PREVIEW: Potential-Packed USMNT Returns to Action Against WalesWatch USA-Wales from Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 2:45 p.m. ET on FS1, UniMás and TUDN
CHICAGO (Nov. 10, 2020)— The U.S. Men’s National Team will return to the field for the first time since February when it faces Wales on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Coverage of USA-Wales from Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1, UniMás and TUDN. Fans will also be able to follow via Twitter @USMNT, Instagram @USMNT, Facebook, and the official U.S. Soccer App.
Carrying a remarkably youthful roster that includes many of the USA’s rising young stars along with a host of uncapped players, the senior MNT unclicks the pause button that’s been in place for the last nine months and resumes the building process for the start of 2022 World Cup Qualifying in the fall of 2021. The squad will only have had two full training sessions prior to its match on a FIFA fixture date in nearly a year.
While the USMNT hasn’t gathered since February, its players have been making waves abroad. A number of high-profile performances and transfers during the last nine months have thrust Americans into the spotlight in Europe, with nine players on this roster currently at clubs in the UEFA Champions League.
Due to the current conditions related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the match will be conducted under the UEFA Return to Play Protocol and be played without fans in the stadium.
USA DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/0), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 17/0)
DEFENDERS (7): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 38/3), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 10/0), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 3/0), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 18/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 40/1), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich/GER; 0/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 7/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 10/1), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; 0/0), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 0/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 14/2), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 19/6), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 0/0), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton/ENG; 0/0)
FORWARDS (8): Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona/ESP; 0/0), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen/FRA; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 34/14), Uly Llanez (Heerenveen/NED; 1/1), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 0/0), Sebastian Soto (Telstar/NED; 0/0), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 8/1)
ADAMS RETURNS AFTER LONG LAYOFFWhile midfielder Tyler Adams is considered a cornerstone of the potential-packed USMNT, he hasn’t represented the USA since March 21, 2019 in a friendly against Ecuador. Should he play against Wales on Thursday, it will be his first time taking the field for the MNT in 602 days. Injuries kept Adams out of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League, but the 21-year-old is already a veteran for this young squad and is part of the team’s Leadership Council.
RED, WHITE AND BLUE REYNAS
Just 17 years old, Gio Reyna has already broken out as an electric attacking threat for German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund. Red, white, and blue runs in the family for Reyna- his father Claudio is one of the most decorated players in MNT history, representing the USA at the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups and wearing the armband in 2002 and 2006 while earning 112 caps. Gio’s mother, Danielle Reyna, picked up six caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team and won four national championships with North Carolina. While there’s a long history of family connections across the National Team program over the years, should Gio debut, the Reynas will become the first family to have three members play for senior U.S. National Teams.
TEEN TALENTS EYE DEBUTS
Eleven players have made their first appearances for the USMNT before turning 18- two more could join that list on Thursday vs. Wales in Reyna and midfielder Yunus Musah. Reyna turns 18 on Friday, while Musah’s birthday comes later this month. The last player to make his MNT debut before adulthood? Christian Pulisic, who earned his first cap in a World Cup qualifier at 17 in 2016 and went on to earn a record eight caps before his 18th birthday.
FIRST TIMERS EAGER FOR ACTION
Ten players are embarking on their first training camp with the senior USMNT this November. While eight came up through the U.S. Youth National Team system, two new faces are making their first appearances with the USA - forward Nicholas Gioacchini and Musah. Born in Kansas City, Gioacchini has established himself as a proven goalscorer in France’s Ligue 2 with Caen while the 17-year-old Musah has turned heads as the youngest foreign player to appear for Valenica in Spain’s La Liga and captained a number of youth national team squads for England.
GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER
It’s been nearly a year since the USMNT gathered during a FIFA fixture date and a lot has happened with the player pool in that time. Since then, we’ve had a player score in the Champions League quarterfinal (Tyler Adams) and another in the FA Cup Final (Christian Pulisic). Two have become the first Americans on the first team at international powerhouses Juventus (Weston McKennie) and Barcelona (Sergiño Dest). Nine players are a part of clubs participating in the UEFA Champions League, the most in team history.
Right back Reggie Cannon made the jump from MLS to Europe, joining Portuguese Primeira side Boavista, left back Antonee Robinson has found a Premier League home alongside Tim Ream at Fulham, while center back Matt Miazga is working under the management of Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht.
THE USYNT PIPELINE
The primary measurement of success for Youth National Teams isn’t in the win/loss columns. The goal of the programs is to provide a pipeline to the senior team, and by that standard this current USMNT roster can only be judged a success. A total of twelve players in the group have represented the USA at a Youth World Cup: Adams, Dest and Weah (U-17 and U-20 World Cup); de la Fuente, Ledezma, Miazga, Richards, Soto and Steffen (U-20 World Cup); Odunze, Pulisic and Reyna (U-17 World Cup). Six players were part of the U.S. squad that advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup: de la Fuente, Dest, Llanez Richards, Soto and Weah.
