The United States men’s national team’s 26-man roster for the World Cup in Qatar is finally here. On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Soccer held an event in Brooklyn to unveil the players that will be tasked with wearing the red, white, and blue on the sport’s biggest stage for the first time since 2014.
There were a few surprises, but for the most part, things played out the way that USMNT fans would expect. Here’s the list of players who are headed to the World Cup:
GK: Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson Matt Turner
DEF: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Sergiño Dest, Aaron Long, Shaq Moore, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, DeAndre Yedlin, Walker Zimmerman
MID: Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Cristian Roldan
FW: Jesús Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, Haji Wright
Arguably he biggest surprise comes in goal, where Berhalter’s preferred option for his entire tenure, Zack Steffen, missed out on the squad altogether. On recent form, this makes sense — Steffen has struggled for consistent playing time for years due to his role as a backup at Manchester City, while his recent move to Middlesbrough in search of time has been up-and-down. In the face of all that, Berhalter has rode with him, but Roger Gonzalez of CBS Sports reported on Tuesday that Steffen would stay home.
This clears a path for Turner, the best shot-stopping option in the player pool, to get the No. 1 shirt in Qatar. It seems a foregone conclusion that he will play every meaningful minute in the World Cup. Johnson is a steady hand from NYCFC of MLS, while Horvath, the hero in the Americans’ Nations League triumph over Mexico last year, rounds out the trio.
The defense is largely to be expected. Berhalter’s two preferred choices next to Walker Zimmerman in central defense, Miles Robinson and Chris Richards, are out due to injuries, so the second spot in the back will come from someone in the Carter-Vickers, Long, and Ream trio. Dest and Robinson are believed to be the first-choice options at fullback, Yedlin is a veteran option, Scally has impressed in Germany this year, and if there is a surprise, it is Moore — Zimmerman’s teammate in Nashville — getting the nod over another Berhalter favorite, Reggie Cannon.
A pair of midfield options, de la Torre and McKennie, have been dealing with injuries, but neither were expected to miss out on a roster spot assuming they would be healthy in time. As such, the presumed starting midfield — McKennie, Musah, Adams — is in tact, while Aaronson’s been a top player for Leeds United this year. Acosta comes off of an MLS Cup win with LAFC, while Roldan is another Berhalter favorite whose ability to play in the midfield or on the wing is valued.
The other big surprise comes in the forward pool, where Haji Wright, who has played twice for the national team under Berhalter and converted a penalty in his last appearance, gets the nod over options like Jordan Pefok and, more notably, Ricardo Pepi. The latter’s exclusion seems to clear the way for Ferreira or Sargent to be the first-choice option in Qatar. Beyond him, the Americans have their three dangerous options in Pulisic, Reyna, and Weah all on the roster, while Morris is the veteran in the group.
The Americans will kick off their time in Qatar on Nov. 21 against Wales, have a showdown with England on Nov. 25, and end group play on Nov. 29 against Iran. All of their games kick off at 2 p.m. EST.