Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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In the four months since we last ranked the top 25 players in the USMNT player pool, Gregg Berhalter’s Yanks have won a Gold Cup and taken a roller coaster ride through their first six CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings vs Costa Rica ]

That span has seen injuries open the door for a number of players.

Some sauntered through the door while Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna were on the mend, while others ran into a wall.

Players also moved around the world on the transfer market with a number of MLS players finding homes abroad and others still waiting to seal their next deal.

[ MORE: Three things we learned ]

Before we go any further with this list’s , 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 Barcelona youth.
  • Finally, if you’re breaking a tie between players… ask which you’d be more upset to hear was unavailable for a USMNT camp.

On to the rankings

Some notes before the numbers.

Don’t get us wrong, Christian Pulisic remains the most electric American talent since Clint Dempsey and has a very good chance of living the most remarkable career in USMNT history/

But Tyler Adams… there just isn’t another player near him in the pool when it comes to running a midfield.

Yes, Weston McKennie can flat-out play but his off-field incident and Pulisic’s recent injury woes have made it difficult for us to ignore what’s in front of our eyes with Adams.

Elsewhere, John Brooks’ form and health opened the door for an entire pool of center backs and Walker Zimmerman impressed in a big way again. Whether the Nashville SC back stays in the U.S. or tests the waters abroad, he’s the best back in the pool right now (though there are young pieces growing into their shot at the title).

Some MLS stars jump up the list with Miles Robinson leaping 12 spots and Matt Turner and Ricardo Pepi making their debuts. Jordan Morris’ impending return from injury and the pool’s failure to deliver as consistently as the Sounders man did at right wing have him back in the fold.

Top 25 USMNT players – post-Nations League, friendlies (last ranking in parentheses)

  1. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (3)  — Solid as a rock and almost always in the right spot on the pitch
  2. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (1)  — Get well, soon. Like, real soon…. Mexico in a month soon.
  3. Weston McKennie, Juventus (2)  — Rebounded from a terrible September off the field.
  4. Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (5)  — Will be looking over his shoulder.
  5. Sergino Dest, Barcelona (9) — Defensive acumen still needs work but offensive skill set almost unparalleled. Hit it harder, why don’t ya?
  6. Brenden Aaronson, Red Bull Salzburg (13)
  7. Antonee Robinson, Fulham (17)
  8. Walker Zimmerman, Nashville SC (6)
  9. Yunus Musah, Valencia (15)
  10. Timothy Weah, Lille (8)
  11. John Brooks, Wolfsburg (4)
  12. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United (24)
  13. Ricardo Pepi, FC Dallas (NR)
  14. Zack Steffen, Manchester City (11)
  15. Matt Turner, New England Revolution (NR)
  16. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (NR)
  17. Josh Sargent, Norwich City (7)
  18. Jordan Pefok, Young Boys (19)
  19. Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (NR)
  20. Julian Green, Greuther Furth (14)
  21. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders (NR)
  22. Chris Richards, Hoffenheim (16)
  23. Matt Miazga, Alaves (22)
  24. Kellyn Acosta, Colorado Rapids (NR)
  25. Gianluca Busio, Venezia (NR)

Last five out

DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray), Konrad de la Fuente (Marseille), Bryan Reynolds (AS Roma), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca), Reggie Cannon (Boavista)

Dropped out from last ranking

Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Ream (Fulham)

Man City kid joined by 2 USMNT prospects, MLS teen on Top 60 youth list

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Two Americans are joined by one Premier League player and an MLS starlet on The Guardian’s “Next Generation 2021” list, sprinkled among better-known names like Barcelona’s Gavi and Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko.

The list highlights 60 players born in 2014 and includes Manchester City’s Romeo Lavia (Belgium) and Toronto FC’s Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty (Canada) as well USMNT prospects Evan Rotundo of Schalke and Malick Sanogo of Union Berlin.

Mexico’s Jesus Hernandez of Queretaro is another CONCACAF name on the list.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up vs Jamaica? ]

Center forward Sanogo, 17, was born in New York City but has been with Union since his youth days. His father coaches in the Union academy, having played at Hoffenheim and Saint-Etienne amongst other stops. The younger Sanogo has two goals and an assist in six matches of U19 Bundesliga play.

