Wow and we thought Japan on Thurs was bad – now we couldn’t beat a Saudi Arabia teamed ranked 69th in the world. Things are falling apart quick for a US team with so much hope just a few months ago. Now we were still missing key guys as Winger Tim Weah and Mid Yanus Musah showed how much we really miss him with his absence. Any thoughts that MMA (Mckinney/Musah/Adams) works without Musah has been negated this week. With Musah – balls move out of pressure as he does the work to connect our D to our offense as he drives forward with abandon. NO ONE else except perhaps Aaronson in the mid has show this ability. Overall while we were better in the mid vs the Saudi’s than we were vs Japan – we still didn’t look good. And Pepi and Pulisic up top ? Well they barely touched the ball at all? I thought Dest looked ok on the left – and serves as a serviceable left back if Jedi goes down. I thought Scally also looked good on the right – but it seems he doesn’t drink the Berhalter Kool-Aide – (he’s just a starter for a Bundesliga team (the what 3rd bet league in the world? Why would GB like him. Much like Tim Ream (who 100% sure be on the plane to Qatar – he starts in the EPL for heaven’s sake). I have defended Berhalter for years now – give him time – look at the results I have said. See him trying to change our culture to a team that possesses instead of counter attacks and buckles down to play tough American defense. Now we play no defense at all – play out of the back with horrific results – and basically look like one of THE WORST TEAMS IN THE WORLD coming off this international break. Maybe he’s setting us up for a 3-0 sweep with the final nail coming on the Day After Thanksgiving when the largest Ever US Audience can watch us get drummed by England 4-1 or something. I mean if not for the spectacular shot stopping of Matt Turner (who by the way Berhalter won’t start if he has his way – he loves our 3rd best GK right now Zach Steffan instead). At this point the defense looks slow and clueless, the midfield disjointed and the offense non existent. Pulisic pouted his way thru 75 lackluster minutes before stomping off in the 76th minute – throwing his captain band to Adams. Adams who by the way should be the captain. Gio Reyna – perhaps our best actual player if he ever gets healthy again – left unexpectedly in the 30th minute with tightness in his leg. Do we really think Reyna who hasn’t played ALL YEAR is going to have an impact on the World Cup in less than 60 days? Doubtful. And up front – well besides Aaronson trying to do it all himself – we had little to nothing. No shots by Pepi the all world 19 year-old who is continuing his disappearing act while Berhalter strokes his back and begs him to score – a goal – any goal for the first time in over a year. If he leaves the only #9 in the World actually playing well Jordan Pefok from Union Berlin (3 goals, 3 assists leads the Bundesliga) at home – well he may well have his Donovan moment. That moment where the entire team knows he’s clueless and won’t be able to even coax a win out of the most talented group of American’s to ever wear the Stars and Stripes at the same time. GK Matt Turner was the one bright spot this window. Speaking of Goalkeepers – check out the GK section Below.
Indy 11 Home Sat – Breast Cancer Awareness Night 7 pm
Indy Eleven used a 2nd half penalty kick conversion from its captain Ayoze and a dominant defensive performance to capture a hard-fought 1-0 home win. The victory marked the Eleven’s 4 straight home win. They return home Saturday, Oct. 1, when they host FC Tulsa for Breast Cancer Awareness Night Tickets start at $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or watch MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+.
The end of the international break is highlighted by some huge games this weekend and this week. Sat league leading Arsenal hosts Tottenham at 7:30 am on USA, while at 9:30 am league leading Union Berlin and Jordan Pefok travel to top 6 foe Frankfurt and fellow American Timmy Chandler. 10 am on USA gives us Pulisic sitting the bench I am sure for Chelsea vs Crystal Palace while #6 Fulham along with Jedi and Tim Ream will host New Castle in a surprising top 10 battle. Sunday gives us the Manchester Derby at 9 am on Peacock while Leeds United States of America with Coach, and Aaronson and Adams host Aston Villa looking to move back into the top10. Sunday also gives us huge MLS playoff battles as Portland fights for their playoff lives hosting league leading LAFC on ABC at 3 pm followed by Sporting KC vs Seattle – both still mathematically alive at 5 pm on Fox Sports 1. Of course ladies NWSL has battles royal Sat and Sun as well. Oh and Champions League is back Tues/Wed next week with Inter vs Barca and Chelsea vs AC Milan (see full schedule on the obc)
CFC GKU – GK Coach Noelle Rolfsen Named All Conference Player of the Week
Carmel FC GK coach Noelle Rolfsen was named all Conference Player of the Week for her 3rd ranked Marian University Knights. Noelle Rolfsen was voted the Crossroads League Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the league office earlier this afternoon. The honor marks the first time in her career as a keeper for the Knights. The senior goalkeeper played the full 90 minutes and recorded a shutout in a win against No. 18 Grace, posting four saves to help the Knights to a 2-0 win over the Lancers. Rolfsen has played in every game this season, notching 28 saves with 0.67 goals against average, helping Marian towards an 9-0-1 record. Rolfsen and the Knights knocked off #2 Ranked Spring Arbor Wed night and return home Saturday at 7:30 PM to host Bethel for senior day with hopes that a #1 Ranking may follow.
