Tag: DeAndre Yedlin

Picking the Ideal USMNT 26-man Roster

Picking the Ideal USMNT 26-man Roster

The United States Mens’ National Team roster for the World Cup will be revealed on November 9th, so instead of purely complaining about Gregg Berhalter’s roster decisions after the fact, I will put out my ideal 26-man roster ahead of time. This is not in any way a prediction, as we all know Tim Ream won’t make the roster despite being the captain of a team in the middle of the Premier League table, and this roster doesn’t include any of GGG’s inexplicable infatuation with Cristian Roldan, Paul Arriola, and Aaron Long. So, who do I have on the roster? Let’s start with my starting 11, and I will keep to the current USA formation of 4-3-3.

Attack:

ST: Ricardo Pepi, Groningen

LW:  Christian Pulisic, Chelsea

RW: Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund

Pulisic is the best player the USMNT has, while Reyna might be the single most talented player to ever put on the United States kit, but injuries have already been a real concern and he won’t even turn 20 until after the rooster announcement. At the top of the attack I put in Ricardo Pepi as the winner of the position most up in the air for me, more on that later. 

Midfield:

LCM: Weston McKennie, Juventus

RCM: Yunus Musah, Valencia

CDM: Tyler Adams, Leeds United

McKennie recently went down with a thigh injury but, by all reports, is expected to be 100% come November 21 when the USA take on Wales. Musah oozes talent but has been a bit inconsistent with Valencia and has yet to really show his talents translate to the USMNT, but I still have faith. There is no single player more irreplaceable to this squad than Tyler Adams as there simply is nobody in the system that does what he does. He isn’t the best player on the squad, but absolutely the most irreplaceable. 

Defense:

LB: Antonee Robinson, Fulham

LCB: Tim Ream, Fulham

RCB: Walker Zimmerman, Nashville SC

RB: Sergiño Dest, AC Milan

Jedi is the guy left back, and he would be a top LB at an elite club if he could simply cross better. His runs from the the back are deadly, they just all seem to die on his crosses at the end. Despite that, he puts pressure on the opposing defense while defending well himself. Yes, Ream is 35 and hasn’t put on the stars and stripes in more than a year, but he wears the armband for Fulham, and does so standing next to Jedi meaning no player has more chemistry and can predict the runs better than he. Zimmerman has been a steady contributor even if his last couple appearances for the national team were a bit underwhelming. Dest has bounced around after plenty of transfer speculation away from FC Barcelona this summer, he landed a loan deal to Milan, where he has barely seen time. That said, he is the best offensive wing back and is a no-brainer to get the start. 

GK: Matt Turner, Arsenal

There has long been plenty of back and forth as to who deserves the #1 for GGG, but that seems to have been put to rest with Turner now playing for Arsenal and looking solid there. He seems to be the clear cut man at keeper for this squad. That said, he has been out the past two matches, a return Thursday would be a very good sign.

There are going to be 15 available substitutes this year, so here are my backups who should be on the roster and what position(s) they can play. 

Attack:

LW/RW: Brenden Aaronson, Leeds United

RW: Timothy Weah, Lille

ST: Jesus Ferreira, FC Dallas

ST: Jordan Pefok Siebatcheu, Union Berlin

Aaronson is a guy I have a love/hate relationship with as I absolutely love his motor, but he feels so unpolished. There is growing sentiment for him to be a starter, but his energy, off the bench, in a climate like Qatar, that could be a genuine game changer. Weah is another guy who one could easily argue to start, and I wouldn’t be against it if Reyna moves back to midfield in place of Musah and Weah gets the start up top, but I can’t trust Reyna to go 90 in every match for an entire tournament. Having Weah available as a sub will be massive. Ferreira will likely be the 9 for this squad, but he plays more like a 10, and you can’t 0-0 draw your way into the knockout round, so I like him better off the bench, especially if the USA has a lead. Pefok has the second most combination of goals and assists on the team currently atop the Bundesliga, need I say more?

Midfield:

CM: Luca de la Torre, Celta Vigo

CM: Malik Tillman, Rangers

CM/LW/RW: Djordje Mihailovic, CF Montreal

CDM: Kellyn Acosta, LAFC

There is some availability concern for LDLT as it was announced he has a muscle tear and is out three weeks, that was 25 days before the Wales match, but I am choosing to be optimistic. If you want to feel good about what Tillman can bring, watch him weave through the Motherwell defense. If you don’t want to feel good about him, go watch all his UCL appearances outside of the one against Napoli. Mihailovic will be heading to AZ come January 1, and he is not in the MLS camp which means he will not be on the club, but he had the best MLS season of any American not named Brandon Vasquez. Accosta is probably the single best free kick taker on the squad, so he is an excellent option as a late sub with a lead as he is defensive focused in midfield, but also in need of a goal as he seems to be the only player capable of getting good ball into the box on a set piece. 