And on the subject of development, the fruits of a 13-year project born in 2007 can also be seen as 13 players spent time in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy: Adams (New York Red Bulls), Cannon (FC Dallas), Horvath (Real Colorado), Ledezma (Real Salt Lake), Llanez (LA Galaxy), McKennie (FC Dallas), Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Pulisic (PA Classics), Richards (FC Dallas), Soto (San Diego Surf, Real Salt Lake), Steffen (FC Delco, Philadelphia Union), Weah (New York Red Bulls, BW Gottschee).
The USA and Wales have met just once, a 2-0 friendly victory for the USMNT on May 26, 2003 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. Nick Rimando earned a shutout in his first start for the U.S., Landon Donovan and Eddie Lewis scored while forward Brian Ching made his debut. Thursday’s game was originally scheduled for the March international window but cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NEW NIKE THREADS
Thursday’s match against Wales will mark another debut for the USMNT as the squad will wear its 2020 National Team kit for the first time. Undeniably American and Influenced by streetwear culture, the USA will wear its light kit vs. Wales. A modern take on classic design, the white base is complemented by patriotic touches like red and blue cuffs and striping. The new uniforms are also cutting-edge- after extensive research, Nike knitted kits that are faster wicking, more breathable and offer more stretch than previous uniforms.
USA ROSTER NOTES
For the match against Wales on Thursday, the roster will have an average age of 22 years, 52 days.
The average number of caps won is nine.
Of the 24 players, only Reggie Cannon, Uly Llanez and Sebastian Lletget have earned caps in 2020. Llanez scored in his international debut and played 73 minutes, while Cannon and Lletget went the full 90 in the 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1 in Carson, Calif.
Only six players have more than 17 caps. Tim Ream is the senior-most player with 40 appearances, followed by John Brooks (38), Christian Pulisic (34), Weston McKennie (19), Matt Miazga (18) and Zack Steffen (17).
Ten players are uncapped: Johnny Cardoso, Konrad de la Fuente, Nicholas Gioacchini, Richie Ledezma, Yunus Musah, Chituru Odunze, Owen Otasowie, Gio Reyna, Chris Richards, Sebastian Soto.
The 24 players hail from clubs in ten different countries: England (6), Germany (4), Netherlands and Spain (3 each), Belgium and France (2 each), Brazil, Italy, Portugal and the United States (1 each).
Eighteen players are age-eligible for participation in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo
A total of 14 players are 20 or younger.
WALES ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tom King (Newport County; 0/0), Danny Ward (Leicester City/ENG; 7/0), Owain Fôn Williams (Dunfermline/SCO; 1/0)
DEFENDERS (10): Ethan Ampadu (Sheffield United/ENG; 18/0), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 57/0), Chris Gunter (Charlton Athletic/ENG; 97/0), James Lawrence (St. Pauli/GER; 6/0), Tom Lockyer (Luton Town/ENG; 12/0), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth/ENG; 12/0), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Luton Town/ENG; 1/0), Connor Roberts (Swansea City; 20/1), Joe Rodon (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 7/0), Neco Williams (Liverpool/ENG; 5/1)
MIDFIELDERS (9): David Brooks (Bournemouth/ENG; 14/1), Daniel James (Manchester United/ENG; 14/2), Brennan Johnson (Lincoln City/ENG; 0/0), Dylan Levitt (Charlton Athletic/ENG; 4/0), Joe Morrell (Luton Town/ENG; 9/0), John Sheehan (Newport County; 0/0), Matthew Smith (Doncaster Rovers/ENG; 11/0), Jonny Williams (Charlton Athletic/ENG; 25/1), Harry Wilson (Cardiff City; 19/3)
FORWARDS (5): Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 85/33), Tom Lawrence (Derby County/ENG; 19/3), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke/GER; 6/0), Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City; 9/3), Tyler Roberts (Leeds United/ENG; 9/0)
IN FOCUS: WALES
Wales is currently ranked No. 20 in the FIFA World Rankings. Thursday’s game will be the USA’s fourth match-up with a Top 20 team during head coach Gregg Berhalter’s tenure and 10th in the last two years.
Assistant coach Robert Page will manage Wales during this international window. The Welshman made 41 international appearances for The Dragons during an 18-year-playng career in England and Wales.
Wales went 1-1-1 during the October FIFA window. The Welsh dropped a friendly at England to open its three-game set, but they earned positive results in both of their UEFA Nations League matches, drawing Ireland 0-0 in Dublin and beating Bulgaria 1-0 in Sofia.
Wales currently sits at first place in UEFA Nations League B – Group 5, going undefeated in its first four matches of the competition. The Dragons will take on Ireland and Finland in Nations League action following its friendly against the USA.
Like the USMNT, the Welsh are also preparing for a busy 2021. In addition to wrapping up the Nations League this fall, Wales is qualified for Euro 2020, postponed to next summer, and will kick off 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying next March.
Charlton Athletic defender Chris Gunter is the senior-most player on the Wales squad with 97 caps. Gareth Bale leads the way in scoring, with 33 international goals.
Goalkeeper Danny Ward is on the books at England’s Leicester City alongside young U.S. ‘keeper Chituru Odunze.
Nineteen of the 27 players ply their trade in England. Full club/country distribution: England (19), Wales (5), Germany (2), Scotland (1).