FIFA Men's World Cup
USMNT Stock Watch: Is Tim Ream back in the mix with Aaron Long slipping?
FIFA Men's World Cup

USMNT Stock Watch: Is Tim Ream back in the mix with Aaron Long slipping?

Updated Oct. 18, 2022 8:48 p.m. ET

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor's Note: Plane to Qatar is FOX Sports’ weekly feature tracking the progress of players trying to crack the United States men’s national team’s 26-player roster for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Just over three weeks before Gregg Berhalter names the first USMNT World Cup roster in eight years, we have movement. 

Center back Chris Richards didn’t dress Tuesday for Crystal Palace’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton, the sixth-straight match he’s missed. The 22-year-old has played just 134 first-team minutes since Aug. 5. At this late stage, it’s probably not realistic to think that he’s going to be anywhere near fit enough to contribute when the Americans kick off their World Cup campaign against Wales on Nov. 21.


The situation in central defense remains hugely problematic for Berhalter. Aaron Long, a starter in each of the last six U.S. games, didn’t perform well in any of them, wasn’t good in the New York Red Bulls' Oct. 15 MLS playoff loss to Cincinnati, and now won’t play another competitive match before Qatar. Long has been given every opportunity but has not proved that he can start next to Walker Zimmerman — who’s been good for club and country all year, though his Nashville SC side also were eliminated last weekend — at the highest level without being exposed.

Belgium-based Mark McKenzie is the most likely replacement for Richards on the roster. Cameron Carter-Vickers is the presumed front-runner to take the starting spot next to Zimmerman. Does Long still have a seat on the plane? Only Berhalter knows, but it’s possible that the current circumstances, combined with the USMNT’s poor showings last month against Japan and Saudi Arabia, could have the coach reconsidering veteran Tim Ream, who hasn’t represented his country in more than a year.

Ream isn’t the sort of fast, physical center back Berhalter prefers. But he’s smart, universally respected, a terrific passer with his left foot, and, at age 35, is playing the best soccer of his career. He's also captaining a midtable team in the Prem where week-in, week-out he faces many of the same forwards the U.S. will see at the World Cup.

It’s a long shot, to be sure. Time is running thin. With just a few more weeks to go, there is still enough for a bit more movement yet. 

First class

F/M Brenden Aaronson (Leeds): The 21-year-old winger went the distance for just the third time this season in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to English leaders Arsenal.

M Tyler Adams (Leeds): Destroyer Adams has been an iron man for Leeds, playing all 810 Premier League minutes so far. He also went the full 90 against the Saudis in the Americans’ final World Cup tune-up.

D Sergiño Dest (AC Milan): The projected U.S. right back continues to occupy a peripheral role for the Rossoneri, which can’t help his form next month. Dest didn’t play in Sunday’s loss to Verona, the fourth time in six Serie A games he hasn’t left the bench.

F Jesús Ferreira (Dallas): The striker buried his spot kick — his first as a pro — as FCD staved off elimination from the MLS playoffs in Monday’s shootout win over Minnesota. Ferreira struggled in open play, but he’ll get another chance (and at least one more game before the World Cup) Sunday at Austin.

M Weston McKennie (Juventus): McKennie hasn’t been good lately, but he did go the distance in Juve’s desperately needed 1-0 derby win over Torino on Saturday.

M Yunus Musah (Valencia): The 19-year-old made his second straight start since returning from a groin injury, going 74 minutes in Tuesday’s chippy 1-1 draw at Sevilla. 

F Christian Pulisic (Chelsea): After scoring his first goal of the season against Wolves on Oct. 8. Pulisic DNP in either of the Blues’ next two games. Chelsea visits Brentford on Wednesday.

F/M Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund): Still looking for his first Bundesliga start this season, the teenager — Reyna turns 20 next month — entered for the final eight minutes of Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Union Berlin.

D Antonee Robinson (Fulham): The left back lock hasn’t missed a beat since returning from the high ankle sprain he suffered last month, playing all of Fulham’s last two games.

F Tim Weah (Lille): A week after returning from an ankle issue of his own, Weah recorded two assists off the bench in last week’s 3-0 victory over Strasbourg.

D Walker Zimmerman (Nashville): He’s still a likely starter, though there is understandable concern that a month-plus layoff between games could affect Zimmerman’s sharpness and rhythm.

