USMNT Concacaf Nations League preliminary roster: Depth remains an issue as USA look to Nations League semis



Ahead of the Concacaf Nations League semifinals where the United States will face Jamaica on March 21 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas Gregg Berhalter has released his 60 man preliminary roster. The 23-man final roster for the semifinal and final if the USMNT defeats Jamaica will come from that list as well. While most of the roster is made up of regulars, including every member of the 2022 World Cup roster except Cristian Roldan and Aaron Long, there are also young players who will make up the Olympic roster alongside other interesting youth prospects.

When digging into the roster a few names stick out, among them are Diego Kochen, a 17-year-old goalkeeper in the Barcelona academy, Esmir Bajraktarevic, Bernard Kamungo and Griffen Yow. All four are 22 years old or younger and two are dual nationals who haven’t yet committed to a side. One thing that Berhalter has done is keep dual nationals keyed in on the entire process and where they stand with the national team which was key to landing Brandon Vazquez over Mexico.

Roster

Goalkeepers (8): Zack Steffen (Colorado Rapids), Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest), Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Ethan Horvath (Cardiff City), Sean Johnson (Toronto FC), Diego Kochen (FC Barcelona), Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew), Gaga Slonina (KAS Eupen)

Defenders (19): Chris Richards (Crystal Palace), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati), John Brooks (Hoffenheim), Reggie Cannon (Queens Park Rangers), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Sergiño Dest (PSV Eindhoven), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Kristoffer Lund (Palermo), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg), Tim Ream (Fulham FC), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Auston Trusty (Sheffield United), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Midfielders (16): Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (AC Milan), Brenden Aaronson (Union Berlin), Paxten Aaronson (Vitesse), Kellyn Acosta (Chicago Fire), Tyler Adams (Bournemouth), Esmir Bajraktarevic (New England Revolution), Taylor Booth (Utrecht), Gianluca Busio (Venezia), Johnny Cardoso (Real Betis), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake, Lennard Maloney (Heidenheim), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Tanner Tessman (Venezia), Timmy Tillman (LAFC)

Forwards (17): Folarin Balogun (AS Monaco), Cade Cowell (Guadalajara), Benja Cremaschi (Inter Miami), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Bernard Kamungo (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Ricardo Pepi (PSV Eindhoven), Jordan Pefok (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Christian Pulisic (AC Milan), Gio Reyna (Nottingham Forest), Josh Sargent (Norwich City), Malik Tillman (PSV Eindhoven), Brandon Vazquez (Monterrey), Tim Weah (Juventus FC), Haji Wright (Coventry City), Griffin Yow (Westerlo), Alejandro Zendejas (Club América)

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Depth concerns

Assuming that Weston McKennie is healthy enough to make national team camp in March after dislocating his shoulder, there are about 15 locks for the final Nations League 23-man roster. Cardoso has taken massive steps forward during his time with Real Betis to become one of the locks for this camp but depth is certainly a concern. Behind the starting XI, there aren’t many players who have improved their stock, which is concerning when Dest will miss the match against Jamaica due to a suspension. That could put Scally into the lineup but when he hasn’t performed well for the national team, and it is worrisome that someone hasn’t come in to provide depth at right back. The same goes for midfield where the top four options are great but the drop off is significant after that. With so much of the USMNT now based in Europe,  depth has improved but it isn’t where it needs to be yet.

Dual national recruitment

Goalkeeper used to be one of the most stable positions for the national team but with Turner losing his starting role with Nottingham Forest and Steffen just making his first start in almost a year for the Colorado Rapids, it’s uncertain how things will shake out. Callender is unproven at the national team level and Slonina has a ways to go before he’s truly in the conversation for USMNT number one so why not keep tabs on a prospect with Barcelona? Born in Florida, Kochen has yet to commit to a nation but is eligible to represent the United States, Venezuela or potentially Spain if he acquires citizenship to the country.

Only 17, Kochen has already impressed within Barcelona’s academy so while Slonina is seen as the keeper of the future for the USMNT, conversations around players of Kochen’s caliber need to be had as if he does commit to the USMNT, there will be multiple chances to make sure that the future between he sticks is in good hands.





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