High School Local – #1 CHS Boys host Regionals, #3 CHS Girls travel to Westfield
The Carmel High School boys host regionals next week. The #3 CHS ladies tied #4 Zionsville 0-0 as 5 former or current Carmel FC Goalkeepers saw action between the pipes in JV and Varsity action. They close out the year at #15 Westfield tonight. Carmel Men’s highlights in win over Guerin. The Carmel Girls head into regionals next week ranked 3rd in the US and Indiana according to Max Preps – who also has Noblesville (2nd), and Zionsville (21) in the top 25 nationally.
US Women’s Roster Set
The USWNT will face European champion England at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on October 7, before taking on Spain in Pamplona four days later. “These are big tests for our team in front of crowds cheering against us and after long travel, but our players absolutely love games like these,” said Andonovski. “The group we are bringing to Europe includes players who have a lot of experience against top European teams and some that don’t, so these games are even more critical for our growth as our team. Our whole squad needs to get a clear picture of what these games are like as we continue to prepare for the World Cup.”
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)
FORWARDS (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)
Good Luck to our Carmel FC teams playing in Soctoberfest in Zionsville this weekend – I will be out there coaching and reffing – be sure to post your pics to our Twitter and FB pages !
Also if looking to watch some solid soccer this weekend – the GA Girls Academy teams from all over the US are playing at Grand Park this weekend – I will be reffing on Friday/Sunday.
BIG GAMES ON TV
Fri, Sept 30
2:30 pm ESPN+ Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen
Sat, Oct 1
7:30 am USA Arsenal vs Tottenham
9:30 am ESPN+ Dortmund (Reyna) vs Koln
9:30 am ESPN+ Frankfurt vs Union Berlin (Pefok)
10 am USA Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Pulisic)
10 am Peacock Fulham (Ream, Jedi) vs New Castle United
12 noon ESPN+ Roma vs Inter Milan
6 pm Para + NY Gothem vs Portland Thorns NWSL
7:30 pm ESPN+ Chicago Fire vs Cincy
10 pm Para+ Seattle Reign vs Orlando Pride NWSL
Sun, Oct 2
9 am USA Man City vs Man United
10 am USA Leeds United (Aaronson, Adams) vs Aston Villa
2:$5 pm ESPN+ Juve vs Bologna
3 pm ABC Portland Timbers vs LAFC
5 pm FS1 Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders
6 pm Para + Chicago Red Stars vs Angel City NWSL
Mon, Oct 3
3 pm USA Leicester City vs Nottingham’s Forest
Tues, Oct 4 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
3 pm Para+ Inter Milan vs Barcelona
3 pm Para+ Club Brugge vs Atletico Madrid
Wed, Oct 5
3 pm Para+ Chelsea (Pulisic) vs AC Milan
3 pm Para+ Sevilla (Musah) vs Dortmund (Reyna)
Fri, Oct 7
3 pm FOX US Women vs England in London
Tues, Oct 11
2:30 pm ESPN2 US Women vs Spain (Pamplona)
Sat, Oct 29
8 pm CBS NWSL Championship Game
As Qatar 2022 looms the US look like who they are: Concacaf’s third best team
USMNT player ratings vs Saudi Arabia
US need to improve at World Cup says Berhalter
Giovanni Reyna exits USMNT friendly vs Saudi Arabia with apparent injury
USMNT vs. Saudi Arabia result: Final pre-World Cup friendly ends in scoreless draw
5 takeaways from U.S. men’s soccer team’s friendly loss to Japan
World Cup 2022 rankings: Who are the favorites?
Mbappe revels in greater ‘freedom’ with France
Nick Pope’s fumble squanders three-goal fightback but England take heart from Germany draw
England in ‘good place’ for World Cup, says Kane
England player ratings vs Germany: Declan Rice in driving seat with man-of-the-match performance
Bellingham gives England cause for hope at World Cup
Spain snare Nations League semis spot from Portugal
Italy beat Hungary for consolation of Nations League final-four
Do not worry, England fans – the rest of Europe are just as bad
Croatia, Netherlands into Nations League semi-finals
Wílmar Barrios’ stunner highlights Colombia’s 3-2 comeback vs. Mexico at Levi’s Stadium
Lozano lifts Mexico to 1-0 win over Peru in World Cup warm-up
World Cup Send-off Not Good for Mexico either
Messi scores two beauties, accosted twice as Argentina tops Jamaica 3-0
Messi in the 100 club as Argentina streak continues with Jamaica defeat
Scaloni to remain as Argentina coach through 2026 World Cup
Banana thrown at Richarlison as Brazil thrash Tunisia
Son’s header gives South Korea win over Cameroon in World Cup
Angel City loses control of their playoff fate after falling to Racing Louisville
Q+A: Diana Ordóñez on her prolific NWSL rookie season, tattoos and
NWSL Boom, Global Growth Usher in New Goals for Women’s Soccer
NWSL Saves of the Season
Grant Wahl – My 3 Thoughts on USMNT-Saudi Arabia
The injured Yunus Musah was in attendance and saw that the U.S. needs Yunus Musah in a 0-0 tie against the World Cup-bound Saudis.
