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World Cup 2022: Malik Tillman making case for spot on Plane to Qatar
United States

World Cup 2022: Malik Tillman making case for spot on Plane to Qatar

Updated Aug. 17, 2022 2:12 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 hoping to crack the United States Men's National Team's 26-player roster for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

It's going to be fascinating to see how this list changes over the next few months.

Injuries, transfers and fluctuations in form are bound to move the 40-odd members of the USMNT player pool who are vying for a spot on Gregg Berhalter's World Cup squad in and out of contention. Things are happening already. Malik Tillman scored twice for Scottish club Rangers since Plane to Qatar debuted last week, and a few more names have been added since then, too. 


First, Joe Scally. The versatile fullback should have been included originally. Then again, Scally is still a long shot, for now, to make the World Cup cut, despite his starting the first two games of the season for Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.

Scally is probably fifth on Berhalter's right-back depth chart, with Sergiño Dest, DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon and Shaq Moore (who also should have been mentioned last week) ahead of him. Scally wasn't great on the left in June friendlies against World Cup entries Morocco and Uruguay; the coach still seems more inclined to move Dest to the left should anything happen to starter Jedi Robinson.

Midfielder Djordje Mihailovic is fully fit again, and two forwards have forced themselves into the mix up top. One is Matthew Hoppe, who made his debut for English second-tier side Middlesbrough on Sunday following his transfer from Mallorca, for whom he played just 169 minutes in 2021-22.

The other is 32-year-old two-time World Cup participant Jozy Altidore, who on Friday scored his first goal since moving to Puebla in Liga MX:

Could Altidore pull a Hérculez Gómez, whose out-of-nowhere goal streak for Puebla in early 2010 landed him a trip to that year's World Cup in South Africa? 

Keep checking this space. Things can change quickly. 

First class

F/M Brenden Aaronson (Leeds): The all-action right-winger went 90 minutes in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Southampton.

M Tyler Adams (Leeds): Same for defensive midfielder Adams. Next up for Leeds is Chelsea on Aug. 21.

D Sergiño Dest (Barcelona): Dest didn't dress for Barça's season-opening scoreless draw with Rayo Vallecano. He's being sought by his former Ajax coach, Erik ten Hag, now at Manchester United, but reportedly prefers to stay at Barça. Will he play if he does?

F Jesús Ferreira (Dallas): The 21-year-old striker has scored consistently all season. On Saturday, he added two more goals, upping his total to 14.

M Weston McKennie (Juventus): In perhaps the best USMNT news of the weekend, McKennie started Juve's Serie A season-opening win over Sassuolo after recovering from a shoulder injury ahead of schedule.

M Yunus Musah (Valencia): The 19-year-old made a strong start to the new La Liga campaign, going 90 minutes in Sunday's 1-0 win over Girona.

F Christian Pulisic (Chelsea): Pulisic came off the bench for the Blues for the second straight game. He should see more playing time when the Champions League group stage begins next month and manager Thomas Tuchel is forced to rotate his lineup. If not, there are reports that Newcastle United have inquired about the 23-year-old.

Would USMNT's Christian Pulisic be a better fit at Newcastle?

USMNT Midfileder Christian Pulisic was lightly featured with Chelsea over the weekend while rumors swirled about a transfer to Newcastle. Alexi Lalas and David Mosse discuss his potential fit with the club.

*F/M Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund): An unused substitute in BVB's first match, Reyna, who missed most of last season due to hamstring problems, wasn't even on Dortmund's bench for their second. 

D Antonee Robinson (Fulham): Jedi went 90 for the second straight week as Fulham stayed undefeated in their return to the Premier League.

*F Tim Weah (Lille): A foot injury is expected to sideline Weah for the next few weeks. He could have a new club by then, with Valencia reportedly eager to land the 22-year-old winger on loan. 

D Walker Zimmerman (Nashville): The USMNT's top center back made his 22nd start of the MLS season in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Minnesota United.

Comfort plus

M Kellyn Acosta (LAFC): Adams' understudy has made eight straight starts for MLS's best team.

M Paul Arriola (Dallas): Arriola has a career-best nine goals but has now gone five league games without scoring, his longest drought this season. 

D Reggie Cannon (Boavista): Cannon played all 180 minutes of his club's first two matches, both wins. 

M Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo): The 24-year-old playmaker didn't get off the bench in Saturday's 2-2 tie with Espanyol. He could make his La Liga debut next week against Real Madrid.

G Sean Johnson (New York City): The most in-form keeper in the U.S. pool right now.

D Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls): Long started all four June games for the U.S. How much he plays in the September friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia will be telling.

M Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders): His numbers are down slightly from 2020 and '19, his last two full seasons before an ACL tear cost him most of 2021. Morris is still likely to make it barring injury, though, especially with three extra available spots.

F Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin): Pefok was held scoreless by Mainz a week after marking his Bundesliga debut with a goal.

D Tim Ream (Fulham): The veteran left-footed center back was superb for the second straight week, helping the Cottagers keep a clean sheet versus Wolves.

M Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders): If Tillman makes it, it could come at the expense of the 27-year-old. 

D Chris Richards (Crystal Palace): The rangy center back made his Premier League debut off the bench Monday in Palace's 1-1 tie at Liverpool.

G Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough): Steffen overcame another shaky start to produce a pair of fine saves in Boro's 2-2 draw with Sheffield United.

G Matt Turner (Arsenal): Turner remains the Gunners' second choice behind starter Aaron Ramsdale, as expected.

F Brandon Vazquez (Cincinnati): Another week, another goal for Cincy's target man, who has earned the opportunity to audition for a World Cup roster spot in September. 

D DeAndre Yedlin (Miami): Yedlin has been a workhorse in his first MLS season since 2014, starting all but one of Miami's 25 games.


F Jozy Altidore (Puebla): It's only one goal, and it will take many more for Altidore to return to the national team for the first time in almost three years. Unlikely? Yes. But not impossible.

D George Bello (Arminia Beilifeld): Bello was booked after subbing into Arminia's 2-0 loss to Hamburg in Germany's second tier. 

M Gianluca Busio (Venezia): Busio started but was replaced 10 minutes before Venezia scored its lone goal in Sunday's 2-1 Serie B loss to Genoa.

D Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic): If the final center-back spot comes down to Ream or Carter-Vickers, don't bank on Berhalter taking the guy from the Scottish league. 

*F Daryl Dike (West Brom): Dike is all but out of the running now because of a thigh injury that could keep the big striker out for two months.

F Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough): The 21-year-old has to hit the ground running in England to have any hope of making it to Qatar. 

G Ethan Horvath (Luton Town): Horvath is expected to make his fourth straight Championship start when Luton meet Bristol City on Tuesday.

M Djordje Mihailovic (Montreal): The playmaker went 90 in consecutive MLS games for the first time since suffering the ankle injury that forced him out of the USMNT's June camp. 

D Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes): The well-traveled center back is off to a difficult start this season; Troyes has conceded six goals through its first two games in Ligue 1.

D Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp): The natural left back has played every minute of Belgian leader Antwerp's four league games.

F Haji Wright (Antalyaspor): Wright scored his first goal of the Turkish season Sunday, a second-half game winner away to Umraniyespor.

*M Richy Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven): Whatever tiny chance Ledezma had of sneaking onto the roster took a serious hit when he suffered an ankle injury Saturday in his first competitive start for PSV.

D Shaquell Moore (Nashville): He went 90 against the Loons, the first time Moore has played a full match since arriving in MLS earlier this summer. 

F Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg): Pepi entered for the final seconds of Augsburg's 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen — a result that figures to keep him on the subs bench next weekend. 

D/M James Sands (Rangers): Sands returned to the Glasgow club's lineup for Tuesday's Champions League qualifier against PSV. 

M/F Josh Sargent (Norwich City): In a rare start at his natural center forward position, Sargent scored his first goal in England’s Championship on Tuesday against Huddersfield.

D Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach): Deployed as a right wingback, Scally struggled with his service from the flank in Gladbach's 2-2 draw with Schalke.

M Malik Tillman (Rangers): Tillman is making his case. Can he play his way into Berhalter's plans? Helping Rangers reach the Champions League proper would boost his chances.

M Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers): Any injury to Acosta, Adams, McKennie or Musah could open the door for Williamson, who can man a box-to-box or holding role.

F Gyasi Zardes (Colorado Rapids): The USMNT's gaping hole at center forward keeps the USMNT vet — who has five goals in his past six MLS games — on the radar for the time being. 


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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