USMNT roster for World Cup qualifying: Ricardo Pepi picks US soccer over Mexico; squad includes Pulisic, Reyna

The United States men’s national team roster for next month’s World Cup qualifiers is here. The 26-player squad selected by manager Gregg Berhalter was announced Thursday. This is the first squad for the U.S. since winning both the Concacaf Nations League and the Gold Cup this past summer, and it included a big development. Ricardo Pepi, the talented 18-year-old striker of FC Dallas, has chosen the United States over Mexico and is part of this USMNT roster.

“This country has given my family so many opportunities and it really has helped me achieve my goals,” Pepi said in a release from FC Dallas. “I said that when I made this decision it would be with the heart. It’s been made with the heart. If I put that jersey on, I am fighting for it until I can’t fight anymore.”

Here’s a look at the World Cup qualifying roster, per U.S. Soccer, along with their club, caps and goals.

USMNT WCQ roster

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 13/1)

The U.S. will open qualifying in Concacaf on Sept. 2 at El Salvador. The U.S. will then host Canada on Sept. 5 before traveling to Honduras on Sept. 8. The following international window will be in October. The matches against El Salvador and Honduras can be streamed live on Paramount+.

Here are some notes on the roster:

  • Despite not having a key player like Chris Richards, with his club career up in the air at Bayern Munich, this is still one of the most talented rosters we’ve seen for the USMNT … potentially the most talented ever. 
  • There is no Yunus Musah for the U.S., but that shouldn’t be all that surprising. After suffering a ligament injury in his ankle during Valencia’s preseason, he’s just only returned to training. Sources tell CBS Sports that USMNT assistant and native Valencian Nico Estevez was recently back in Valencia to meet with Musah. He met with Musah at the Ciutat Esportiva de Paterna, which is Valencia’s training center, to check on him, talk a bit with the club and more. Valencia coach Jose Bordalas is hopeful that Musah can return to the pitch in September.
  • The Pepi news is quite significant because you can argue he’s the top prospect at the position in the entire pool. While Josh Sargent will likely get his minutes, Pepi is viewed as the future and somebody the U.S. couldn’t afford to lose to Mexico. He’s still young and expectations should stay reasonable, but simply being with the team, getting this camp experience and perhaps some minutes could do wonders for his development. 
  • No Reggie Cannon in the squad might be a surprise for some, but we continue to hear rumblings about his potential move from Boavista. It’s unclear exactly why he isn’t in the squad, but that may just be because of an impending move. 

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