(BACK) IN THE MIX
Of the 27 players, a total of 19 were part of the January/February World Cup Qualifying roster. With 71 caps, DeAndre Yedlin is the most experienced player on the roster, followed by Kellyn Acosta (48), Christian Pulisic (45), Paul Arriola (43), Jordan Morris (43), Cristian Roldan (31), Zack Steffen ( 26) and Walker Zimmerman (25). Six players have double-digit World Cup Qualifying caps: Christian Pulisic (20), DeAndre Yedlin (17), Kellyn Acosta (16), Brenden Aaronson (11), Tyler Adams (10) and Antonee Robinson (10).
Aaron Long, Gio Reyna and Zack Steffen are back in the squad after missing out through injury. In the case of Long, it will be his first opportunity in World Cup Qualifying after an achilles injury sidelined him from National Team duty since March of last year. Reyna last appeared for the USMNT in the opening match of the final round of qualifying, the 0-0 draw at El Salvador on Sept. 2, 2021.
Another trio of players return to the fold in goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, defender Erik Palmer Brown and forward Jordan Pefok. Meantime, the US will be without services of Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, who suffered a broken left foot on Feb. 22 in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg against Villarreal.
The USMNT player pool for World Cup Qualifying is arguably the youngest in the world, but the age and experience continue to grow. In addition to 27 players already earning their first appearance in a World Cup Qualifier through the first 11 matches, Berhalter has twice sent out starting lineups that were the youngest ever for the United States in a qualifier.
Brenden Aaronson is the only player to appear in all 11 US matches during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign. Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams and Antonee Robinson have each played in 10 qualifiers this cycle. Altogether, 36 players have earned at least one cap during this qualifying campaign.
DOWN TO THE WIRE (AGAIN)
Such is the long and arduous road of World Cup Qualifying in Concacaf that it is typical for the places to be determined in the final matches of the group. Prior to this campaign, the Final Round consisted of six teams playing a total of 10 matches. In the previous five cycles in which the USA qualified, it took until Matchday 9 of 10 two times, Matchday 8 two times, and Matchday 7 once.
As mentioned above, this trio of matches includes two opportunities for the US to get unique results on the road. Heading into the famed Estadio Azteca in search of its first win in qualifying at the venue, the United States has earned a point there in the past two World Cup Qualifiers. Away to Costa Rica, the USA collected its first and only point in this competition when the team earned a 1-1 draw in Alajuela way back in 1985.
Those games bookend the USA’s final home match of the campaign, the March 27 encounter with Panama in Orlando. Fortune has shined on the pitch at Exploria Stadium, as the United States has won all four of its matches at the ground, including its last encounter at home in qualifying against Panama.
FINAL ROUND QUALIFYING – THE OCTAGONAL
For the first time, Concacaf has included eight teams in the final round of qualifying for the World Cup. The teams will play a round-robin, home and away format which includes 14 matches each. Due to the global health pandemic, a process which normally takes place during the course of 18 months has been reduced to seven. Additionally, the condensed schedule includes four ‘triple dates’ consisting of three matches during a seven-day window. The following teams have reached the final round: Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Mexico and the United States.
ONLY FORWARD/SOLO PA’LANTE
US Soccer kicked off its “Countdown to World Cup Qualifying” promotion with the launch of “Only Forward,” / “Solo Pa’lante,” US Soccer’s new creative campaign focused on uniting fans and the USMNT in a collective journey to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Developed in conjunction with the players, coaches and staff, “Only Forward / Solo Pa’lante” highlights a young, diverse and global-minded Men’s National Team that is humble yet resilient as it looks to tackle the challenge of World Cup Qualifying during the next eight months. After an action-packed summer in which the deep US player pool responded to adversity on and off the field and proved itself with two regional championship trophies, the USMNT is ready to show the world that they are prepared to change the way the world views American soccer.
- As of the first day of training on March 21, the roster will hold an average age of 24 years, 185 days.
- The squad averages 21 caps and 12 appearances in official competition.
- Players represent clubs in 11 different countries: USA (10), England (4), Germany (3), France (2), Spain (2), Austria (1), Italy (1), Netherlands (1), Portugal ( 1), Scotland (1) and Switzerland (1).
- Nineteen players were part of the January/February World Cup Qualifying roster.
- With 71 caps, DeAndre Yedlin is the most experienced player on the roster, followed by Kellyn Acosta (48), Christian Pulisic (45), Paul Arriola (43), Jordan Morris (43), Cristian Roldan (31), Zack Steffen ( 26) and Walker Zimmerman (25).
- Six players have double-digit World Cup Qualifying caps: Christian Pulisic (20), DeAndre Yedlin (17), Kellyn Acosta (16), Brenden Aaronson (11), Tyler Adams (10), Antonee Robinson (10).
- Brenden Aaronson is the only player to appear in all 11 US matches during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign. Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams and Antonee Robinson have each played in 10 qualifiers this cycle.
