USMNT: Hold My Beer

Titans Bastard

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2021 Gold Cup draw:

Group A:
Mexico
El Salvador
Curaçao
(qualifier)

Group B:
USA
Canada
Martinique
(qualifier)

Group C:
Costa Rica
Jamaica
Suriname
(qualifier)

Group D:
Honduras
Panama
Grenada
Qatar (?!?! — I missed THAT announcement)


Favorites in the qualifying play-in games are Haiti, Guatemala, and T&T. Guadeloupe is the sort of place that can be a surprise depending on how many players in France they can recruit, but the pandemic doesn't seem like boom times for such practices. Same goes for USMNT group opponent Martinique.

USA vs. Canada will be fun, though it's worth noting that most WCQ contenders will not have their A team for this event.
 

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Moving the GK discussion over here, because Matt Turner is not an American Abroad, at least, not yet.

To assert that Matt Turner has been better in MLS than Zack Steffen was when he was in MLS is debatable, but not a wild hot take IMO. If you put stock in analytics like GK performance compared to xG against, Turner's numbers are off the charts. He'd already have more hype if he weren't playing for a team with a small fanbase and that's never on featured on the national TV broadcasts.

For me, Steffen is the undisputed starter for the USMNT right now. I expect Turner will get some looks and we'll see how it goes. Turner's prospects for moving to a big league improved recently with the revelation that he has acquired a Lithuanian passport.
Doyle explained his statement, and it's still a pretty lukewarm take.

It might be worth debating, as you say, and a few people gave it a moment's thought:

View: https://twitter.com/RevsRevolt/status/1309347322711740417


But then again, you look at those MLS stats, and Steffen was doing better on a GA90 basis, at a younger age, right up until Turner took a leap this year. Turner's had an extraordinary start to the 2020 season, but maybe we should wait more than 11 games before we decide that 0.90 GA90 is Turner's new talent level and he's gonna make us all forget Tim Howard.

Either way, and I suspect we agree, the point is that Turner looks good for MLS, but we have no idea how good he actually is on a broader scale. Until he moves to Europe and faces some quality forwards, we don't know how his skills are going to translate or develop. We knew plenty about Steffen, by contrast, because he had fucking catlike reflexes that were a clear top-level skill, and he'd proven that with his penalty stops and a bunch of other extraordinary plays. Meanwhile, I watch this:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaqOCykTxqI


...and I see a professional degree of goalkeeping out of Turner, okay footwork, but frankly, nothing all that extraordinary. Like, I've seen Bill Hamid highlights that look better than this, I'm not sure there's a play on that reel there that 2020 Brad Guzan doesn't stop. A couple of these saves, Turner gets down really slow; a few others, he leaves his near post open and gets lucky, none of them are real screamers, etc. Now take him out of MLS and imagine he were facing better finishing, trickier set pieces, Jamie Vardy bearing down on him at 30mph, a defensive scheme that took him off his line a bit, maybe even some shoulder fakes - would that translate? Scouting wise, he just looks lower-upside to me.

I'm sure some team will buy him just to find out, because MLS is at bargain-basement prices right now. But if you were itemizing their respective "tools" in a baseball sense, Steffen is the only one who's showing International-level tools of any kind.

(Sidenote: It's not like Pep Guardiola doesn't have options for his backup, either - they have 35yo Scott Carson on loan from Derby, and there were some calls for him after the debacle vs Leicester)
 

Titans Bastard

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I don't see GA/90 as being useful in evaluating keepers. It's so influenced by factors outside of the GK's control that it's an apples-to-dump trucks comparison. RBI is advanced sabermetrics in comparison.

Turner's shot-stopping passes the eye test. He was lights out in 2019 and, IMO, that highlight vid sells him short because they slo-mo'd his best saves which hides his best reflex saves a bit. Hamid makes acrobatic saves too, but Turner is already more reliable. Hamid was never able to cut the inconsistency and gaffes out of his game, and isn't anything special in distribution.

