FIFA Men's World Cup
World Cup 2022: Which USMNT players are on plane to Qatar?
FIFA Men's World Cup

World Cup 2022: Which USMNT players are on plane to Qatar?

Updated Aug. 10, 2022 2:10 p.m. ET

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor's Note: "Plane to Qatar" is FOX Sports' new 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.

Now that three of the world's top five leagues have kicked off — the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in France are underway, with Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga following this weekend — the 2022 World Cup is starting to feel imminent.

For the first time, the biggest event in sports will take place in the middle of the European season. And with more members of the USMNT employed at top clubs overseas than ever before, now is the perfect time to take regular stock of the USMNT player pool.


Introducing "Plane to Qatar" 

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter is expected to name his squad around 10 days before the Americans' Nov. 21 World Cup opener against Wales. That's three months away. Most of the spots are accounted for, of course. But there's still room for movement in and out of the starting lineup, and there's also still time for a surprise or two.

As such, every week over the next 90 or so days, we'll look at not just which players are likely to be on the flight to Qatar but also where they're sitting and at the players still hoping a late run of form or stroke of good fortune will be enough to snare them a seat.

First class

F/M Brenden Aaronson (Leeds): Whether or not you believe Aaronson scored the game-winning goal for his new club Saturday against Wolverhampton, "The Medford Messi" was electric in his Premier League debut. He's establishing himself as a lock to start in Qatar — if he weren't one already — either on the right wing he mans for American coach Jesse Marsch at Leeds or centrally, where he lined up for the USMNT in June.

M Tyler Adams (Leeds): Adams struggled early against Wolves but improved as the game went on, starting the sequence that led to the winner. The 23-year-old defensive midfielder will only get better as he adjusts to the Prem.

D Sergiño Dest (Barcelona): After his strong finish to the 2021-22 season was interrupted by injury, Dest appears to have fallen out of Barca boss Xavi's first-choice lineup this preseason. No matter. The ultra-talented Dest is a shoo-in at right back for the U.S. at the World Cup even if he's not getting 90 minutes regularly at the Camp Nou.

F Jesús Ferreira (Dallas): Ferreira's blistering scoring pace in MLS has slowed a little this summer, but there's no reason to think he isn't still Berhalter's No. 1 number nine. 

M Weston McKennie (Juventus): Despite a dislocated shoulder that will force McKennie to miss the first few weeks of Juve's season, the Texan should get plenty of playing time when he returns, with fellow central midfielder Paul Pogba nursing a persistent knee injury.

USMNT and Juventus star Weston McKennie out due to a shoulder injury

We are almost 100 days away from teams taking the field at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and U.S. star Weston McKennie is sidelined due to a shoulder injury.

M Yunus Musah (Valencia): Still just 19, Musah is hoping to turn an eye-opening preseason into a breakout campaign in La Liga.

F Christian Pulisic (Chelsea): Pulisic played the final 25 minutes of the Blues' opener and appears set for spot duty again this season. The good news? That should reduce the wear and tear on the USMNT's most irreplaceable attacker's body ahead of the World Cup.

F/M Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund): The 19-year-old didn't play for BVB last weekend, and he still isn't fully fit after hamstring injuries cost him almost all of last season. Still, Reyna will have at least a role off the bench for the U.S. in Qatar, even if he's not quite 100 percent. 

D Antonee Robinson (Fulham): A lock at left back, Jedi helped the Cottagers celebrate their return to the Prem with a 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

F Tim Weah (Lille): While Weah missed Lille's curtain raiser with a suspension that carried over from last season, he'll push for a starting role with both club and country.

D Walker Zimmerman (Nashville): The USMNT's most consistent center back during qualifying has done nothing to lose his starting spot.

*** *** ***

Comfort Plus

M Kellyn Acosta (LAFC): As the only real backup to Adams, Acosta could be eligible for an upgrade here. 

M Paul Arriola (Dallas): A regular throughout qualifying, Arriola knows his role, runs tirelessly and is a great presence in the locker room. Those things do matter at World Cups. Oh, and he's also having a career season with FCD.

D Reggie Cannon (Boavista): Cannon can play at right back in a four-man back line or in central defense in a five. That sort of versatility should help get him on the flight.

M Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo): As long as playmaker de la Torre gets at least some regular playing time in La Liga after graduating from the Dutch Eredivisie, he should make the cut.

G Sean Johnson (New York City): Johnson seemingly moved into the No. 3 keeper spot for good in June. Can he climb into the top two between now and November?

D Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls): Long hasn't been great in MLS lately, but it would probably take a more drastic loss of form to keep him from making the trip.

M Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders): Morris been scoring regularly for the Sounders, with three strikes in his past eight games. He also offers a defensive tenacity and physicality that are unique in the player pool.

F Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin): After winning the Golden Boot in Switzerland last season, Pefok opened his account in Bundesliga on his debut. He'll play himself onto the squad if he keeps scoring.

D Tim Ream (Fulham): He turns 35 in October and hasn't played for the USMNT in almost a year, but don't count Ream out. Timing matters, and Ream — who was excellent against Liverpool, despite his involvement on the Reds' late equalizer — is captaining a Premier League team this season. Like Cannon, the sweet-passing lefty is also comfortable in different defensive formations.

M Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders): Another glue guy, Roldan is in good form in Seattle, knows Berhalter's system inside out and won't rock the boat if he remains on the bench in Qatar.

D Chris Richards (Crystal Palace): Richards didn't play in Palace's opener following his transfer from Bayern Munich, but he's almost guaranteed to make the U.S. roster even if that doesn't change soon.

G Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough): Steffen had a shocker in his second match in England's second tier, and the frequency of his mistakes at both the club and international levels has become impossible to ignore. That said, he still has a couple of months to put things right and find his game.

G Matt Turner (Arsenal): As expected, Turner started his first Premier League season as Aaron Ramsdale's backup. If Steffen continues to struggle, though, he might find himself starting in Qatar regardless. 

F Brandon Vazquez (Cincinnati): The top-scoring American in MLS with 14 goals, Vazquez has the look of a guy who's playing himself onto a World Cup squad.

D DeAndre Yedlin (Miami): The only member of the player pool with previous World Cup experience — that ship has sailed for John Brooks, who still doesn't have a club — Yedlin provides cover at right back should an injury to Robinson force Dest to the left. 

*** *** ***


D George Bello (Arminia Beilifeld): The left back, 20, began on the bench in second-tier Arminia's first three games, all of which were losses.

M Gianluca Busio (Venezia): Like Bello's, Busio's stock has fallen since his team was relegated last year.

D Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic): The fourth and final center-back spot will probably come down to Carter-Vickers or Ream. 

F Daryl Dike (West Brom): The big striker's World Cup aspirations took another significant blow when he suffered a thigh injury before Monday's tie with Watford.

G Ethan Horvath (Luton Town): He's back playing regularly for the first time in years, but Horvath's path appears blocked unless one of the keepers ahead of him gets hurt.

D Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes): A rough showing against Qatar-bound Uruguay in June dropped him down Berhalter's depth chart.

D Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp): The natural left back has been excellent for Belgium's top team through three games. If the final fullback spot comes down to Vines or Yedlin, though, bet on the vet.

F Haji Wright (Antalyaspor): The rangy striker drew a penalty and was his team's most dangerous player in a 1-0 loss to Turkish power Galatasaray. But Wright will need goals — lots of them —to claim a seat.

M Richy Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven): Although a September call-up is possible, the 21-year-old is a more realistic candidate for 2026.

F Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg): Now in his second season in the Bundesliga, Pepi is still looking for his first goal.

D/M James Sands (Rangers): An injury to Adams or Acosta could still open the door for the versatile Sands.

M/F Josh Sargent (Norwich City): Now playing in England's Championship, the converted striker is being used in the midfield for the second straight season.

M Malik Tillman (Rangers): Another 2026 project, Tillman will have to light up the Scottish league to sneak into the cabin. Fortunately for him, he started on the right foot (or head) Tuesday.

M Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers): The more experienced Roldan likely stands between Williamson and the final midfield slot. 

F Gyasi Zardes (Colorado Rapids): While Zardes stopped getting called toward the end of qualifying, the veteran forward was just named MLS player of the week after netting a hat trick against Minnesota. Could a hot streak get him back in the mix?

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.


Get more from FIFA Men's World Cup Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more