23 for March Nations League Window

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by Maximum Optimal, Jan 22, 2024.

  1. rgli13

    rgli13 Member+

    Mar 23, 2005
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    the "berhalter-hater" in me wants to point out pepi being left out/scallys playing time are examples of poor management rather than crediting the opposite now. people frequently point out how young a team/foundation we built so that also explains a lot of it.

    but as i was going to reply to @nobody that there has been substantial turnover. the "mls vets" (acosta, morris, arriola, roldan etc) have mostly (seemingly) been relegated to jan camp/gold cup territory where, frankly, they belong. a few (yedlin, long, johnson) have aged out, a few have been injured (acosta, zim) so they may not be completely out.

    a few of the guys berhalter didnt favor/was on the outs with have finally been incorporated (though its hard to credit gregg when hudson and bj finally pulled those triggers), and naturally a few guys have reached a reasonably high enough level to be in the mix.

    so while i do think the reliance on solid mls guys is notable, what makes the turnover a little harder to see is that there are only a couple of actually "new" players. balo obviously wasnt an option, but luca and johnny and pepi were known options (though i will say we are assuming a bit here, cause luca and johnny still havent been undeniable in their actual nt play). pepi has- i get defaulting to the "new recruit" to a degree but pepi has done nothing but produce for club and country since the world cup snub. its more than a little baffling to me that its had to be done in such limited minutes.

    paredes and slonina are the only truly post-wc guys close to the first team, though. i would say trusty if not for that close to the first team part. i think morris would be a lot closer if not for the incumbants plus luca/johnny. im personally a little annoyed tolkin isnt.

    so yeah- there has been turnover, and will be a bit more. but there was never going to be some half-the-squad reckoning. we will probably start, what, 7 of the same guys to open the 26 wc we did last time. actually having cms we might use, shaq moore not featuring and a generally much stronger st pool will/should make a huge difference. the gk/cb pool though...yikes.

    its very possible we end up right about the same place.
    Yowza repped this.
  2. gomichigan24

    gomichigan24 Member+

    Jul 15, 2002
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I do think not taking Pepi for the World Cup was a mistake (and probably the number one omission from the World Cup roster). Balogun wasn’t committed then so that one is moot but Pepi really should have been there (over Ferreira).
    TimB4Last repped this.
  3. theboogeyman

    theboogeyman Member+

    Jun 21, 2010
    I thought he should’ve been there too and was very disappointed that berhalter didn’t bring him, but he was still just a 19 yo who’d had a couple good months after a cold spell that lasted like a year. His career trajectory underscores how quickly things can change, with young players.

    and I don’t think him being unfairly left off really changes the point. He’s a young player who is getting more opportunities as he improves. More good players are popping up, berhalter is giving them opportunities, and depth is being developed. A rash of injuries notwithstanding, the 2026 roster is going to be a lot stronger and deeper than the 2022 one at most positions.
    RossD repped this.
  4. gogorath

    gogorath Member+

    United States
    May 12, 2019
    Of course. It's just not going to be like last cycle. And given we're only like 14 months in, I think we have a decent number of new faces.
    gomichigan24 repped this.
  5. Mahtzo1

    Mahtzo1 Member+

    Jan 15, 2007
    So Cal
    I definitely agree that not taking Pepi was a mistake but it is also true that NONE of our strikers, including Pepi, had done much to separate the from the crowd. I personally believe that Berhalter should have brought Pepi and Vazquez....even if it means being a bit short handed in another position. They could have left out (off the top of my head) 2 of Wright, Ferreira, Moore or...
    gomichigan24 repped this.
  6. Reccossu

    Reccossu Member+

    Jan 31, 2005
    Who could blame you? But isn’t this precisely what the manger of a national team should be doing? He has a lot of time available. I hope part of it is a pretty robust depth chart with notes on what he’s watching for in each player or what situations would move them up or down.
    TimB4Last repped this.
  7. gomichigan24

    gomichigan24 Member+

    Jul 15, 2002
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I’m sure Berhalter has a very in depth and detailed depth chart and either his staff or the various scouts and youth team coaches are watching a very broad pool of players. Like I’m not particularly worried he’s not scouting enough players or that players are getting missed.
  8. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

    Dec 23, 2003
    Somerville, MA
    FC Dallas
    Oh, I definitely agree.
    The Copa America is the most important competition of the cycle until the World Cup.
    And its basically a "practice run" of what the World Cup is going to be like.
    I don't think its an accident that CONMEBOL agreed to have it here now in 2024.
    For their teams, its preparation for the World Cup too.

    Every Olympics-eligible player that is legitimately part of that "best team" should definitely be part of the Copa sqaud.
    Reyna, Musah, Pepi, Scally, and those guys.

