Gregg Berhalter, manager of the US men’s national soccer team, will soon confirm his 26-man roster for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 9, 2022. The US Soccer Federation has set the date, with the squad to be revealed as part of an event in the heart of New York City. There is palpable excitement about the USA’s return to the top table of world soccer. They’ve been put in a group with England, Wales, and Iran, which gives them a fighting chance of reaching the knockout stages. The US is priced as narrow third favorites to win Group B, with odds of 7/1 on Unibet, whose live sports betting platform and bonus structure has evolved into one of the best in the industry and recently launched in the US market.
England is a heavy favorite to finish top of Group B, but the latest odds suggest that it will be a close run between Wales and the US. Iran is 20/1 long-shots and looks likely to get the wooden spoon.
However, for Berhalter’s US team to stand a realistic chance of making their mark on the 2022 World Cup, several issues need to be ironed out in the roster.
The squares that Berhalter needs to circle in the coming weeks
Firstly, the scheduling of the competition itself means that Berhalter will need to wait to see if his Europe-based players come through the final weekend of domestic matches unscathed before announcing his roster. As for US-based players, the MLS season finishes in plenty of time, with the MLS Cup set for November 5.
Defining his number-one goalkeeper will be a major priority for Berhalter. Current prospects Zack Steffen and Matt Turner look unlikely to receive the necessary first-team football to ready them for Qatar. The former may be best placed to perform, although both may be given a chance in upcoming warm-up fixtures.
The midfield virtually picks itself, with the likes of Pulisic Adams and McKinnie providing plenty of legs in the center of the field. However, defensively a lack of experience at the center half is worrying. Walker Zimmerman is yet to play beyond the MLS, so is very much untested at the top level. Cameron Carter-Vickers, who has plied his trade in the English and Scottish Premier League, may be asked to step into the breach.
At the other end of the field, Berhalter also lacks a talisman striker to call upon. Josh Sargent may be catching Berhalter’s eye with a handful of EFL Championship goals for Norwich, but he looked out of his depth in the Premier League last season. Daryl Dike, who also moved to play in the EFL Championship with Barnsley and now West Brom, is also very raw. Jesus Ferreira may have the best attributes to move opposing defenses but, like Zimmerman, he too has only been exposed to the MLS.
With more questions than answers, it seems Berhalter has plenty of work on his hands to mold a cohesive unit in the next couple of months. Winning their Group B opener with Wales on November 21 is undoubtedly the key to unleashing their knockout stage potential.