Previous
Club Brugge
Galatasaray
9:55 AM UTC
Game Details
Olympiakos
Tottenham Hotspur
9:55 AM UTC
Game Details
Paris Saint-Germain
Real Madrid
12:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Bayern Munich
Red Star Belgrade
12:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Dinamo Zagreb
Atalanta
12:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Shakhtar Donetsk
Manchester City
12:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Juventus
12:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
Lokomotiv Moscow
12:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Next
United StatesUnited States
UruguayUruguay
1
1
FT
Game Details

USMNT depth chart: Where they're strong and where they should worry ahead of World Cup 2022

It has been eight months and 13 matches since Gregg Berhalter took over as head coach of the United States men's national team. He arrived with a mandate to remake a floundering program in his image, a project that's very much still a work in progress. The manager spent his time handing starts to new players, evaluating the veterans and attempting to find a lineup that gets the most out of the available talent.

As World Cup qualifying approaches next year and the Nations Cup begins in October, it's time to take a look at where the players stand.

(Note: Each player appears once, even if he could fit into multiple spots.)

Goalkeeper

1. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (loan)
2. Brad Guzan, Atlanta United FC
3. Sean Johnson, NYCFC

It's Steffen and then everyone else in the player pool. The Manchester City goalkeeper, on loan at Fortuna Düsseldorf, continues to improve his shot-stopping ability and positioning and is off to a strong start in the Bundesliga. He struggles with distribution, however, and needs to get better in this regard if Berhalter's build from the back system is going to work.

- U.S. show they're way behind Mexico
- O'Hanlon: Is Dest the USMNT's next big thing?
- Dyer: How a Nobel Prize winner helped Reggie Cannon break through for USMNT

Guzan, Johnson, Ethan Horvath, Jesse Gonzalez and others are capable, if not spectacular, backups.

Left-back

1. Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact
2. Tim Ream, Fulham
3. Sergino Dest, Ajax

This position is a perpetual weak spot for the Americans. Lovitz is fine, Ream is better but accident prone, and Dest is just 18. The latter, who was solid and also a teenager against Mexico in his first start, could rocket up this list with a good couple of months for the Dutch giants in the Eredivisie and the Champions League.

Other potential options include Antonee Robinson, oft-injured Greg Garza, U-20 star Chris Gloster and even Fabian Johnson. (Remember when FabJo was the U.S.'s best player at four or five positions?)

The good news: Berhalter has a lot of options. The bad: None of those fully solves his problem.

Left-side center-back

1. John Brooks, VfL Wolfsburg
2. Matt Miazga, Reading FC (loan)
3. Chris Richards, FC Bayern Munich II

Right-side center-back

1. Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls
2. Walker Zimmerman, LAFC
3. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United FC

Can John Brooks stay healthy? If he does, one of the two center-back jobs is his for the next half-decade at least. But the Wolfsburg center-back can't maintain fitness. For that matter, Miazga is on the shelf with a serious injury. In the immediate moment, Long and Zimmerman are the starters.

Richards, a standout in the U-20 World Cup, is raw but has line-breaking potential. Omar Gonzalez, Tim Parker, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown, Justen Glad, Miles Robinson, Austin Trusty and a handful of others could figure into the mix as well.

Right-back

1. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
2. Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas
3. Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes

Yedlin gets the nod due to his experience, though Cannon has had the strongest 12 months of pretty much any player in the U.S. national team picture. In another six months or a year, we might see Cannon lock down the right-back role with Yedlin pushing further up the field, but we're not there quite yet.

Lima presents a serviceable option in a panic, though it's not likely to come to that, and Shaq Moore's a wild card who could push for more chances.

Defensive midfielder

1. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig
2. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
3. Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew SC

Has any player in the history of U.S. Soccer moved up the ranks for club and country as quickly as Adams? In two years, he has gone from "who is this kid?" to a Champions League starter. Still just 20, the RB Leipzig midfielder could be the American engine for a decade.

Bradley is still Bradley, the smartest player on the field even if he has slowed down a half-step. Trapp's the best leader on the team, a guy who could make a roster for that ability alone. Alfredo Morales and Russell Canouse could play roles here too.

Attacking midfielder

1. Weston McKennie, Schalke 04
2. Duane Holmes, Derby County
3. Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas

Attacking midfielder

1. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
2. Darlington Nagbe, Atlanta United FC
3. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders FC

Berhalter could go a lot of ways with this group, including installing Pulisic back in midfield, but the McKennie/Lletget combination is the most potent if -- and this is a big if -- they can stay healthy and learn to play together. Holmes showed excellent promise in limited time, and Pomykal could start pressing sooner rather than later.

Nagbe remains an enigma, notably turning down a recent call-up, and Roldan is fine. Jackson Yueill and Djordje Mihailovic are two younger players who should continue to get shots if they continue to grow as players.

Pulisic is the undisputed leader of this new-look U.S. men's team, but the depth around him looks worryingly thin at key positions.
Pulisic is the undisputed leader of this new-look U.S. men's team, but the depth around him looks worryingly thin at key positions.

Left wing

1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea
2. Paul Arriola, D.C. United
3. Tim Weah, Lille

While Pulisic can be considered the best American player at multiple positions, he's best served out on the wing, where he can get the ball in space and attack defenders. (At least that's the idea.) Arriola is a much more limited player who nonetheless finds ways to produce in the U.S. coach's system. (Odds are Berhalter starts him on the right wing.)

Weah, 19, has enough imagination for the entire group but needs to improve his decision-making and impactfulness across an entire match (and get healthy).

Right wing

1. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders FC
2. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
3. Jonathan Lewis, Colorado Rapids

Boyd burst onto the scene at the Gold Cup, demonstrating flair and a cannon for a shot. Yet he hasn't quite grasped Berhalter's system, holding the ball for too long. Former wonderboy Morris transformed his game from pacey forward to robust winger, bringing a nuanced understanding to his physical gifts. Lewis might never be more than a spark plug for club or country, but he's a fun prospect.

Striker

1. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
2. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC
3. Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew SC

If Berhalter faced a must-win game, he might choose to start Altidore, who's very much a known quantity at this point. But Sargent should be the call in upcoming games, as a player with a much higher ceiling whose continued improvement could help transform the U.S. squad. As for Zardes, sure for now, but his days are numbered.

One question for the near future: Can red-hot Minnesota United forward Mason Toye force his way into the conversation, or will he come crashing back down to earth?

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.