    There is that next group of guys that could be bench players at the Copa or starters at the Olympics.
    I imagine that the USMNT and U23 staffs are in communication with those players about their preferences.
    Kevin Paredes, Taylor Booth, Paxten Aaronson, Cade Cowell and those guys have been at U23 camps over the last 6 months.

    I will not be surprised to have one or two of these "bubble" U23s on the Nations League roster. Not many, though.
    We look at that first page of the provisional roster, and its only Bajraktarevic. Could mean nothing. Could mean something.

    [There's only two GKs on the first page. So clearly that provisional roster isn't as clear cut as the first page being THE ROSTER. Horvath and Turner.]
  9. largegarlic

    largegarlic Member+

    Jul 2, 2007
    I was just thinking that this window might have the best pedigreed USMNT roster ever in terms of club pedigree. We'll probably see something like:

    Forward: Monaco, PSV
    Winger: AC Milan, Juventus, Wolfsburg, Union Berlin (I still think Aaronson gets the last spot)
    CM: Juventus, AC Milan, Nottingham Forest, PSV, Celta, Real Betis
    RB: PSV, Mönchengladbach
    LB: Fulham, Palermo
    CB: Crystal Palace, Fulham, Cincinnati, Celtic
    GK: Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Miami

    We're looking at maybe 2 MLS guys, and one is the 3rd string keeper. And then we might have 1 from the Championship and 1 from Serie B. Everyone else is at a pretty good Euro club.

    Club pedigree isn't everything, obviously, but this is a really stark change if we compare it to the roster at the end of the 2018 cycle (for that Couva game):

    Forward: Toronto, Seattle, San Jose, Hamburg
    Mid: Dallas, New England, DC United, Philly, Toronto, Sporting KC, Chicago, Portland, Dortmund
    RB: Newcastle, Sporting KC
    LB: Houston, Santos Laguna
    CB: Sporting KC, Stoke, Pachuca, Tijuana, Fulham
    GK: Atlanta, Colorado, RSL
    Pegasus, tomásbernal, RossD and 2 others repped this.
  10. grandinquisitor28

    Feb 11, 2002
    I am fully willing to acknowledge that I could be wrong with some guys. For instance, I never would have guessed Weah would basically pick the U20 WC over summer USMNT duty and the Gold Cup in '19, and damage his relationship with his ----head coach at Celtic while he was at it (the loan was ending anyway, so who cares but still). I'm not sure where guys are at, and honestly, Tolkien was never going to the Copa America anyway? So not sure his opinion matters, but it is interesting to consider, are there other guys that might feel that way? Possibly. Not sure. None of these guys for the most part were alive or really fully conscious the last time we did any serious damage at the Olympics (4th place finish in '00 in Australia).

    Interesting to wonder if they'd really like to make a run, and it can't really be underestimated how much fun some guys had in '19 and '23 at the U20's. That always seems like a really happy, joyful group. Our youth teams often seem to have a lot of esprit de corps in a way some others don't.
    gomichigan24 repped this.
  11. grandinquisitor28

    Feb 11, 2002
    Over Ferreira, or Wright or Sargent. He was the best striker in the pool, period, it was obvious, and he was on a heater, as well (scoring at a better rate for Groningen in September-November than he would be January-May), I don't know if Berhalter got "too cute" as Velasquez likes to say, or just genuinely was concerned that he was in a slump and didn't rate the Eredivisie rebound, but it was utter nonsense and obvious nonsense at the time. If you scroll through the WC threads before hand, before the roster was chosen, the biggest slap fights online were over whether it was conceivable he might start Ferreira over Pepi, there wasn't any concern that Pepi would make it, it was more, Ferreira's probably making it, Berhalter isn't crazy enough to start him, is he? That was the thinking at the time, and then fighting over that lol. Then when pepi didn't make the team at all, well, some people moved the Overton Window on the argument to try and justify something that was previously unthinkable, while the rest of us rightfully went into full melt down mode (which proved prophetic, as his handling of striker, was one of the biggest issues of the tournament once Sargent got hurt).
  12. grandinquisitor28

    Feb 11, 2002
    I think the truth is the opposite. Pepi was outstanding in '21, had a great window 1 finale and window 2 for the US, was up and down in windows 3-5, and then moved to Europe after not playing club ball for the late October through December stretch domestically. In europe he got a handful of starts, 4 total, across 5 months, most in January, then paltry sub minutes. In August, he and his agent forced a move, Augsburg featured him for one more start probably to up a fee or make a loan simpler, then he moved, and he immediately started kicking --- from day 1 in the Netherlands. From the second he arrived, 7 goals and 2 assists in his first 10 appearances for them.

