Gregg Berhalter has named a rather youthful 23-man USMNT roster largely hailing from MLS, with a bit of experience and European pedigree sprinkled throughout, for the upcoming 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Having already won the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League this summer, Berhalter opted for a very different set of players — and experience level — for the Gold Cup, using it as an opportunity to take an up-close look at a number of promising prospects who could, with a bit of luck, force their way onto the fringes of the main USMNT squad when 2022 World Cup qualifying begins in September.
The USMNT will kick off its Gold Cup campaign against a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Sunday, July 11, in Kansas City. Qualification for the group stage, which will determine the final three nations to qualify, is set to begin on Friday, July 2. The USMNT will also face Martinique (July 15) and Canada (July 18) to round out Group B play.
[ MORE: 2021 Gold Cup squads for every team ]
In a strange twist of events, the USMNT roster for the 2021 Gold Cup is full of youth and inexperience in defense and midfield, while the heaviest concentration of experience — both internationally and at club level — lies within the forward group.
Gyasi Zardes is comfortably the most capped (56 USMNT caps) and most accomplished (12 goals) outfield player on the roster, with Paul Arriola (35 and 8), another familiar face in recent years, also along for the ride. Even beyond Zardes and Arriola, though, Daryl Dike and Matthew Hoppe are fresh off career-launching seasons in Europe, having scored nine and six goals in half-seasons (give or take) for Barnsley and Schalke, respectively.
Kellyn Acosta (31 caps), Sebastian Lletget (24) and Cristian Roldan (20) bring a fair bit of USMNT weathered experience to the midfield, but it’s the fresh faces of MLS youngsters Gianluca Busio, James Sands and Eryk Williamson who are most intriguing ahead of their expected USMNT debuts. Busio is in the midst of a breakout season with Sporting Kansas City and looks set to move to Europe sometime in the next six months, with a number of clubs from Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Belgian and Portuguese leagues reportedly in the running for the 19-year-old homegrown.
Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)
Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
Roster announced. ✅
Squad numbers set. ✅
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) July 1, 2021