For whatever reason, the underlying analytics don't like Steffen as a shot-stopper, which surprises me a bit, because I don't necessarily view him as weak in that department. IDK. Maybe perception of him is influenced by the fact that he's extremely, extremely good against penalties?

The thing about Matt Turner is that he basically didn't play soccer until he was about age 16, so he started off way behind the curve. He went to an anonymous D1 soccer program (Fairfield) and was undrafted. He's on an impressive learning curve, and has even improved in areas where you'd expect a late starter to struggle (i.e. distribution). We'll see how far his late bloomer status takes him; sometimes guys like this continue to improve at ages when most have stopped developing, and many times guys like this just plateau at a certain level.

I'm just glad that this discussion is even possible. Let's remember that Steffen has been worryingly injury-prone. Even if Turner winds up as someone who is a bit worse than Steffen, that's a better fallback than the other options in the pool. This great youth movement we are experiencing right now isn't producing any particularly great goalkeepers and the prospects that people are highest on are so young that they are years and years away from the USMNT.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I'm worried that this whole convo will poison a segment of fans against a guy who has as good a shot at anyone as being the number 2 in the pool, but I guess fortunately that doesn't actually really matter at all.
 

Domer

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But then again, you look at those MLS stats, and Steffen was doing better on a GA90 basis, at a younger age, right up until Turner took a leap this year. Turner's had an extraordinary start to the 2020 season, but maybe we should wait more than 11 games before we decide that 0.90 GA90 is Turner's new talent level and he's gonna make us all forget Tim Howard.
TB pointed out why GA90 isn’t a great way to evaluate goalkeepers, so it’s worth pointing out Turner was first in GA-xGA in 2019 and fourth in 2018. Now that stat presents its own issues (for one, it’s a counting stat and Turner was a part time player in 2018), but it’s clear to me that Turner’s 2020 is not an anomaly.
 

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I'm worried that this whole convo will poison a segment of fans against a guy who has as good a shot at anyone as being the number 2 in the pool, but I guess fortunately that doesn't actually really matter at all.
Yeah I'm mostly discussing it for the sake of being glad we have something to discuss about USMNT goalkeeping. If Turner has made himself into the clear #2 right now, that's great - as TB said, Steffen has an injury history, and the bench is not deep there.

I wouldn't be worried about this "poisoning a segment of fans against the guy", though. I got into passionate arguments back in the day as to why Manny Ramirez was still a better hitter than David Ortiz. My love for the both of them was undiminished. Twitter, for its part, was largely dunking on Matt Doyle, not Matt Turner. I'm rooting for Turner, and rooting for him to get a transfer that lets him grow further and prove himself against better competition. I'd love for this to be a real debate with merit on both sides, but right now, Steffen is starting games for Pep fucking Guardiola - it's hard for me to even type that without laughing with amazement.
 

Titans Bastard

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If Turner is as good as some of us think he is, he could well be in demand by a big five league club. That would be nice because (a) it would be confirmation that he is indeed quite talented, (b) it would challenge him at a higher level, (c) the hardcore ideologues will be satisfied because once he's in [genuflect] Europe everyone can agree that He's Good Now. (To be clear, this is not a shot at anyone in this thread.)

In any case, there is no clear #2 right now behind Steffen, as Guzan is old and aging out of the pool, and there's an indistinguishable pile of mediocre NT keepers like Hamid and Johnson behind them. Turner is a solid bet to fill that role, but in fairness, we should probably let him get even one single cap before his spot in the pecking order is confirmed.
 

Titans Bastard

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The USA-Wales friendly is confirmed, but Australia withdrew from their November friendlies so the USSF is scrambling to find a second friendly in Europe during this window. TBD.
 

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Bring on the Faroe Islands! ...wait, no, they've got matches 11/14 and 11/17. Actually, everyone in Europe either plays Sat the 14th / Tues the 17th, or Sun the 15th / Weds the 18th (Wales is the latter; frankly we're lucky they agreed to 11/12). We need a team from outside Europe who'd be willing to play us in Europe.