    So the arguments made against his performance from fall '21-fall '22 are largely a canard. Yeah, technically speaking he didn't score for anybody from October '21 until September '22, but how much did he actually play in those 12 months? The answer is, very freaking little. He got 4 starts for Augsburg in the '21-'22 season, 2 in January, 1 in Feb, and 1 more the rest of the season. 400someodd total mins.

    So this isn't a situation where the guy couldn't hit the broadside of that barn with his shots, couldn't find the ball etc, this is a situation where after his last MLS game (1 more after Halloween) he started 4 games the next 9 months until one last goodbye match with Augsburg before labor day '22. That's it. Some sub appearances that amounted to about 180 minutes beyond that. So was he in a slump? Yeah, but when people say he didn't score for a year, unless you dig into the numbers, most people imagine he made 35-40 appearances, played 2000+ minutes, 20+ starts etc, and could not score, but that's not what actually happened, hell after February he started 1 more game that season, that's it. How are you scoring goals when you're not on the field? How are you developing a rhythm etc?

    That's what bugs me about the Pepi year long goal drought argument. It's largely just bull----. He made a bad transfer move, and sat on the bench as an occasionally used Sub from basically January 23rd until the end of August of '22, and not surprisingly, failed to score goals while failing to actually play much at all for a club that rarely ever scored goals and barely avoided regulation (that was one of the worst goal producing versions of Augsburg the previous five years at the time).

    Yep, in a slump, but no it was not remotely what it was characterized as, and you learned that instantly the second he moved to Netherlands and couldn't stop scoring, for one of the worst clubs in the league, where he was basically 50% of their goal production that year, while missing the first month of the season.
  13. grandinquisitor28

    Feb 11, 2002
    It was a terrible situation:
    Pepi made a bad transfer and wasn't playing much at all from January to August of '22
    Sargent was in the toilet with Norwich in the EPL before he broke out after a Puki injury in August/September of '22
    Vasquez after doing next to nothing for years, started balling like nobodies business starting June '22.
    Ferreira was having his best season.
    Wright was building his third straight great season since moving to Denmark and then Turkey.

    But none of these guys had scored meaningful goals in the shirt except Pepi, and especially difficult, meaningful goals.

    It was a hard situation but he made it harder than it needed to be, Pepi got right back on the horse in September and October and was clearly back.

    So you take Pepi.

    Pefok went into the toilet after a hot august so he's out.

    Now its down to Ferreira, Wright, and Sargent.

    Sargent has played in the Bundesliga, EPL, Championship, and in U20 and U17 WC's. That experience and familiarity is valuable, bring him. He's also a good facilitator.

    Ferreira or Wright, Ferreira is hot, familiar, combines well with guys, fast as hell, wright doesn't combine well with guys, or fit the system.

    I take Ferreira (I prefer Wright, but at the time Ferreira had a stronger argument).


    Vasquez gets call ups in September, and in the October MLS last Chance camp. If he blows me away, I take him over Ferreira.
    Mahtzo1 repped this.
  14. theboogeyman

    theboogeyman Member+

    Jun 21, 2010
    I will be honest with you that I didn’t read the entirety of your post, but it’s not “bullshit” when he went basically a year without scoring. Yes, there is nuance to it, which is why I still wanted him over Wright, and was still very optimistic about his future. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he went a long time without producing for club or country.

    I like Pepi and his potential more than probably anyone on this board. I’ve said the whole time that I like him more than balogun. And I was upset that he was left off the World Cup roster. But he belonged on the roster more because of how weak his competition was than what he’d actually accomplished. At the time, he was a 19 yo with 1 solid year in mls, a handful of usmnt goals, a long period where he didn’t produce anything, and a couple of months of solid play for a bottom feeder in the Netherlands. That’s not some obvious proven commodity that a coach would feel confident taking to a World Cup.
    Mahtzo1, tomásbernal, RossD and 2 others repped this.
  15. TimB4Last

    TimB4Last Member+

    May 5, 2006
    "Okay, wow, yeah now I get it." Gregg Berhalter
  16. TimB4Last

    TimB4Last Member+

    May 5, 2006
    Pepi was GB's biggest miss, even if Pepi wasn't sure to be successful in Qatar. Sargent was a pleasant surprise, though less surprising to those of us who know 'he plays well with others.' His injury hurt us a lot, when we had to start Ferreira between van Dijk and Ake - not our best matchup, and the clearest case of when Pepi might have been a difference maker.
    gomichigan24 and theboogeyman repped this.
  17. grandinquisitor28

    Feb 11, 2002
    I don't disagree w/any of that except for the old "he went a year without scoring" saw because if you're not playing, how can you score. Honestly? How.

