Preview: World Cup-Bound USMNT Kicks Off Qatar Prep With Friendly Vs. Morocco In CincinnatiUSA Will Play Two Friendlies and Two Concacaf Nations League Matches During June International Window; Kick-off from TQL Stadium Set for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN
CHICAGO (May 31, 2022) – After qualifying for the FIFA World Cup this spring, the U.S. Men’s National Team will kick off its preparation for Qatar 2022 against African powerhouse Morocco. USA-Morocco marks the first of three final pre-World Cup home games and the first of six matches the USMNT will play before heading to Qatar in November.
Wednesday’s kickoff from TQL Stadium in Cincinnati is set for 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN).
Morocco, currently ranked 24th in the world, is one of five African nations to qualify for this winter’s World Cup. The Atlas Lions are facing the USA before beginning its qualifying campaign for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION - JUNE TRAINING CAMP
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 16/0)
DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld/GER; 6/0), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 24/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 23/3), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes/FRA; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 25/2), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 0/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 73/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 28/3)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 51/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 27/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 7/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 31/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 16/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 31/0), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich/GER; 0/0)
FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 18/5), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 44/9), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 9/3), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 46/10), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 48/21), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 22/2), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 0/0)
Two changes have been made since the initial announcement of the USMNT roster on May 20. Veteran goalkeeper Sean Johnson was added to the squad after Zack Steffen had to withdraw from camp due to family reasons. Midfielder Djordje Mihailovic suffered an ankle injury during CF Montreal’s 4-3 win against FC Cincinnati on May 28 and was also forced to withdraw from the roster on Monday.
USA SCHEDULE - JUNE INTERNATIONAL WINDOW
WORLD CUP BOUND
The U.S. successfully completed the gauntlet of Concacaf qualifying in March, clinching its berth to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on the final matchday. In what promises to be one of the toughest groups in the tournament, the USMNT was drawn into Group B alongside the final UEFA play-off winner (one of Ukraine, Wales or Scotland, to be determined this international window), 2020 European Championship runner-up England, and IR Iran.
The USA will have six preparation matches before heading to Qatar in November - these four during the June international window plus two additional friendlies in September. The trio of June matches on U.S. soil represent the USMNT’s final home games before the World Cup, with the June 10 match vs. Grenada in Austin serving as the team’s final send-off before Qatar 2022.
USMNT fans will be thrilled to see Weston McKennie’s name back on the roster. After suffering a broken foot in the 1-1 draw against Villarreal on Feb. 22 in the UEFA Champions League, the midfielder returned to play on May 21, coming off the bench in Juventus season finale against Fiorentina.
After long layoffs from the USMNT, two players’ stellar club form have propelled them back to the National Team: defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and forward Haji Wright. Carter-Vickers last played for the USA in 2019 and made eight appearances for the USA after earning his first cap in November 2017. On loan at Celtic, the center back anchored the Scottish giants to the league title and a League Cup championship.
Wright is on a red-hot scoring streak for Antalyaspor in the Turkish Süper Lig, tallying in seven of the team’s final eight matches and netting 14 goals on the season. A regular with the U-17 Men’s Youth National Team during the 2014-15 cycle, Wright has never appeared for the senior USMNT but was called into a summer training camp in May 2019.
…AND WELCOME ABOARD
Bayern Munich midfielder Malik Tillman is the lone player on the roster receiving his first call-up to the senior USMNT. A dual national of the United States and Germany, Tillman officially became eligible to represent the United States after FIFA approved his one-time change of association request on Monday.
Tillman played for the U-15 Men’s Youth National Team in 2016 and has since appeared at a number of levels in Germany’s Youth National Team set-up as recently as March 2022. The 19-year-old made seven appearances for the 2021-22 Bundesliga champions this season, while spending most of his time with Bayern II in the fourth-division Regionalliga.
FINISHING THE SEASON STRONG
A number of USMNT players abroad head into camp with new silverware as the European club season comes to a close. Forward Brenden Aaronson helped Red Bull Salzburg win the Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup earlier this month, while defender Antonee Robinson and Fulham won the English Championship in convincing fashion, earning promotion to the Premier League for the 2022-23 season.
In Germany, Bayern Munich midfielder Malik Tillman won the Bundesliga title while Tyler Adams lifted the DFB Pokal with RB Leipzig. This weekend, goalkeeper Ethan Horvath and Nottingham Forest earned promotion to the Premier League with a tightly-contested victory in the Championship Playoff Final against Huddersfield Town.
