What Berhalter got right (and wrong) from US soccer roster

United States soccer national team midfielder Christian Pulisic (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
United States soccer national team midfielder Christian Pulisic (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images) /

Gregg Berhalter has announced his roster ahead of the United States national soccer team’s friendlies in Europe at the end of this month. With World Cup qualifying this fall, the testing and building of the roster continues with a relatively youthful albeit strong squad called in.

An emerging United States national team squad, certainly, but not without its faults and misses.

It is clear from Berhalter’s choices, 26 players and all but three of which are playing in Europe, that the United States continues its rebuild based around a core that is playing in top leagues around the world.

On March 25, the United States plays Jamaica in Austria before heading to Northern Ireland for a March 28 fixture. Two good tests for a young American side looking to form its identity.

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A 4-4-3 of hits, questions and misses from Berhalter’s recent roster:

Four Hits

1.       The inclusion of Luca de la Torre is a solid one. With 24 appearances in the Eredivisie this year, the central midfielder has become a regular for Heracles. At 22-years old, his emergence this year in one of Europe’s better leagues is certainly worthy of taking note and the United States lack of depth centrally is a noticeable issue in this talent pool.

2.       Daryl Dike gets his deserved call-up after a loan spell in the Championship with Barnsley has been a hit. The biggest issue in the talent pool remains at forward and Dike’s string of strong results has rightly earned him a spot ahead of these friendly matches.

3.       Like the call of de la Torre and Dike, the nod for Chris Richards comes after a run of first team minutes. The Bayern Munich prospect, on loan at Hoffenheim, has been nothing short of a revelation over the past two months and is emerging as a likely first choice center back at the international level.

4.       One of the bigger surprises for this roster included MLS midfielder Kellyn Acosta, but perhaps it shouldn’t be a shock. Acosta was one of a handful of players to pull a full shift for the United States in a February friendly against Trinidad & Tobago, and he looked impressive in the process. He fits what Berhalter wants from a deep-lying midfielder or a shuttle player in the center of the park.

Four Questions

1.       Of course, Christian Pulisic has earned his spot on this roster as the most talented player in the pool. But with just one start since January 19, his form is certainly not that of a difference maker. Can these friendlies get Pulisic back into a starting role at Chelsea and, perhaps as important, help him find his form ahead of what will be a very busy year with the national team?

2.       Like Pulisic, the new year hasn’t been kind for Gio Reyna. The teenager has hit a wall with Dortmund and seen his form dip in recent weeks. These two matches could provide a springboard for Reyna to finish out a challenging season in the Bundesliga on a high note.

3.       What to make of Bryan Reynolds? This past weekend, he made his debut for Roma coming off the bench and, while looking tentative, held his own. Reynolds is brimming with potential but right back remains a relatively deep spot for the national team right now. Will his inclusion, along with that of Reggie Cannon, spell a shift to left back for Sergino Dest?

4.       Erik Palmer-Brown has turned in a very solid season with Austria Wien but he has never nailed down a regular spot with the senior national team. These friendlies are crucial for him to establish his role with the United States moving forward. With a couple of good performances, could Palmer-Brown, currently on loan from Manchester City, potentially make a move to a better club situation this summer?

Three Misses

1.       The failure to call-up Theoson-Jordan Siebatcheu is a head scratcher. His form at Young Boys in Switzerland has been very good this year while on loan and he’s put up several nice performances in Europa League.

2.       The same argument can be made about Siebatcheu as Haji Wright, whose first season in Denmark has been quite good. Wright could be a candidate to move this summer to a better league and being placed in the window during these friendlies could help his cause.

3.       Emmanuel Sabbi certainly wouldn’t have a place as a starter on this roster but the winger’s pace and regular playing time with Odense in Denmark should have had him in the mix. The 23-year old’s value late in games to stretch the field is something that could be an asset for Berhalter’s squad in World Cup qualifying.

Follow Kristian Dyer of ‘MLS Multiplex‘ on Twitter @KristianRDyer