CONMEBOL is having WCQs on 11/12 and 11/17. AFC is having WCQs on 11/14 and 11/19. New Zealand probably couldn't get the band together there (their roster is 4x MLS, 7x AUS A-League, 10x UEFA), and at rank #121 I doubt we'd learn much from playing them.

CAF is the only real possibility: They're having two AfCoN Qualifier matches on 11/9 and 11/17, and most Pot 1 teams would be good matchups for us. As we know, African FAs are always in need of cash. They'd be somewhat crazy to agree to a match with us on 11/15, but if they're in a strong position in their group and playing a minnow on the 11/17 that they can rotate heavily against, I wouldn't say it's impossible, especially if we charter them some flights or something. But man, we'd be calling in some favors, or playing on 11/14 on 1 day rest. Contenders in my mind:

(1) Ghana - Rank #50, currently 1st / 6 pts in their group, plays 11/9 vs Sudan (3rd, 3pts), 11/17 @Sudan; nearly everyone is UEFA-based, and we have a legit rivalry with them so we can promote the hell out of the match
(2) Morocco - Rank #47, currently 1st / 4 pts in their group, plays 11/9 vs CAR (3rd, 3 pts), 11/17 @Burundi (4th, 0 pts, -5, Rank #134). Has a hell of a roster, and the US playing in Morocco on 11/15 isn't absurd geographically.
(3) Cameroon - Rank #51, is the host of the 2021 AfCoN and as a result is basically just playing friendlies out there, 11/9 vs Mozambique, 11/17 @Mozambique. One of the most decorated African teams. Big commute, but no performance pressure.
(4) Senegal - Rank #22, the #1 team in Africa; currently 1st / 6 pts in group, plays 11/9 vs Guinea-Bissau (3rd, 3pts, #118), 11/17 @ Guinea-Bissau. Star-studded lineup. Would televise great, could maybe play in France
(5) Nigeria - Rank #45, currently 1st / 6 pts in group, plays 11/9 vs Sierra Leone (4th, 1 pt, #115), 11/17 @ Sierra Leone

Or, my preferred idea, find a coach to assemble a "Team Ronin" of UK-nationality players who aren't good enough to play for their national teams but are in the EPL or thereabouts, and who'd relish a chance to compete in an international friendly on the UEFA off-day (Mon 11/16). You only need 15-16 of them or so.
 

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OK, nobody wants to talk about who we could play? C'mon, the British B-Team would be fun.

So anyway, apparently the goal is for this to be mostly europe-based players. Here's the lineup Arthur Kogan of ESPN put together:



I have issues with:

- Weah isn't even starting for Lille right now. Tyler Boyd? Okay, he's 25, but at least he's healthy. Jordan Morris and Ebobisse will be in the playoffs. What happened to our winger depth? Llanez is barely making the squad at Heerenveen.
- Miazga at CB. I mean, CCV has a better resume, Richards probably a better future, and you'd think that would be the place to throw a token MLS player like Aaron Long or Mark McKenzie.

But otherwise those seem like the natural choices if you could really pick anyone and they're all healthy.
 

Joe D Reid

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Because it's fun, let's compare the clubs for that XI versus what we ran out against TnT in the last WC qualifier:

2017
Hamburg - MLS
Tijuana - MLS - Dortmund - MLS
Santos Laguna - MLS - Pachuca - Newcastle
MLS

2020

Chelsea - Bremen - Lille
Dortmund
Juventus - Leipzig
Fulham - Wolfsburg - Anderlecht* - Barcelona
Man City

*and as noted above, you could make this one Bayern if you wanted!

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE
 

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Starting center-backs: Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler. Good god almighty. And while Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream sat on the bench, no less.

Aside from Yedlin and obviously Pulisic, not one of them on the roster that night is remotely close to the USMNT picture today. There is no need to slowly carry along the last generation as they rotate out and cease being international-quality - they've all been just shot out of a cannon (or retired). Okay, Tim Ream and Altidore might occasionally get checked in on, you can't take for granted someone playing in the EPL, but by and large we've thrown out that whole batch.
 

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Starting center-backs: Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler. Good god almighty. And while Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream sat on the bench, no less.

