Thursday, April 18, 2024
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USMNT stock watch: Tyler Adams returns, Haji Wright in form and Gio Reyna just in need of minutes

On Thursday, the United States men’s national team’s quest for a third straight Concacaf Nations League title will continue as they face Jamaica in Dallas in the semifinals. With late changes to the roster, Luca De La Torre and Josh Sargent are out but they’ve been replaced by Brenden Aaronson and Haji Wright to still give Gregg Berhalter a solid selection of players to choose from in what are must-win matches.

As the only winners of this competition, it’s a run that the USMNT will want to keep going especially taking into account that the Nations League and Copa America are the only competitive games that the senior team will play before the World Cup in 2026. With limited opportunities to show what they can do under pressure, this is a chance for the fringe members of the squad to cement themselves in the Copa squad. Good performances in both this tournament and Copa America could lock players into the 2026 squad if there are no reductions in playing time at their clubs but as we’re about to get into, playing time can’t be taken for granted among the USMNT squad.

Let’s take a look at where some members of Berhalters’s 23-man squad are trending.

Stock up: Haji Wright

After scoring a winning goal to send Coventry City to the FA Cup semifinals, Wright is now in the squad to for Sargent who withdrew due to an injury. After making the World Cup squad, Wright hasn’t been much of a factor for the USMNT but with his form in England, he has been hard for Berhalter to ignore.  Wright now has 15 goals and seven assists in all competitions for Coventry as he begins to round into his prime. Folarin Balogun may be the starter for the USMNT but if Berhalter needs a goal, he knows where he can turn for it.

Stock down: Tim Weah

While it would be great if Weah got to play as a winger for his club, it’d be even better if he was playing consistent minutes. Sticking in the Juventus XI can be easier said than done as it is a step up for Weah but with his runs and interchanges, timing matters for Weah’s role in the USMNT. While he’s still expected to start the opening match against Jamaica, Berhalter may need to have a short leash if things aren’t going well. Rust will be a concern with a few players in the squad but Weah and Yunus Musah are the only players not starting regularly for their clubs in 2024 who are expected to start right out of the gate.

Stock up: Antonee Robinson

Tying Clint Dempsey for the most assists by an American in the Premier League with six may not seem like much of an accomplishment for Robinson but that’s when it’s important to remember that the Fulham man is a left back not a midfielder. Locking down top attackers left and right while also being sound in possession, Robinson has become a well-rounded Premier League regular while also being one of the first names on the team sheet for the USMNT. If links to Manchester City come around again this summer … there may be a little more there.

Stock down: Gio Reyna

Like Weah, Reyna needs to play. It’s unknown why he has only logged 38 minutes since his move to Nottingham Forest in January but we’ve reached a point where Reyna may have been playing more if he stayed at Borussia Dortmund. Also being injury-prone, it’s even more concerning for Reyna to start any of these games because Berhalter needs to manage his health. One of the most talented players in the entire national team pool, it’s a shame that Reyna can’t get the minutes that he needs to make an impact for the USMNT.

Stock up: Johnny Cardoso

Taking like a fish to water after moving to Real Betis, Cardoso is likely to start at the base of the midfield for this match. Cardoso has been great in possession and scored a goal while assisting two more in only nine matches for Betis. Calm in possession, Cardoso can offer a different style to Tyler Adams at the base of midfield but he’s a player who we just haven’t seen enough of at the national team level, but now we’ll have a chance.

Stock up: Tyler Adams

It’s just good to see the USMNT captain at the World Cup back in the squad after finally getting on the pitch for Bournemouth during the FA Cup on Feb. 27. While Adams likely won’t play a minute in this tournament it’s good for him to get reintegrated even if it costs a roster spot to do it.

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