MURCIA, Spain — The U.S. men’s national team tied Saudi Arabia 0-0 on Tuesday in the last game before the World Cup starts in November. Here are my three thoughts on the game:
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• This was better than the ugly Japan loss, but the U.S. still isn’t where it should be so close to the World Cup. The U.S. had to make an improvement over that performance against the Japanese, and they did, showing more poise and a bit more energy against a not-full-strength Saudi Arabia starting 11. Weston McKennie and especially Tyler Adams had better performances over Friday in the midfield, and central defenders Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman didn’t lose their composure this time. (They even looked for some line-breaking passes over the top.) It was good to see Christian Pulisic back on the field, and the U.S. looked decent on the handful of occasions when Pulisic showed flashes of creativity on the ball in the attack. But Pulisic still didn’t have a signature moment that could have really gotten him going again amid his club issues. Meanwhile, the U.S. still didn’t create many scoring chances and had just two shots on goal against a Saudi team that was well-organized by the veteran coach Hervé Renard. The Saudis don’t concede many goals (they tied fellow World Cup entrant Ecuador 0-0 here on Friday), and the U.S. didn’t do enough to find holes in the defense. Playing at left back, Sergiño Dest remains an enigma, a player capable on this night of some brutal unforced errors but also of a couple piercing runs forward. Simply put: It has to getter from the U.S. before the World Cup opener against Wales if the Americans are going to put three points on the board in that game.
• The U.S. really needs Yunus Musah. The 19-year-old Valencia midfielder could have made a huge difference in this game had he been on the field instead of missing with an injury. Musah actually came down the coast and watched the game in the stadium, and what he saw was a U.S. team that doesn’t have anyone quite like him who can carry the ball forward on the dribble in the midfield and threaten opposing defenses. Musah has a real chance to be the breakout player of the World Cup for the United States. Give Gregg Berhalter credit for recognizing early that Musah can be dangerous in a central role instead of the wide role that his club played him at until Rino Gattuso decided to do so this season. But is it a concern that the U.S. doesn’t seem to have anyone else who can do what Musah does? You bet it is. Which is why it’s so important that Musah gets healthy and stays that way through November.
• Gio Reyna can’t buy a break health-wise. The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund attacker has been plagued by injuries for the past year, and he recreated an all-too-familiar scene in the 30th minute when he touched the ball out of play and walked off the field through the tunnel (with Gregg Berhalter following behind). U.S. Soccer said Reyna had muscle tightness and came out as a precaution. Reyna, who still seems better-suited to a central midfield than a winger spot with the U.S., hadn’t made a major mark in these two international games, but it was good just to see him start two games in a row as he tries to get back to full fitness for club and country. It has almost become a meme at this point to see a distressed Reyna walking off the field through the tunnel, and you have to hope that it isn’t an injury that will set him back as he tries to become a regular contributor for the U.S. and for Dortmund. There’s a psychological element to how Reyna processes his injuries, and it’s something you never want a player so young to have to deal with on a regular basis.
USMNT winger Gio Reyna will return from injury ahead of World Cup
Sep 29, 202215
U.S. men’s national team winger Giovanni Reyna “has a strain and will be out for seven to 10 days,” Borussia Dortmund coach Edin Terzić said Thursday.Reyna, who also plays for the German club, sustained the injury during a friendly against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. The 19-year-old exited the World Cup tune-up match after just 30 minutes and headed right to the tunnel after leaving the field. He was replaced by Paul Arriola, and the match ended in a scoreless draw.Reyna has struggled with hamstring injuries in the past, most recently missing the bulk of the European domestic season due to a torn tendon sustained while playing for Borussia Dortmund in April. That injury required four full months of recovery and followed another hamstring problem that prevented him from playing for five months.The Americans begin World Cup play with a Group B match against Wales on Nov. 21. Given Reyna’s estimated recovery timeline, he should be available to play.
World Cup state of play: Dismal form, injuries and lack of striker impairing USMNT
Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio
Sep 29, 2022
The U.S. men’s national team’s final two matches before the World Cup — a 2-0 loss to Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany, last Friday and a scoreless draw against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain, four days later — raised some serious concerns.
What went wrong in the buildup? What problems does head coach Gregg Berhalter face?
Here, Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal answer the big questions.
What is the team’s form like and how have they performed during this break?
This was perhaps the most disheartening international window for the U.S. since the one in October 2019 when they suffered a shock defeat on the road to Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League.
That loss served as a turning point for this national team — a reminder that their intensity and energy are still critical to their success. This latest window reinforced that notion.
There are still some very big weaknesses in this young team. The two big areas of concern — center-back and forward — flared up in the defeat to Japan and draw with Saudi Arabia. Just as concerning, though, was the midfield’s inability to play through the opposition. The U.S. certainly felt the absence of 19-year-old Yunus Musah and they’ll hope his return in November will help settle the midfield.
Which players are in or out of form? Are there any that the fans/the manager will be worried about?
Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams are starting every week for Leeds United, Weston McKennie is getting healthy minutes with Juventus and Walker Zimmerman is having another fine season for Nashville. But those four aside, there are legitimate form concerns for most of the U.S.’s main players.
Christian Pulisic has had a rough start to the season at Chelsea. His playing time under new head coach Graham Potter will be a major focal point for U.S. fans in the coming weeks. Giovanni Reyna had not made a league start for Borussia Dortmund before this month’s international break as he continued to work his way back to fitness and his injury on Tuesday will likely delay that further. Sergino Dest didn’t play at all for Barcelona in the three games between the start of the season and his deadline-day loan move to AC Milan, where he’s been used in a reserve role so far, making three substitute appearances.
It’s conceivable that none of those three will have a consistent run of starts between now and kick-off in Qatar.
Striker may be the most confounding position. Jesus Ferreira is in good form in MLS but he has yet to translate any success he’s had with FC Dallas to a match against a difficult opponent on the international level. Ricardo Pepi is off to a fine start to his loan at Dutch top-flight club Groningen but it’s only been two solid games after a rut that lasted nearly a year.