    That was my issue. People would pull that argument out as Pepi has sucked for a year. 400minutes and change across what, 7 months? He's not playing. You can't score if you aren't playing. It's also worth noting, neither were augsburg. 22 goals in 17 games, 1 or fewer goals in 12 of their last 17 games.

    I don't disagree with the argument that everything was a mess and everyone was a poor, that's reasonable, I also agree w/your take that he had basically 1 good MLS season at age 18, and then a good couple of months at age 19 for Groningen. That's true. But he also had that, when he got minutes and starts he was scoring, when he wasn't, he wasn't. Simple as that. Only relevant exception to me is that he was shut down for his starts in windows 3, 4 and 5, and he was, his player ratings from those games were uneven, he had some truly craptacular performances, and some solid ones, no great ones. But he was the only player whod shown any ability at all in the shirt in serious games, and he was on a heater that fall, so it should've been obvious that he be selected, and its pretty absurd that he wasn't, particularly when Ferreira face planted in September after largely face planting in June other than the Grenada match which was, whatevs.
  18. grandinquisitor28

    Feb 11, 2002
    That was part of my argument before the roster announced as to why Ferreira didn't make sense to start after Pepi. We had drawn a group and knockout round pairing where we'd be playing big, and/or athletic defenses in every likely matchup through the R16: Wales, England, Iran (who were basically 6 footers, plus a short fullback), and the Netherlands, w/Senegal and Ecuador as outside shots.

    Basically 3 of the 4 most likely opponents were either, big, big and athletic, or average. There was no Chile on the schedule. These were huge to sizable teams. So Ferreira was going to really have problems with size period. I wondered if his pace and ball skills might make it worthwhile anyway, but I never anticipated he'd be so thoroughly un-sharp for the game. I feel bad for the guy, even if I trash him more than most, as he's never been that donkey footed, EVER, he picked a terrible time, to simply be out of form/practice etc and just have a donkey's touch. It was inexplicable. It was the worst case scenario, but part of the reason I wanted Pepi was his size. He would be as tall and reasonably athletic, in comparison to those defenses. Of the guys Berhalter took, only Sargent had height and could use it, Wright plays small. If Ferreira was going to play, it probably should have been against Wales or Iran, but honestly, it should have been Sargent and Pepi taking turns that tournament. Nobody else made sense.

    I even mentioned Ferreira being hot, but he wasn't really, his scoring tailed off in Mid September, and he scored barely at all the next two months before the WC kicked off, and he had a near full month off on top of that. Not great. Feel for the guy, that was his shot, I don't see him ever getting another one, and he was not remotely his best self for it. Super bummer.
    TimB4Last repped this.
  19. rgli13

    rgli13 Member+

    Mar 23, 2005
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    yet i expect to see the same very ordinary performances/results. the players have changed dramatically over the last 5 years but one thing remains the same (with the notable exception of the last nl sf/final)...
  20. tomásbernal

    tomásbernal Member+

    Sep 4, 2007
    Portland Timbers
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is not the first preliminary roster list that has been done in a similar way over the last several years--with players mostly alphabetical but then some names out of place, and some others tacked on at the end (and also with the full legal names as in this roster). I can't remember what competitions they were for, though.

    Given that they've done it more than once before I'd think it's a feature--the bug being Kamungo and Brooks added at the end here, probably either as replacements for other players or perhaps simply the next best 2 players after compiling a reasoned list that added up to only 58.
    TimB4Last repped this.
  21. TimB4Last

    TimB4Last Member+

    May 5, 2006
    Wait, so now I need to fire you, too?

    I thought you were meticulous, not slipshod. :(
  22. dspence2311

    dspence2311 Member+

    Oct 14, 2007
    Pepi, Sarge, Balo, Pulisic, Weah, Paredes, Aaronson, Reyna, Tillman, Wes, Musah, LDLT, Johnny, Jedi, Dest, Scally, Richards, Ream, CCV, Miles + 3 keepers = 23
  23. dlokteff

    dlokteff Member+

    Jan 22, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    That's a solid 20, but with Dest suspended game #1, will Gregg really be comfortable with just Scally & Jedi as FB's? You've got Weah and Richards as "anyone can play RB" options, and I guess Ream and Paredes as "Jose Torres" but don't think Gregg will risk that.
  24. Bob Morocco

    Bob Morocco Member+

    Aug 11, 2003
    Billings, MT
    Sargent seems unlikely because of health. Wagner said they were looking forward to the international break where he could get healthy.
  25. comoesa

    comoesa Member+

    Aug 13, 2010
    Christen Press's armpit
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Gio will be there...like this is the exact time when you call him up, he needs a half or two..for his confidence.
    Winoman repped this.

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