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USMNT September Roster: Biggest snubs and surprises
United States

USMNT September Roster: Biggest snubs and surprises

Updated Sep. 14, 2022 4:56 p.m. ET

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

For the most part, we already know which U.S. players are going to the World Cup.

So does national team coach Gregg Berhalter, who has said in recent interviews that his roster for the 2022 tournament in Qatar is about 85-percent decided.

Even if only four spots, in theory, remain up for grabs, there's still plenty to be gleaned from the 26-man squad Berhalter named on Wednesday for the Americans final two World Cup tuneups, which kick off next week with a friendly match against Qatar-bound Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany.


Injuries prevented several regulars — Antonee "Jedi" Robinson, Cristian Roldan, Zack Steffen, Tim Weah — from being picked. And on a conference call with reporters following Thursday's announcement, Berhalter insisted that the door remains open for players, like striker Jordan Pefok of Bundesliga-leading Union Berlin, who weren't picked.

"It's not the final roster for the World Cup," Berhalter said. "A lot can happen between now and November … that was the conversation I had with the players not selected in this camp."

That door is closing fast, though. For some, it's already all but shut. This September roster goes a long way toward cluing us in on who will occupy the final few places in November, and who is likely to miss the cut.

Here are the bubble players Berhalter picked, didn't pick, and why.  

Who made it?

CB Cameron Carter-Vickers 

Why he's here: The loss of Miles Robinson to a season-ending Achilles injury opened the door for Carter-Vickers, who's playing in the Champions League for Celtic and offers some of Robinson's physical qualities.

What it means: Berhalter has the 24-year-old ahead of veteran Tim Ream, who is playing every week in the Premier League but who turns 35 next month.

F Ricardo Pepi

Why he's here: Still just 19, Pepi —who just joined Dutch club Groningen — gets a needed confidence boost ahead of the World Cup.

What it means: Pepi still hasn't scored for club or country in nearly a year, but Berhalter considered his overall body of work.

"This is a guy that scored three goals for us in World Cup qualifying," Berhalter said of Pepi. "We're trying to get him into the group, and see if he can make a push for the final roster.

"He can be dominant in the Dutch league," the coach added. "Now it's a question of if he actually is."

F Josh Sargent 

Why he's here: With five goals in eight league games for Norwich, Sargent played himself onto this roster.

What it means: Good in the buildup, the 22-year-old fits Berhalter's style better than any forward in the pool. Only the goals were missing before.

"Josh Sargent is another player that has been in great form," Berhalter said.

Pefok, Sargent and Ferreira ... who starts at striker?!

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup approaching, Alexi Lalas and David Mosse wonder if USMNT has a problem at the striker position and who should be the potential starters.

RB/LB Joe Scally 

Why he's here: Like Sargent, Scally played his way in with a strong start to the European season. 

What it means: With Jedi sidelined, the 19-year-old will likely compete with Sam Vines for the left back backup role.  

M/F Malik Tillman 

Why he's here: Tillman, 20, fills Roldan's role as a central midfielder who can also man the wing. 

What it means: Despite his struggles for Rangers recently, Berhalter — who personally scouted Tillman in Glasgow two weekends ago — wanted a final chance to see him up close. Tillman has plenty to prove

"He needs to do better, he needs to increase his level," said Berhalter of Tillman, adding that he was "disappointed with his last couple of performances."  

LB Sam Vines

Why he's here: Vines is the best natural left back in the pool after Jedi. 

What it means: Although he plays more of a stay-at-home style than Robinson, having a natural lefty is nice.

"He's a guy that is in the form of his life," said Berhalter.

Vines will still likely have to beat out Scally for a ticket to Qatar, though.

RB DeAndre Yedlin

Why he's here: A constant presence in Inter Miami's lineup and the only USMNT regular with previous World Cup experience.  

What it means: Yedlin told FOX Sports last month that he's not taking a trip to Qatar for granted, but this all confirms that he'll be on the plane. 

Who didn't make it 

F Jordan Pefok 

Why he's not here: The most glaring omission by far, there's a sense that Pefok just doesn't do enough away from the ball for Berhalter's liking.  

What it means: It's hard to see him making the World Cup squad now, even if Berhalter extended an olive branch.

"We're pretty confident we know Jordan's profile," the coach said. "We know what he can do, and we didn't feel like we needed to see him in this camp to determine whether he could be on the [World Cup] roster or not."

CB Tim Ream 

Why he's not here: For all his top-level experience, Ream's lack of speed and athleticism cost him. 

"Some of the things that we're looking for in our center backs is to play a high line, cover a lot of space behind them, be dominant in the air, dominant on offensive and defensive set pieces," Berhalter said "That's not Tim."  

What it means: Ream's odds of making a World Cup trip appear nonexistent barring injury.

CB Erik Palmer-Brown  

Why he's not here: Palmer-Brown's struggles in a June friendly against Uruguay were apparently hard for the USMNT staff to shake.  

What it means: Given his profile, the 25-year-old could still be summoned if any of Carter-Vickers, Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman or Chris Richards go down.

CB James Sands 

Why he's not here: Sands' lack of speed and relative inexperience were exposed last week in Rangers' Champions League loss to Ajax. That probably didn't help him. 

What it means: It's possible that Berhalter could prefer Sands over Palmer-Brown in a pinch. He's still a longshot either way.   

F Brandon Vázquez 

Why he's not here: He has 16 goals in MLS this season, but in the end, the uncapped target man's lack of international experience was just too big a knock to overcome on the eve of the World Cup. 

What it means: At 23, Vázquez — who remains eligible for Mexico — should be firmly in the mix for 2026.

"I feel bad for Brandon," Berhalter said. "I told him it's not the end, and continue to do what he's doing and keep himself in the conversation. "That's all he can do."

One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.


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