While the squad will be missing Ajax regular Sergino Dest (possibly forever), most of the other major US squad members currently playing in Europe were called up this go-around.
Let’s check in on how they’re progressing this season.
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea
Stats: 5 games (3 starts) in Premier League, 287 minutes, 0 goals & 2 assists, 6.73 WhoScored
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Christian Pulisic’s playing time at Chelsea.
Pulisic has fallen out of favor with manager Frank Lampard for a variety of reasons, none of which are panic-button-inducing (yet).
Just like last season at Borussia Dortmund when Jadon Sancho’s emergence (along with a series of injuries) knocked Pulisic from regular starting XI duties, this season sees the American ceding time to stars new and old. Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have emerged as Chelsea’s best players. Jorginho, Willian and Pedro all deserve minutes. Pulisic has not been bad at all. He’s just been bang average so far.
If the constant pressure and questions about playing time don’t break him down, he’ll emerge from this stronger.
Zack Steffen, Fortuna Duesseldorf
Stats: 7 games in Bundesliga, 630 minutes, 1 clean sheet, 7.17 WhoScored
Zack Steffen is on loan from Manchester City to Fortuna Duesseldorf in the Bundesliga.
City rarely whiff on well-known prospects, and they clearly saw something in Steffen. Until last week, he was statistically the best goalkeeper in all of Europe. He’s been the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga for the past month.
Nobody is displacing Ederson or his giant neck tattoo at City any time soon. Don’t be surprised if Steffen is old to a big club this summer.
Matt Miazga, Reading
Stats: 6 games in English Championship (2nd division), 462 minutes, 6.88 WhoScored
Matt Miazga has been pretty solid for relegation candidate Reading this season.
While still prone to the occasional lapses in concentration, Miazga gets it done on the pitch. He’s been a monster winning aerials (over 5 per game) and on clearances (5.3 per game). Miazga is Reading’s best defensive player this season. He’s the best center-back option on Berhalter’s squad (yes, over Aaron Long).
DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle
Stats: 2 games (1 start) in Premier League, 106 minutes, 6.59 WhoScored
DeAndre Yedlin is only 26 but seems like he’s been around forever now. It also seems like he’s been injured forever.
Coming back again from injury, Yedlin is just re-integrating into his Newscastle squad. He’s a physically solid and focused player when fit and should be the starting right-back for the USMNT. At 26, he’s in his prime the next year or two. For his sake and the USMNT, let’s hope he stays healthy.
Tim Ream, Fulham
Stats: 10 games in Championship, 900 minutes, 6.68 WhoScored
At 32, Tim Ream actually has been around forever.
The left-back has been solid though not “Matt Miazga solid” for Championship side Fulham. What he lacks in traditional defensive metrics like tackles won, aerials, and clearances he makes up for with his build-from-the-back qualities.
Regardless, it would be odd (or a poor testament to upcoming US defensive talent) for Ream to earn starter minutes through this next Olympics and World Cup cycle.
Weston McKennie, Schalke 04
Stats: 7 games (5 starts) in Bundesliga, 504 minutes, 6.59 WhoScored
The book on Weston McKennie isn’t complicated. Start him at defensive center-mid and he’ll shine. Start him elsewhere and he’ll disappoint.
He’s performed at bordering on elite-esque levels in his three starts at defensive center-mid for Schalke. When put in a more attacking role, he hasn’t been comfortable.
Given his proclivity at dark defensive arts, it’d be interesting to see Berhalter give McKennie some center-back minutes. Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco tried McKennie there with positive results. However, that level of experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking isn’t Berhalter’s forte.
Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
Stats: 5 games (4 starts) in Turkey’s Super Lig, 267 minutes, 6.14 WhoScored
No way to sugar coat this one: Tyler Boyd hasn’t been that good for Besiktas (i.e. Loris Karius’s club) this season.
He’s contributed nothing offensively. No goals. No assists. Less than one shot per game. Just .2 key passes per game.
Not all of this is entirely his fault. The 24 year-old hasn’t played one match in the same position this season. It’s hard to build continuity and chemistry when you’re constantly shifted around the pitch.
Boyd definably does one thing well: finish. He’ll need help from his teammates getting him the ball in blocks of space where he can rip shots off. Otherwise, he doesn’t add much right now.
Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
Stats: 6 games (4 starts) in Bundesliga, 352 minutes, 1 goal & 1 assist, 6.62 WhoScored
Josh Sargent is 19. He’s (sometimes) starting as a center-forward for a mid-table Bundesliga squad. These things are all positives.
While he’s only scored one domestic goal this season, it was a dazzler.
Berhalter should start Sargent up top both Nations League friendly matches. Sargent is the striker of the future (for now) for the USMNT. Especially if Jozy Altitore is injured, Sargent is the best option.
Of course, Berhalter will start Gyasi Zardes instead.
Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig
We’d be remiss not to mention one of the most promising of the entire bunch, Tyler Adams.
The 20 year-old RB Leipzig stand-out has been injured since May (he won’t be participating in the Nations League). However, it sounds like he’s set for a return at the end of this month.
Adams posted impressive numbers after moving to the Bundesliga last season. He could prove to be the compliment needed to unlock Pulisic, Sargent et al during this cycle.