp
I think that's a very succinct way of putting it. Nicely done.