ATLUTD’s Bello, Robinson Make 26-Player USMNT Roster for September WCQs
by Bart Keeler It’s been 1,425 days since the U.S. men’s national team has released an official World Cup Qualifying roster. A combination of a qualification revamp, COVID-19 postponing the start of the cycle, and another revamp delayed the much-anticipated return of the USMNT. Head Coach Gregg Berhalter on Wednesday released a 26-player roster for the kickoff window in September.
Miles Robinson and George Bello, defenders for Atlanta United FC, are on that roster. Either could be the second- and third-ever ATLUTD players to participate in World Cup Qualifying for the U.S. The first was goalkeeper Brad Guzan in September and October 2017. It’s likely both will play, given the match congestion.
George Bello continues to be a talisman of the ATLUTD Academy as the first product to appear on a senior USMNT roster for World Cup Qualifying.
Although Berhalter called 26 players into camp, only 23 players can make a matchday squad. This also doesn’t stop Berhalter from calling in more players if he needs to.
The USMNT will camp in Nashville, Tennessee, for the window. It will play at El Salvador on Thursday, Sept. 2, at 10 p.m. EDT. The Yanks will host rivals Canada on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 8 p.m. EDT. The window closes on Wednesday, Sept. 8, with a 10 p.m. start in Honduras.
The full roster is:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)
DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)
FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 13/1)
While this is mostly a young squad, five players on the roster have 30 or more caps and 15 have 10 or more caps.
The midfield is the most experienced group, average 25.8 caps among the five.
The group averages 18.1 caps per player and only one player has zero caps.
Six players in the group have played in World Cup Qualifying before.
The roster features nine MLS players.
Atlanta United has the most players on the roster with two.
Of the 17 European-based players, 10 play for clubs in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League.
Making headlines is Ricardo Pepi, a Mexican-American dual national who reportedly decided to play represent the USA at the senior international level. If he does play in this window, he would not be cap-tied to the USMNT due to FIFA rules. He can play up to three times for a nation under the age of 21 but he would have to wait three years to make an appearance for another nation in a competitive match. His future is not sealed, but it’s a positive step in Berhalter’s fight for Mexican-American dual nationals.
Overall, this is one of the strongest rosters the USMNT has assembled. It’s encouraging that, while more than half of the players have double-digit caps, 16 players are 25 years old or younger. The youth is now very experienced, which Berhalter hopes yields positive results.