It’s been a busy day of U.S. Men’s National Team related news, from Tyler Boyd signing with Besiktas to U.S. Soccer announcing a friendly match with Mexico in September at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Here’s everything else you may have missed today relating to the USMNT and Americans Abroad.
Robinson joins Wigan in permanent transfer
Antonee Robinson is heading back to the Championship, but this time, he won’t be heading back to Everton at the end of the season.
Robinson on Monday completed a permanent transfer to Wigan. where he spent last season and helped the club avoid relegation. Robinson has signed a three-year contract and he joined for a reported $2.5 million transfer fee, per Wigan Today. He battled injuries to make 26 appearances in all competitions.
Robinson, born in England to an American father and British mother, came up in Everton’s Finch Farm academy but never broke through to make a first team appearance. Instead, he spent time in the lower levels on loan to Bolton and then Wigan. With Everton’s signing last year of Lucas Digne, the left back spot is locked up for quite a while, leaving Robinson second-choice and in search of first team minutes again.
For the USMNT, Robinson made his debut in the 3-0 win over Bolivia in late May, 2018, and has gone on to make seven appearances for the senior team, including a start against Jamaica, though it didn’t go well in a 1-0 defeat at home. Robinson was on the 40-man provisional Gold Cup roster for coach Gregg Berhalter and he also took part in a European-based training camp for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team as the team starts preparing for Olympic qualifying, which will likely take place later this year.
Robinson will likely play a key role in helping the U.S. make it to their first Olympics since 2008 in Beijing.
Reyna heading to USA with Borussia Dortmund
Claudio Reyna’s son Giovanni Reyna is off to a strong start after officially being announced as a signing by Borussia Dortmund. Whether for marketing reasons or sporting reasons, Reyna was one of the 26 players to make the flight to Seattle as Dortmund takes some preseason action in the U.S.
BVB will face the Seattle Sounders in Seattle on Thursday before heading to take on Liverpool in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday.
It’s a quick burst in the U.S., but perhaps Reyna can get a few minutes of action in his home nation before heading back to Germany to try and see if he can break into the squad.
British-born American midfielder Kyle Scott appears that he will still be on the books at a Premier League club next season.
According to multiple reports, including the Newcastle Chronicle, Newcastle FC is interested in signing Scott, thanks to a reported recommendation from former coach Rafa Benitez. Scott, 21, has spent the past 12 years in Chelsea’s academy and reserves, but he’s hardly sniffed a match, at least for the first team. He spent some time on loan with Dutch second-division side Telstar last year, but it wasn’t declared permanent.
Now, having been let go by Chelsea, Scott is looking for a new club. It’s unclear, however, considering his lack of first team experience, if he’d be able to step into the lineup at Newcastle and really make a difference so soon.
In the past, Scott has appeared for the U.S. Under-18s and U-20s. Perhaps some regular playing time in the Premier League can get him into the senior national team.
Gregg Berhalter is winning over his detractors. Now he needs to start winning against Mexico.
The United States men’s national team manager failed in his first bid to win a trophy, the 2019 Gold Cup, albeit against a much better Mexico team which was highly-favored to win its eighth trophy.
There were stumbles along the way — the men clearly expected to waltz past Curacao — but the Yanks largely passed tests in paving the way to the CONCACAF Nations League and 2022 World Cup qualifying.
Let’s talk about the good and the bad. We’ll try to avoid the meh.
Necessary negatives: The extended extended extended proving ground
Imagine, for a moment, you’ve moved to another country. Hey, maybe you have. Congratulations on your international jet-setting ways.
Now you’ve found one place around the corner from your apartment where you like the food. It tastes like home. The person who runs the place knows your name and always thanks you for your business.
But now your new friends are showing you other places. They are tastier places which are also healthier for you.
Still, you keep going back to the first place. It’s served you well.
It’s called Gyasi and Wil’s Family Restaurant, and Gregg Berhalter loves the lunch special.
This was one of the prime stumbling blocks of Berhalter’s early tenure as USMNT boss and one of its only true setbacks before his questionable substitutions in the Gold Cup Final against Mexico.
Berhalter overachieved in a big way during his time as Columbus Crew boss, and that was aided in no small way by midfielder Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes. One needs to look no further than Caleb Porter’s first season with a very similar Columbus roster to see just how well Berhalter did in Ohio.
But Trapp has been average at-best for the last four seasons in MLS and doesn’t have a place anywhere off the fringes of the national team pool (He’s been especially suspect this year in the United States’ top flight).
And to a lesser extent, the same is true for Zardes. Even in last year’s 20-goal season with Columbus, his stats were not wonderful (aside from the goals and yes, goals are pretty important in soccer).
