Berhalter Calls 26 Players For USA’s Inaugural Concacaf Nations League Matches Against Cuba And CanadaPlayers Report Beginning Oct. 6for Final Prep Ahead of Concacaf Nations League; USMNT Faces Cuba on Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. (7 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMás and TUDN) Before Visiting Canada on Oct. 15 in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMás and TUDN)
CHICAGO (Oct. 2, 2019) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter has called 26 players to training camp in preparation for its inaugural matches in the Concacaf Nations League against Cuba and Canada. Players will begin reporting Oct. 6 to the Washington, D.C. area.
“This is competitive soccer. Anytime there is a trophy on the line is exciting, and in the inaugural Nations League we want to put ourselves in a position to win the tournament,” Berhalter said. “One thing that’s important is we continue to bring some of the younger guys along, integrate some new players into camp, but also have a familiar base. Most of the guys have been in camp before, understand how we want to play, and we think that continuity will help in our performance.”
The USA is joined by Canada and Cuba in Group A of the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League A. Only the winner of the group will advance to the knockout stage, and Canada opened play with consecutive victories against Cuba, winning 6-0 on Sept. 7 in Toronto and 1-0 on Sept. 10 in Georgetown, Cayman Islands.
The USMNT plays its inaugural match in the Nations League against Cuba on Oct. 11 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Kickoff in the nation’s capital is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on FS1 (coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. ET), UniMás and TUDN. [TICKETS]
Four days after the opener in D.C., the USA takes on Canada at BMO Field in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN). This will be their first meeting in official competition on Canadian soil since Nov. 9, 1997, when the USA’s 3-0 victory secured its place in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
With the participants for the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be determined based on FIFA rankings at the conclusion of this tournament, Nations League’s matches have added significance due to their impact on the rankings. The United States is currently ranked No. 21 in the world and second among Concacaf teams. Cuba is 25th in the region and will likely face a long path to have a chance to qualify for the final round of World Cup qualifying, while the Canadians are just outside the final round qualifying cutoff in seventh. The final round of World Cup qualifying will pit the top six ranked Concacaf teams against one another in a continuation of “the Hex” [see “What’s at Stake” below for more details].
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 61/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 16/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 8/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 13/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 10/0), Matt Miazga (Reading/ENG; 17/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 36/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 59/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 150/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 11/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 15/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 32/13), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 16/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 20/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 3/0)
FORWARDS (7): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 115/42), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 28/5), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 4/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 7/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 35/6), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 9/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 53/10)
BACK IN COMPETITION
A tournament means another opportunity to win a trophy, which is where the USMNT’s focus now lies. In addition, with a roster that has an average age of 25-years-old and half the players holding 15 caps or fewer, the Nations League presents a chance for a different kind of experience in official competition. Many will play in away environments and circumstances they have not been exposed to at the senior level, from a packed house in Toronto and a must-win game for the Canadians to the travel, conditions and facilities of the Caribbean in November.
DEFENSIVE DUO RETURNS …
The USMNT welcomes back a pair of defenders who were sidelined with injuries, beginning with 2014 FIFA World Cup veteran DeAndre Yedlin. Having last appeared for the National Team in March, the right back returns after recovering from a groin injury which required surgery in May. Reading center back Matt Miazga also returns after missing out on the September camp with a hamstring injury.
… WITH A FEW HOME-TOWN HEROES BACK IN THE MIX
For three players on the roster, the matches against Cuba and Canada present a special moment with a decidedly different flavor. D.C. United winger Paul Arriola gets a crack at playing in front of the Audi Field faithful in the home tilt against Cuba, while the Toronto FC duo of Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley will trade the red of Toronto FC for the red, white and blue of the United States for the match at BMO Field.
WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THE NATIONS LEAGUE?
In short, plenty. First, the competition represents the last competitive matches that Concacaf nations will play prior to the publishing of the June 2020 FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. This is important because this past July, Concacaf announced a new World Cup Qualifying format that will see the top six ranked nations in June’s FIFA Ranking go straight into the Final Round, also known as the Hex. With competitive matches weighted higher than friendlies, these games will prove crucial for some teams attempting to qualify for the Hex.
Teams not ranked inside the top six aren’t completely shutout of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but will instead have to go through a second, more rigorous playoff track involving 29 teams and between 14-16 additional qualifying matches for each, just for the opportunity to claim the final spot.
The roster has an average age of 25 years, 284 days and 28 caps.
A total of 20 players return from the USMNT’s September camp.
Eighteen players represent 14 different Major League Soccer clubs, while eight hail from sides in Europe: England (4), Germany (3), Turkey (1).
Having last appeared for the side in March, defender DeAndre Yedlin returns after recovering from a groin injury which required surgery in May.
Yedlin earned his first minutes of the Premier League season on Sunday, coming on as a substitute in Newcastle United’s defeat to Leicester City.
Defender Matt Miazga also returns to the USMNT fold after missing out on September camp with a hamstring injury.
The two senior-most players on the squad, veterans Jozy Altidore (115 caps) and Michael Bradley (150 caps) will have the chance to play against Canada in their home club stadium of BMO Field where they feature with Toronto FC.
D.C. United winger Paul Arriola also has the opportunity to play in familiar territory as the USMNT opens Nations League play at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
Leading all Bundesliga goalkeepers with 34 saves this season, Zack Steffen also made his first save on a penalty kick in Fortuna Düsseldorf’s 2-1 defeat to Freiburg on Sunday.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Sargent collected his first Bundesliga assist on Saturday, flicking on a near-post header to Marco Friedl to help Werder Bremen to a 2-2 draw at Borussia Dortmund.
Having registered three goals and two assists across 27 matches during his rookie season, 18-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson is the lone newbie on the USMNT roster.
Altidore (Toronto FC), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake) and Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC) each earn call-ups after weekends when they found that back of the net for their MLS clubs.
Two of Jozy Altidore’s 42 international goals have come against Canada, with the striker scoring game winners a 2-0 Gold Cup group stage victory on June 7, 2011 in Detroit along with an 89th minute header in a 1-0 victory on Feb. 5, 2016 in Carson, Calif.
Altidore has also scored against Cuba, tallying in the 87th minute of a 6-1 World Cup Qualifying victory on Oct. 11, 2008 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
Gyasi Zardes is the other player on the roster with a goal against Cuba, having tallied in a 6-0 Gold Cup quarterfinal victory on July 18, 2015 in Baltimore.
Eight players on the roster have already collected double-digit caps in 2019: Zardes (13); Arriola, Long and Roldan (11 each); Lovitz, Morris, Ream and Steffen (10 each).
Fifteen players have the chance to collect their first competitive, non-confederation championship appearances for the USMNT: Aaronson, Baird, Boyd, Cannon, Johnson, Lima, Long, Lovitz, McKennie, Roldan, Sargent, Steffen, Trapp, Yueill and Zimmerman.
Six players on the roster are age-eligible for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: Aaronson, Cannon, McKennie, Pulisic, Sargent, Yueill.