- Fourteen players are age 24 and younger: Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson (24); Tyler Adams, Reggie Cannon and Christian Pulisic (23); Tim Weah (22); Brenden Aaronson, Sergiño Dest, Jesús Ferreira and James Sands (21); Gianluca Busio, Yunus Musah, Ricardo Pepi and Gio Reyna (19).
- Center backs Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown earn their first calls for a World Cup Qualifying camp.
- While continuing his recovery from a ruptured Achilles suffered last May, Long trained individually alongside the team during camp last November and was part of the roster for the USMNT’s domestic training camps in December and January prior to the last qualifying window.
- Long has started each of the first three matches this season for New York Red Bulls and tallied a goal in the 4-1 win at Toronto FC on March 5. Prior to his injury, he led all USMNT players in appearances under Gregg Berhalter, playing 19 of 25 matches from January 2019 to March 2021 and captained the team five times – third most among the 87 players that have earned caps during the Berhalter era.
- Palmer-Brown is back in USMNT camp for the first time since the March 2021 friendlies against Jamaica and away to Northern Ireland. The 24-year-old center back has started each of the last eight matches for French Ligue 1 side Troyes and will seek his first cap since the 1-1 draw at France on June 9, 2018.
- Three other players return to the USMNT for the first time since the initial WCQ window last September: goalkeeper Ethan Horvath and forwards Jordan Pefok and Gio Reyna.
- Reyna re-joins USMNT camp after suffering a hamstring injury in the team’s opening qualifier on Sept. 2 at El Salvador. Following a minor setback last month, Reyna has made two substitute appearances for Borussia Dortmund in the past week, most recently providing the game-winning assist in the club’s 1-0 victory against Mainz on Wednesday.
- Jordan Pefok returns to national team duty in fine goal-scoring form. The Young Boys striker tops the scoring charts in the Swiss Pro League with 17 goals from 25 league matches, including 10 goals and two assists in his last nine league appearances. Pefok has registered 22 goals in 38 games across all competitions this season.
- Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath has gone an unbeaten 4-0-2 and put up three clean sheets ever since being thrust back into the Nottingham Forest lineup following a three-game suspension to teammate Brice Samba. Horvath has helped the club to within a point of an EFL Championship Playoff Promotion spot and also backstopped Forest at this weekend’s FA Cup quarterfinal match against Liverpool.
- Christian Pulisic also enters the window with a hot hand. The 23-year-old attacker has collected three goals and an assist in his last six appearances across all competitions for Chelsea, including goals in both legacies of the club’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie with Lille.
- The Seattle Sounders duo of Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris experienced a thundering start to the new season. Having recently hit 250 appearances across all competitions for the club, Roldan provided five assists and one goal in six combined MLS and Concacaf Champions League matches, while Morris himself has contributed three goals in seven matches for Seattle thus far.
- Attacker Brenden Aaronson continues to be a key piece for Red Bull Salzburg. The 21-year-old started each of the Austrian side’s eight Champions League matches, equaling Jermaine Jones (2007-08) for the most starts by a US player in one UCL campaign. Aaronson contributed two goals and two assists as Salzburg advanced from the group stage for the first time. On the domestic front, Aaronson played the full 120 minutes before Salzburg defeated Wolfsberger in a shootout on Wednesday to advance to the ÖFB Cup Final.
- Just 19 years old, Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah recently surpassed Kasey Keller as the USMNT’s all-time leader in La Liga appearances. Musah has made 27 appearances across all competitions for Valencia this season and played a key role in helping the club reach next month’s Copa del Rey Final.
- Midfielder Gianluca Busio and goalkeeper Zack Steffen also return to USMNT camp after missing out through injury in January.
- Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Aaron Long, and Erik Palmer-Brown are the four players seeking their first World Cup Qualifying caps.
- Tyler Adams, Jordan Pefok, Zack Steffen, Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin enter camp on caution watch. Should any of them receive a yellow card during the next three games, they will be suspended for the next qualifying match.
- Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Christian Pulisic and DeAndre Yedlin are the four players to appear for the USMNT against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. Each of them started the 1-1 draw during the final round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying on June 11, 2017.
- Pulisic is the only player on the roster to appear for the USA at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica. Age 18 at the time, Pulisic was the youngest player on the field in the team’s last qualifying visit on Nov. 15, 2016.
- Four players have previously scored against Mexico. Pulisic leads the way with two goals against El Tri (June 6, 2021 and Nov. 12, 2021), followed by Tyler Adams (Sept. 11, 2018), Gio Reyna (June 6, 2021) and Miles Robinson (Aug. 1, 2021).
- Three players have found the back of the net against Panama: Christian Pulisic (Oct. 6, 2017), Gio Reyna (Nov. 16, 2021) and Walker Zimmerman (Jan. 27, 2019).
- Five players have registered goals against Costa Rica: Paul Arriola (Feb. 2, 2019); Brenden Aaronson, Reggie Cannon and Gio Reyna (all June 9, 2021); and Sergiño Dest (Oct. 13, 2021).