California-born Rotundo, 17, signed for Schalke from the San Diego Surf youth soccer club. He made his U-17 Bundesliga debut last year and has been promoted to the U-19s this season, where he’s listed as an attacking midfielder.

Marshall-Rutty has already made six senior appearances for TFC and has an assist to his name. He played seven times for TFC II in USL League One.

Lavia is a defensive midfielder who turns 18 in January and has twice made the bench for Premier League matches, making his senior debut in September’s 6-1 defeat of Wycombe in the League Cup’s third round.

The Guardian’s 2015 list of 17-18 year olds included Matheus Pereira, Dayot Upamecano, Manuel Locatelli, Fede Valverde, Dani Olmo, and Christian Pulisic, while 2016 honored Kai Havertz, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Matthijs de Ligt, and Alexander Isak.

Previous honored Americans include (current club in parenthesis):

  • 2015: Pulisic (Chelsea)
  • 2016: Nick Taitague (retired)
  • 2017: Timothy Weah (Lille) and Andrew Carleton (Jicaral Sercoba)
  • 2018: Konrad de la Fuente (Marseille)
  • 2019: Gianluca Busio (Venezia) and Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
  • 2020: Moses Nyeman (DC United)

How will USMNT line up for must-win WCQ in Honduras?

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After taking just two points from the first two games of 2022 World Cup qualifying, the USMNT finds itself in a tricky situation: a virtual must-win showdown in Honduras on Wednesday, with injuries and positive COVID-19 test results piling up quickly.

[ MORE: USMNT World Cup qualifying schedule ]

Gio Reyna (hamstring), Sergiño Dest (ankle) and Zack Steffen (COVID-19) have all joined Timothy Weah (knock, did not report to camp) on the sidelines since World Cup qualifier no. 1 in El Salvador on Thursday. That’s the USMNT’s starting no. 10, starting right back or left back and starting goalkeeper, for anyone keeping score at home.

Oh, and you might’ve heard that Weston McKennie’s been sent back to Italy for what must’ve been more than a minor error.

Tyler Adams is the USMNT’s best player

Already, Gregg Berhalter is faced with a few uncomfortable questions which require his urgent attention. The least of which being: Do the poor results in games no. 1 and 2 alter his (presumed) plans to rotate the team with three games in seven days? More bluntly, is he going to start Tyler Adams and play him 90 minutes again?

It’s been refreshing, even through the disappointing draws, to watch Adams patrol the midfield once again for the USMNT. Work rate and infinite engine aside, Adams’ lightning-quick reading of the game and every situation far and away the USMNT’s most important and influential player. If they had won one and drawn one thus far, Adams would sit against Honduras, and that would be that.

But, they didn’t, so he probably won’t. Simply put, he cannot be replaced in a battle like Honduras away.

How will Berhalter pick the USMNT starting lineup?

If Steffen hadn’t contracted the virus, he and Matt Turner would have likely split the games two-one (or one-two). Turner has hardly been tested thus far in World Cup qualifying, so he’s done nothing memorable nor anything to lose the job. If Turner wants to prove he’s the no. 1, this is a dream opportunity.

With Dest injured and Reggie Cannon not in camp, DeAndre Yedlin draws another start at right back by default. John Brooks will keep his place after resting the first game, but he’ll get a new partner after Miles Robinson went the full-90 against El Salvador and Canada. Walker Zimmerman, given his experience compared to Mark McKenzie or James Sands, makes the most sense. Dest’s injury, plus the inexperience of George Bello, means Antonee Robinson will start at left back again.

[ MORE: Honduras vs USMNT: Start time, how to watch, live stream link ]

Weston McKennie is headed back to Italy after his suspension for violation of COVID-19 protocols, thus Kellyn Acosta and Sebastian Lletget will try to strike the right balance of ball-winning and ball-progressing in midfield. Christian Pulisic and Konrad de la Fuente will be asked to do so much more than attack on the wings. The same goes for Josh Sargent, who was replaced by Jordan Pefok against Canada.