Comfort Plus

M Kellyn Acosta (LAFC): The feisty defensive midfielder and LAFC take on the cross-city rival LA Galaxy on Thursday night (10 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes/FOX Sports app).

M Paul Arriola (Dallas): Arriola was superb on Monday against the Loons before being subbed in extra time with what looked like a leg cramp.

D Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic): He’s been rock-solid for Scotland’s best team all season when healthy, and he shut down newly-minted Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema in the Champions League last month.

*D Reggie Cannon (Boavista): Like Richards, the right back/right CB is running out of time. He’s now missed his Portuguese club’s last three games.

M Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo): Things are not trending well for De la Torre, who didn’t play at all in Celta’s last two La Liga matches. Keep an eye on him.

G Sean Johnson (New York City): Johnson backstopped the Pigeons into the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday. NYCFC will try to extend their season again Sunday in Montreal.

D Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls): Long was torched by FCC forward (and possible future USMNT striker) Brandon Vazquez on the goal that ended the Red Bulls season. Not good. 

^D Mark McKenzie (Genk): The 23-year-old is certainly match fit; McKenzie started his 10th straight club match Tuesday, a 6-1 win over Westerlo.

M Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders): How (or if) Seattle’s failure to reach the playoffs impacts Morris’s World Cup roster chances remains to be seen. 

F Ricardo Pepi (Groningen): The 19-year-old striker didn’t register a goal or assist for the first time in his five Eredivisie games. He did log 90 minutes for the second straight match.

*F Josh Sargent (Norwich City): Sargent scored a fine goal over the weekend and is currently the joint goals leader in England’s second tier. But he was pulled midway through Tuesday’s match against Luton after a hard first-half tackle. Norwich manager Dean Smith suggested afterward that the injury didn't appear serious. "I expect him to be back on Saturday" against Sheffield United, Smith said of the striker.

D Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach): Another week, another 90 minutes in the Bundesliga for the versatile fullback, whose chances would only increase if Cannon can’t go. Scally also started for ‘Gladbach in Tuesday’s German Cup loss to Darmstadt.

G Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough): Playing every week (unlike Matt Turner) and steadily improving after a rough start at Boro, the on-loan Manchester City backstop could well be the U.S. starter in Qatar.

G Matt Turner (Arsenal): Turner has been terrific in the Europa League for the Gunners. Will that be enough for Berhalter? 

D DeAndre Yedlin (Miami): The veteran right back’s season ended with Monday’s playoff loss in New York City. Yedlin and his fellow eliminated MLSers will report to the USMNT’s hush-hush pre-World Cup camp later this month.

Standby list

M Johnny Cardoso (Internacional): The two-way central midfielder continues to start for Brazil’s second-best team.

G Ethan Horvath (Luton Town): Horvath made one save — on Sargent — to secure his fifth clean sheet of the season in Tuesday’s win over the Canaries.

M Djordje Mihailovic (Montreal): Back on the list but still highly unlikely to make the final 26. There is one possible path for Mihailovic, though: If he leads Montreal all the way to MLS Cup and fellow playmaker De la Torre continues to sit in Spain.

D Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes): EPB wasn’t in Troyes’ lineup Sunday for the first time in 10 Ligue 1 games. He did come on halfway through the 1-1 tie with Ajaccio.

F Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin): The target striker looked like one in setting up Berlin’s backbreaking second goal against Dortmund. He’s still behind Ferreira, Pepi and Sargent on Berhalter’s depth chart. Whether he should be is another matter.

*D Chris Richards (Crystal Palace): It looks over for Richards barring a miraculous recovery plus some Premier League minutes within the next couple of weeks.

D Tim Ream (Fulham): Ream has played all but two minutes for 11th place Fulham.

M Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders): Luck hasn’t been on Rhodanus' side over the last few months. This upcoming U.S. camp represents his last chance to earn a ticket to Qatar. 

M Malik Tillman (Rangers): While Tillman, 20, scored a beautiful solo goal Sunday in Scotland’s Premiership, his mostly anonymous Champions League performances won’t be forgotten.

D Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp): The left back was replaced 17 minutes into Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Standard Liege.

F Haji Wright (Antalyaspor):  Wright scored twice in Turkey over the weekend. Despite seven goals in nine appearances — he’s now second in the Süper Lig behind Ecuador striker Enner Valencia — he still doesn’t appear to be in Berhalter’s plans.


^Bumped up

⌄Bumped down

Added: Ream, Mihailovic

Dropped: None

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


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