Pulisic leads USMNT roster; Dest, Pomykal in

U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter has named a 26-player roster ahead of friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, headlined by Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic.

The U.S. will face El Tri at East Rutherford, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on Sept. 6, followed by a match against Uruguay at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium four days later.

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Players will begin reporting to camp on Sept. 1. A separate camp for the U.S. under-23 team — which will attempt to qualify for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo to be held next summer — will also be held. The roster for that camp is tentatively scheduled to be announced on Friday.

“Along the lines of progress, the starting point for the roster is we’re able to maintain a core group of main players from the Gold Cup and continue building,” Berhalter said. “We are also bringing some new players into the fold that we feel have the potential to make an impact with this team.”

The roster features 15 players from the team that reached the final of the Gold Cup in July, including Fortuna Dusseldorf goalkeeper Zack Steffen, New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie. Wolfsburg defender John Brooks, who missed the Gold Cup due to injury is also named. Pulisic is listed on the roster as a forward, hinting that he’ll be used further up the field in these two matches.

“I think Christian has a unique skill set,” Berhalter said. “He’s a great attacking player and we want to put him in position to affect the game. We’re open to where we’re using him. We’ve used him centrally and on the wing before. All those things keep adding up to the fact that we want him affecting the game in a positive way.”

The biggest surprise is the recall of midfielder Alfredo Morales, Steffen’s club teammate. Morales last represented the U.S. in a 3-1 win against Puerto Rico on May 22, 2016, but Berhalter felt his performances for Dusseldorf merited a call-up.

“Alfredo is a case where he’s done such a good job with Fortuna Dusseldorf, not only through the first two Bundesliga games, but we’ve seen reports from preseason where he’s been an outstanding player. It’s nice to give a guy a reward like that — an opportunity again because of how he’s performing at his club.”

Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent, who was surprisingly left off the Gold Cup roster last summer, is also named along with Ajax right back Sergino Dest and FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal, both of whom represented the U.S. at last May’s FIFA U20 World Cup.

A quartet of injuries had an impact on Berhalter’s roster selections. RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams continues to work his way back from a groin injury, as does Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin. A thigh injury precluded Lille attacker Tim Weah from participating in the camp, while a calf injury sustained last weekend prevented Reading defender Matt Miazga from taking part.

Also left off were the Toronto FC duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. TFC has a pair of league games during the international window.


GOALKEEPERS (4): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 60/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 15/0)

DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 37/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 6/0), Sergiño Dest (Ajax/NED; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 7/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 11/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 8/0),) Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 35/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 10/2)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 9/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 14/3), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 13/0), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 19/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 1/0)

FORWARDS (6): Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 3/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 33/5), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 31/13), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 7/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 51/10)

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