Josh Sargent and Jordan Pefok are performing well at their clubs, but Sargent played the fewest minutes of any of the three strikers called into the September camp while Pefok was left off the roster entirely.
Aaron Long is starting at center-back for the U.S. but he isn’t having his best year for the New York Red Bulls. Mark McKenzie entered September in good form at Genk in Belgium but he then struggled mightily for the U.S. This position will remain a huge concern up to, and likely throughout, the World Cup.
Then there are the injuries. Lots and lots of injuries.
Are there worries over the fitness of, or injuries to, certain players?
The U.S. went into the September window missing several starters due to injury: Musah, left-back Antonee Robinson, center-back Chris Richards and winger Tim Weah. It then got worse.Robinson emerged as one of the most influential players in this U.S. team due to his attacking abilities but missed out on this window with an ankle injury. There has been no indication of just how bad the ailment is. If he misses the World Cup, his absence would likely force Dest to the left side and shake up the back line.Richards has struggled to stay healthy and his injuries have limited his availability and playing time with the national team. Center-back is the thinnest spot on the roster and Richards’ passing ability is especially missed. If he can get healthy and play a stretch of games with Crystal Palace, the U.S. will be much better for it. Another center-back, Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, also pulled out of this camp due to an injury, forcing the U.S. further down the depth chart for the September games.Musah was a late exclusion due to a muscle injury but his issues seem like a shorter-term problem. Weah, meanwhile, remains out for Lille due to a foot injury and is yet to play this season. As mentioned above, Reyna left Tuesday’s draw as a precautionary measure due to some hamstring tightness. The injury is not expected to be serious, according to Berhalter, but it’s a reminder that over the past year, Reyna has been unable to stay on the field for long stretches. Right-back Reggie Cannon picked up a groin injury in this September camp and is expected to miss a few weeks.Cristian Roldan missed camp due to a groin injury suffered in August but he returned to the field for Seattle on Tuesday. He could be back with the U.S. squad in November — he’s seen as an important presence within the locker room.
What is the squad’s depth like? Are there any problem positions?
There’s good depth at winger, where Pulisic, Reyna, Aaronson and Weah are competing for two starting spots, and Paul Arriola and Jordan Morris are fighting for a reserve role. The U.S. is pretty thin just about everywhere else, however. We saw that in the September window. Luca de la Torre, who started against Japan, and Kellyn Acosta, who went the full 90 minutes against Saudi Arabia, didn’t come close to replacing Musah’s ability to break pressure and assist Adams in buildout play. At center-back, injuries to Richards and Carter-Vickers prompted Berhalter to start Long in both matches.The absence of Robinson and the tough outing that Sam Vines had against Japan led to Dest flipping from the right to the left on Tuesday. It worked fine but it was a case of hurting one side of the back four to fix the other. Berhalter likely only felt comfortable trying the flip because the U.S. has somewhat decent depth on the right with DeAndre Yedlin, Joe Scally and Cannon, though the latter is now out for the next few weeks due to his injury.Again, the main problem positions are center-back and striker. Zimmerman has been solid defensively but he’s limited in possession. Long hasn’t been up to par while McKenzie was poor in September. The U.S. need Richards to get healthy and onto the field for Palace, but given his lack of playing time before his recent injury, the latter outcome seems unlikely. Carter-Vickers returning to the field at Celtic could provide a boost, too. It’s a similar picture at striker.None of the options have done anything of note at the international level. Ferreira has finished poorly with the U.S. and hasn’t done a good job of threatening opposition back lines with runs in behind. Sargent didn’t get much of a chance in this window. Pepi is a total wild card, given his prolonged struggles over the last year. Union Berlin’s Pefok is the option du jour but Berhalter seems to have decided his limitations in possession preclude him from starting in Qatar.Simply put, the U.S. is several cuts below the top international teams at both these positions.That won’t change between now and the World Cup.
Are there any issues to fix before the World Cup?
There are a couple of major aspects to address. The U.S. must be better at handling a team’s press and they have to figure out how to unlock teams who sit in a low block. Both areas have given this team problems and they should expect to see both tactics employed against them at the World Cup.
As mentioned above, the issues at center-back and striker aren’t “fixable”, per se. Players need to step up but there are tactical tweaks that could help in handling the press better and the U.S. need to figure out what to do to unlock the attacking strength of their team: the wingers. Dropping Musah closer to Adams, shifting McKennie a bit to the right, and opening space on the left so that they can play through Pulisic could be key.
What are the expectations of the fanbase for the World Cup?
Before these last two matches, they seemed relatively high. The minimum expectation was to emerge out of group B, which also includes England, Wales and Iran. After the September window, that may have changed a bit.
Most fans will likely still expect the U.S. to advance to the 16-team knockout stage but most certainly feel a lot less confident in that happening than they did just one week ago.
U.S. Soccer’s 30-year run on ESPN has come to an end
Jon Heath followSeptember 28, 2022 5:13 pm ET
The U.S. men’s national soccer team’s 2-0 loss to Japan in a friendly last week marked the end of U.S. Soccer’s 30-year partnership with ESPN.
In the final minute of the game, former USMNT player and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman put a bow on a long era of Disney-owned coverage of the national team.
“For so many of us, it was [growing up with] the ABC games, the ESPN family of networks — just watching the games,” Twellman said. “Way before I even got here, they just did such a good job of helping this national team — both the women’s and the men’s — grow. It’s remarkable to think that at the end of 2022, it’s all done.”
