Gregg Berhalter is fully aware that this summer’s Gold Cup is his first true showcase tournament, and so it won’t be a surprise if there are no real surprises on his roster.
That will be announced soon, but of course there’s a chance Berhalter does elect to bring a new name into the fold.
He may not use that player in a meaningful situation, but taking a hopeful along for the ride is not unusual (It happens at World Cups all the time).
It would make the most sense if such a call-up were to come from MLS, which will be in full flow when the Gold Cup arrives on our shores.
As usual, the best performers in MLS this young season have mostly not been American. While kids are playing more often, the influx of money into the league has clubs buying known entities or sexy foreign prospects rather than showing love to its youth (Paxton Pomykal and Djordje Mihailovic not withstanding).
Not only that, but the leading American goal scorer so far is 30-year-old CJ Sapong (4), while Benny Feilhaber and Chris Pontius are the only Yanks with a pair of primary assists.
Which brings us back to a name we mentioned earlier: Pomykal. The 19-year-old was one of FC Dallas’ next big things and through nine appearances is their current pretty big thing.
With attacking midfield having some supply but needing depth, Berhalter could well consider a call-up for the teenager. Pomykal has two goals and an assist, and is the second-rated American in MLS according to advanced stats site WhoScored. He could also be called up to the U-20 side as a key piece, so keep that in mind.
Two more names to look at are DC United center back Steve Birnbaum and Houston Dynamo creator Memo Rodriguez. Birnbaum is 28 and has been capped before, and could be an “older” piece for Berhalter’s back line currently led by John Brooks and Matt Miazga, but the center backs do appear set.
Rodriguez is pretty interesting, too, with four goals and an assist in 538 minutes. He’s also posted decent numbers in dribbling and key passes for Wilmer Cabrera’s revitalized Dynamo.