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Roster prediction 2.0: Who USMNT could bring to Qatar 2022 World Cup

One of two US men’s national team windows between World Cup qualifying ending and the World Cup beginning is done. In five short months, Nov. 21 to be specific, the United States will take the field against Wales in Qatar to begin their World Cup 2022 campaign.

The preferred starting lineup is taking shape, as is the expected roster. Let’s take a look at where things stand, in an update from our first roster projection in March.

It’s worth noting that, still, there is no definitive decision on whether this tournament will be the standard 23-man roster or the recent COVID-induced norm of 26 players.

Onward, with the September window representing players’ last chance to impress in camp before decision time for head coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff.

LOCKS FOR THE 23-MAN ROSTER
Original (13):

Christian Pulisic (F, Chelsea)
Weston McKennie (M, Juventus)
Tyler Adams (M, RB Leipzig)
Gio Reyna (M/F, Borussia Dortmund)
Tim Weah (F, Lille)
Brenden Aaronson (M/F, Leeds United)
Yunus Musah (M, Valencia)
Zack Steffen (GK, Manchester City)
Matt Turner (GK, New England Revolution)
Miles Robinson (D, Atlanta United)
Walker Zimmerman (D, Nashville SC)
Sergino Dest (D, Barcelona)
Antonee Robinson (D, Fulham)
Drop:

Miles Robinson (D, Atlanta United)
Add (now 17):

Kellyn Acosta (M, LAFC)
Luca de la Torre (M, Heracles)
Jesus Ferreira (F, FC Dallas)
Chris Richards (D, Bayern Munich)
Aaron Long (D, New York Red Bulls)
TOM BOGERT (TB): Just for continuity’s sake, let’s start with our original list of “locks” immediately following the successful World Cup qualifying campaign in March. We tried to be very deliberate and cautious in not putting, like, 19 guys on that list.

The only person who dropped off is Miles Robinson, after suffering a torn Achilles while playing for Atlanta United. We added Kellyn Acosta (who I argued should have already been on that list), as well as Luca de la Torre, Jesus Ferreira, Chris Richards and Aaron Long.

That brings us to 17 roster spots accounted for, ostensibly with six spots (or nine, depending on if the roster size is bumped to 26) left on the bubble over the next five months.

MATT DOYLE (MD): I think everyone mentioned, including Richards and Long, are locks (we’ll get into that more below).

I’m now completely on board with Kellyn as a lock, too. If someone was going to usurp him in the d-mid pecking order it would’ve had to happen this window, but Berhalter didn’t even call in the one guy who I thought might’ve had a chance (James Sands). Instead, we actually saw Berhalter go away from his preferred shape when Adams was playing as a d-mid, then back to it when Acosta was on the field. In other words, he’s actually scheming toward Kellyn’s strengths a little bit. You don’t do that if the guy’s name is in pencil.

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