Twellman followed up his on-air remarks with a tweet thanking those “behind the scenes” who made the network’s coverage possible.
What networks will broadcast U.S. Soccer games now?
ESPN did not renew its deal with U.S. Soccer that’s set to expire at the end of 2022, so where can fans watch going forward?
First, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will air on Fox Sports networks this fall, and the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be on Fox next summer. Fox also owns the rights to the 2026 World Cup. Meanwhile, Nations League matches will remain with CBS (likely on Paramount+) through next year and then the rights will become available.
After the World Cup, Turner Sports will take over most non-World Cup matches beginning in 2023. Turner Sports reached an eight-year agreement with U.S. Soccer in March that will pay the federation between $25 million and $27 million per year for English-language rights to USMNT and USWNT games, according to The Athletic.
Turner will have the rights to USMNT and USWNT friendlies, the SheBelieves Cup, as well as USWNT and USMNT World Cup qualifiers among other properties. The USMNT is expected to automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup at home, so qualifiers (for the men’s team) might not come into play before the 2030 World Cup cycle.
As part of the deal, Turner also acquired U.S. Open Cup rights.
According to U.S. Soccer, TNT or TBS will televise approximately half of the more than 20 matches Turner Sports carries annually. All games will also be available to stream on HBO Max, and it remains to be seen if Turner will opt to make any games exclusively available on the streaming service.
Meanwhile, Spanish-language rights remain available, and newly merged TelevisaUnivision appears to be a major contender to acquire that package.
Is this really the end of ESPN’s coverage?
The rights to some USMNT games — such as Gold Cup matches — are held by CONCACAF, so it’s possible that ESPN might acquire select games going forward, but their current agreement with U.S. Soccer is coming to an end.
USMNT World Cup roster and lineup projections as Qatar 2022 nears
Henry BushnellTue, September 27, 2022 at 8:03 PM Yahoo Soccer
Gregg Berhalter has 11 players in mind who, “ideally, in a perfect world,” would start for the U.S. men’s national team in its 2022 World Cup opener.The USMNT coach knows, of course, that “that’s not international soccer”; that this world is far from perfect and that injuries will surely disrupt his plans. But he has been concocting them, gradually, for years now. On what is effectively World Cup Eve, with his final warmup friendlies played, he has just about all the information he needs to pick a starting lineup — and, for that matter, a roster.Berhalter has not yet settled on a 26-man squad for Qatar 2022, but he is close. The roster, he indicated, was 80-85% set prior to a September training camp. A 2-0 loss to Japan last week and a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday provided further clues — and for Berhalter, “some clarity.” He and U.S. Soccer will reveal the World Cup roster on Nov. 9. He’ll then sweat through one last weekend of club games before submitting his final list of 26 players to FIFA by Monday, Nov. 14. By then, the entire USMNT will have gathered in Qatar, at their luxurious hotel on The Pearl, and at their Al-Gharafa training base.And by then, barring any last-minute fitness doubts, the starting 11 will also be decided. Here, with less than two months to go, is what we think it will be.
USMNT projected starting lineup for 2022 World Cup
Over the past 12 months, Berhalter’s ideal starting 11 has crystallized. Assuming full health, with the exception of Miles Robinson, it appears to be this — with a few caveats below:
Goalkeeper: Matt Turner
Right back: Sergiño Dest
Center back: Walker Zimmerman
Center back: Chris Richards
Left back: Antonee Robinson
Defensive midfield: Tyler Adams
Central midfield: Yunus Musah
Central midfield: Weston McKennie
Right wing: Tim Weah
Striker: Jesús Ferreira
Left wing: Christian Pulisic
Caveat No. 1: In his “perfect world,” Berhalter would love to start Zack Steffen, who’s more capable than Turner with the ball at his feet. But Steffen’s form and fitness have been unstable. He would need to get back onto the field and into a groove for Middlesbrough, his English Championship club, if he is going to start at the World Cup ahead of Turner — who played all 180 minutes (and played well) in the September friendlies.Caveat No. 2: Same goes for Chris Richards. He is the most talented center back in the U.S. pool, but missed all six World Cup tuneups due to injury. In his place, Aaron Long was the only USMNT player, regardless of position, to start all six. If Richards isn’t ready to play 90 minutes — and given that he has no clear path to regular playing time at Crystal Palace, he might not be — Long appears to be the deputy, no matter how uncomfortable he has looked. (Long might also be the best matchup for 6-foot-5 Welsh striker Kieffer Moore.)The only other slight question mark is at striker. Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi remain in contention to start up top. But Berhalter heaps praise on Jesús Ferreira whenever he can, and said this month that Ferreira “checks all [the] boxes.” If Weah and Pulisic are both in the lineup against Wales, Ferreira should also be in it — with some rotation possible further into the tournament.
USMNT 2022 World Cup roster prediction
The roster is a tad more complicated. But 20 outfield players and one goalkeeper appear to be locks or near-locks. Before we get to position-by-position analysis, and identify those locks, here’s our best guess at the 26:
Goalkeepers: Zack Steffen, Matt Turner, Sean Johnson
Fullbacks: Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon
Center backs: Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, Aaron Long, Cameron Carter-Vickers
Central midfielders: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta
Attacking midfielders/wingers: Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna, Malik Tillman, Paul Arriola
Strikers: Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok, Ricardo Pepi
Locks: Matt Turner
Likely: Zack Steffen
Bubble: Sean Johnson, Ethan Horvath, Gaga Slonina
Turner will be either the starter or the No. 2.
