Weston McKennie on USMNT squad for World Cup qualifiers; Pulisic, Reyna out due to injuries

Written by on September 29, 2021

Chelsea‘s Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund‘s Gio Reyna have been left off the United States men’s national team roster for three upcoming World Cup qualifiers due to injury, the U.S. Soccer Federation said on Wednesday.

Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie has earned a recall after being suspended for two qualifiers last month by manager Gregg Berhalter because he violated COVID-19 protocols.

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Players on the 27-man roster will begin reporting to camp this Sunday. The October window will feature a home match against Jamaica in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 7 (Live on ESPN2 at 7.30 p.m. ET), an away game against Panama three days later, and a third match against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 13 (Live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET).

“We are excited to get the group back together for this next round of World Cup qualifiers,” Berhalter said. “This squad represents a diverse group of talent, and we will need to rely on each and every team member to navigate through these three games. Our focus now is Jamaica and preparing to win that game.”

Pulisic suffered a sprained ankle in last month’s qualifier against Honduras while Reyna suffered a hamstring injury against El Salvador. Neither player has featured for his club since.

RB Leipzig‘s Tyler Adams has overcome a muscle injury of his own to be included in the squad. Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah is also included and is poised to play in his first World Cup qualifier.

After finding himself shorthanded in the back during the last window due to injury, Berhalter has included 10 defenders on the roster, including six players that can play outside back. At forward, Berhalter has recalled Columbus Crew striker Gyasi Zardes, RCD Mallorca attacker Matthew Hoppe and D.C. United winger Paul Arriola.

FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi, who scored the winning goal on his international debut against Honduras, is also in the squad. Pepi is the fourth-youngest player to tally in a U.S. national team debut match, and with his two assists, just the second player to be involved in at least three goals during a qualifying debut. Aldo Donelli scored four goals in the 4-2 win against Mexico in the United States’ first qualifier on May 27, 1934, in Rome, Italy.

Norwich City‘s Joshua Sargent and Young BoysJordan Pefok were also left off the squad.

A U.S. Soccer spokesperson told ESPN that as of now, the U.K.-based players — including Tim Ream, Zack Steffen and Antonee Robinson — won’t travel to Panama given its status as a red list country and a five-day quarantine period that is required upon their return to the U.K.

Overall, as of the first day of camp, the 27-player roster will hold an average age of 24 years, 203 days, averaging 20 caps and 10 appearances in official competition. Thirteen players are age 23 or younger.

With five points total from three matches, the United States sits in second place in the Octagonal tablet, tied with Canada. But with two home matches during the upcoming window, it’s imperative that the U.S. takes advantage and gain maximum points from those games, especially after last month’s disappointing home draw against Canada.

Detailed Roster by Position (Club/Country; Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 10/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 4/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 45/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 13/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 7/0), Shaq Moore (Tenerife/ESP; 11/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 46/1), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 15/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 12/2), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 67/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 40/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 17/1), Gianluca Busio (Venezia/ITA; 6/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED: 3/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 32/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 25/7), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 6/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 28/0)

FORWARDS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 10/5), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 8/0), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca/ESP; 5/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 1/1), Timothy Weah (Lille/FRA; 13/1), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 62/14)

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