Additionally, forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan helped the Seattle Sounders become the first MLS club to capture the Concacaf Champions League title earlier this month, topping Liga MX’s Pumas 5-2 in the two-legged final.
The USMNT was by far the youngest team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, garnering valuable experience going through the rigors of World Cup qualifying. Through 14 qualifiers, the team’s average age of players that appeared was 24.07. The next closest was Ecuador, whose average age of all players during their 18 qualifying matches came in at 25.81.
- BY THE NUMBERS: The USMNT’s 2022 World Cup Qualifying Run
From the available data for the qualified teams, the USMNT played the 10 youngest lineups worldwide during the recently concluded cycle, with all 14 lineups falling in the 22 youngest Starting XIs in the world during qualifiers dating back to October 2020. After its successful qualifying campaign, each match is another opportunity for the young USMNT player pool to gain experience against top-flight competition.
LAST TIME OUT
The USMNT played its final three World Cup qualifying matches during the March international window, earning three crucial results to punch its ticket to Qatar. Things kicked off against archrival Mexico at El Tri’s famed home fortress, Estadio Azteca. The USA earned a crucial point in Mexico City, drawing 0-0 and extending its unbeaten streak vs. Mexico in official competition to a record four matches.
In its final home game of the Octagonal, the USMNT delivered an emphatic 5-1 win against Panama to reach the brink of World Cup qualification. Playing in front of a raucous, sell-out crowd in Orlando, Fla., forward Christian Pulisic netted a hat trick while FC Dallas teammates Paul Arriola and Jesûs Ferreira also added goals.
On the final matchday of World Cup qualifying, the USA traveled to Costa Rica with the chance to qualify with a win, draw, or loss by less than six goals. Despite the 2-0 defeat, the USMNT earned its berth to Qatar with a third-place finish in the Octagonal standings.
USA ROSTER NOTES:
- The roster is composed of 16 players from Europe and 10 players from Major League Soccer.
- As of June 1, the 26-player roster holds an average age of 25 years, 39 days.
- The squad averages 22 caps.
- Nineteen players were part of the USMNT’s March World Cup Qualifying squad.
- As the USA opens 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League play this window, Gregg Berhalter calls upon 14 players that featured during the team’s run to the 2019-21 CNL title.
- With 73 caps, DeAndre Yedlin is the senior-most player on the roster, followed by Kellyn Acosta (51), Christian Pulisic (48), Jordan Morris (46) and Paul Arriola (44).
- Center back Cameron Carter-Vickers will look for his first USMNT appearance since June 5, 2019 against Jamaica. The 24-year-old center back returns to USMNT camp on the back of a stellar season on loan with Celtic, appearing in 45 matches across all competitions while providing four goals to help Celtic claim the SPFL championship.
- Three players have the chance to make their USMNT debut during the June window: midfielder Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich), forward Haji Wright (Antalyaspor) and defender Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach).
- The lone USMNT newbie in camp, Tillman represented Germany at the U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-21 level. He also twice represented the U.S. U-15 Men’s Youth National Team in two friendly matches in 2016, teaming up with current USMNT Pool Players George Bello, Gianluca Busio and Gio Reyna.
- Last called up for camp in May 2019, Wright returns to the USMNT on the back of a standout season with Turkish club Antalyaspor where he has tallied 14 goals in 32 appearances, good enough for fourth on the Turkish Super Lig scoring charts going into the season’s final matchday.
- Joe Scally also returns to USMNT camp after last taking part during the November World Cup Qualifiers. The 19-year-old full back finished his first Bundesliga season with 33 goals across all competitions for Borussia Mönchengladbach, providing a goal and two assists.
- Striker Jesús Ferreira is tied at the top of the MLS Golden Boot chart with nine goals in 14 matches for FC Dallas this season. The 21-year-old has two goals and three assists in his last four matches.
- Ferreira’s FC Dallas teammate Paul Arriola has registered a goal in each of his last five matches for the club.
- Winger Brenden Aaronson is back in USMNT camp after missing the March qualifiers due to injury. The 21-year-old helped Red Bull Salzburg earn the Austrian Bundesliga and ÖFB Cup titles for a second straight season, collecting six goals and eight assists in 40 matches across all competitions.
- Like Aaronson, injury also forced goalkeeper Matt Turner to miss out in March. The soon-to-be Arsenal goalkeeper has appeared in three matches since his return, helping New England Revolution to an unbeaten 2-0-3 record.
