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Who should be on the December USMNT roster?

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Three weeks ago, USSF announced the USMNT will hold a training camp in December, outside of FIFA international windows, running from December 5th until a friendly game with Bosnia on December 18th.

This is not replacing the annual January Camp. There will still be a January Camp of mostly MLS players that will join up to train, with players from European clubs joining later as the international window opens for a crucial World Cup qualifying window.

These December and January Camps will be important to keep players like Ricardo Pepi in form. MLS teams that missed the playoffs played their final game of the season on November 7th, and won’t play again until February 26th.

How you approach building this roster is largely determined by two things. The first is how you approach national team call ups in general. Do you think it’s important to keep the same group together to build consistency, understanding of tactics, and team unity? Gregg Berhalter probably agrees with you. Or do you think it’s important to rotate players in and out of camps based on how they perform, maximize competition for spots, and evaluate new players every chance possible?

The second question is how you feel about perennial Berhalter MLS call ups like Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget, Paul Arriola, Cristian Roldan, and Gyasi Zardes. Are they important players to the team, leaders who have proved their worth, who understand Gregg’s tactics, have experience at the international level, and need to be kept fresh during their club offseason so they can play a key role in the January World Cup qualifying window? Or are they average players who have already been given more opportunities than they earned, failed to play at a high enough level for the USMNT in important games, and are already in the process of being surpassed by numerous young players springing up all over the world? That will go a long way to determining how you want to shape and build this camp.

Testing out a different shape

One big problem for the USMNT right now is that there’s no strong like-for-like replacement for Tyler Adams as a destroying 6. So far, Gregg Berhalter has stayed completely committed to his single-6, dual-8 midfield shape, regardless of which players suit up. With a lack of single 6s in the pool, a plethora of 8s who can defend well in a double-pivot, and a growing number of creative number 10-style players (Reyna, Aaronson, Ferreira, Mihailovic, Ledezma, Méndez, Clark), it’s time for the USMNT to try some semblance of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Hopefully this December camp does some experimentation with that.

Let’s break down our options at each position:

Goalkeeper

Matt Turner is in close competition with Zack Steffen for the overall #1 keeper spot, and is a lock for this camp unless playoffs make him unavailable. Johnson has been Berhalter’s #3 in the past couple camps, displacing Nations League hero Ethan Horvath. Gaga Slonina burst onto the MLS scene this fall, winning the Chicago Fire starting job and keeping 4 clean sheets in 11 games, enough to raise eyebrows in Poland. Chituru Odunze has been in full USMNT camp before, and LAFC’s Romero is being courted by El Salvador.

Author’s picks: Turner, Frei, Slonina (Hamid, Melia, and Odunze options if playoffs interfere).

Center back

Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman have been core players in qualifying, with James Sands a fringe option, who might be a more likely option in midfield. Aaron Long’s injury status is a question mark. Justin Che played well with the U-20s at the Revelations Cup, and could play both wide and central. Jonathan Tomkinson captains Norwich City’s under-23s, and Nico Carrera made the Holstein Kiel matchday squad for the first time this past weekend. With players like Carrera, it would be great to see them in camp, but potentially better to leave them with their club team to continue to fully break in.

Author’s picks: Miles, Zimmerman, Kessler, Tomkinson, Che (CB/RB)

Right back

Bryan Reynolds is in a bad situation at Roma, and needs to get away. He’s likely to be loaned or sold in January, and has a better skillset to offer the USMNT than any other RB who will be available outside a FIFA window. Roma is likely willing to release him, since he doesn’t appear to be in José Mourinho’s plans at all currently. Duncan and Herrera have had good years in MLS, with Duncan rumored to move to Oostende this winter. If Duncan needs a break between the full MLS season and starting in Belgium in January, bring Herrera in his spot or go with Reynolds and Che as the two RBs.