Aside from Yedlin and obviously Pulisic, not one of them on the roster that night is remotely close to the USMNT picture today. There is no need to slowly carry along the last generation as they rotate out and cease being international-quality - they've all been just shot out of a cannon (or retired). Okay, Tim Ream and Altidore might occasionally get checked in on, you can't take for granted someone playing in the EPL, but by and large we've thrown out that whole batch.
To be fair, in a normal cycle, 2018 would have been the last hurrah for most of that group, providing depth and some veteran leadership and hopefully not playing too many key roles. The problem is that the generation after them, that should have been the key guys coming into their own in 2018, was non-existent outside of Pulisic. So while they certainly deserve some blame for crashing out of qualifying, I put a lot more blame on the development and coaching than the players. They did what what they were asked to do, but were put in a position to fail.

While I'm obviously as excited as the rest of us about the new generation coming up, the lack of that previous generation amounting to anything is going to hurt the squad depth and possibly in leadership this cycle as well.
 

Titans Bastard

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In a welcome respite from election stress, the USMNT roster is dropping tomorrow.
 

Titans Bastard

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Got a sneak peek and the roster is 23 UEFA-based players + 1 CONMEBOL-based player, and is very young.
 

Titans Bastard

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Roster's out!!

And we've got a second friendly confirmed, USA v. Panama in Austria on 11/16. Not the most exciting opponent, but I'm very pleased to have a second game under teh circumstances.

GK
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
Chituru Odunze (Leicester City)
Zack Steffen (Manchester City)

DF
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Reggie Cannon (Boavista)
Sergino Dest (Barcelona)
Matt Miazga (Anderlecht)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Chris Richards (Bayern Munich)
Antonee Robinson (Fulham)

MF
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Johnny Cardoso (Internacional)
Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven)
Weston McKennie (Juventus)
Yunus Musah (Valencia)
Owen Otasowie (Wolves)

FW
Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona)
Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen)
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Uly Llanez (Heerenveen)
Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Sebastian Soto (Telstar)
Tim Weah (Lille)
 

Titans Bastard

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Some thoughts:

GK — Steffen and Horvath are the only two Euro-based GKs who are really worth calling right now. Odunze is an '02 who was at the U17 WC in 2019 and is here to fill out the camp roster. It's hard to say how he's doing but I guess the USSF brass likes him a little more than Damian Las '02 at Fulham right now.

RB — No Yedlin, who isn't playing at all. We live in a Dest/Cannon world now.

CB — First look at Richards with the USMNT. The top younger guys who didn't get the call are Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

LB — Robinson is the only natural LB and we don't really have anyone else in Europe except for youth players. But Ream can fill in as a stay-at-home LB or, more likely, Dest could play LB with Cannon at RB.

CM — I'd love to see an Adams+McKennie combo after so long without it. Cardoso has played a bit in Brazil and is an interesting DM prospect. Otasowie is another young DM/CB who is looking for a breakthrough with Wolves. It looks like Berhalter is going out of his way to keep in involved with the US program. The big get here is Musah, an unexpected recruit. He's not cap-tied in any way and friendlies won't change that but I'm excited to see what he brings. Interestingly, he's listed as a MF with wingers listed at FW, which could suggest that Berhalter seems him as at the tip of the midfield three in a 4-3-3. If so, he'll be competing with Ledezma, who gets his first camp on the heels of his first team debut.

Wingers — Pulisic and Reyna should be the clear starters IF Pulisic is healthy enough to go, with Gio having license to frequently pinch in. But lots of young talent will have a chance to join the mix! There are no boring players here

FW — Sargent, Soto, and Gioacchini. I'd expect Sargent to get the nod, but the other two have done well at lower levels. Chile, which apparently has a really dire forward situation, has been recruiting Soto but obviously have not had any luck yet.
 

rguilmar

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I can get comfortable with that roster. Really curious to see Niko Gioacchini play. Has Yedlin fallen that far out of favor for club and country or is he hurt?
 