Berhalter gave 17 of Trapp’s 19 caps to the midfielder, but only used him twice in the Gold Cup run (once off the bench). Trapp captained the side in his first eight caps under Berhalter, and again in June’s friendly slaughter at the hands of Salomon Rondon and Venezuela.
He’s just okay, not a mainstay, and it took Berhalter some time to realize that Michael Bradley was the far superior option despite being nowhere near his peak powers and a sudden turnover machine.
Zardes is not the answer at striker, although he put in a solid sub shift on Sunday, and Berhalter made sure he asked that question continually over the past half-year. He’s capable of the sublime and there’s currently a place for him in a 23-man roster, but that’s it. He has 10 goals and eight assists in 50 career caps, and here are the ones that come outside of CONCACAF:
Anyway, the point is not to dog Trapp and Zardes. They are pool players, but are unlikely to be regular difference makers for the USMNT. Berhalter, as is his right, gave them a loyal chance to stake a claim to their preferred places. Neither has been exceptional despite a wealth of experience in his system. The game’s not over, but it seems their role is as mid-level boss.
Pulisic is a wonder, and we wonder what’s next (Alternatively titled: Don’t hurt him, Lamps)
Christian Pulisic is a terrific player with world class potential. He is a worker, a playmaker, a finisher, and a burgeoning leader.
But the key part of this is that the kid continues to show up bigger when it matters.
Not 21 until September, Pulisic’s first Gold Cup saw him post three goals and three assists in five matches. Prior to this summer, he has seven goals and seven assists in World Cup qualifiers.
Even including his failure to meet the score sheet in the Copa America Centenario, Pulisic has 10 goals and 10 assists in 21 tournament matches for the USMNT. Compare that to three goals in nine friendlies. Guy’s a gamer.
Now he goes to Chelsea, a new club with a new manager who did not purchase him (but will surely be no stranger to his exploits). Frank Lampard will need Pulisic to show him something, but the price tag means the American will get every chance to do so.
That said, this isn’t a plea for “Lamps” to play Pulisic, rather develop him. The player is a dynamite winger, but Lampard was one of the most complete attacking midfielders of his generation. We’d argue the hiring is a good one. Let’s hope to be proven correct.
Chances taken, squandered, and everything in between
Here is a partial list of players left off the USMNT roster: John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Tyler Adams, Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent, Antonee Robinson, Paxton Pomykal, Duane Holmes, Sebastian Lletget, Russell Canouse, Andrija Novakovich, and Bobby Wood.
Some went uncalled by Gregg Berhalter, yeah, but all remain prospects to get regular spots on the team.
Of the men who were called into the squad, there are several who entered the tournament as undoubted long-term mainstays: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, and Zack Steffen among them. Others had a good handle on a place in the squad moving forward. While not perfect, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore ensured that they won’t be headed to the retirement unless they make that choice.
It’s difficult to get a read on Berhalter, and whether he’s dismissed a player or simply rotating according to some unnamed plan.
He benched Tyler Boyd with the U.S. in dire needed of attacking creativity against Mexico. Center backs Omar Gonzalez and Walker Zimmerman were pretty decent in the tournament, so maybe he had just seen enough?
Reggie Cannon seized his opportunity to lay claim to a fullback’s place in the pool, and Boyd looked good to most of us (again, how does Berhalter really feel?). Jordan Morris had his moments.
Paul Arriola seems to have made the right impression on his coach, while Berhalter has a very high opinion of Cristian Roldan (His engine is elite, but production remains absent).
All told, the coach is doing a decent job
I’ve written a number of times that the U.S. Soccer Federation did Gregg Berhalter no favors with the mysterious hiring process, because he’s a worthy hiring.
The loss against Mexico stings but it doesn’t scar, maybe because Berhalter’s Yanks pummeled Trinidad and Tobago for a measure of revenge and staked fair claims of superiority over Panama and Jamaica.
His system is asking a lot out of this player pool, but once we see the full-throated team with John Brooks leading out of the back with his under-appreciated distribution and Tyler Adams spying Pulisic, Weah, and other electric attackers, the Yanks are going to roar through CONCACAF.
Injuries could cost them, yeah, and the youth we’ve seen shine with the U-20s and (hopefully) the U-23s heading into the Olympics need to be nurtured into contributors.
As of right now, you’d bet on the USMNT to sit in the top three spots for the Hex and it’s reasonable to expect Berhalter to develop the young players into a squad that can rival Mexico’s by the Nations League finals or the Hex.
That’s when Berhalter will get his next serious chance to rival Tata Martino. And this time, he won’t have to plug in maybes and what ifs.
Hopefully. And that adverb is the one that applies to almost every USMNT question.
