Seeing the USMNT roster for the 2021 Gold Cup is quite disheartening, under what basis does the USMNT not bring their A-squad? According to Gregg Berhalter it is about testing new players and giving his A-team a rest after a long season.
While on paper that may seem reasonable, the reality is much different from other points of view. The USMNT biggest rivals Mexico will literally split their A-team to play in two competitions in the Summer, the Gold Cup and the Summer Olympics, for which the US program failed to qualify for. Many of the USMNT players have been on vacation following their hard fought Concacaf Nations League final victory over Mexico in June, leaving one to question if the players are not rested?
The notion that the USMNT has 50-60 national team caliber players is still a mark of U.S. Soccer’s arrogance, and while the Gold Cup may not be the World Cup, it does present the USMNT an opportunity to play more minutes together, test themselves against the teams they will qualify against, and build a much better collective unit going forward. Instead Berhalter opts to play players who barring 3 or 4 scenarios will not be in the mix come qualification.
How many more goalkeepers does Berhalter need to see?
At this point we all know that the USMNT number 1 spot is a fight between Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath. David Ochoa looked to be getting into the mix, but the roster presents three new keepers all of which have either had their chance or are getting a first look. Brad Guzan is a capable keeper, but does he make it as a number 3 by 2022? Matt Turner is one of the best in MLS and at this point seems to be fighting with Guzan and Ochoa. In the grand scheme of things, the number three goalkeeper on a national team is always a tossup.
Just how satisfied was Berhalter with the performances in the Nations League?
The Gold Cup roster answers that question as pretty satisfied. The United States was hardly a fluid team against Honduras and Mexico. Nonetheless the team showed grit and a lot of character to pull off the results and lift the trophy. The style Berhalter insists on playing is one that needs to be rehearsed and executed time and time again. Losing a potential 7 game run to test it with his best players seems to be a missed opportunity.
Once again fans are meant to drink the Kool- Aid
Yes, the USMNT finally lifted a trophy after what seem to be ages, finally fans have something to cheer about and players to look up to. The problem is that it always seems that it’s stop and go with the national team. The A team has fans fantasizing about what it can be, and yet in reality how many A-team games have we seen? Three? Playing a tournament in your own country and once again avoiding the opportunity to properly analyze the team leaves pundits and fans with “we’ll just have to wait”. The problem is the waiting is over and World Cup Qualifying becomes the only true measuring stick for a team that is still very much a work in progress.
So, who can we actually see?
All eyes on Daryl Dike, the powerful forward will use the Gold Cup as a platform to become the team’s go to striker and seal a possible move back to Europe after a sensational run at Barnsley. Gianluca Busio who is also in the sights of teams in Italy can fight his way on the team and seal a move to Italy with solid performances. The rest of the squad for the exception of Sebastian Lletget are playing for experience if anything really at all down the road.