Steffen could be the starter. If not, he could be the No. 2, or he could be off the roster altogether.
For the remaining one or two slots, Berhalter has two options: pick a “locker-room guy,” or peer into the future.
In the first scenario, Johnson versus Horvath is a coin flip. In the second, the 18-year-old Slonina is an obvious choice. He’s the best goalkeeper prospect the U.S. has produced in some time, and the early favorite to start in 2026. He hasn’t played for the national team yet, but could be brought to Qatar for the experience.
Locks: Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson
Likely: DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon
Bubble: Joe Scally, Sam Vines
Berhalter dropped a massive hint on Tuesday when he started Dest at left back and Yedlin at right back, rather than giving Scally a legitimate look on the left. Scally was somewhat impressive off the bench — but on the right, which is telling.
The takeaway is that Dest, in addition to his role as the starting right back, is the backup left back. If Antonee Robinson were to go down in Qatar, Dest would switch flanks, and either Yedlin or Cannon would slot in at right back, depending on situation and opponent. (Cannon is valued for his ability to play on the right side of a back three in possession.)
So, Scally would, in theory, be the third-string left back and fourth-string right back. Vines, who looked a bit out of his depth against Japan, would be the third-string left back. Both seem unnecessary.
With Robinson injured, Berhalter brought only one left-footed fullback to September camp, and his reasoning — “we didn’t feel like we had enough depth on the left side to go with two left-footers” — could probably apply in November as well.
Locks: Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, Aaron Long
Likely: Cameron Carter-Vickers
Bubble: Mark McKenzie
Longshot: Tim Ream, James Sands
Zimmerman and his two potential partners are on the plane. Carter-Vickers is the clear favorite to join them. Those were the four on this September roster until Richards and Carter-Vickers pulled out with minor injuries. In their absence, Berhalter called in McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown, but, rather than give them real opportunities, he kept trying to forge a viable Long-Zimmerman partnership.
The question is whether he’ll take a fifth center back. The extremely logical option would be Ream, who A) is currently captaining a Premier League club, B) has all sorts of experience, C) would be the left-footed ball-playing center back that the U.S. so sorely lacked against Japan and D) could serve as the third-string, in-case-of-emergency left back.
But Berhalter’s September decisions and words suggest that Ream is, at best, seventh on the depth chart and out of the picture.
“Some of the things that we’re looking for in our center backs is to play a high line, cover a lot of space behind them, be dominant in the air, dominant on offensive and defensive set pieces,” Berhalter said after naming the roster. “And that’s not Tim’s strength.”
(McKenzie played in the second halves of both September games, and, although he’d seem redundant if the top four options are all available, he could be the fifth choice.)
Locks: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta
Longshots: Cristian Roldan
Can play here too: Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Malik Tillman
The midfield seems simple. The three starters — Adams, Musah and McKennie — are obvious. Acosta is the backup to Adams. De la Torre is a backup at either of the other two positions. So are Tillman, Reyna and Aaronson, who, as a trio, give Berhalter enough flexibility to feel comfortable taking only five true central midfielders.
There remains an outside chance, though, that he could use the 26th roster spot on a sixth, which could be Roldan, a well-liked and versatile veteran who’s currently injured — and whose stock might have risen in absentia.
Locks: Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson
Likely: Malik Tillman
Bubble: Paul Arriola, Jordan Morris
We’re hesitant to lock in Tillman only because his USMNT track record is so short. But Berhalter clearly rates him. Speaking prior to camp, he essentially challenged the 20-year-old attacking midfielder to “increase his level,” then said: “He can help this group, but he needs to pick it up a little. He’s a guy that the coaching staff was highly impressed with, and think he’s got a huge ceiling.”
Berhalter then used Tillman in both September games off the bench, once in midfield and once on the left wing. That he didn’t stand out isn’t all that relevant, because nobody did.
With creativity more than accounted for, then, by that locked-in group of four or five, the conventional wisdom is that Berhalter will take a more direct winger as the sixth player in this category. It’ll likely be whoever between Arriola and Morris concludes the MLS season in better form.
Locks: Jesús Ferreira
Likely: Josh Sargent
Bubble: Ricardo Pepi, Jordan Pefok
Ferreira will be on the plane, even if he doesn’t start. Sargent should be, unless he falls back into a rut at Norwich. And then we arrive at the most controversial decision of all.
Berhalter would do anything to reincarnate 2021 Ricardo Pepi. He called the 19-year-old into September camp despite 11-plus months without a goal. (Pepi finally scored one the following weekend.) He praised him effusively in news conferences, and handed him a start against Saudi Arabia. He desperately wants Pepi to make this 26-man squad, and to be his third striker — or something more.
Whether Pepi ultimately does will depend on his performances for his new club, FC Groningen; but also on Berhalter’s answer to an infrequently discussed question: Might he take four strikers to Qatar?
He certainly does not need four. But he doesn’t need a fifth fullback, a fifth center back or a sixth central midfielder either. The separate scenarios that call Pepi and Pefok into action are far more plausible than the ones that summon Scally, or Vines, or McKenzie, or Roldan.
Pefok, as the third striker, would serve a very specific role. He’d never start, because his profile doesn’t jibe with Berhalter’s system; but he’d be the penalty-box target that Berhalter would turn to when systems fly out the window, with 15 minutes remaining and in need of a goal.
