USMNT: Gregg Berhalter names first MLS, European mixed roster for March friendlies

Gregg Berhalter USMNT
SAN JOSE, CA — FEBRUARY 02: Head coach Gregg Berhalter of the United States men's national team looks on before their international friendly match against Costa Rica at Avaya Stadium on February 2, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Orlando, Florida (March 12, 2019) — Gregg Berhalter had the opportunity to bring in European players for the upcoming U.S. Men’s National Team camp. He did so, bringing along familiar faces like Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams.

However, the former Columbus Crew SC skipper didn’t forget about his MLS players. This was Berhalter’s first chance to mix the two groups together. His first roster was strictly MLS players, due to January camp being the beginning of the second portion of the season for European clubs.

USMNT: Gregg Berhalter names first MLS, European mixed roster for March friendlies

Now, with an official FIFA window, Berhalter has mixed the group together. There are plenty of young faces joining the fold and players that impressed in January camp are back.

Nick Lima is one of those players. The San Jose Earthquakes defender logged in quality minutes against Panama and Costa Rica in January. For his efforts, Berhalter added him to the roster, where he could potentially help out with the never-ending left back problem. The United States has shifted between plenty of defenders, but have not found the one.

There were rumors that Fabian Johnson, who plays in the Bundesliga, would join the team and take the spot. However, the 31-year-old defender and midfielder remains in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach.

However, Berhalter chose Lima due to consistency.

We thought it was important to tie some of the themes of last camp into this next camp and to have some consistency in the personnel made a lot of sense,” Berhalter said to U.S. Soccer. “We still think we’re able to evaluate a new group of players and we think that is going to be valuable as we move into the Gold Cup.”

Veterans are back in the fold

Michael Bradley leads the roster in most appearances. After being publicly ridiculed for his roster inclusion, Bradley showed USMNT fans that he still has it with a strong January camp. He also opened up Toronto FC’s regular season by scoring two goals.

Meanwhile, there’s veteran presence all over the board.

Omar Gonzalez is back on defense. Fans last remember Gonzalez for the disaster down in Trinidad & Tobago in October 2017. Gonzalez has a chance to avenge his mistakes. These might be friendlies for Gonzalez and the USMNT, but it’ll be a confidence booster if the team produces. Also, the United States has failed to find the right centerback pairing.

Gonzalez has experience, but also has experience with John Brooks. Both players are tall centerbacks who have more than 35 appearances for the national team. Tim Ream could also be a potential solution. Despite his club, Fulham, struggling in the English Premier League, Ream has earned his first call up since 2017.

Meanwhile, Gyasi Zardes is another veteran back. The Columbus Crew SC striker competed in January camp and had trouble finishing chances. However, with the likes of Bobby Wood struggling in Germany with Hannover, it made sense to bring Zardes, a player that Berhalter is familiar with, back into the fold.

Of course, one name that shouldn’t be missed is Christian Pulisic.

The Borussia Dortmund man has gotten little playing time in Germany. After he announced in the winter that he will head to Chelsea in the Premier League this summer, Dortmund has regulated him to the bench. However, when he got the chance against Stuttgart this weekend, Pulisic logged a goal and an assist.

Goalkeepers have little experience, but that’s a good thing

Three goalkeepers were named to the March roster.

Undisputedly, the starter will likely be Zack Steffen of the Columbus Crew SC. Heading to Manchester City this summer, Steffen has eight appearances for the national team. He’s being herald as the goalkeeper of the future. During the last camp, he learned some more from Brad Guzan.

This time, there’s no room for Guzan. It’s all about bringing the younger guys in who are ready to take the program over. Ethan Horvath has been called up multiple times, but has only made three appearances. He features in Belgium, as a starter, for Club Brugge.

Meanwhile, Sean Johnson just put up an epic goalkeeping performance this weekend against D.C. United. The New York City FC goalkeeper went toe-to-toe with fellow national team goalkeeper Bill Hamid. However, this time, Johnson has earned the nod over Hamid. Johnson has six appearances to his name.

Generally, Berhalter said that the goal of the USMNT is to keep making progress.

“Building on the themes of last camp, building on the style of play of last camp, but also now evaluating a new group of players,” Berhalter said. “We made progress in the first camp and it’s now asking if we can take it to another level. When we are done with this camp, it’s important that we have a good idea of our strongest group of players heading into the Gold Cup.”

The Full Roster: March Friendlies

The full roster for March’s friendlies against Ecuador and Chile is listed below. The United States will face Ecuador first, on March 21 at Orlando City Stadium. Viewing will be available through ESPN2. Kick off is slated for 8 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, five days later, the United States will take on Chile. On March 26, the two sides will face off at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. Kick off is slated for 8 p.m. ET and will be available to watch on ESPN2.

The Roster

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Zack Steffen

Defenders: John Brooks, Omar Gonzalez, Nick Lima, Aaron Long, Daniel Lovitz, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, DeAndre Yedlin

Midfielders: Tyler Adams, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Lletget, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Cristian Roldan, Will Trapp

Forwards: Paul Arriola, Corey Baird, Jonathan Lewis, Jordan Morris, Chrsitian Ramirez, Gyasi Zardes

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