Teamwork makes the dream work

USMNT Inventory Watch: Is there nonetheless hope for Jordan Pefok?

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By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports activities Soccer Author

Editor’s Notice: “Airplane to Qatar” is FOX Sports activities’ weekly function monitoring the progress of gamers hoping to crack the United States Males’s Nationwide Staff’s 26-player roster for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

We all know much more in regards to the USMNT’s pool of World Cup hopefuls than we did per week in the past.

After U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter final week launched a 26-man squad for the People’ last two pre-Qatar costume rehearsals — on Friday in opposition to Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany, and on Sept. 27 versus Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain — and added three gamers after others withdrew due to harm, we all know that teenage striker Ricardo Pepi is not essentially behind in-form Jordan Pefok or Haji Wright in Berhalter’s estimation, regardless of Pepi’s struggles in Germany.

We all know that Tim Ream and James Sands simply aren’t the type of brawny heart backs the coach is searching for, regardless of taking part in usually within the Premier League and Champions League, respectively.

And we all know that regardless of Berhalter’s insistence, the bubble gamers who weren’t known as into camp this month are all however achieved so far as the World Cup is worried. Certain, there’s an opportunity that one thing extraordinary occurs and somebody performs themselves in or out of a roster spot over the following two months. By and huge, although, if something goes to alter will probably be due to accidents and never a late change of coronary heart by the employees.

That’s one thing to control: At least seven regulars (Cameron Carter-Vickers, Yunus Musah, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson, Cristian Roldan Zack Steffen and Tim Weah) are out this month due to completely different harm issues.

All are anticipated to get well earlier than Qatar. However know this, too: a couple of extra twists earlier than the principle occasion, which is now precisely two months away, are all however assured.

“It is loopy to assume how shut the World Cup is,” U.S. attacker Brenden Aaronson instructed reporters Monday on a Zoom name from Germany. “It comes at you quick.”

Top quality

F/M Brenden Aaronson (Leeds): Aaronson hasn’t performed since Sept. 3, as Leeds’ final two video games have been postponed following the loss of life of Queen Elizabeth II.

“It has been form of powerful not having the ability to get again within the swing of issues,” mentioned the 21-year-old, who’s more likely to occupy Musah’s central midfield function this month. “However we have had some inter-squads, and we have been coaching exhausting, so I really feel able to go.”

M Tyler Adams (Leeds): The defensive midfielder’s lineup spot is perhaps essentially the most safe of any USMNT member. Adams has performed each minute of Leeds’ season thus far. 

D Sergiño Dest (AC Milan): Dest has been used solely as a sub since transferring from Barcelona on mortgage final month, however Berhalter’s first-choice proper again might begin each USMNT warmups.

F Jesús Ferreira (Dallas): The one U.S. striker ensured of a spot on the aircraft if wholesome, Ferreira’s 18 objectives lead all People in MLS.

M Weston McKennie (Juventus): Juve is off to a dreadful begin to 2022-23, however not less than McKennie is taking part in usually once more after harm value him the ultimate few months of final season.

*M Yunus Musah (Valencia): A groin harm pressured Musah — who began the La Liga season en fuego — to withdraw from the September roster. It is largely precautionary in response to Spanish outlet AS, with Valencia hoping the two-way central midfielder is able to face Espanyol on Oct. 2.

F Christian Pulisic (Chelsea): Graham Potter’s appointment as Chelsea’s new supervisor did not instantly lead to extra minutes for the USMNT’s prime attacker, who performed simply the ultimate six of final week’s Champions League tie with Salzburg. It is attainable that Pulisic might function extra in these upcoming U.S. video games than he has all season within the Prem.

F/M Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund): Reyna is rounding into type at simply the suitable time. Berhalter will nonetheless train excessive warning with the injury-plagued 19-year-old, who hasn’t gone a full 90 minutes since March.

*D Antonee Robinson (Fulham): A proper ankle harm retains Jedi off the September roster. “At this stage,” Berhalter mentioned, “it is most likely higher to not rush it and provides him the correct restoration time.”

*F Tim Weah (Lille): Berhalter wasn’t positive when Robinson would begin working towards, however he did give a timeline for Weah. “Timmy’s transferring alongside,” Berhalter mentioned. “He could also be in staff coaching by the top of [this] week.” 

D Walker Zimmerman (Nashville): Zimmerman’s stature on and off the sphere will solely develop with Carter-Vickers and Richards injured and Ream ignored. He is been dominant in MLS; Nashville has conceded simply two objectives within the 29-year-old’s final 5 matches.

Consolation Plus

M Kellyn Acosta (LAFC): Adams’ solely true backup has performed nearly 2,400 minutes in 30 appearances for the joint MLS leaders.

M Paul Arriola (Dallas): The veteran winger helped put FCD within the MLS playoffs final weekend. The additional video games ought to assist hold Arriola sharp main into the World Cup — particularly if Dallas makes a deep run. 

*^D Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic): Whereas a minor ailment pressured the 24-year-old to withdraw on Sunday, we now know that Berhalter considers Carter-Vickers one in all his prime 4 central defenders when wholesome.

D Reggie Cannon (Boavista): Berhalter raved in regards to the versatile Cannon’s tenacity and battle after final week’s roster announcement. That bodes effectively for him.

M Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo): The playmaker has logged simply 18 minutes all season. But De la Torre ought to hold his spot if he retains making cameos, nevertheless transient, since he’d even be used as a late-game sub by the U.S. in Qatar.

G Sean Johnson (New York Metropolis): One factor that might work in opposition to the 33-year-old is an early playoff exit by the Pigeons.

D Aaron Lengthy (New York Crimson Bulls): With Carter-Vickers and Richards out, Lengthy — who began all 4 June video games for the USMNT — ought to line up alongside Walker Zimmerman in each September matches.

“Definitely we have had loads of video games — whether or not it has been this 12 months or up to now — collectively,” Zimmerman mentioned when requested Tuesday by FOX Sports activities in regards to the partnership. “It is one other alternative to get reps in, and that is in coaching and within the video games. So it is already good engaged on that at this time.” 

M Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders): With Seattle poised to overlook the MLS playoffs for the primary time in membership historical past, an absence of match health might put Morris’ place in jeopardy.

“If a man’s not taking part in all of it from now till the World Cup,” Berhalter mentioned, “It is gonna be a problem for us.”

^F Ricardo Pepi (Groningen): Berhalter made it sound just like the 19-year-old, a daily all through World Cup qualifying, will get each likelihood to make the ultimate roster.

And that was earlier than Pepi scored his first objective for his new Dutch membership:

*D Chris Richards (Crystal Palace): The middle again hasn’t performed for the U.S. since January, and now he is out for this camp, too. Richards, 22, ought to nonetheless make the journey to Qatar if wholesome. However it’s exhausting to see him beginning there now.

F Josh Sargent (Norwich Metropolis): The most popular American striker, Sargent scored for the sixth time in six video games on Saturday. Anticipate him to get an extended look in not less than one of many two matches this month.

^D Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp): Vines ought to get the primary audition as Jedi’s understudy. “This can be a nice alternative to take a look at him,” Berhalter mentioned of the pure lefty, who he added is “within the type of his life” for Belgium’s prime staff.

G Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough): Whereas Steffen returned to the sphere for ‘Boro Saturday after lacking 4 video games with a sore knee, his possibilities of beginning in Qatar are slipping. The 27-year-old has the fourth-worst save proportion in England’s second tier, hasn’t performed for the U.S. since March, and is not on the present squad. 

G Matt Turner (Arsenal): Turner received his Arsenal debut, within the Europa League on Sept. 8, and with Steffen out might begin each U.S. matches. 

D DeAndre Yedlin (Miami): Yedlin helped Miami climb again above the playoff line final week. On a younger U.S. staff, his management and former World Cup expertise matter, too. 

“We’re not gonna be essentially the most gifted staff on the World Cup, and we’re gonna should compensate for that by being a cohesive unit, by working for one another, combating for one another and having an awesome staff spirit,” Berhalter mentioned. “A part of that’s leaning on guys which were there earlier than.” 

Standby record

M Johnny Cardoso (Internacional): The Brazil-based 21-year-old, whose final call-up got here 9 months in the past, was a shock substitute for the injured Musah.

G Ethan Horvath (Luton City): If Turner would not play all of each friendlies, we’ll discover out precisely the place Horvath, who has needed to make simply 15 saves in 10 video games for Luton, stands on the USMNT’s keeper depth chart.

D Mark McKenzie (Genk): Added over the weekend, the CB performed his approach into the chance with a robust run of video games in Belgium.

⌄F Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin): No matter Berhalter says, being left off the ultimate roster earlier than the World Cup would not bode effectively for Pefok’s probabilities. That mentioned, he’ll nonetheless have a shot if Sargent and/or Pepi do not carry out effectively this month or get injured — offered Pefok retains scoring objectives like this one on Sunday:

D Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes): Initially ignored, the 25-year-old heart again was added to the present squad together with McKenzie.

D Shaquell Moore (Nashville): Berhalter mentioned it “was a extremely troublesome determination” to depart the suitable again off the September roster. He is subsequent in line if somebody goes down. 

*M Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders): Roldan’s physique of labor and recognition along with his teammates might see him declare one of many last World Cup tickets if he recovers from groin surgical procedure in time. However like Morris, Seattle lacking the playoffs would not assist.

D Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach): Simply 19, Scally earned his invite by beginning each recreation of the Bundesliga season thus far. He may need to beat out Vines to make the ultimate lower.

D/M James Sands (Rangers): Sands is the seventh-choice heart again, at greatest; Berhalter known as in six CBs forward of him this month.

⌄M Malik Tillman (Rangers): Tillman’s inventory was hovering two weeks in the past, however Berhalter put the 20-year-old attacker on discover after he struggled in Glasgow’s Outdated Agency derby and in Rangers’ Champions League opener. 

“He wants to extend his degree,” the coach mentioned. “I am dissatisfied along with his final couple performances in opposition to Ajax and Celtic.”

F Haji Wright (Antalyaspor): The large striker, who wasn’t known as in, has cooled since kicking off the Turkish season with 5 objectives in 4 video games. Wright is now scoreless in his final three.


^Bumped up

⌄Bumped down

Added: Johnny Cardoso

Dropped: Jozy Altidore, George Bello, Gianluca Busio, Djordje Mihailovic, Kevin Paredes, Tim Ream, Brandon Vázquez, Eryk Williamson

One of many main soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has lined United States males’s and girls’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a employees author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities. Observe him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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