Friday, April 19, 2024
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USMNT stock watch: Chris Richards getting needed minutes at Crystal Palace as Gio Reyna rides bench in EPL

Things are kicking off for the United States men’s national team, and with the preliminary roster for the Concacaf Nations League semifinals having been named, it’s time to look at who may be hitting their stride and who isn’t. Including most of the 2022 World Cup squad, there are Olympic hopefuls and other dual nationals to keep an eye on as it’s a varied squad.

With Weston McKennie picking up a shoulder injury and Gio Reyna still struggling for playing time even after his move to Nottingham Forest, there are more questions facing the squad ahead of the Concacaf Nations League matches in March. This is without even getting into the fact that Sergino Dest is suspended due to the red card that he picked up against Trinidad & Tobago earlier in the competition. While Dest will be available for a potential final, not being able to face Jamaica, who boast an in-form Leon Bailey, will be a loss.

Gregg Berhalter has plenty to figure out as winning the Concacaf Nations League is the minimum expectation for the tournament. Failure to do that and his seat could get warmer, requiring not only for the USMNT to get out of their group during the Copa America but also to win a game in the knockout stage of the tournament as well. While winning in the knockout stage is the goal, the chances of that game being against Brazil may be tough so winning Nations League is critical. Heading into the semifinals, let’s take a look at how some members of the USMNT are trending.

Stock up: Chris Richards

It has been quite a journey for Chris Richards at Crystal Palace but since mid-December, he has become a full-time starter for the Eagles, splitting time in midfield and at center back. While he’s a center back for the national team and realistically shouldn’t be playing as a defensive midfielder for Palace unless it is an emergency, playing out of position is better than not playing at all. Even when he’s in midfield, Richards has looked strong defensively which will translate to national team play where he has a chance to become a full-time starter now. Full of potential, Richards has needed this consistent run of playing time without injuries for years as the potential to be a top defender is there. Also scoring his first goal for Palace, Richards is a target on set plays that can turn close games into victories.

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Stock down: Weston McKennie

McKennie has been immense for Juventus this season collecting five assists via pinging the ball around the center of the park. A do-it-all midfielder, McKennie knows his role and can perform in different ways to suit what is needed for club and country, but he hits the stock down section due to dislocating his shoulder which could see him miss out on national team duty. Already dislocating the same shoulder in 2022, concern is growing that this may become a chronic issue but as important as McKennie is to the national team, he’ll be needed in top shape during the summer.

Stock up: Johnny Cardoso

Adding to a growing trend of USMNT players breaking into their teams abroad and opening their scoring accounts, Cardoso has been a regular starter in Real Betis‘ double pivot alongside Marc Roca. They’ve formed a good partnership and with McKennie potentially missing time, La Liga midfielders Cardoso and Luca De La Torre will be important to partner Yunus Musah and Gio Reyna. Tyler Adams is working his way back but it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to offer much at this stage for the national team providing a big opportunity for Cardoso in this upcoming camp.

Stock down: Folarin Balogun

While five goals and three assists in 18 appearances, it may seem like Balogun is doing alright in his first season with Monaco but goalscoring numbers don’t tell the full story. Balogun has an xG of 7.72 and has also missed four penalties in all competitions this season which will see him lose penalty duties for the club. With Christian Pulisic able to take penalties for the national team, Balogun doesn’t have to worry about that pressure but confident strikers score more goals. Balogun isn’t at risk of losing his starting role for the national team anytime soon but club performances will have to pick up before that ends up being the next stage of this discussion. 

The CBS Sports Golazo Network presents Call It What You Want, a weekly podcast where Jimmy Conrad, Jesse Marsch and Charlie Davies cover all things USMNT and the state of the beautiful game in the United States.

Stock up: Brenden Aaronson

Slowly, Union Berlin are inching away from the relegation zone and Brenden Aaronson’s performances have helped them do that. Scoring his first goal of the season in February, Aaronson has played more than 120 minutes over three matches where Union Berlin have gone unbeaten in league play. A player whose contributions don’t always translate into counting stats, getting consistent playing time in Germany is key for Aaronson so that he can gain more top-level match experience. With a depleted midfield, if he doesn’t start upcoming matches, Aaronson will be one of the first names called off the bench.

Stock down: Gio Reyna

Moving from Borussia Dortmund to Nottingham Forest was always going to be a risk for Reyna but few would’ve predicted that he’d log fewer minutes per match in England as he did in Germany. Reyna has yet to play 90 collective minutes of competitive soccer in 2024 and we’re almost two full months into the year. Reyna has played a similar amount of minutes at Dortmund in 2024 (36) as he has in his four games for Nottingham Forest since moving (39). While it takes time to settle into a new club, time isn’t on Reyna’s side or the national team when he needs consistent minutes and Berhalter needs him to be fit. While Reyna is one of the most talented players in the entire national team pool, without actually playing for his clubs, it only becomes harder for Berhalter to pick him to start games. When wins are needed now, Reyna needs to find a way to put himself in the best position to play and maintain fitness as a critical summer is coming.

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