USMNT Stock Watch: Is there still hope for Jordan Pefok? #news

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By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s Note: “Plane to Qatar” is FOX Sports’ weekly function monitoring the development of avid gamers hoping to crack the United States Men’s National Team’s 26-player roster for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

We know much more in regards to the USMNT’s pool of World Cup hopefuls than we did every week in the past.

After U.S. trainer Gregg Berhalter closing week launched a 26-man squad for the Americans’ ultimate two pre-Qatar get dressed rehearsals — on Friday towards Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany, and on Sept. 27 as opposed to Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain — and added 3 avid gamers after others withdrew as a result of harm, we all know that teenage striker Ricardo Pepi is not essentially in the back of in-form Jordan Pefok or Haji Wright in Berhalter’s estimation, in spite of Pepi’s struggles in Germany.

We know that Tim Ream and James Sands simply are not such a brawny heart backs the trainer is having a look for, in spite of taking part in continuously within the Premier League and Champions League, respectively.

And we all know that in spite of Berhalter’s insistence, the bubble avid gamers who were not referred to as into camp this month are all however accomplished so far as the World Cup is worried. Sure, there’s an opportunity that one thing ordinary occurs and somebody performs themselves in or out of a roster spot over the following two months. By and big, although, if the rest goes to switch it’ll be as a result of accidents and now not a past due trade of center by means of the team of workers.

That is one thing to keep watch over: No not up to seven regulars (Cameron Carter-Vickers, Yunus Musah, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson, Cristian Roldan Zack Steffen and Tim Weah) are out this month as a result of other harm considerations.

All are anticipated to get well prior to Qatar. But know this, too: a couple of extra twists prior to the principle tournament, which is now precisely two months away, are all however assured.

“It’s crazy to think how close the World Cup is,” U.S. attacker Brenden Aaronson advised journalists Monday on a Zoom name from Germany. “It comes at you fast.”

First magnificence

F/M Brenden Aaronson (Leeds): Aaronson hasn’t performed since Sept. 3, as Leeds’ closing two video games had been postponed following the demise of Queen Elizabeth II.

“It’s been kind of tough not being able to get back in the swing of things,” mentioned the 21-year-old, who’s more likely to occupy Musah’s central midfield position this month. “But we’ve had some inter-squads, and we’ve been training hard, so I feel ready to go.”

M Tyler Adams (Leeds): The defensive midfielder’s lineup spot could be essentially the most safe of any USMNT member. Adams has performed each and every minute of Leeds’ season to this point. 

D Sergiño Dest (AC Milan): Dest has been used completely as a sub since shifting from Barcelona on mortgage closing month, however Berhalter’s first-choice proper again may get started each USMNT warmups.

F Jesús Ferreira (Dallas): The simplest U.S. striker ensured of a place at the aircraft if wholesome, Ferreira’s 18 objectives lead all Americans in MLS.

M Weston McKennie (Juventus): Juve is off to a dreadful begin to 2022-23, however a minimum of McKennie is taking part in continuously once more after harm price him the general few months of closing season.

*M Yunus Musah (Valencia): A groin harm pressured Musah — who began the La Liga season en fuego — to withdraw from the September roster. It’s most commonly precautionary according to Spanish outlet AS, with Valencia hoping the two-way central midfielder is able to face Espanyol on Oct. 2.

F Christian Pulisic (Chelsea): Graham Potter’s appointment as Chelsea’s new supervisor did not straight away lead to extra mins for the USMNT’s best attacker, who performed simply the general six of closing week’s Champions League tie with Salzburg. It’s imaginable that Pulisic may function extra in those upcoming U.S. video games than he has all season within the Prem.

F/M Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund): Reyna is rounding into kind at simply the best time. Berhalter will nevertheless workout excessive warning with the injury-plagued 19-year-old, who hasn’t long gone a complete 90 mins since March.

*D Antonee Robinson (Fulham): A proper ankle harm helps to keep Jedi off the September roster. “At this stage,” Berhalter mentioned, “it’s probably better not to rush it and give him the proper recovery time.”

*F Tim Weah (Lille): Berhalter wasn’t positive when Robinson would get started practising, however he did give a timeline for Weah. “Timmy’s moving along,” Berhalter mentioned. “He may be in team training by the end of [this] week.” 

D Walker Zimmerman (Nashville): Zimmerman’s stature off and on the sector will simplest develop with Carter-Vickers and Richards injured and Ream overpassed. He’s been dominant in MLS; Nashville has conceded simply two objectives within the 29-year-old’s closing 5 fits.

Comfort Plus

M Kellyn Acosta (LAFC): Adams’ simplest true backup has performed nearly 2,400 mins in 30 appearances for the joint MLS leaders.

M Paul Arriola (Dallas): The veteran winger helped put FCD within the MLS playoffs closing weekend. The further video games will have to assist stay Arriola sharp main into the World Cup — particularly if Dallas makes a deep run. 

*^D Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic): While a minor ailment pressured the 24-year-old to withdraw on Sunday, we now know that Berhalter considers Carter-Vickers one in all his best 4 central defenders when wholesome.

D Reggie Cannon (Boavista): Berhalter raved in regards to the flexible Cannon’s tenacity and combat after closing week’s roster announcement. That bodes neatly for him.

M Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo): The playmaker has logged simply 18 mins all season. Yet De los angeles Torre will have to stay his spot if he helps to keep making cameos, then again transient, since he’d even be used as a late-game sub by means of the U.S. in Qatar.

G Sean Johnson (New York City): One factor that would paintings towards the 33-year-old is an early playoff go out by means of the Pigeons.

D Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls): With Carter-Vickers and Richards out, Long — who began all 4 June video games for the USMNT — will have to line up along Walker Zimmerman in each September fits.

“Certainly we’ve had plenty of games — whether it’s been this year or in the past — together,” Zimmerman mentioned when requested Tuesday by means of FOX Sports in regards to the partnership. “It’s another opportunity to get reps in, and that’s in training and in the games. So it’s already nice working on that today.” 

M Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders): With Seattle poised to omit the MLS playoffs for the primary time in membership historical past, a loss of fit health may put Morris’ position in jeopardy.

“If a guy’s not playing it all from now until the World Cup,” Berhalter mentioned, “It’s gonna be a challenge for us.”

^F Ricardo Pepi (Groningen): Berhalter made it sound just like the 19-year-old, a standard during World Cup qualifying, gets each and every likelihood to make the general roster.

And that was once prior to Pepi scored his first function for his new Dutch membership:

*D Chris Richards (Crystal Palace): The heart again hasn’t performed for the U.S. since January, and now he is out for this camp, too. Richards, 22, will have to still make the travel to Qatar if wholesome. But it is exhausting to look him beginning there now.

F Josh Sargent (Norwich City): The freshest American striker, Sargent scored for the 6th time in six video games on Saturday. Expect him to get an extended glance in a minimum of probably the most two fits this month.

^D Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp): Vines will have to get the primary audition as Jedi’s understudy. “This is a great opportunity to look at him,” Berhalter mentioned of the herbal lefty, who he added is “in the form of his life” for Belgium’s best workforce.

G Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough): While Steffen returned to the sector for ‘Boro Saturday after missing four games with a sore knee, his chances of starting in Qatar are slipping. The 27-year-old has the fourth-worst save percentage in England’s second tier, hasn’t played for the U.S. since March, and isn’t on the current squad. 

G Matt Turner (Arsenal): Turner won his Arsenal debut, in the Europa League on Sept. 8, and with Steffen out could start both U.S. matches. 

D DeAndre Yedlin (Miami): Yedlin helped Miami climb back above the playoff line last week. On a young U.S. team, his leadership and previous World Cup experience matter, too. 

“We’re not gonna be the most talented team at the World Cup, and we’re gonna have to compensate for that by being a cohesive unit, by working for each other, fighting for each other and having a great team spirit,” Berhalter said. “Part of that is leaning on guys that have been there before.” 

Standby list

M Johnny Cardoso (Internacional): The Brazil-based 21-year-old, whose last call-up came nine months ago, was a surprise replacement for the injured Musah.

G Ethan Horvath (Luton Town): If Turner doesn’t play all of both friendlies, we’ll find out exactly where Horvath, who has had to make just 15 saves in 10 games for Luton, stands on the USMNT’s keeper depth chart.

D Mark McKenzie (Genk): Added over the weekend, the CB played his way into the opportunity with a strong run of games in Belgium.

⌄F Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin): Whatever Berhalter says, being left off the final roster before the World Cup doesn’t bode well for Pefok’s chances. That said, he’ll still have a shot if Sargent and/or Pepi don’t perform well this month or get injured — provided Pefok keeps scoring goals like this one on Sunday:

D Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes): Initially overlooked, the 25-year-old center back was added to the current squad along with McKenzie.

D Shaquell Moore (Nashville): Berhalter said it “was a really difficult decision” to leave the right back off the September roster. He’s next in line if someone goes down. 

*M Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders): Roldan’s body of work and popularity with his teammates could see him claim one of the final World Cup tickets if he recovers from groin surgery in time. But like Morris, Seattle missing the playoffs wouldn’t help.

D Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach): Just 19, Scally earned his invite by starting every game of the Bundesliga season so far. He might have to beat out Vines to make the final cut.

D/M James Sands (Rangers): Sands is the seventh-choice center back, at best; Berhalter called in six CBs ahead of him this month.

⌄M Malik Tillman (Rangers): Tillman’s stock was soaring two weeks ago, but Berhalter put the 20-year-old attacker on notice after he struggled in Glasgow’s Old Firm derby and in Rangers’ Champions League opener. 

“He needs to increase his level,” the coach said. “I’m disappointed with his last couple performances against Ajax and Celtic.”

F Haji Wright (Antalyaspor): The big striker, who wasn’t called in, has cooled since kicking off the Turkish season with five goals in four games. Wright is now scoreless in his last three.

*Injured

^Bumped up

⌄Bumped down

Added: Johnny Cardoso

Dropped: Jozy Altidore, George Bello, Gianluca Busio, Djordje Mihailovic, Kevin Paredes, Tim Ream, Brandon Vázquez, Eryk Williamson

One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and ladies’s nationwide groups at a couple of FIFA World Cups. Before becoming a member of FOX Sports in 2021, he was once a team of workers author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.


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