Matt Miazga

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How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

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No Christian Pulisic.

No Tyler Adams.

No Timothy Weah.

No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.

Ugh.

[ MORE: NYCFC teen signs for Gladbach ]

Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.

How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.

After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.

Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:

Guzan

Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest

Yueill

Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set 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 which 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 Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Americans Abroad: Pulisic, Sabbi extend scoring spree

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For a second consecutive weekend, Christian Pulisic tops the list of Americans abroad.

A week removed from his historic, perfect hat-trick, the 21-year-old ace followed up by scoring Chelsea’s game-winner against Watford, stretching his Premier League goal count to four.

From the looks of it, Emmanuel Sabbi has been taking notes of Pulisic’s recent form.

The U.S. U-23 forward also scored for a second consecutive week in the Danish Superliagen. 31 minutes into Hobro’s match against Odense on Sunday, Sabbi, 21, executed his free kick perfectly, curling a right-footed strike over the wall and into the top-left corner.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic’s fine run of form continues. The Pennsylvanian played 83 minutes and scored Chelsea’s second and game-winner against Watford.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin started and played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 3-2 win against West Ham on Saturday. The Magpies are no longer in the drop zone.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan dropped to Swansea City 2-1 on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old is back healthy and starting. On Saturday, Miazga played all 90 minutes in Reading’s 2-1 win over Millwall.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The captain played the full 90 minutes and was instrumental in Hull City’s 3-0 win over Fulham. That’s two straight clean sheets for the Tigers.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender didn’t dress for QPR on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 3-0 loss to Hull City.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers and the Potters take on West From on Monday.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch didn’t dress in Sunderland’s 1-0 win over Southend United on Saturday.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 in Wolfsburg’s 3-0 draw loss to Borussia Dortmund.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  After being inactive against Borussia Dortmund, McKennie played all 90 minutes in Schalke’s 3-2 win over Augsburg on Saturday.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen played all 90 minutes and recorded a save and clean sheet in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-0 defeat of Koln. Morales also started and played 81 minutes on Sunday.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent came off the bench in the 72nd minute in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw with Freiburg.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress in RB Leipzig’s 8-0 thumping of Mainz on Saturday.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson didn’t feature for leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler was on the 18 but didn’t play in Frankfurt’s 5-1 win over Bayern Munich.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – The 26-year-old winger dressed but didn’t play in Paderborn’s loss on Friday.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes in Greuther Furth’s 3-1 win over Darmstadt.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest dressed but didn’t feature in Ajax’s 4-2 win over PEC Zwolle.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 90 minutes in VVV’s 3-0 loss to Feyenoord.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne didn’t dress for FC Emmen over the weekend, again.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a muscular injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Rennes’ match against Nimes over the weekend was postponed.

Honorable Mentions:

Emmanuel Sabbi, Hobro – The 21-year-old winger started and scored Hobro’s lone goal in their 2-1 loss to Odense on Sunday.

Ulysses Llanez, U-19 Wolfsburg – The 19-year-old played 82 minutes and scored in Wolfsburg’s 4-2 win over Hamburg on Saturday.

Questions, possible full squad for USMNT’s decisive November

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USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter has announced 20 MLS players vying to be a part of November’s decisive CONCACAF Nations League group stage matches versus Canada and Cuba.

The group will train Nov. 2-9 before being pared down, eventually joined by European-based players as well as several Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders players following the MLS Cup on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Berhalter calls up 20 ]

Berhalter’s had a pretty notable week, earning the loyalty of Sergino Dest and apologizing to away supporters for his ignorance following October’s embarrassing loss in Canada.

It’s important to note that, knock on wood, Berhalter is going to have as rich selection of players as he’s had in some time with Dest in the fold and John Brooks returning to fitness.

We’re getting to the point, finally, when playing first team minutes for your club is no longer enough because there are so many players who qualify. Even without Adams and the injured Tim Weah, there is a legit 18 that can be formed without including a single domestic-based player*.

Here are the biggest questions to be answered when the rest of the call-ups come:

  • Is the camp injury that cost Miles Robinson his Atlanta United playoff run enough to further limit his participation?
  • Will Richie Ledezma, the teenage playmaker who made his first game day for PSV Eindhoven and is also eligible to represent Mexico, get cap-tied early? If Berhalter is comfortable in his job, there’s no reason not to take a look.
  • Can New England’s Matt Turner impress enough to knock Sean Johnson or Brad Guzan from the final squad once Zack Steffen is added, and is there another European goalkeeper on Berhalter’s radar?
  • Will Chase Gasper impress enough to knock Daniel Lovitz down the left back pecking order? Moreover, which defenders will get squeezed by the additions of Dest and Brooks? And is there room for Antonee Robinson?
  • Could Tyler Boyd’s relegation to thrice unused sub for Besiktas open up a spot in the forward corps?
  • Might Tyler Adams get a call-up even if he’s not fit to play a significant role? Same for Jozy Altidore?