- Midfielder Tyler Adams lifted the DFB Pokal with a win against Freiburg to close out his 2021-22 club campaign. The 23-year-old appeared in 36 matches this season, helping Leipzig to a fourth-place Bundesliga finish and a place in the UEFA Champions League next campaign.
- Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris are back in camp after helping Seattle Sounders become the first MLS side to win the Concacaf Champions League last month. Roldan has played inspired soccer this season, registering three goals and eight assists in 18 matches thus far, while Morris has contributed five goals and three assists in 16 games.
- The USA is 0-3-0 against Morocco all-time and 0-1-0 at home.
- The nations last met on May 23, 2006, a 0-1 loss in Nashville, Tenn. Serving as one of the USA’s three warm-up matches ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the Atlas Lions netted the game-winner in the 90th minute.
- During the match, U.S. defender Cory Gibbs suffered a knee injury that forced him off the final World Cup roster. He was replaced by current USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.
- Previously, the USMNT fell to Morocco 2-1 in Marrakech in November 1999 and 3-1 in Casablanca in March 1992.
MOROCCO ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Yassine Bounou (Sevilla/ESP; 40/0), Munir El Kajoui (Hatayspor/TUR; 43/0), Anas Zniti (Raja Casablanca; 5/0)
DEFENDERS (10): Nayef Aguerd (Rennes/FRA; 19/1), Sofiane Alakouch (Metz/FRA; 3/0), Yahia Attiyat Allah (Wydad Casablanca; 1/0), Sofian Chakla (OH Leuven/BEL; 4/0). Mohamed Chibi (AS FAR; 1/0), Jawad El Yamiq (Valladolid/ESP; 11/2), Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 48/8), Adam Masina (Watford/ENG; 14/0, Sammy Mmaee (Ferencvaros/HUN; 8/0), Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton/ENG; 60/1)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Selim Amallah (Standard Liege/BEL; 19/4), Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina/ITA; 34/0), Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 17/1), Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers/ENG; 8/1), Fayçal Fajr (Sivasspor/TUR; 48/3), Azzedine Ounahi (Angers/FRA; 4/2), Adel Taarabt (Benfica/POR; 29/4)
FORWARDS (7): Zakaria Aboukhlal (AZ Alkmaar/NED; 9/2), Munir El Haddadi (Sevilla/ESP; 11/2), Ayoub El Kaabi (Hatayspor/TUR); 20/7), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla/ESP; 45/12), Amine Harit (Marseille/FRA; 11/0), Soufiane Rahimi (Al-Ain/UAE; 4/0), Tarik Tissoudali (Gent/BEL; 6/2)
IN FOCUS: MOROCCO
- Qatar 2022 will mark Morocco’s sixth FIFA World Cup appearance. It’s the nation’s first back-to-back World Cup appearances since 1994 and 1998. At Russia 2018, Morocco finished fourth in Group B with a 0-2-1 record against Spain, Portugal and Iran.
- Currently ranked 24th in the world, Morocco was drawn into Group F for the 2022 World Cup alongside Belgium, Canada and Croatia.
- The Atlas Lions’ best finish came at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, reaching the Round of 16. Morocco topped its group of England, Poland and Portugal before falling to eventual runner-up West Germany in the knockout round.
- Morocco qualified for the World Cup as one of five teams from Africa. After a first round bye, Morocco was drawn alongside Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sudan in the second round of qualifying, racking up six straight wins and a plus-19 goal differential to top the group.
- In the third round, Morocco was drawn against the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a home-and-away series with a World Cup ticket on the line. After a draw in the Congo, Morocco won 4-1 at home to clinch its berth to Qatar.
- Prior to its final World Cup qualifying window in March, Morocco reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, falling to Egypt in added extra time.
- Just three of 28 Morocco players compete domestically, while 25 are based abroad in France (five), Spain (four), Belgium, England, Turkey (three each), Germany (two), Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates (one each).
- Forward Youssef En-Nesyri is the squad’s leading scorer with 12 goals. Defender Romain Saïss is the roster’s most-capped player with 60 appearances.
- Vahid Halihodžić has served as head coach for Morocco since August 2019, and the Atlas Lions are the fourth nation that he’s led to the World Cup after Ivory Coast (2010), Algeria (2014) and Japan (2018). A former Yugoslavia international, Halihodžić has coached across Morocco, France, Croatia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey during his 29-year career on the touch line.