USA World Cup 2022 roster: USMNT projected squad and possible starting 11 for Qatar

USA World Cup 2022 roster: USMNT projected squad and possible starting 11 for Qatar

With the nightmare of the USA’s failed qualification bid in 2018 officially put to bed, USMNT fans can look forward to a World Cup again. U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter will officially announce his 26-man roster on Wednesday, November 9.

For the 2022 edition in Qatar, World Cup rosters were expanded to 26 players, allowing teams to bring three additional players compared to past events. So who will be among the 26 American players brought to soccer’s most coveted event, and who will be left out of the fold?

Berhalter and his USMNT coaching staff have spent the last few months scouting and readying the final list of talent, and here we project who will make the final roster on November 9. We perhaps got some clues in late October, when he invited a group of domestic-based players from MLS clubs eliminated from playoff content to a mini-camp to maintain their fitness.

Of course, injuries will be a major factor in the makeup of the roster. While the health of some USMNT players has improved in recent weeks, other candidates have already been ruled out due to injury.

MORE: Latest USMNT injury news with new niggles for Matt Turner and Tyler Adams

USA World Cup roster for Qatar 2022

Whittling down the U.S. player pool to the 26 best — or, most useful — players is going to be extremely difficult for Berhalter, who will surely be taking team chemistry into consideration.

The starting lineup and main contributors seem relatively set, but every roster spot is valuable, and the goal will be to maximize every position with players who can contribute in multiple ways on and off the field.

So, with that in mind and taking into account the latest reports, here are the 26 players The Sporting News predicts to be on the World Cup roster.

Predicted USMNT roster

Position Player Club Age Caps 2022 World Cup
Qualifiers
GK Ethan Horvath Luton Town (ENG) 27 8 0
GK Sean Johnson NYCFC (USA) 33 10 0
GK Matt Turner Arsenal (ENG) 28 18 7
DEF Reggie Cannon Boavista (POR) 24 26 2
DEF Cameron Carter-Vickers Celtic (SCO) 24 10 0
DEF Sergino Dest AC Milan (ITA) 21 17 6
DEF Mark McKenzie KRC Genk (BEL) 23 8 2
DEF Shaq Moore Nashville SC (USA) 25 15 4
DEF Erik Palmer-Brown Troyes (FRA) 25 4 2
DEF Antonee Robinson Fulham (ENG) 25 28 13
DEF Joe Scally Gladbach (GER) 19 2 0
DEF DeAndre Yedlin Inter Miami (USA) 29 74 9
DEF Walker Zimmerman Nashville SC (USA) 29 31 10
MID Kellyn Acosta LAFC (USA) 27 52 13
MID Tyler Adams Leeds United (ENG) 23 19 13
MID Weston McKennie Juventus (ITA) 24 34 7
MID Yunus Musah Valencia (SPA) 19 18 10
MID Gio Reyna Borussia Dortmund (GER) 19 11 3
FWD Brenden Aaronson Leeds United (ENG) 21 21 11
FWD Paul Arriola FC Dallas (USA) 27 46 5
FWD Jesus Ferreira FC Dallas (USA) 21 12 6
FWD Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders (USA) 27 47 6
FWD Jordan Pefok Union Berlin (GER) 26 9 3
FWD Ricardo Pepi Groningen (NED) 19 12 10
FWD Christian Pulisic Chelsea (ENG) 24 50 10
FWD Timothy Weah LOSC Lille (FRA) 22 24 9

WORLD CUP 2022 SELECTED SQUADS:
Australia | Argentina | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon 
Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | England
France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico
Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Senegal
Serbia | Spain | Switzerland | Uruguay | USA | Wales 

USMNT stars, strengths, and weaknesses at 2022 World Cup

Stars

The unquestioned star of the USMNT team is Christian Pulisic, and his ability to stay healthy and carry the attack will determine how far the U.S. can advance at the World Cup. With his playing time at Chelsea diminished, he will need to energize himself ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

The Leeds United pair of Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson have also risen to significant prominence on this U.S. team, with their pressing abilities fitting the Berhalter system perfectly. Adams in particular is an engine in midfield, generating turnovers at the No. 6 position and building possession out of the back.