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Amazing to see that roster in print. This feels like a watershed to me. There are only 3-4 MLS players I’d want to see on the roster instead of the names here. Pretty incredible that 8 of the 23 were first choice (or at least started a game - I’m assuming Ledezma was first choice if fully fit) on that 2019 U-20 team. That’s got to be some sort of record for the USMNT and a real signal that the changing of the guard has arrived.
 

67YAZ

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Sure is. Pulisic, McKennie, and Adams are the only players among all MFs/FWs who were born before 2000.
I’m all for youth, but Wales and Panama are both veteran sides with plenty of guile. We’re going to have to watch for good individual performances in, hopefully, a simple 4-3-3 to keep the tactical demands light.
 

dirtynine

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This is basically the Reddit/Twitter dream roster (give or take an Aaronson). If Gregg did it solely to buy himself some social media good will I’d almost be impressed. Very psyched to see how this thing starts to come together.
 

Domer

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Wow, that’s a pretty low-rent move by Werder Bremen. It’s only a friendly for Sargent, but they are pulling Serbian Milos Veljkovic out of a do-or-die Euro 2020 playoff game against Scotland.
 

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No but seriously the biggest surprise is that they were able to find a second opponent for the window. That's a fucking miracle, and a huge favor by Panama given that (A) nobody in Austria cares, and (B) less than half their roster is Europe-based. I promise I will make it through the entire game without once complaining about hard fouls, and will say nice things to @trekfan55 . Although I reserve the right to use the term "concacaf-y".

I still think the British Ronin pick-up team would have been more entertaining (and arguably, more competitive), but I still have to admit that flying Panama in there makes less of a farce of the proceedings.

Also, I think I'm a little disappointed that Musah won't be up there at RW, with Reyna at CAM. Reyna has been a menace from the middle at BVB, and right-wing is one of the least certain spots on a starting lineup right now. I guess however he's listed on the roster doesn't necessarily determine how Berhalter uses him, but it's at least suggestive.
 
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Amazing to see that roster in print. This feels like a watershed to me. There are only 3-4 MLS players I’d want to see on the roster instead of the names here. Pretty incredible that 8 of the 23 were first choice (or at least started a game - I’m assuming Ledezma was first choice if fully fit) on that 2019 U-20 team. That’s got to be some sort of record for the USMNT and a real signal that the changing of the guard has arrived.
Who are those 3-4 MLS players? I guess Aaronson, sure, but after him?

FW — Sargent, Soto, and Gioacchini. I'd expect Sargent to get the nod, but the other two have done well at lower levels. Chile, which apparently has a really dire forward situation, has been recruiting Soto but obviously have not had any luck yet.
Isn't Llanez primarily a striker? I don't know how he's been doing for Heerenveen but... okay, actually Transfermarkt lists him as a RW. Am I just imagining that he was a CF for a while?

Okay so first of all, Aaron Ramsey withdrew with a thigh injury. That's too bad, the only person who was looking forward to seeing McKennie vs Ramsey in the midfield more than I was is Andrea Pirlo.

But secondly, that roster really just gives you a sense of how far our MNT has to go. Wales has a population of 3.1M people, and their national team features:

- 8x EPL (3x Spurs, 1x United, Leicester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds), obviously including one global superstar, with a second now out injured
- 1x Bundesliga (Schalke)
- 8x EFL Championship (3x Luton, 2x Swansea, 2x Bournemouth, 1x Derby)
(5x League One, 1x Scottish 2nd Div, 1x German 2nd Div, 2x League Two

We're getting there, and our roster no longer looks out of place against such an array, but with a country literally 100x their size, we ought to have our pick of players regularly starting at UCL/UEL clubs in Top 4 leagues (call it top 20-30 clubs, give or take). And we have half a roster of such players right now, which is probably 3-4x behind where we should be, but it's way ahead of where we were even 5 years ago.
 

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Who are those 3-4 MLS players? I guess Aaronson, sure, but after him?
Aaronson - yes
Morris - I'd take him over Llanez at RW at this point, regardless of how high I might be on Llanez. Love that we are giving him a look in camp and keeping him close to the program, but if you're not playing at Heerenveen then I'm not sure it's a strong case to be in the 23 over Morris.
Pomykal - Not healthy rt now, so perhaps moot, but when he's fit I'd take him over Ledezma

And you'd probably bring in Guzan as your 3rd keeper vs an 18 year old for the Leicester U21s.