Defense:

LB/RB: Joe Scally, Borussia Monchengladbach

RB: DeAndre Yedlin, Inter Miami

RB/CB: Reggie Cannon, Boavista

CB: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Celtic

CB: Chris Richards, Crystal Palace

Scally might be the second best overall wing back, better than Jedi, but he can play both the left and right so he is an easy option to be one of the primary subs in this tournament. Yedlin will likely be the only player to make GGG’s final roster with any World Cup experience and technically would be here too, although Ream was on the roster in 2014, he did not get on the pitch at any point. Bringing that experience is huge, plus he has as feisty an approach as anyone, which certainly has its place. Cannon has looked good for Boavista, and has even seen minimal time at center back, so he brings versatility to the back line the squad really lacks. CCV and Chris Richards are both guys who have looked solid and could easily be the starting CB duo in a position group that is as interchangeable as there is outside of the 9 on this roster. Richards is still a week or so away from training, so he is yet another player with injury concerns as the roster deadline approaches.

Goalkeeper:

Ethan Horvath, Luton Town

Zack Steffen, Middlesbrough

Horvath has six clean sheets in the Championship while Steffen has been busy in goal with a questionable defense in front of him in Middlesbrough. Steffen was once the answer as the future GK for the club, but he very well may be number three at the end of the month. 

This is a roster I don’t think struggles to get out of the group and, depending on draw, could get a win or two in the knockout round. It is also a team who has struggled to but the ball in the back of the net, so that 0-0 draw through the group mentioned earlier is also within the realm of possibilities and missing the knockout round is possible. Overall, the expectation is getting out of the group, with winning the group the likely target and, frankly, I wouldn’t be satisfied without a trip to the quarterfinals.

USMNT Depth Chart: Wide Defense

For the defense, I am splitting it up into two posts, wide defenders and central defenders, with the goal keepers included in with central defenders. There is a very clear difference in depth on the right and left side of the defense. In all reality, the top four right backs would probably be the number two left back, but they are natural right backs so I am keeping them in their natural position for this list. With that, here it is:

Summary: It is a little odd to have player on a team in the second tier the number one guy at this point, but Antonee Robinson is currently playing in the Championship but is easily the best left back for the USMNT. His runs are impressive allowing him to turn defense into offense in a flash, but he can get caught too far up field quite a bit. He leaves a lot of work for the left center back, but he is a key cog in the USMNT wheel. Bello is a guy I want to be good enough to push Robinson, he just isn’t there yet and may not ever quite get there, but there are flashes. I am happy to see Vines getting some action in Belgium but hasn’t earned himself a regular role there yet after being a common name in the starting eleven for the Colorado Rapids. Gomez was referenced in the first post of this series with his brother Johan as a center forward. He is a big one as he has really impressed with Louisville City, shaking a defender to the ground and drawing a hand ball in the box that led to the game winning PK that sent Louisville to the conference semi-finals, but he has six appearances with the USA U16s, one with the Mexico U16s, three with the USA U17s, and two with the Mexico U20s earlier this year. He could very well be the second best true LB in a year or two as he is heading to Real Sociedad B after Louisville’s run ends, so getting him committed to the UNMNT senior side is important. Paredes may be a bit of a stretch to call him a left back as he is really a left mid and has seen time at left wing and left back with D.C. United. To me his future with the national team is as left back currently, although there are reports Salzburg is interested in going after him if Aaronson eventually transfers to a larger club.

Summary: This might be the deepest position at the USNT level and one of only two I don’t have anyone tabbed as a FTF. Dest is the unquestioned starter when healthy, but that has been a struggle for him this year which is why we have seen a lot of Yedlin. Yedlin bring a fearless approach to the position that is both a benefit and a potential liability if he gets too aggressive. Cannon is a guy I would like to get a little more run but he just has two guys two heavily entrenched in the spot ahead of him. Scally finally got his a call up to the senior team after really shining for Monchengladbach, but did not see any time on the field in either match. He would technically qualify as a FTF given he is 18 and hasn’t technically debuted for the senior team, but he is simply too good to be counted as a future option because he is a legit option now. Moore is a guy that regularly gets overlooked but looks good whenever he gets a shot and is competing in La Liga. Reynolds was on track to compete with Yedlin and Cannon to be the second man in line but has seen extremely limited playing time since moving to Roma and his stock is simply tanking at this point.