Author’s picks: Reynolds, Duncan, Che (CB/RB)

Left back

Left back is an important position to test, as Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, and out-of-position Dest are the only strong options right now. George Bello has been unconvincing in qualifying so far. The door is by no means closed for him, but there’s plenty of time for him to re-enter the national team later. Jonathan Gómez is available following LouCity’s dramatic 3-2 playoff loss to Tampa Bay. JoGo’s plan is to take a couple weeks off before traveling to Sociedad, but he can’t register there until January, so he might be able to squeeze in a couple weeks with the MNT, if only to train. Kevin Paredes would be another exciting option, but his status is in doubt due to injury. John Tolkin and DeJuan Jones have impressed in MLS this year, although Jones may be in playoff action.

Author’s picks: Gómez (to train), Paredes (if available), Tolkin (Jones if others can’t come)

Defensive midfield

The 6 is the most important area to test new players, with Acosta the only destroyer given chances to backup Adams so far. James Sands should be in camp, as well as Leon Flach. Johnny Cardoso’s last club game of the season is Dec 9, four days after camp begins. He could join camp late, or perhaps Internacional would let him miss that final game depending on the availability of their other midfielders. Similarly, Christian Cappis is a rotational player for Brøndby, but not so crucial that they couldn’t release him prior to their final cup match.

Author’s picks: Sands, Flach, Cappis (CM/DM, joining late), Johnny (joining late)

Center midfield

Eryk Williamson would be a great option here, but is likely still out injured. Cole Bassett has had a strong MLS season, and Taylor Booth could be released by Bayern, as he’s playing with their reserves in the fourth tier. Booth showed his quality on loan in Austria in the spring, and with Bayern’s first team over the summer, but was unfortunate not to get a loan move this fall. He’s capable of playing as a 10 or as an 8 in a double-pivot. Alan Soñora has been excelling in Argentina, and needs to get a look in camp. He’s dealing with a minor injury, but could still arrive in camp several days ahead of the Bosnia friendly. If not this window, he’s also an option in January.

Author’s picks: Bassett, Booth, Soñora (joining late)

Attacking midfield

Djordje Mihailovic has had a career year, and should be in camp unless he’s in training with Bologna (timing unclear). Jesús Ferreira played well off the bench vs Mexico and should be back in camp after a fantastic MLS season, and Caden Clark should be as well, unless he needs a break prior to his January move to RB Leipzig.

Author’s picks: Ferreira (AM/ST), Mihailovic, Clark

Winger

Emmanuel Sabbi should be in camp, though timing will depend on his club. They may want him for their two cup games, as he has 2 goals and an assist in their 3 cup matches this season. Paxten Aaronson showed just how dangerous he can be with the U-20s in the Revelations Cup, as did Brian Gutiérrez. Jordan Morris and Paxton Pomykal have both seen their seasons severely impacted by injury, but both have quality, even when less than 100%. Alex Zendejas would be an intriguing callup, but has shown no interest in leaving Mexico. Dante Sealy would be fun to see, but seems best to leave him with PSV to continue his upward trajectory there.

Author’s picks: Morris, Pomykal, Paxten Aaronson, Gutiérrez, Sabbi (joining late)

Striker

Striker is one of the easiest choices to make, with Pepi and Dike top options in MLS, and Ferreira able to flit between striker and midfield. It would be interesting to get a look at Balogun or Tillman this window, as both appear to be outside their respective first teams, but they seem committed to England and Germany, respectively – at least for now.

Author’s picks: Pepi, Dike, Ferreira (AM/ST)

Here’s a look at these picks compared to a projection of who Berhalter will select:

What approach would you take in building this roster? Who would you call up? Hit the comments and discuss.





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A Fishel announcement – Sounder At Heart

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Seattle/Tacoma

“We have a lot of good players on our team, but we think he takes us to the next level.” “We’re really excited”: Albert Rusnák signing bolsters strong Sounders side heading into 2022 season | Seattle Sounders

We’re so lucky to have Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe together and in Seattle. Nancy Lieberman says Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe are ‘living the dream’

There are so, so many players on the roster right now. OL Reign Signs Veronica Latsko Through 2023 Season — OL REIGN: WE ARE THE BOLD

While FOX or ESPN grab the headlines, WarnerMedia is among the candidates for the next round of MLS rights, and it seems like a good fit. WarnerMedia, Turner a quiet candidate for next MLS rights