Turner

Yedlin — Zimmerman — Brooks — A. Robinson

Adams — Acosta

Konrad — Lletget — Pulisic

Sargent

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USMNT vs Canada: Three things we learned, recap, Man of the Match

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Brenden Aaronson scored the lone American goal as Gregg Berhalter’s United States men’s national team underwhelmed again in a 1-1 draw with Canada on Sunday in Nashville.

Yes, the Yanks were shorthanded for various reasons in this World Cup qualifier (injuries, positive COVID tests, Weston McKennie breaking a team rule) but the USMNT again had few real moments of danger in a game it didn’t quite need but very much should’ve had.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings vs Canada ]

Cyle Larin scored for Canada to level the game leaving both teams on two points after two matches and making Wednesday’s trip to Honduras very, very important.

Berhalter only made one sub in the first 82 minutes and will be left to answer a great many questions about his team’s completely underwhelming start to qualifying.

[ MORE: Lingard, Saka shine for England ]


Three things we learned from USMNT vs Canada

1. Turns out Pulisic is really important: He was harrassed, fouled, and basically tracked with a magnet all night, and while there are probably a half-dozen brilliant moments on the goal, don’t sleep on the one that is Canada going out of its way to foul the American captain rather than stick with Jordan Pefok.

2. Forwards? Imagine just a few months ago if you were told the Yanks would’ve really liked to have Gyasi Zardes available for a pair of World Cup qualifiers given the glut of hopeful talent in the pool. Jordan Pefok was okay on Sunday but Josh Sargent has struggled and Timothy Weah — not a center forward anyway — has been out the entire window. Zardes may not be the guy you want starting against Germany in a World Cup, but he sure knows how to find goals against CONCACAF defenses.

3. Absences hamper USMNT: Ask Gregg Berhalter how he feels about his depth and he’ll likely point to injuries to Giovanni Reyna and Timothy Weah as well as COVID issues for Zack Steffen and a suspension for Weston McKennie due to COVID protocols. That last one is a bad one, and you can be sure he was hoping his teammates would get the win without him because it’ll be a major talking point moving forward. Berhalter finally made a trio of changes with eight minutes left, plugging in Konrad de la Fuente, Josh Sargent, and Cristian Roldan for Brenden Aaronson, Jordan Pefok, and Sebastian Lletget. But Canada was able to bring on Jonathan David and Jonathan Osorio amongst others, while the U.S. was genuinely shorthanded in Tennessee.

Man of the Match: Antonee Robinson

It would’ve been Tyler Adams or Brenden Aaronson had the former not taken a silly yellow card that stopped us from learning whether the latter’s incisive pass would’ve been thumped home by Robinson. But the Fulham left back was everywhere for the U.S., assisting Aaronson’s goal and demanding another start on Wednesday.


USMNT vs Canada recap

Canada had the game’s first chance via a corner kick but the U.S. soon had a free kick when Christian Pulisic drew a foul. The service wasn’t great but Canada played it out for a USMNT corner.

John Brooks and Tyler Adams set the tone early with fouls and intention, the pair combining to shut down a strong Alphonso Davies in the ninth minute.

A Brooks giveaway, however, allowed a long ball to Cyle Larin that was poorly hit and gobbled up easily by Matt Turner.

Turner was bothered much more by a Dest mistake that allowed Davies 1v1 with the keeper in tight, but Miles Robinson blocked the effort toward goal to keep it 0-0.

Pulisic drew another foul in the 16th but the free kick went for nothing. Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan was shaken up and needed trainer’s assistance in the 20th minute, and Antonee Robinson soon tested him with a left-footed hammer.

Dest then led an electric run down the left that led to a cross and a wicked deflection that forced Borjan to fly toward the top corner to slap the ball away from danger.

You’re not going to believe this: Pulisic was a part of nearly every moment of real danger for the Yanks and won a corner in the 32nd minute.

[ MORE: Brazil versus Argentina suspended ]

Pefok worked a 1-2 with Pulisic off another quality Antonee Robinson long pass, but dragged his shot just wide.

Soon Aaronson and Lletget worked a terrific set-up off a long Brooks diagonal, but Pulisic’s snapped shot smacked the post.

Dest was injured just before halftime and replaced by DeAndre Yedlin.