Pepi would then be the fourth striker who could deputize in any of the three roles, and who, in the absolute worst-case scenario, would soak up the experience and store it away for 2026.
What are my NWSL team’s playoff chances? Your guide to the season’s final weekend
September 29, 2022 8:00 am ET
The 2022 NWSL regular season is down to its final six matches, but we still have plenty of drama in store.
Four teams have a shot at finishing at the top of the standings when all is said and done (alright, really only three, but our playoff scenario pieces have been about extremes, and technically there are four), while we could very well see the final game of the entire season become a one-game playoff elimination game.
Follow along as we detail all the possibilities for each of the eight teams that are still alive!
Eliminated: NJ/NY Gotham FC, Racing Louisville, Washington Spirit, Orlando Pride
This section hasn’t expanded despite two playoff bubble teams both losing last weekend, which is wild, but also shouldn’t be a surprise by now given the territory we’ve covered. We’re in a definitively weird space, you just have to embrace the oddity.
There’s little to play for for this group. Gotham cannot escape the cellar, and while Orlando, Louisville, and Washington all have to balance analyzing their squads for next year against opponents that all have something on the line in the final weekend. Every game on the docket has meaning, which might make for some rough sledding for this quartet.
One last reminder on the tiebreakers
For 2022, NWSL is applying the following list of tiebreakers to sort out the regular season standings:
- Goal differential
- Most total wins
- Most goals scored
- Head-to-head results
- Head-to-head most goals scored
- Fewest disciplinary points (with points assigned for yellow cards and red cards picked up by an entire team over the year)
- If two teams are still tied, the tie is broken by a coin toss. If the tie involves more than two teams, it will be broken by a drawing of lots.
8. Angel City FC (29 points, 8W-5D-8L, -2 GD, 23 GF/25 GA)
Final game: at Chicago Red Stars (Sunday 10/2, 8:00pm ET, Paramount+)
Angel City has made a tremendous impact on the NWSL in its first year, but to carry that statement to the on-field side, they’re going to need a lot of things to go right this weekend. There’s no dodging that their 3-1 home loss to Louisville this past Sunday is a huge slip-up, and now even a final-day win over Chicago doesn’t do the job for them.
Angel City needs to go to Chicago and win (note: the Red Stars only have two home losses all season), and they also effectively need San Diego to win Friday night’s clash against North Carolina.
Technically a draw in that game would keep the door open for Angel City, but they’d step onto the field in Bridgeview with a 15-goal gap to make up for the tiebreaker, and with all due respect, a team with 23 goals in 21 matches is not likely to score 15 goals, even against a depleted Chicago side.
Playoff chances: Wearing navy blue and pink on Friday while watching every sports underdog movie
7. Chicago Red Stars (30 points, 8W-6D-7L, +4 GD, 32 GF/28 GA)
Final game: vs. Angel City FC (Sunday 10/2, 8:00pm ET, Paramount+)
Chicago and Angel City are in the same boat in terms of still being alive amid some very bad vibes from their penultimate game. While Angel City will rue losing at home to an eliminated team, Chicago will instead look to the gritty details of their 3-0 defeat at Portland.
Namely, the Red Stars melted down in a way that will definitely impact their chances on Sunday. Bianca St-Georges — who is on this writer’s shortlist for a Best XI spot — was sent off for choosing to dispute a throw-in call with the suddenly popular double birds, while Zoe Morse (who was on track to be an NWSL “iron woman”) picked up a second yellow card well after the game was dead and buried.
Because they’re 11 goals behind the Courage on the goal difference tiebreaker, Chicago is effectively in must-win mode just like Angel City. The only difference is that they have a few more paths to the postseason. If San Diego avoids defeat against North Carolina, Chicago can get into sixth place with a win on Sunday.
Additionally, if Houston loses at Washington on Saturday night, the goal difference tiebreaker might let the Red Stars sneak past the Dash. Houston is only three goals clear of Chicago at the moment, and a loss necessarily means they’d be no better than two goals clear when Red Stars-ACFC kicks off.
Of course, this potentially huge game could end up meaning nothing, as wins for the Courage and Dash would shut the door on both Chicago and Angel City.
Playoff chances: Down bad, but not down and out
6. North Carolina Courage (31 points, 9W-4D-8L, +13 GD, 46 GF/33 GA)
Final game: at San Diego Wave (Friday 9/30, 10:00pm ET, Paramount+)
On August 13, the Courage lost a 4-3 thriller to Kansas City that seemed at the time like the end of any NC playoff hopes. By the end of the night, they were alone at the bottom of the NWSL table on 10 points. OL Reign were in sixth place on 21 points, meaning that North Carolina had more points to make up on the playoff pack than they’d collected on the season.
It’s 47 days later, and look at the Courage, sitting in sixth and holding their destiny in their own hands. Much like last year’s Spirit, they’ve successfully run the gauntlet, winning seven times in nine games. While there’s no hiding the fact that things have been rocky off the field, North Carolina have managed something really special on it.
But the job isn’t done yet. They have a tough assignment in their final game, a road trip to San Diego against a Wave team aiming for a first-round bye (or, at the very least, the guarantee of a home playoff game). A loss means they’re out of the playoffs if either Chicago or Angel City wins on Sunday, and a draw would leave them vulnerable to elimination if the Red Stars won the next day.
North Carolina can’t climb higher than fifth place, so their best-case scenario is still a road playoff game, but remember where they were a few weeks ago.
