Photo courtesy of David Berding | Getty Images
EDITOR’s NOTE: Elevated Media does not condone the conditions in which the World Cup came together nor is our coverage acceptance of the outdated viewpoints of Qatari leaders.
The moment has arrived. World Cup 2022 has kicked off in Qatar and the United States Men’s National Team is salivating at the mouth to hear their first whistle on Nov. 21 in their match versus Wales. This was a team eight years in the making after the USMNT did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup that took place in Russia. After some embarrassing results, the United States went through a remodel and started the rebuilding process through their youth. Now, what were once young boys, are now the men leading the nation into Qatar to show up for the Red, White, and Blue. Here is my insight on the players picked up for the 26-man roster and what to expect from this team.
Just to show the change in the roster and the change in talent, here is the 23-man roster from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nurnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders).
Midfielders: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).
Quite a few changes have come since the last time the US played in the World Cup. There have been eight of those players from the last roster who have retired since their time in Brazil. The only player on this new roster that has any World Cup experience is DeAndre Yedlin. Here is the roster coming into Qatar. You will notice quite a few differences in the quality of the player judging by the club they play for domestically.
Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Luton Town), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (Arsenal).
Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), Sergiño Dest (AC Milan), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC).
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (Leeds United), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders).
Forwards: Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor).
This is a young team compared to 2014 with the average age of the team being 25 years old. This is going to be an exciting bunch of players to watch and saying this is the “Golden Generation” is not a stretch by any means. This is the most players the United States have ever had representing the Premier League and they are not coming off the bench. These are bonified starters and quality young men that are providing for their clubs. No shock that the US brought up guys like McKennie, Aaronson, Pulisic and Weah. The biggest shock being the absence of forward, Ricardo Pepi, who has been on a brilliant run of form in the Eredivise and goalkeeper, Zack Steffen. In place of Pepi is Haji Wright and Sean Johnson fills the gap of Steffen.
My biggest surprises coming into the team were Morris, Roldan and Ream. The Seattle Sounders did win the CONCACAF Champions League with Roldan and Morris being key figures in their run to the title, but in terms of being called up, there are certainly other talents that I believe should be put over them. Tim Ream has not made many appearances with the USMNT during the Berhalter era but I think this is the best option at Center Back that the United States could put next to Walker Zimmerman.
The one thing I am looking out for from this side is to take advantage of the opportunity. American fans have been waiting for eight and a half years to watch World Cup soccer and there is going to be plenty of pressure on them but nothing that they should not be used to. Plenty of these players know this atmosphere after the commanding success they had in the Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League Final. This is a team that knows how to win and it is time to see if they can show the quality American fans know they can provide.
There will be plenty of criticism given to this squad and to Berhalter if they have an early exit from the World Cup. But for now, it is time to trust the process and watch this Golden Generation use its Midas touch throughout the 2022 World Cup.