United States Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter has announced the 26-man American roster for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Berhalter’s announcement came via a televised special on ESPN. Cheers could be heard from the live audience at certain points. Jeers and heckles were heard at others. USMNT fans leaned toward the latter reaction. Many were disappointed with his roster selections, as Berhalter’s squad selection left a lot to be desired.
Berhalter has decided to carry three keepers in Qatar: Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath, and Sean Johnson.
The main shock here was Berhalter’s decision to drop Zack Steffen from the squad. Steffen, who plays for Middlesbrough on loan from Manchester City, has been a crucial member of Berhalter’s squad. The decision to leave Steffen out feels sudden, as the keeper had started six of the last nine World Cup Qualifiers for the American side. Steffen missed September’s international break through injury and has struggled for form at Middlesbrough. These factors likely caused his admission from the American roster.
“You know, it’s more about what we have with the three goalkeepers listed on the roster where we feel great,” Berhalter said when asked about the decision. “You feel really good about Matt Turner in these last six months. We know Ethan Horvath has been competing at a good level in the Championship. And Sean Johnson has been a mainstay in this group since day one. So we’re comfortable with that.”
One of the most surprising inclusions to the USMNT is Fulham defender Tim Ream. Ream last started for the American side in September 2021 during a World Cup Qualifier match against Honduras. Ream had not been included in recent squads, so his inclusion is somewhat of a shock.
However, Ream has played his way back into the team. Ream has been one of the catalysts for Fulham’s revived squad this season. The American has started 14 of Fulham’s 15 Premier League games this season, leading the Lilywhites to 9th place.
Many fans question Berhalter’s decision to carry four right-backs in Qatar. Berhalter has chosen to carry Sergiño Dest, Joe Scally, DeAndre Yedlin, and Shaq Moore at this year’s World Cup. Four is a lot to carry at any one position, especially considering Antonee Robinson is the only left-back in the American squad.
Dest and Scally both can play left-back in addition to their primary positions, giving the squad some added versatility. Berhalter chose Yedlin for experience. Yedlin is the only player on the roster that played in 2014’s World Cup, which is the last time the United States played in the tournament.
Shaq Moore’s inclusion over the more experienced Reggie Cannon and normal backup left-back Sam Vines is questionable. Cannon has been having a good season for Boavista. Vines would be a natural fit behind Robinson, significantly more-so than Dest or Scally. Although Nashville did have a great season in MLS, Moore’s inclusion remains questionable.
Luca de la Torre’s inclusion at the World Cup is somewhat surprising given his recent injury. De la Torre suffered a torn hamstring at the end of October, putting his World Cup in doubt. Berhalter has chosen to carry the midfielder despite his injury. The Celta Vigo midfielder will likely not be match-fit at the beginning of the tournament, so expect him to feature later in the group stage.
Berhalter also included Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie despite an injury. McKennie’s injury was minor, and his inclusion in the squad was never really in doubt. The usual McKennie-Adams-Musah midfield will feature for the American side in Qatar.
Maybe the most questionable decision on the roster was Berhalter’s choice of strikers.
Berhalter chose to bring Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent, and Haji Wright to Qatar. Ferreira and Sargent were not shocking inclusions, as both players have been in great form this season and have featured for the Americans recently. Wright is the big shock here.
The decision to bring Wright is less of an indictment on Wright and more an expression of disappointment over not carrying Jordan Pefok or Ricardo Pepi. Pefok has scored four goals in 18 matches for German club Union Berlin. Pepi has scored six goals in nine matches for Dutch club Groningen. Berhalter pointed to Wright’s great form when asked about his inclusion over Pefok and Pepi.
“It was a really tough decision. In the end, this is a different World Cup. You don’t have a month to get a guy in form. We think Haji Wright is in better form than Jordan right now,” said Berhalter.
Wright has undeniably been in great form. The forward has scored 9 goals in 12 matches this season for Turkish club Antalyaspor. On form, Wright was the better choice over Pefok and Pepi. His fit in the squad remains questionable.