If I thought Jozy could go a full 90, he'd be an easy add, but those days may be over.

Edit: And for me, the broader point (which you were implicitly getting at as well) is that the fact we even have to stop and really think through this is a sign of progress in itself. Just as the days of college guys playing a meaningful role in the U20s have come to an end, so might the days of a meaningful MLS presence on the senior team.
 
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Titans Bastard

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I think there will always be at least a token MLS presence on the USMNT, if only because the market doesn't immediately reflect changes in the player pool. But we may get the point where the only MLSers are young guys who are going to be sold sooner or later. Brazil and Argentina always have a few domestic league players on their squads, too.

  • Turner would be one of the 3 GKs. Maybe you take a second MLS guy depending on how you rate Horvath. A best 23 would probably have at least one CB: Long and/or McKenzie, though I think McKenzie will be sold sooner or later.
  • Lletget or a healthy Pomykal would be in there for now. I think Lletget will get crowded out eventually, and if Pomykal finally stays healthy, he'll be both a USMNT guy and sold to Europe.
  • Morris is a lock for now. Not to start, but in the squad, for sure.
  • And haterz gonna hate, but Zardes is in the 23 right now. That could change, but he's a useful cog in the machine.

I find building a USMNT squad of 23 hard right now. At some positions, there are a lot of candidates and a wide open field: CB and FW especially. These are good problems to have.

Also: both Morris and Llanez are most effective at LW. I'm really interested to see if Berhalter goes with a traditional winger at RW or uses Reyna there, giving him the license to pinch in and instructing the RB to aggressively overlap for width.
 

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You're damn right haterz are gonna hate, I was nodding along with your post until I saw "Zardes" and then I think I blacked out. :)

As for depth, I feel like our MF starters are great (Adams, McKennie, Reyna), but the depth behind them isn't (maybe excepting Pomykal except he's still so young, and won't be back till spring). By comparison, I feel like we've got decent depth at FB, somehow - Dest, Cannon and A. Robinson are all credible internationals and two of them can play either side - and we've also got some exciting young attacking talent with more in the pipeline (Konrad, etc)... but we're one midfield injury away from getting run off the field by a NT with good technique. Am I imagining that? Maybe if Aaronson is right on the cusp, that eases considerably. Maybe I'm underrating Ledezma. I dunno.

I likewise don't have a problem with MLS continuing to provide possible MNT opportunities. As you say, part of it is getting to a professional level where Europe comes calling, and another part will be US Soccer's desire to help MLS continue to grow in quality and reputation. All the players you named are routinely mentioned in MNT discussions, even if Lletget and a few others are old. But the ones I haven't heard much about include:

- Miles Robinson
- Jackson Yueill
- If we're including Aaron Long on the list, here, must we include Walker Zimmerman?
- Cristian Roldan
- Didn't Nick Lima impress us for a hot second when inserted in an attacking wing-back kind of formation?
- *winces* Wil Trapp?

I basically don't know what they're up to, if they're in-form, as I don't watch much MLS.
 

Titans Bastard

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You're damn right haterz are gonna hate, I was nodding along with your post until I saw "Zardes" and then I think I blacked out. :)

As for depth, I feel like our MF starters are great (Adams, McKennie, Reyna), but the depth behind them isn't (maybe excepting Pomykal except he's still so young, and won't be back till spring). By comparison, I feel like we've got decent depth at FB, somehow - Dest, Cannon and A. Robinson are all credible internationals and two of them can play either side - and we've also got some exciting young attacking talent with more in the pipeline (Konrad, etc)... but we're one midfield injury away from getting run off the field by a NT with good technique. Am I imagining that? Maybe if Aaronson is right on the cusp, that eases considerably. Maybe I'm underrating Ledezma. I dunno.

