In the almost three months since we last ranked the top 25 players in the USMNT player pool, most of what we’ve seen or not seen from players has come via club rather than country.
While some have either adjusted or are adjusting to new homes in world football, others are just now changing employers.
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Let’s stay with one of the names on that list: James Sands.
Love has been understandably heaped on the developmental work being done at FC Dallas, where Pepi joins Chris Richards, Reggie Cannon, and Bryan Reynolds as players to get their start with the Texas-based MLS outfit before exploding into USMNT.
But how about the work done at NYCFC, where Sands (21) was on the same youth team as two other players in our top 25: Giovanni Reyna and Joe Scally?
This is absurd stuff, and honestly a far bigger hat to hang on the wall that most of the things we rightfully flaunt about the rapid rise of Major League Soccer. We now have a realistic debate about which MLS academy — yes, multiple — is the more fertile ground for Champions League talent. Bonkers.
Consider that should Reyna improve in health, he may play for Dortmund against Sands (Europa League) and Scally (Bundesliga) in a 4-day span next month.
The window won’t end before the USMNT assembles for another round of World Cup qualifying, so let’s take a look at our status report for the best players in the pool right now.
Before we go any further with this list, here’s a reminder of how we sort the talent with some ground rules:
- The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
- Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one that could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
- Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Konrad de la Fuente is a better long-term prospect than Gyasi Zardes, but the Columbus Crew forward is currently better prepared for the stage than the Marseille youngster.
- Finally, if you’re breaking a tie between players… ask which you’d be more upset to hear was unavailable for a USMNT camp.
Top 25 USMNT players – Happy New Year 2022 edition (last ranking in parentheses)
- Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (2)
- Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (1)
- Weston McKennie. Juventus (3)
- Timothy Weah, Lille (10)
- Yunus Musah, Valencia (9) — Still just 19, Musah is harvesting minutes as he grows in La Liga
- Antonee Robinson, Fulham (7)
- Walker Zimmerman, Nashville SC (8) — With John Brooks seemingly down Gregg Berhalter’s pecking order and Chris Richards still learning, Zimmerman has become incredibly important to the 2022 World Cup hopes
- Sergino Dest, Barcelona* (5) Injured
- Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund* Injured
- Zack Steffen, Manchester City (14)
- Chris Richards, Hoffenheim (22)
- Brenden Aaronson, Red Bull Salzburg (6) — Club form has dipped a little but there’s reason to believe the winter break came at a perfect time for the ex-Philadelphia star
- Miles Robinson, Atlanta United (12)
- Josh Sargent, Norwich City (17)
- Joe Scally, Borussia Monchengladbach (NR)
- Jordan Pefok, Young Boys (18)
- Ricardo Pepi, Augsburg (13)
- John Brooks, Wolfsburg (11) — Only this low because the coach clearly isn’t a fan.
- Gianluca Busio, Venezia (25)
- Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (16) — Exciting to see him back and scoring goals.
- Matt Turner, New England Revolution (15)
- Kellyn Acosta, Colorado Rapids (24)
- DeAndre Yedlin, Galatasaray (NR)
- James Sands, Rangers (NR)
- Julian Green, Greuther Furth (20) — No one’s looking good at Furth right now, and unfortunately we’re not sure he’s being watched.
Last five out
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic); Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca), Reggie Cannon (Boavista),
Dropped out from last ranking
Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Matt Miazga, Alaves