The 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off in 100 days as pressure intensifies for Americans training to make the USMNT starting 11.
Ecuador will take on Qatar to kick off the quadrennial international competition on November 20, with the Stars and Stripes facing off against Gareth Wales the following day.
The US men have more players producing at top levels than ever before. With so much talent to speculate over, USMNT legend and soccer pundit Alexi Lalas got to speculating.
Since Lalas has a pretty good sense for these things, let’s break down his starting XI, player-by-player.
GK – Matt Turner
Current Team: Arsenal
International Appearances: 18
Scouting Report: Though he has less international experience than Manchester City loanee Zack Steffen, he is in much better form this year. Hopefully, he can get some meaningful minutes in the Premier League with the Gunners before November because he will be seeing a lot of those strikers again in Qatar.
LB – Antonee Robinson
Current Team: Fulham
International Appearances: 29
Scouting Report: Robinson has (pretty much) locked down the LB position for club and country this year. A threat for scoring headers off set pieces, Jedi Robinson has two international goals and two goals for the recently-promoted Fulham. Robinson started and played well against Liverpool last week. That’s excellent because many Premier League players will be at the World Cup, specifically in Group B with England.
CB – Walker Zimmerman
Current Team: Nashville SC
International Appearances: 31
Scouting Report: Like Robinson, Zimmerman is another physical defender who can be an aerial threat on corners. Zimmerman is Nashville SC’s designated player and scored the club’s first-ever goal. Though he has a lot of international experience, teams may try and expose him as a weak spot. The Georgia boy will look to prove his doubters wrong.
CB – Aaron Long
Current Team: New York Red Bulls
International Appearances: 27
Scouting Report: Another physical defender who can score off set pieces, Long is an experienced MLS star with a long history of playing with midfielder Tyler Adams. Much like Zimmerman, Long’s lack of professional experience outside of the MLS may make him a target for teams with strong attacks. It will be interesting to see how he handles it.
RB – Sergino Dest
Current Team: Barcelona
International Appearances: 17
Scouting Report: Though Dest hasn’t seen much playing time since Xavi took over Barcelona, he still practices with and against some of the best players in the world on a daily basis. He is a clean passer, strong dribbler, has an excellent first touch, and can be dangerous on the wing. Should he stay healthy, Dest will have the RB spot locked down for years to come.
MF – Weston McKennie
Current Team: Juventus
International Appearances: 35
Scouting Report: McKennie is a creative, confident, stylish, and explosive midfielder, currently recovering from a shoulder injury. He has been huge for Juventus over the last two seasons, even though they aren’t doing that well when compared to their own history. McKennie is tricky in the open field and a heading threat on set pieces. He has nine international goals and will likely net a few more before he leaves Qatar.
MF – Tyler Adams
Current Team: Leeds United States of America
International Appearances: 30
Scouting Report: Adams like to settle into a central midfield role, distributing passes and playing with a slightly more defensive mindset. He’s a workhorse and will likely get lots of minutes against England’s starters via the Premier League under American coach Jesse Marsch before November.
MF – Yunus Musah
Current Team: Valencia
International Appearances: 19
Scouting Report: With as many years alive as he has caps, Musah is a beyond exciting prospect for USMNT fans. Musah gets regular minutes with La Liga’s Valencia (who are also reportedly trying to add USMNT member Timothy Weah from Lille). Though only a teenager, he arguably has more experience than anyone with England because he played for their youth international team for four years.
LW – Christian Pulisic
Current Team: Chelsea
International Appearances: 51
Scouting Report: Fittingly, Captain America has more caps than anyone else on this potential starting XI. Unfortunately for Cap, his Premier League minutes have been dwindling at Chelsea as of late. Hopefully, something changes for Pulisic before November because he needs as many Thomas Tuchel Touches (TM) as possible to prepare.
RW – Brenden Aaronson
Current Team: America’s Team
International Appearances: 22
Scouting Report: America’s new favorite striker has exploded onto the international scene as of late, with six goals in 22 appearances since 2020. Aaronson will get plenty of practice against Premier League talent under Marsch and alongside Adams at Leeds United. If he and Adams can stay healthy, they should be in top form heading into Thanksgiving time.
ST – Jesus Ferreira
Current Team: FC Dallas
International Appearances: 13
Scouting Report: Perhaps the most controversial choice on Lalas’ roster (strikers like Sargent and Pepi could wait in the wings), the FC Dallas goal scorer might just do the trick. Ferreira has scored seven international goals since 2020, and is on something of a hot streak, especially when compared to Ricardo Pepi this year.
What do you think of Alexi Lalas’ potential starting 11? Are we giving the MLS players enough credit? Let us know what you think below!
Featured Image: Pexels/anna/USSoccerFederation/DM