Playoff chances: The epic comeback is one step from reality
5. Houston Dash (33 points, 9W-6D-6L, +7 GD, 33 GF/26 GA)
Final game: at Washington Spirit (Saturday 10/1, 7:00pm ET, Paramount+)
Houston saw a chance to clinch their first-ever playoff spot slip through their grasp, as they fell 2-0 to OL Reign at home. Making matters worse, they’ll be without Shea Groom for their regular season finale, as the attacking midfielder picked up a yellow card accumulation suspension despite the very best efforts of her teammate Katie Naughton.
The Dash also have to deal with their recent history against the Spirit, which is quite bad. They haven’t beaten Washington since July 20, 2019, even after having a Spirit home game end up being played in Houston (which saw Washington score their game-winner with only 10 players on the field after an earlier red card).This year, just as was the case last year, they only need a draw at Audi Field in their final game to secure a playoff spot. In 2021, they had that point in hand, only for a tactical blunder from then-coach James Clarkson to hand Washington the time to find a late game-winner, eliminating the Dash in heartbreaking fashion.But still, the Houston of 2022 seems to be made of sterner stuff, and they really do just need a single point, or a non-win from either the Courage or Red Stars, to finally get into the playoffs. A win opens the door to a possible home playoff game, though they’d need help in the form of either San Diego or Kansas City losing.
Playoff chances: One last ghost to fight off
4. San Diego Wave FC (35 points, 10W-5D-6L, +11 GD, 32 GF/21 GA)
Final game: vs. NC Courage (Friday 9/30, 10:00pm ET, Paramount+)
San Diego’s late two-goal comeback at Orlando was just enough to assure themselves of a place in the NWSL postseason. While they have some concerns — Abby Dahlkemper appeared to suffer a fairly serious injury, while Taylor Kornieck also left that last game after rolling her ankle — they don’t have any must-win or must-not-lose scenarios approaching.
However, they’ve still got a good shot at bringing a playoff game to Snapdragon Stadium, and could even seal a first-round bye. They’re even technically in the NWSL Shield race, but with a 14-goal deficit to cover with Portland, we can put that topic to the side.
If San Diego picks up a draw, Houston would have to win in Washington by at least four goals for the Wave to fall out of the top four, which would guarantee at least one playoff game in SoCal. A loss, combined with the Dash not winning their finale, would also lock in a fourth-place finish.
With a win and some help, the Wave can finish as high as second. They’d need the Reign to tie or lose to Orlando, as well as Kansas City to do something other than win at Louisville (both games are on Saturday).
Playoff chances: In, and possibly (probably?) hosting3. Kansas City Current (36 points, 10W-6D-5L, +1 GD, 29 GF/28 GA)
Final game: at Racing Louisville (Saturday 10/1, 7:30pm ET, Twitch)
After watching the Spirit hit the post early, Kansas City wasted no time in making sure they weren’t going to suffer a fate like Houston’s. The Current scored three goals in a 23-minute span, putting the game away by halftime to clinch their place in the postseason.
They’re in a great position to host a game as well. The only way they can fall out of the top four would be to lose in Kentucky while San Diego takes at least one point on Friday and Houston wins in D.C. on Saturday.
The Current still have a shot at the NWSL Shield, but even with a win, it’s not likely. They’d need the Reign to fail to beat Orlando at home, which feels like a stretch, but they’d also need Gotham to end the NWSL’s all-time record losing streak by beating Portland on Saturday. On the plus side, a win and a Reign draw gets KC into second place, and they get a first-round bye as a result.
Playoff chances: They’re in, and they’re the team no one wants to play
2. OL Reign (37 points, 10W-7D-4L, +10 GD, 29 GF/19 GA)
Final game: vs. Orlando Pride (Saturday 10/1, 10:00pm ET, Twitch)
The Reign have really shown their mettle down the stretch, taking nine points from a three-game road trip over just one week that included victories at Houston and North Carolina.
As the team in the best form in the entire league, they’ve marched up to second, and have a real shot at winning the Shield. Still, it’ll take some help that’s unlikely to come: if Portland wins at Gotham, the Thorns will get the silverware instead. A Reign win is a prerequisite, unless Portland loses by 15 (that’s fifteen) goals at Red Bull Arena, which would also open the door to a Reign draw being enough. It’d probably also signal the end of days, so don’t worry too much about that scenario.
The Reign have guaranteed themselves a home playoff game, but they can get a bye their veteran-laden squad would probably appreciate if they can beat the Pride. They could also get there with a draw if Kansas City and San Diego stumble.
Playoff chances: The vibes are immaculate
1. Portland Thorns FC (38 points, 10W-8D-3L, +25 GD, 46 GF/21 GA)
Final game: at Gotham FC (Saturday 10/1, 6:00pm ET, Paramount+)
A win gets the Thorns another NWSL Shield, but that’s the only way it’s guaranteed. If they slip up in their cross-country trek to face Gotham, the door is open for them to fall to third (or, if you want to pretend there’s any chance that their loss and San Diego’s win wipes out Portland’s plus-14 goal difference edge, then fourth).
If the Thorns only get one point in New Jersey, OL Reign can leap over them at the last gasp. With a loss, wins for the Reign and Kansas City would oblige Portland to host a playoff game without the benefit of a bye.
But let’s be real here: the chances of each of these things happening are remote. Portland will be richly favored to further Gotham’s misery for good reason, and if they do it, they’re your regular season champs, and all paths to the championship go through them.
Playoff chances: The likely No. 1 seed for a reason