Jake Morris spent time in the Sounders Academy, but he’s going pro in Columbus alongside his younger brother Aidan. Columbus Crew signs defender Jake Morris from Seattle Sounders’ Academy – Massive Report

Part of the trouble with developing and selling academy players without accomplishing anything else is that even when you want to spend money on what would be a good signing from outside the organization, it’s hard to convince them it’s a good move for them. From the MLS they come for Alan Velasco, jewel of Independiente: Is he leaving? – T&C Sports

Mo Farsi is one of the top talents in the Canadian Premier League, and now he’s joining Crew 2 for a new experience and opportunity. Mo Farsi departs Cavalry FC, scores spot with MLS’ Columbus Crew 2 | Calgary Sun

The one-time Sounders draft pick is back in the league, only older and more experienced this time. Inter Miami CF sign Jamaica international defender Damion Lowe | MLSSoccer.com

Two more high-profile MLS players could be joining Eduard Atuesta in Brazil, much to the delight of their current clubs. Reports: Brian Rodriguez, Ezequiel Barco linked to Brazilian Serie A loans | MLSSoccer.com

Liga MX Femenil is an incredible league to watch from afar, and Christina Burkenroad’s experience from inside completely measures up. Christina Burkenroad is living her best life in Mexico — on and off the field – Equalizer Soccer

The Mia Fishel Tigres move was made o-Fishel on Friday, with the former UCLA Bruin choosing Liga MX Femenil over the NWSL’s Orlando Pride. Why Mia Fishel Tigres Signing Makes Sense

San Diego have gotten a quality attacker while making use of the freedom to pay transfer fees granted by the league to new expansion sides. San Diego Wave FC Acquires Rights to Swedish International Sofia Jakobsson Via Transfer With Bayern Munich – San Diego Wave Fútbol Club

Blackstenius could be a replacement or a runningmate for Viv Miedema, only time will tell. Arsenal Women announce signing of Sweden striker Stina Blackstenius – The Short Fuse

At the season’s midpoint Liverpool are at the top of the table and looking like a decent bet to go up. Liverpool FC Women’s First Half Season Recap, Stats, And Top Player – The Liverpool Offside

It’s probably not unreasonable to say that the top-tier men’s and women’s leagues in the US wouldn’t be where they are without the atmosphere provided by Portland’s fans. Now their ownership is doing their best to alienate those very fans. Can Portland Timbers, Portland Thorns repair bonds with fans after scandals and distrust?

Jayson Castillo (Seattle Sounders FC; Prescott, Wash.) and Stuart Hawkins (Seattle Sounders FC; Fox Island, Wash.) there from the Greater Puget Sound. U.S. U-17 MYNT Begins 2022 With 26-player Training Camp In Bradenton, Fla.

It wasn’t that long ago that Jack Harrison was an MLS player who’d just come through college and the draft, now he’s scoring hat tricks and lifting his side to victory. West Ham United vs. Leeds United – Football Match Report – January 16, 2022 – ESPN

Equatorial Guinea’s win over Algeria is just further proof that the AFCON is a tournament where literally anything can happen. Esteban strikes as Equatorial Guinea shock reigning champions Algeria | Africa Cup of Nations | The Guardian

Everton were in need of a fresh start when they brought in Rafa Benitez and are only in even greater need of one now. Removal of Benítez will not solve all of Everton’s deep-lying problems | Rafael Benítez | The Guardian

Headed goals from little guys are the real beautiful game. Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Comfortable Win Over Brentford – The Liverpool Offside

8:00 AM – Burkina Faso vs. Ethiopia (AFCON) – Fanatiz USA, BeIN Sports

8:00 AM – Cape Verde vs. Cameroon (AFCON) – Fanatiz USA, BeIN Sports

9:30 AM – Bologna vs. Napoli (Serie A) – Paramount+

11:45 AM – Fiorentina vs. Genoa (Serie A) – Paramount+

4:00 PM – Boca Juniors vs. Colo-Colo (Torneos de Verano) – Paramount+

5:00 PM – Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara (Liga MX Femenil) – TUDN USA



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Former Chelsea striker Alexandre Pato re-signs with MLS side Orlando City for the 2022 season