USA Player Ratings VS Germany

Generally speaking, it’s difficult to assign grades to players who barely touched the ball. The statistics will show that Germany had possession of the ball 60 something percent of the time. It sure felt more like 80 something. The Germans were definitely good value for their win, and with more clinical finishing (or perhaps less heroic defending by the U.S.), they could have won by three or four more goals and sent the United States packing. As it is, the States are through to the knock out stage and here’s how the boys did against Deutschland.

GK – Tim Howard: 6.0 – Mueller’s bullet in the 55th minute was unstoppable, but had Howard simply collected the soft header low to his right rather than try to punch it out through the middle of the box, his score would be higher. Apart from that moment of madness, he was steady and commanding in the box, though nothing overly spectacular was required of him.

D – DaMarcus Beasley: 6.5 – Another solid performance from the veteran. One of the few U.S. players who got forward a little bit, and wasn’t beaten on the defensive end either.

D – Omar Gonzalez: 7.5 – Man of the match for the Americans. Several well-timed tackles to save sure goals and apart from a muffed clearance early, was brilliant. Didn’t support the offense much but when your team doesn’t have the ball, what can you do?

D – Matt Besler: 7.0 – Besler might well be the next American defender to get a contract from an English Premier League side. Few players have been steadier in the group stage. You can add toughness to his resume too, as he’s dealt with a troublesome hamstring.

D – Fabian Johnson: 5.0 – Disappointing performance from the right back. He wasn’t terrible, but completely failed to run at Benedikt Hoewedes after the German left back picked up an early yellow card. Made some timely interceptions, but also gave the Germans too much room in attack.

M – Brad Davis: 4.5 – The MLS veteran appeared out of his depth at the World Cup level. Left Beasley exposed at the back too frequently by failing to fill the gaps. Never got to attempt any free kicks, which is his specialty and the reason he was put in the side to begin with. Subbed out in the second half, probably later than he should have been.

M – Kyle Beckerman: 6.5 – Did what he always does. Provided solid support in front of the back four. Even made a few forays into the German half and didn’t look out of place, nor was he caught in possession like he was against Portugal a couple of times. Nice shift put in by the veteran midfielder.

M – Jermaine Jones: 6.0 – Didn’t show the all-around brilliance he displayed in the first two group games, but certainly wasn’t bad. His touch let him down a few times, but he defended well like he always does, and managed to avoid picking up a yellow card and preserve his eligibility for the round of 16. Fortunate not to be hurt after a gruesome looking collision with sub, Alejandro Bedoya.

M – Michael Bradley: 5.5 – Decent recovery performance by Bradley. After being historically awful against Ghana and Portugal, he can consider himself fortunate to not have been dropped. He wasn’t able to accomplish a ton offensively, but he managed to not give the ball away in bad positions, and was able to distribute well to the wings on the few occasions the U.S. managed to keep possession.

M – Graham Zusi: 4.5 – A bit of a let down from the Sporting Kansas City man. His delivery on corners was poor, and apart from going fairly close with an early effort that Manny Neuer probably would have stopped anyway had it been on target, was anonymous.

F – Clint Dempsey: 5.0 – Was completely shut down by the German defense. Fluffed a glorious chance at a headed equalizer deep into second half stoppage time to put a bow on a thoroughly forgettable offensive day for Deuce. That said, he tracked back and defended well from the front, which against Germany, is key for your forwards to do.

The Substitutes

M – Alejandro Bedoya: 5.0 – Fairly anonymous, apart from colliding with Jones, in the 20 minutes he was given. Had a sight of goal late in the second half, but took slightly too long to let it rip and let Phillip Lahm nip in for a sliding deflection.

M – DeAndre Yedlin: 4.5 – Shocking that he wasn’t introduced earlier with his youth and speed. Wasn’t lacking in energy, but the one chance he had to whip a dangerous cross in resulted in an unsophisticated larrup 25 feet over the goal and end line.

Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann: 5.5 – No magic subs this time, and a head scratcher in starting Davis. Also took too long to introduce fresh legs in Yedlin. That said, if you want to look at the group stage as a whole, he did well to advance the U.S. out of a brutal group.

The Referee: Ravshan Irmatov, Uzbekistan: 5.5 – Botched an advantage call early, and missed a couple of fouls committed by the Americans. Notably, both Bradley and Beckerman were fortunate to avoid early yellows. Reminder, 5.5 is not an awful grade. It’s not a great grade. It’s just there. And Irmatov, like the two refs that officiated the first two games, didn’t make any game-swinging bad decisions. There weren’t any near penalties, but still, he let the players decide the game.