U.S. Men's Talking Points Ahead of World Cup
The United States men’s national team announced its 26-man World Cup squad this week.
Many questions face manager Gregg Berhalter as this team gets ready for the tournament, and following is a look at key issues ahead of the World Cup for the Americans.
How is Christian Pulisic Faring?
When the U.S plays, all eyes fall on Christian Pulisic. This season, he has played only 370 of a possible 1,170 minutes for Chelsea in the Premier League.
This lackluster play is a huge and ongoing concern for the Americans. Pulisic is 24 years old and will be nearly 29 at the next World Cup. Given the Americans' struggles to qualify, this could be his best chance to shine on the international stage.
The Chelsea forward will start every game for the U.S., if he is fit. However, he heads into the World Cup with just one goal and two assists on the Premier League season, marking his worst start since moving to England in 2019.
Zack Steffen and the Goalkeeper Issue
Manchester City's Zack Steffen has been entrenched between the goalposts for Berhalter for some time. However, after playing few minutes for City, he moved on loan to Middlesbrough in the division below the Premier League, and things have gone from bad to worse for the American star.
He managed a shutout against Blackpool this week, but his performances have been far from impressive, with Middlesbrough conceding 25 goals already. Steffen has still made three appearances for the national team in 2022, after he started seven games in 2021.
With Steffen’s poor play, two others based in England this season are likely to get picked ahead of him. Ethan Horvath of Luton Town in the same division as Steffen is one of them, while Matt Turner of Arsenal likely will be the main goalkeeper for Berhalter, despite barely playing for his Premier League team. Sean Johnson had a fantastic campaign for New York City this season, so Berhalter at least has some in-form players to choose from in goal. Steffen is not likely to be one of them.
Will Cristian Roldan and Josh Sargent Turn Up?
We know the big names like Weston McKennie, Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna will make the squad, but with few strikers to choose from, a lot of goal-scoring attention has turned to midfielder Cristian Roldan and striker Josh Sargent.
The MLS giant Seattle Sounders had a lackluster season and were not helped by the lack of goals from its forward line. Across 26 games, Roldan scored only four goals for the Sounders, assisting on five others. To put this in perspective, Sargent heads into the World Cup with eight goals already in the Championship for Norwich City, assisting on two others.
Indeed, the Championship of England is perhaps easier for Sargent than the MLS for Roldan, but goals are goals, and the Norwich player has brought them in this season.
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