I likewise don't have a problem with MLS continuing to provide possible MNT opportunities. As you say, part of it is getting to a professional level where Europe comes calling, and another part will be US Soccer's desire to help MLS continue to grow in quality and reputation. All the players you named are routinely mentioned in MNT discussions, even if Lletget and a few others are old. But the ones I haven't heard much about include:

- Miles Robinson
- Jackson Yueill
- If we're including Aaron Long on the list, here, must we include Walker Zimmerman?
- Cristian Roldan
- Didn't Nick Lima impress us for a hot second when inserted in an attacking wing-back kind of formation?
- *winces* Wil Trapp?

I basically don't know what they're up to, if they're in-form, as I don't watch much MLS.
I agree that our depth at various positions is uneven, but I feel mostly good that we'll be in a better place in a year or two, once there's been more time for youth to develop. The player pool has improved at such a dramatic rate that we're getting a little greedy! I predicted ~2-3 years ago that the USMNT wouldn't start to get especially interesting until 2021 and I've been pleased that we are well ahead of the schedule I expected.

In the midfield, it's a little hard to figure out the depth chart given that the USMNT hasn't played for so long so we don't know Berhalter's current configuration or depth chart. Certainly, there's a dropoff after the big three that you mentioned, but I do think our depth will fill out in the next few years. For now, guys like Lletget and Aaronson aren't bad for the 8/10 positions, IMO. Lletget always seems to make things happen off the bench, and Aaronson has a lot of promise (and a solid performance level so far for his club).

The backup to Tyler Adams is the biggest concern for me, because other players used at the 6 aren't actually very good at the typical defensive demands of the job (Bradley, Yueill, Trapp) and none have special qualities that merit protecting them with a strong defensive #8.


Anyway:

M. Robinson — took a step back this year, and Atlanta is a tire fire.
Yueill — he's okay, but San Jose had some really awful defensive runs this year. That's definitely not entirely on him, but it's not the greatest reflection.
Zimmerman — defensively he's a beast, but IMO he's not a great fit for what Berhalter seems to want from CBs
Roldan — very competent MLS pro, but I've never seen it from him for club or country.
Lima — another solid pro, but he's not going to compete with Dest/Cannon/others
Trapp — in and out of the lineup for Miami. He was being phased out of the NT last year and there's no indication that he should be brought back


Guys like Trapp and Roldan played a lot in 2019, but they were always placeholders — better than the most of the dreck of their generation, but unable to compete with bigger talents in the pipeline. Now, some of the talents are here.


I think Berhalter is going to want his CBs to be able to pass the ball and press high at times. That's bad news for players like Zimmerman and Miazga, IMO, who are good aerially, but aren't speedsters or particularly good passers. Long is fast, but not a good passer. Brooks is a good passer, but not especially fast. Mark McKenzie is the young MLS CB with the most buzz right now because he's one of the best passers in our CB pool and is solid defensively too.
 

67YAZ

Member
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Dec 1, 2000
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I think Berhalter is going to want his CBs to be able to pass the ball and press high at times. That's bad news for players like Zimmerman and Miazga, IMO, who are good aerially, but aren't speedsters or particularly good passers. Long is fast, but not a good passer. Brooks is a good passer, but not especially fast. Mark McKenzie is the young MLS CB with the most buzz right now because he's one of the best passers in our CB pool and is solid defensively too.
At the risk of sounding like a huge homer, keep an eye on Mo Pineda. Not that he’s world class, but he plays CB the way Gregg wants, he’s entering his prime years, and he’s a well known quantity after MLS academy years, college, and now a regular starting gig in Chicago. Maybe camp filler or maybe a couple caps, but he could push other guys on the practice pitch by executing the role well.
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
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Dec 16, 2010
42,282
Pulisic is now in camp, but still doubtful to play.

“Christian is in camp and is listed as day-to-day. It really says a lot about Christian that he wasn’t playing for Chelsea but he wanted to come into this camp and be around the team and his status is day-to-day,” Berhalter said.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
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Dec 15, 2002
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USMNT tomorrow.

Feels strange! But I'm very much looking forward to it.