Bonus item: USWNT
After 1300 words on the men, here are a dozen or so on the women that matter just as much: Pay them equally. They’re the best we’ve got, and it’s the right thing to do anyway.
He was third on Wigan in tackles-per-game and second in interceptions-per-game.
Everton has 25-year-old Lucas Digne as the easy first choice left back following an incredible season at Goodison Park, and coverage from Leighton Baines. Will it be a sale or a Premier League loan for Robinson this season?
Let’s stay with left backs, and look to a team with one of the best in the Premier League. Liverpool have Andy Robertson, but Jurgen Klopp may be ready to pay nearly $58 million to secure depth at the spot.
The name is Junior Firpo, and the Real Betis man has that figure as his release clause. The Dominican Republic 22-year-old has 43 appearances for Betis and has scored five times with seven assists. He’s also played left mid.
Meanwhile, Arsenal is also looking to improve at left back but went a bit low with their opening salvo to Celtic over Bhoys star Kieran Tierney.
Tierney, 22, has 170 appearances at his young age, having scored eight times with 37 assists. Arsenal apparently bid just under $20 million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.
Consider that Liverpool bought fellow Scottish left back Robertson from Hull City for around $10 million in 2017, and that Robertson captains the Scotland national team while Tierney is not a regular.
The price for players has leapt since that point, and we imagine the deal won’t get done for under $25-30 million if it’s done at all.
As reported elsewhere Arsenal have had an opening bid of £15m for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney rejected – but there is optimism an agreement will be reached between the clubs, while personal terms for the 22-year-old Scotland international shouldn’t be a problem #AFC#CelticFC
Jackson Yueill, Djorde Mihailovic, Jonathan Amon and Joe Gyau have also been omitted from the squad which lost 1-0 to Jamaica on Wednesday in Washington D.C as the initial 40-man roster was whittled down after a training camp and the first of two friendly games.
Sargent not being in the squad is by far the biggest surprise, as he could have been used in the U-20 World Cup but the Werder Bremen forward will now have a month off before he prepares to play in the Bundesliga next season. Quite why he wouldn’t have been called up to the U-20 side is a head scratcher… But Sargent could still be called up, as Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris is injured but has been included in the 23-man squad.
Per tournament rules, a player may be replaced on the roster up to 24 hours prior to a team’s first match of the group phase in the case of injury. That replacement player must come from the preliminary 40-man roster.
The U.S. play their final friendly ahead of the Gold Cup tournament on Sunday against Venezuela at Nipper Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Placed in Group D of the Gold Cup, the U.S. play against Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Panama, with their first group game on June 18.
Below is the USMNT squad in full, along with their squad numbers for the tournament.
GOALKEEPERS (3): 12-Sean Johnson (New York City FC), 22-Tyler Miller (LAFC), 1-Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)
DEFENDERS (8): 14-Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER), 3-Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC/CAN), 2-Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), 23-Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), 16-Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN), 19-Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG), 13-Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), 5-Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
This was the worst performance of the Gregg Berhalter era, albeit with most stars missing from the U.S. roster.
Zack Steffen — 5 — Wasn’t going to do anything on the goal, but what was with the cavalier play to start the match?
Tim Ream (Off 59′) — 5 — Fighting to rediscover his form following a miserable season at Fulham.
Matt Miazga (Off 72′) — 6 — Bailed his men out a few times.
Omar Gonzalez — 7 — If Wednesday was any sign, Toronto FC is getting a wise, fit center back.
Antonee Robinson (Off 80′) — 6 — Ran out of gas in the second half, but buzzed up and down the left in the first half.
Cristian Roldan (Off 66′) — 4 — More of the same in an U.S. shirt, lots of industry but little in threat.
Wil Trapp — 4 — He was out there. We promise. After 15 caps, what’s his standout performance to date?
Jackson Yueill (Off 59′) — 5 — Unspectacular, but there had to be a lot of nerves on debut. Glad to see the Quakes man get the chance.
Paul Arriola (Off 72′) — 4 — As rough a match as you’ll see from a player of his experience and quality.
Djordje Mihailovic — 4 — His heavy touch in the box at the death was endemic of his team’s night.
Josh Sargent — 4 — Credit to him for battling to the final whistle, but this was very much a night for learning from and growing through struggles for the 19-year-old.
Nick Lima (On 59′) — 6 — The USMNT was better when he stepped into the fray.
Jonathan Amon (On 59′) — 6 — Lively on the left.
Duane Holmes (On 66′) — 7 — If there were really three Gold Cup roster slots available and Holmes didn’t have a hold on one already, he should now. Dynamic, clean, great vision. Could’ve had two assists.
Joe Gyau (On 72′) — n/a — Good to see him back out there.