The Yanks broke through before the hour mark when Brenden Aaronson created a turnover and the referee played advantage when Pulisic was fouled, the ball going to Kellyn Acosta for a perfect entry pass for Antonee Robinson. The Fulham man sent the ball back to the man who started it for a sliding tap-in.

Canada had it 1-1 quickly, as Yedlin was roasted by Davies. The Bayern Munich man’s pass past two sleeping center backs was snapped in by Larin for 1-1.

The Canadians were able to insert Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David, not bad if you have them.

Adams made an influential run down the right but bodychecked Mark-Anthony Kaye away from the play just as Aaronson hit a perfect pass to set up Robinson. A scoring chance turned into a yellow card.

Three things we learned from El Salvador 0-0 USMNT

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They weren’t good.

A United States men’s national team missing its best player and resting its best defender was not a good watch in a 0-0 draw with El Salvador in San Salvador to kick off its CONCACAF World Cup qualifying run.

[ MORE: Player ratings from El Salvador 0-0 USMNT ]

Christian Pulisic missed the match as he seemingly rebuilds fitness following a COVID-19 positive test-induced layoff, and the Yanks were anything but clinical in front of goal.

Heck, they barely got there.

Next up is Canada in Nashville on Sunday before a trip to Honduras.

[ STATS: World Cup qualifying on NBCSports.com ]


Three things we learned from El Salvador – USMNT

1. Welcome back to nerves, second-guessing, excitement: Look, we loved the victories at the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Nations League — especially the latter — but is there anything like the anticipation, anxiety, and excitement that comes from World Cup qualification, especially an away match in front of a packed house? Unfortunately, the U.S. did very little to ease that anxiety with most of its starting lineup ineffective, but it sure was nice to open a fresh run of qualifiers.

2. Youth is gonna youth: Being talented enough to get selected to start in a side’s first World Cup qualifier means there are gifts to be opened on the pitch, but also long periods of adjustment. It’s understandable that Konrad de la Fuente, Josh Sargent, and Brenden Aaronson would start, especially with Christian Pulisic injured, but we were left waiting for those gifts to arrive in San Salvador for most of the first hour. The kids needed further blooding but there’s a veteran front three out there (Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, and Sebastian Lletget in a full-health world) who delivers a halftime lead, perhaps by two.

3. Tyler Adams is very good: The youngest player to captain the United States men in a World Cup qualifier looked the part, almost always in the right position and barely putting a foot wrong when the ball found its way to him. Unfortunately, a midfield metronome isn’t a finisher.

Man of the Match: Tyler Adams


El Salvador – USMNT recap

The U.S. might’ve had it 1-0 with an unintentional chance when a low clearance bounded off Brenden Aaronson and over the bar.

Miles Robinson’s turn to put it over the frame when Gio Reyna swept a gorgeous free kick over the pack.

El Salvador forward Jairo Henriquez nodded just over the goal on one of their three corners in the first 15 minutes, but Sergino Dest bounced a shot to the home goalkeeper moments later.

The U.S. appeared anxious with the final ball in its best moments of the first half, Josh Sargent and Weston McKennie producing some magic but failing to spot a shooting opportunity and an incisive pass to Aaronson.

Alex Roldan came close to making it 1-0 for El Salvador off a corner conceded by a falling Matt Turner, as the home team’s best work came off set pieces and aggressive pressing in the U.S. half.

The best U.S. chance saw Konrad de la Fuente reclaim his blocked cross and sweep another one over the pack. McKennie nodded it to Sargent, but the Norwich City man’s side volley bid was wide of the wrong post.

[ MORE: Other World Cup qualifiers ]

De la Fuente led a terrific run early in the second half but laid off for Sargent to have a blocked shot rather than feed an open Reyna on his right.

Matt Turner had his best moment on a near-post corner in the 56th minute that saw El Salvador equal the Yanks’ single shot on goal.

Three subs arrived when ineffective De la Fuente, Sargent, and Sergino Dest were yanked in favor of

McKennie couldn’t turn a Reyna header inside the post with 18 minutes left in the 90.

Mario Gonzalez made a terrific save on McKennie late in the game, and Berhalter lifted Aaronson and DeAndre Yedlin for Sebastian Lletget and Cristian Roldan.