Predicting Each MLS Club’s Most Capped Player by the US Men’s National Team in 2021

CARSON, CA - JANUARY 31: Walker Zimmerman of the United State walk onto the field at Dignity Health Sports Park at Dignity Health Sports Park on January 31, 2020 in Carson, California. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - JANUARY 31: Walker Zimmerman of the United State walk onto the field at Dignity Health Sports Park at Dignity Health Sports Park on January 31, 2020 in Carson, California. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

The young stars in Europe are grabbing much of the US Men’s National Team headlines, but there’s still a lot of talent to keep an eye on for this upcoming MLS season and ahead of qualifying for the next World Cup and the Olympics. Let’s take a look at one player from each MLS club active in 2021 that will likely be the most capped player by the USMNT this calendar year.

Atlanta United

Miles Robinson

After a rough season for Atlanta United, Miles Robinson appears to be one of their most talented and consistent players left on that roster. That’s good news for him because talent and consistency gets you national team consideration. If he can continue to be a bright spot for Atlanta, he can follow Reggie Cannon, Bryan Reynolds, and Mark McKenzie from MLS to Europe soon.

Austin FC

Nick Lima

Predicting who will get called up from an expansion team can be tricky because there’s even more moving parts than usual. However, what you see from Nick Lima is what you get. He had a solid season for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2020 and if he keeps it up in Texas, maybe he gets another chance with USMNT.

Chicago Fire

Mauricio Pineda

Djordje Mihailovic’s departure opens up this question as he was significantly ahead of any other American in the windy city in the USMNT depth chart, but even he was starting to get buried among the other midfield options domestic and abroad. Keep an eye on Mauricio Pineda though, as the 23 year old had 23 appearances and 3 league goals in a rebuilding Chicago Fire team looking to take that next step.

FC Cincinnati

Frankie Amaya

Trying to find reasons to be optimistic for FC Cincinnati could be like trying to find a four leaf clover, but look no further than Frankie Amaya. The 20 year old from Santa Ana has made 40 appearances for Cincy so far and he’ll certainly get more opportunities to show his talent in 2021 regardless of what other roster moves are made at that club.

Colorado Rapids

Jonathan Lewis

Sam Vines, Kellyn Acosta, and Cole Bassett were all considered for Colorado Rapids as they are an interesting team to watch with plenty of American players in their roster. I think Jonathan Lewis offers some dynamism and electric play from the wing that should warrant future selection even if he’s coming off the bench to torment some tired defenders.

Columbus Crew

Darlington Nagbe

A lot had been said last season just how important Darlington Nagbe was for the eventual 2020 MLS Cup Champions, and although the Crew defeated the Sounders in the final without him, that importance was not diminished. The Liberian-born 30 year old midfielder has made 25 appearances for the Stars and Stripes but none since 2018. There’s a good chance that changes in 2021.

DC United

Bill Hamid

Behind Zach Steffen and Ethan Horvath are a whole host of options in the goalkeeper depth chart. Gregg Berhalter, like most national team coaches, may prefer an experienced keeper to be a leader from the sidelines should he not play. Hamid was last called up in December 2019, but he could certainly get called up and maybe see the field in 2021.

FC Dallas

Jesus Ferreira

Perhaps recency bias plays a role, but especially after the goals he contributed to in the last international window it seems like Ferreira is more likely to be involved with the USMNT than the likes of Matt Hedges or Paxton Pomykal. A lot of relatively inexperienced players have scored goals for this national team lately so it could be a matter of just seizing the moment and riding the hot hand.

Houston Dynamo

Tim Parker

Houston Dynamo was a tough one because frankly it doesn’t look like Gregg Berhalter is thinking too much about players at this club for his options. Tim Parker put himself on the radar with his consistent play at the Red Bull Arena, and now he’s hoping he can do enough at Houston Dynamo in 2021 to not be completely forgotten. He gets the nod over Zarek Valentin.

Inter Miami

John McCarthy

This one was akin to throwing darts at a dartboard while blindfolded and standing on a moving car. John McCarthy appears to be Inter Miami’s starting goalkeeper for 2021 after a solid enough 2020. Maybe he worms his way into the squad and onto the field once for USMNT.


Tristan Blackmon

This has been a pretty tough stretch for the national team pool. LAFC are one of the best teams in MLS when they are firing at all cylinders, but virtually all of their important players aren’t American. Almost by default it would have to be Tristan Blackmon since he’s the American poised to get the most gametime in the Black and Gold half of LA in 2021.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Sebastian Lletget

With Efrain Alvarez’s international allegiance up in the air between Mexico and the United States, the safest route is to bank on Sebastian Lletget to add to his 18 caps. The San Francisco native seems to be a favorite of Gregg Berhalter given he called upon Becky G’s boyfriend to fill in his roster in late 2020 when it was entirely European based besides him.

