The 2022 World Cup rosters were due Wednesday, with U.S. Men’s National Team manager Gregg Berhalter making his final choices before Qatar.
In just a few hours after announcing, several of those choices have already created significant discussion.
The full 26-man roster, listed below, has some expected names, a few notable absences and some confusing inclusions:
Tim Ream made the team, in a surprising turn of events, despite not appearing for the national team since September 2021.
Zack Steffan is not on the list, despite being the first choice keeper for a number of years. According to Berhalter, the Middlesborough man, on loan from Manchester City, was one of the hardest cuts.
Ricardo Pepi also didn’t make the roster, despite an extremely successful season in the Eredivisie.
Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok was another who missed the cut, with Haji Wright seemingly taking his place.
Importantly, several players with injury concerns are apparently healthy enough to head to the World Cup.
Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie, and Gio Reyna are all key contributors who picked up relatively recent knocks before making the team.
Challenging World Cup Draw
Despite the few confusing choices, this is a young, exciting roster with as much talent as any in USMNT history.
That said, their road to advance out of the group stage may not be as easy as expected. Berhalter’s received criticism from many corners for inflexible tactics and being in over his head. As a result, confidence isn’t high that the U.S. can beat out decent Welsh and Iranian teams.
It almost certainly would have been an easier path if the 2022 World Cup was in the United States, as former FIFA President Sepp Blatter indicated.
If the US fails to make a solid run despite the talented group, pressure on Berhalter will grow exponentially.
Berhalter’s put his stamp on the roster, for better or worse. Now it’s up to him and the players to prove he made the correct choices.