Weston McKennie is another fixture in the middle, and his partnership with Adams and Yunus Musah has affectionately been dubbed “MMA.” The absence of any of those three has proven costly to the U.S. and their health will be of critical importance. McKennie and Musah have developed a true No. 8 pivot in front of Adams, with Musah being in charge of ball progression while McKennie has a more box-to-box role.

Strengths

The midfield for the U.S. is the team’s clear strength. While it’s not particularly deep, the presence of the “MMA” trio is a massive boost for the U.S. and those three can match up against many of the world’s midfield players. However, especially after an injury to Luca de la Torre, the depth behind those three is lacking.

Full-back is also a position of strength, surprisingly, after years of lacking talent in that area. The presence of Antonee Robinson on the left and Sergino Dest on the right allows Berhalter to work his tactical approach around the pair’s strengths. 

Youth is also an extremely important aspect of this U.S. squad, as they not only enter the 2022 World Cup with energy and exuberance, but also look towards the 2026 tournament that the U.S. will host alongside Canada and Mexico. Any success at the 2022 World Cup will give hope that this same group can build further on that foundation to be a true contender four years from now.

There is just one player on the projected roster who is 30 years old or above — third-string goalkeeper Sean Johnson — while the rest still have plenty of years in front of them. Only one player, DeAndre Yedlin, was part of the 2014 World Cup roster. Talented young players like Aaronson, Dest, Gio ReynaTim Weah, and even 24-year-old Pulisic provide hope for a bright future.

The goalkeeping position was one with a few concerns not long ago, but it’s amazing what a few months will do to change that. Matt Turner was facing playing time concerns ahead of a move to Arsenal, and form heading into the World Cup was a real concern. However, Turner has seen time as Arsenal’s goalkeeper for cup competitions and played extremely well so things are looking up.

MORE: USA’s World Cup schedule & opponents in Qatar

Weaknesses

There are a significant number of question marks on this team heading into the World Cup.

Chief among those is the striker position. While Jesus Ferreira seems entrenched in the starting role, that’s largely due more to a lack of other options than Ferreira’s ability to claim the spot. Behind him is a mish-mash of in-form but inexperienced fringe players. 

Ricardo Pepi is still young, but his move to Augsburg proved disastrous, and he required a loan to the Netherlands (Groningen) to recover his form. Jordan Pefok and Haji Wright are in great form at their clubs, but they’re not top of Berhalter’s list. Pefok’s absence from the September camp roster raised many eyebrows, but Berhalter made it clear that he’s not out of the running for a spot in Qatar.

Similarly, the center-back position is one of confusion for the United States. Walker Zimmerman is a clear starter, but alongside him it’s anyone’s guess. Miles Robinson was meant to be that guy, but a torn Achilles ended his chances for a spot in Qatar. Aaron Long is a preferred Berhalter option, but his subpar play in MLS since returning from an injury could force Berhalter’s hand. Cameron Carter-Vickers has done well at Celtic, but is only recently back in the USMNT mix after years of toiling off the radar.

The rest of the center-back options provide little hope. Crystal Palace center-back Chris Richards is out injured. Erik Palmer-Brown or Mark McKenzie could earn a spot based on club form, but their few national team appearances do not inspire confidence. Tim Ream has had a brilliant start to the season at Fulham to re-insert the veteran into the conversation, but he wasn’t called in to September camp, and Berhalter’s explanation left Ream an unlikely option.

USMNT starting lineup at the FIFA World Cup

The biggest question when it comes to a projected starting lineup comes between the pipes. With recent starting goalkeeper Matt Turner moving to Arsenal, where he will compete for time and likely back up Aaron Ramsdale, that makes two USMNT goalkeepers with upper echelon Premier League teams…both as backups. Form is critical for goalkeepers, meaning it remains to be seen whether Steffen or Turner get enough minutes to consider themselves game ready for World Cup matches.