Minnesota United

Tyler Miller

It’s unclear if even Ethan Horvath will get a game this calendar year let alone whoever is behind Horvath, but Berhalter will surely want to see what he’s got at some point. This selection is entirely contingent on Ike Opara continuing to be bizarrely ignored and Miller being able to reclaim his starting spot from Canadian Dayne St. Clair.

CF Montreal

Djordje Mihailovic

Another club with few American players, Djordje Mihailovic gets this selection for the rebranded Montreal side virtually by default.

Nashville SC

Walker Zimmerman

Now we are getting into some easier choices. Walker Zimmerman was named the MLS defender of the year in 2020 and as much as USMNT fans can be fixated by the flashing bright stars in Europe, this national team cannot afford to overlook one of the best players from their domestic league.

New England Revolution

Matt Turner 

This will be the last goalkeeper on the list. There’s a good chance most of the goalkeepers named here might not even get called up, but that shouldn’t be a concern for Matt Turner who is comfortably the best American goalkeeper in Major League Soccer. At 26 years old, he’s a little older than Clint Dempsey was when he moved on from the Revs to Fulham, but goalkeepers have longer careers so he will have plenty of time to get some callups and maybe appearances.

New York City FC

Keaton Parks

At 23 years old, Parks may be disappointed not to have added to his sole cap for the national team He’s still too young to be completely written off. His move from Benfica to the Big Apple is working out so far, and if he can help New York City redeem themselves and reassert themselves as a relevant club in the Eastern Conference, that’ll boost his chances.

New York Red Bulls 

Aaron Long

This could be Aaron Long’s best chance to make a World Cup roster currently 28 years old, and despite moves to Europe not coming to fruition, there’s a good possibility he adds to his 19 caps. Long partnered Matt Miazga in that center back duo that lost 1-0 in the 2019 Gold Cup Final to Mexico, and perhaps that can provide a chip on his shoulder. Honorable mention to 17 year old Caden Clark.

Orlando City

Chris Mueller

An increasingly important part of the Orlando City offense, Mueller promises to be the type of attacking option for the national team that Dom Dwyer couldn’t become. It’ll be interesting to see the next stage of Mueller’s development and involvement with the club as Orlando won’t be able to sneak up on others as often as they did in 2020.

Portland Timbers

Jeremy Ebobisse

Jorge Villafana is now a Galaxy player so that leaves Jeremy Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson. The Timbers have a plethora of midfielders and attackers so there’s a possibility both these players get lost in the shuffle and their gametime suffers. Ebobisse’s versatility to play as a winger or a striker could help him stand out in the City of Roses and for his country too.

Philadelphia Union

Alejandro Bedoya

Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie left, Ray Gaddis has amassed 221 league appearances for the Union without a USMNT cap, so despite Bedoya having not appeared for the national team since 2017, by default he’s the most realistic option especially if the Union remain in contention in the Eastern Conference.

Real Salt Lake

Aaron Herrera

The standout players in Real Salt Lake such as Albert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach are not American, and I think Herrera is more on the radar right now than Justen Glad and Corey Baird, the latter of whom made all 4 of his appearances in 2019. Aaron Herrera was one of many young players selected for Olympic qualifying.

San Jose Earthquakes

Jackson Yueill

The biased Earthquakes fan in me would want Jackson Yueill to be in every USMNT roster regardless of the availability of European players, but realistically he still has his worked cut out for him in a stack field of midfielders. 2020 was a decent year for the San Jose Earthquakes though and Yueill was a reason why. Playing a lot of games with Chris Wondolowski will also make you a better teammate, which could be a valuable intangible in international soccer.

Seattle Sounders

Cristian Roldan

The ability to play as a winger, a central midfielder, or a more holding role at a decent level in MLS will keep you in the international team conversation. Add being a key player in a perennial title contending team like the Seattle Sounders and surely at some point we’ll see Christian Roldan on the field in a USA jersey. Although he’s younger than Aaron Long at 25, this World Cup could be his best chance to make a roster given the potential of the younger midfielders.

Sporting Kansas City

Gianluca Busio

The era of Graham Zusi and Matt Besler is over while the era of Tim Melia for the USMNT never happened despite his penalty saving skillset. Still only 18 years old, Gianluca Busio has 64 appearances and 6 goals between Sporting Kansas City proper and II. An honorable mention goes to Jaylin Lindsey who at 20 years old will likely make a big growth leap in 2021, but Busio remains one of the most intriguing X Factors in the national team pool.

Toronto FC

Jozy Altidore

Similar to Efrain Alvarez, Ayo Akinola’s international allegiance is to be determined. Jozy Altidore has his injury concerns, but as it stands now the USMNT forward pool can benefit from Altidore’s presence than the midfielders can benefit from Michael Bradley’s. Altidore’s role will continue to be phased out and he may miss the 2022 World Cup entirely, but he is the USMNT’s best option out of Toronto and likely North of the border as a whole.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Jake Nerwinski

It was either him or Evan Newton. No further questions, your honor.