Copa América
USMNT Stock Watch: Christian Pulisic, Chris Richards and Antonee Robinson cap career seasons
Copa América

USMNT Stock Watch: Christian Pulisic, Chris Richards and Antonee Robinson cap career seasons

Updated May. 13, 2024 7:13 p.m. ET

The cold hard reality of elite-level sports is that an injury to a key player provides an opportunity for another guy. So when U.S. men’s national team right back Sergiño Dest confirmed earlier this month that he’ll miss the 2024 Copa América with a torn ACL, it opened the door for USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter to name a defender he might not have otherwise included on the 23-man American squad for the high-profile tournament on home soil.

Sure, Berhalter could simply deploy experienced and versatile winger Tim Weah in Dest’s fullback spot; Weah has played the position much of this season, his first with Italian titan Juventus. Yet Berhalter could still opt to take an extra right-sided defender besides Joe Scally, just in case. Somebody could get an opportunity. Someone like Bryan Reynolds.

The former Roma and FC Dallas prospect has just seven U.S. caps since his 2021 debut. But the 22-year-old has been quietly excellent for Belgian club Westerlo this season. Age-eligible for this summer’s Olympics, Reynolds was probably Paris-bound before Dest went down. But if he’s climbed past 2022 World Cup veterans Shaq Moore or DeAndre Yedlin on Berhalter’s depth chart, Reynolds could be summoned to the Copa América instead. That's how quickly things can change.

While Reynolds’ stock is rising, he isn’t alone. With the long European and Mexican seasons winding down, MLS heating up and the Americans scheduled to report for pre-Copa América training camp beginning May 28, here’s how the rest of the player pool is faring for their clubs.



Although Ethan Horvath played the final 16 games for Cardiff City in England’s second division, Matt Turner remains the likely U.S. No. 1 this summer despite being nailed to Nottingham Forest’s bench for most of 2024. Remember: Berhalter went with a similarly idle Turner at the last World Cup, when Horvath was starting for Luton Town. Miami’s Drake Callender should continue to fill the third slot over veteran Zack Steffen while youngsters Gaga Slonina and Patrick Schulte vie for the starting job at the Paris Games. Expect one or both of the Olympians to graduate to the senior squad this fall.


As if to remind Berhalter of both his pedigree and his ability to man either side of the field, Scally had his best game of the season on Saturday. In his 89th career Bundesliga game for Borussia Monchengladbach, Scally switched from right to left back and delivered an assist in a 1-1 draw versus Eintracht Frankfurt. It was his fourth helper of 2023-24.

Left back lock Antonee "Jedi" Robinson’s career season for Fulham continues despite Saturday’s 4-0 loss to mighty Manchester City. Fulham closes its season at Luton on Sunday. Kristoffer Lund, Jedi’s understudy since last September, has 31 starts for Palermo in Italy’s Serie B.

Those three are likely to make Berhalter’s roster. The boss will get a last look at Reynolds this weekend, when Westerlo hosts Mechelen in the Belgian Pro League playoffs.

Center backs

Chris Richards is a set-in-stone starter at this point; he’s been superb defensively for Premier League Crystal Palace.  Tim Ream and Miles Robinson  have rotated in and out of Berhalter’s lineup since the fall. The latter could have the inside track, as Ream hasn’t logged a minute for Fulham since February. Walker Zimmermann is finally healthy again, but the 30-year-old will be considered for one of the three available Olympic roster spots reserved for players older than 23. If Zimmerman commits, Cameron Carter-Vickers or Mark McKenzie will compete for the final Copa América center back spot — unless McKenzie is tapped for Olympic duty, too.


Tyler Adams is back. On Saturday, the Americans’ World Cup captain made his first appearance for Bournemouth since March. That’s great news for the USMNT, though fans will surely be holding their breath when the Cherries complete their Prem slate on Sunday at Chelsea.

Weston McKennie had a rare bad game for Juve on Sunday, with manager Max Allegri pulling the Texan at halftime of a 1-1 tie with Salernitana. McKennie remains an in-pen selection for Berhalter. The same can’t still be said for Yunus Musah, though it helps that the 21-year-old won back his starting job with AC Milan in recent weeks. So too should the fact that Gio Reyna didn’t participate in either of Forest’s last two matches.

Adams, McKennie, Reyna and Musah will all be on Berhalter’s 23 if healthy. That leaves just two backup central midfield spots. One will surely go to Johnny Cardoso, who on Sunday made his 15th start in Real Betis’s last 17 La Liga games.  Celta Vigo’s Luca de la Torre will probably take the other place, though he lost his starting job with Celta after the injury that forced him to withdraw from the USMNT’s Nations League roster in March. German-based destroyer Lennard Maloney is also in the mix. Maloney returned from a shoulder injury Saturday in Heidenheim’s 1-1 tie with Freiburg, his 26th Bundesliga start of the campaign. 

USMNT Abroad: Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, more


With a brace for AC Milan on Saturday, Christian Pulisic increased his career best goal haul to 15 across all competitions. He’s in the form of his life heading into Copa América. The Rossoneri has two Serie A games to go, starting with Saturday’s trip to Torino.

Weah is the incumbent on the right for the U.S.; he’d also started three consecutive matches for Juve before missing Sunday’s draw because of yellow card accumulation. After a stint in a central playmaking role, Brenden Aaronson has returned to a wider position with Union Berlin. With competition more forgiving there than in the middle, this should help the 23-year-old survive Berhalter’s cut. Malik Tillman is soaring after helping PSV Eindhoven win the Dutch title. Still just 21, Tillman has nine goals and 15 assists in 39 total appearances for PSV, which last week exercised its option to buy the German-American from Bayern Munich.

Alex Zendejas is a dark horse pick. With 14 goals for Mexican power Club América in 2023-24.

Kevin Paredes also has an outside shot now that he’s starting again in the Bundesliga, though the 21-year-old is probably earmarked for the Olympics if Wolfsburg OKs his release.


The math just won’t math for Berhalter, who has five deserving forwards (Folarin Balogun, Ricardo Pepi  Josh Sargent, Brandon Vazquez and Haji Wright) but just three available Copa roster slots, tops. What will the coach do?

With 16 goals in just 27 English Championship games, Sargent is a shoo-in. Wright’s Nations League heroics (combined with his ability to play the left wing) has earned him a recall.

One could argue that Balogun (7 goals in 28 games for Monaco in France’s Ligue 1) ought to be the odd man out. But Pepi made just two starts for PSV all season. With the 21-year-old age-eligible for the Olympics and U.S. under 23-head coach Marko Mitrović desperate to add a proven goalscorer — Pepi is that even if his most recent strike was on March 17 — before heading to France, that assignment could make the most sense. Pepi subbed on for the final 21 minutes of Sunday’s 1-1 tie with Fortuna Sittard.

Despite 10 goals in just 1,351 minutes for Liga MX side Monterrey, Vazquez’s odds of beating out any of the European-based forwards for a Copa spot are slim. That said, Mitrović would be lucky to have the 26-year-old target man as an Olympic over-ager.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer reporter for FOX Sports. He was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports before joining FOX Sports in 2021, and he has covered United States men's and women's national teams at FIFA World Cups on five continents. Follow him @ByDougMcIntyre.


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