Another main question is at the third midfield position. Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, when healthy, are locks for the starting lineup. The final spot seemed more up in the air until Brenden Aaronson performed brilliantly at the head of the midfield trio throughout the summer international break, including an excellent performance against Morocco. Could this be the way to get all the best U.S. attacking players on the field at the same time?

  • United States projected starting lineup (4-3-3): Turner (GK) — A. Robinson, Carter-Vickers, Zimmerman, Dest — Adams, McKennie, Musah — Pulisic, Ferreira, Aaronson.

MORE: Analyzing the USMNT’s best starting XI at the FIFA World Cup

Projected USMNT World Cup roster cuts

With just 26 spots available to Berhalter, some players will be left on the outside looking in.

Up front, Ricardo Pepi’s meteoric dip in form after a move to Augsburg appeared to have him on the outside looking in, but he sees the roster thanks to a resurgence on loan with Dutch side Groningen. Instead, it’s Josh Sargent who fails to make the squad, as does Jordan Pefok with his great early-season form essentially evaporated. The days for Gyasi Zardes to make this squad are long gone.

The center-back battle is totally wide open, with Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown, McKenzie and Richards all in contention. An end-of-season injury to Richards left him off the summer roster, and he hasn’t gained minutes since moving to Crystal Palace, with a current injury making him an unlikely selection.

In midfield, midseason groin surgery for Cristian Roldan appeared to doom his World Cup chances, but after returning three matches from the end of the MLS regular season, he could possibly return. Similarly, Luca de la Torre looked set for a spot despite a lack of club minutes at Celta Vigo, but a hamstring injury in late October may have robbed him of that chance.

At goalkeeper, Zack Steffen was reportedly on the outside looking in on the eve of the roster announcement, a shocking decision by Gregg Berhalter. That sees both the experienced Sean Johnson and untested young player Ethan Horvath as the two behind Matt Turner.

Veteran goalkeeper Brad Guzan tore his ACL with Atlanta United and will not be an option, and this World Cup comes just a bit too soon for young Gaga Slonina. Stefan Frei had a wonderful performance in the CONCACAF Champions League for Seattle, but still didn’t get a look in the summer even with an injury to Zack Steffen that saw Horvath as the next man called up.

MORE: Why they call Brenden Aaronson the “Medford Messi”

Projected USMNT World Cup roster cuts

Position Player Club Age Caps 2022 World Cup
Qualifiers
GK Josh Cohen Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 30 0 0
GK Stefan Frei Seattle Sounders (USA) 36 0 0
GK Brad Guzan** Atlanta United (USA) 38 64 0
GK Gabriel Slonina Chicago Fire (USA)* 18 0 0
GK Zack Steffen Middlesbrough (ENG)* 27 29 6
DEF George Bello Arminia Bielefeld (BEL) 20 7 2
DEF Tim Ream Fulham FC (ENG) 35 46 1
DEF Chris Richards** Crystal Palace (ENG) 22 6 5
DEF Miles Robinson** Atlanta United (USA) 25 21 11
DEF James Sands Rangers (SCO) 22 7 1
DEF Sam Vines** Royal Antwerp (BEL) 23 9 0
MID Luca de la Torre** Celta Vigo (SPA) 24 10 4
MID Sebastian Lletget FC Dallas (USA) 30 33 4
MID Djordje Mihailovic CF Montreal (CAN) 23 6 0
MID Cristian Roldan Seattle Sonders (USA) 27 32 5
MID Malik Tillman Rangers (SCO) 20 2 0
FWD Konrad de la Fuente Olympiakos (GRE)* 21 3 2
FWD Matthew Hoppe Middlesbrough (ENG) 21 6 1
FWD Josh Sargent Norwich City (ENG) 22 19 3
FWD Brandon Vazquez FC Cincinnati (USA) 24 0 0
FWD Gyasi Zardes Colorado Rapids (USA) 31 68 5

* On loan
** Injured