Predicted USMNT roster

Goalkeepers (3): Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC)

Defenders (8): DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United), John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Matt Miazga (Reading), Sergino Dest (Ajax), Tim Ream (Fulham), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

Midfielders (8): Weston McKennie (Schalke), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC).

Forwards (7): Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC).


Spurned: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Stoke City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC)


*Here is an example of an 18 that does not include any MLS players, and I’m not saying this is the best 18 at all, as at least Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastien Lletget all fit the bill for any 18: Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, DeAndre Yedlin, Sergino Dest, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Weston McKennie, Alfredo Morales, Julian Green, Duane Holmes, Lynden Gooch, Richie Ledezma, Christian Pulisic, Tyler Boyd, Josh Sargent.

Dest commitment a big win for Berhalter, Stewart’s USMNT

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“Earnie and Gregg’s Excellent Adventure!”

That’s what I Tweeted after seeing the news that Sergino Dest had chosen to represent the USMNT over the Netherlands, a somewhat-stunning reversal after U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart and men’s head coach Gregg Berhalter met with the teenage full back this weekend.

[ MORE: USWNT hires new coach ]

A few friends texted to see if I was being sarcastic. After all, this hasn’t been a good few months for the USMNT and I had gone as far as to suggest that many federations would feel justified to make a switch after the Yanks lost in embarrassing fashion against both of its neighbors this Fall.

But no. Dest has chosen the USMNT, and Monday is a wonderful day for U.S. Soccer even if Dest fails to live up to his potential as a decade-long fullback for the red, white, and blue.

Reports out of Holland that Dest would make his decision this week seemed to favor the brilliant Oranje. Others suggested that he was going to choose the Netherlands for sure.

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These decisions are highly-analyzed and sometimes a recruiting nation doesn’t have much hope in gaining the allegiance of a player. In addition to Dest, this century has seen the U.S. lose out on Neven Subotic and Jonathan Gonzalez, but gain Jermaine Jones and Julian Green (amongst others).

But if we’re going to question whether Dest would be lost because Ronald Koeman is an Ajax and Dutch hero, Berhalter played him at left back instead of right, and/or the USSF is a cluster of issues, then we ought to acknowledge that Berhalter and Stewart earning the player’s faith in spite of those facts is really impressive.

Ajax is unbeaten in Eredivisie player and Dest continues to run up the minutes and doesn’t turn 19 until Nov. 3. He might not have been automatic as the Netherlands national team fullback, but he was going to have to seriously regress to not get his chance.

Again, he’s 18 and started for one of the most storied club in Europe and almost certainly the most celebrated club in the country of his birth.

Dest has three assists this season in 913 minutes, averaging a shot per game and passing at an 87 percent clip. He’s an exceptional dribbler. While still very much a teenager in defense, Dest is averaging close to two tackles and an interception per match.

Losing Dest would’ve felt as bad as any dual national since Subotic, who went on to earn 36 caps for Serbia and currently sits on 360 senior appearances between senior club Union Berlin and former teams Borussia Dortmund, Saint-Etienne, Mainz, and Koln. Giuseppe Rossi’s choosing Italy didn’t feel good, but was also fait accompli.

It’s a moral victory for the United States’ supporters and a mild reprieve for Berhalter, whose team’s progress is really stuck in the mud. Dest can play in any system and gives the coach improved hope of implementing his preferred possession-based style.

Yet after the loss of Gonzalez and with big concerns about Mexico’s recruitment of Richie Ledezma, the 19-year-old dual national who just earned his first senior spot on the bench for PSV Eindhoven and is being recruited by Mexico. This is an exhalation, even against the backdrop of the stinging words coming former U.S. midfielder and scout Hugo Perez in an alarming article from The Nation last week.

You can’t help but think the news will ring out loudly to Ledezma, who is close to a senior call-up and could see one next month. Center back Chris Richards, 19, had been chewing up minutes for Bayern Munich II in 3.Liga before a recent illness. Chris Gloster is in the PSV system, and Giovanni Reyna highly regarded at Borussia Dortmund.

Assuming the USMNT pulls it together for the 2022 World Cup, the team could feature Zack Steffen in goal with a back line of Dest, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, and Antonee Robinson. The midfield could be Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Ledezma under a trident of Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah.

The oldest of the bunch would be Brooks and Miazga at 29 and 27.

Excellent, Earnie and Gregg. For Berhalter, this could be his most notable week of work for his country since he made the 2006 World Cup roster.