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Ex-Chelsea striker Alexandre Pato re-signs with MLS side Orlando City following injury-hit 2021 and says ‘a new year, a new goal!’ as he bids to get his once-promising career back on track

  • Alexandre Pato has rejoined MLS Orlando City for the 2022 MLS season
  • The 32-year-old picked up a knee injury in the 2021 season opener for Orlando
  • He would miss the majority of the season but is hoping to feature more this year
  • Pato was loaned to Chelsea in 2013 but played just twice during that time 
  • He did however score on his debut having scored the penalty that he won 











Former Chelsea striker Alexandre Pato has re-signed with Orlando City on a one-year deal.

The 32-year-old joined the MLS side in 2021 but he picked up a knee injury in the 80th minute of the team’s first game.

The injury required surgery and as a result, he missed 28 games.

Alexandre Pato has re-signed with MLS side Orlando City ahead of the 2022 season

The Brazilian would go on to make five appearances for the Lions, including in the Club’s Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs match against Nashville SC.

Pato took to Twitter on Saturday to announce he was staying with Orlando for another season as he looks to get his career back on track.  

‘A new year, a new goal!’ he tweeted.

‘After a year of much learning and overcoming. We will go again together!’

Orlando is the ninth club Pato has played for in his professional career which includes a loan spell at Chelsea.

Pato joined Chelsea in January 2016 but did not make his debut until April. Brought on as a substitute against Aston Villa, he won a penalty and converted, scoring his only goal for the club.

He would go on to make just one more appearance for the London club before returning to his parent side Corinthians.  

Pato was loaned to Chelsea in 2013 but made just two appearances for the London club

Pato was loaned to Chelsea in 2013 but made just two appearances for the London club

Pato’s career started with him being heralded as a star of the future but consistent injuries has seen his stock in the game fall.

He began his career at Internacional before switching to Milan.

Pato scored 51 goals in 117 games but returned to Brazil in 2013. 

The 32-year-old has won five club trophies in his career including the FIFA Club World Cup, two Recopa Sudamericanas and the Italian Scudetto.

The promising forward will be hoping to reignite a career with has been plagued by injury

The promising forward will be hoping to reignite a career with has been plagued by injury

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Arriola to go? Flores hurt? and more: Freedom Kicks for 1/17/22

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Well, D.C. United opens up preseason under interesting circumstances, so let’s take a peek, shall we?

Rumors about a Paul Arriola transfer to Club América continue to swirl (us): At last check, Paul, who signed a contract 18 months ago through the end of 2023, wants to go to Liga MX on a loan with an option to buy, which seems to be something he may be forcing, otherwise this wouldn’t be a loan? More to come on this, obviously.

But that’s not all on D.C.’s current Designated Players. In Peru’s friendly with Panama, Edison Flores was forced to leave in the 68th minute to a right knee injury:

He’ll be undergoing an MRI today.

D.C. United hopes to open training camp in better shape (WaPo): It’ll be one year tomorrow when D.C. made Hernan Losada’s hiring official, and he gets an offseason to prepare for this preseason, which he appears to have done.

Loudoun United retain Houssou, Downs for 2022 (us): I found Ryan Martin’s wording in the release of this interesting as if they might not expect to see Jeremy Garay a lot this year. Or I may be overanalyzing it, I dunno.

In AFCON results yesterday, former D.C. player Alhaji Kamara (who plays with Randers in Denmark these days) was Johnny on the spot for Sierra Leone against Ivory Coast:

Continuing with the former D.C. players theme, Felipe may have found a new home:

The MLS eSports League suffered some controversy with D.C.’s player suffering racial abuse after his semifinal game:

The League’s response Sunday night:

John Wilson on the Spontaneity of Filming ‘How To’ and Why New York Is the Perfect City for the Docuseries (Variety): I’ve been a fan of the HBO show since its premiere last year and found the journey through each episode a joy. This season saw it include bestselling author Susan Orlean(!) to its writing staff, but Season 2 highlights included peaks at NXIVM, energy drinks, college a capella singing, and wrapped up with a man’s quest to travel to the beach.

Anyway, let’s see how this week plays out!





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