Gregg Berhalter is back as head coach of the United States men’s national team and selected his 24-man roster for two September friendlies.
While the competition (Uzbekistan and Oman) won’t get fans all that excited, the 24 players that Berhalter selected will please most critics. In his return to the national team Berhalter pleasantly surprised USMNT supporters with a decent roster.
Latest USMNT roster for September friendlies
!!!!Gregg Berhalter selects 24-player roster ahead of September friendlies » https://t.co/9C2PXqEe17#USMNT x @BioSteelSports pic.twitter.com/c4BqYXbN4F
— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) August 30, 2023
Put it in your planner. pic.twitter.com/5MngLPa9GM— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) August 30, 2023
Let’s get into some takeaways.
1. No Gio Reyna and that’s OK (kind of)
Perhaps the biggest gripe from USMNT fans about the roster was Gio Reyna’s name not being among the 24 names on the list. This is actually not as big of an issue as some think.
Reyna has just recently returned to training with Borussia Dortmund after suffering a nasty calf injury vs. Canada in June’s Concacaf Nations League final. There’s no chance he would be ready to jump right into a game. Even if Berhalter did call him up, what would be the point of risking Reyna’s club season for a random friendly?
One big issue does remain. Berhalter and Reyna haven’t spoken to each other since the World Cup.
A great report from Vanity Fair’s Tom Kludt says that the relationship between the two is still quite raw after Reyna’s parents blackmailed Berhalter about an incident with his wife decades ago over their son not starting in Qatar.
Berhalter is consulting experts to try to handle the broken relationship.
“It’s not something where you just pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey bud, here’s how it’s going to be,’” Berhalter said to Vanity Fair. “There is work to be done.”
2. Lionel Messi is getting his teammates national team call ups
Two Inter Miami players, Drake Callender and Benjamin Cremaschi, have been called up for the September friendlies. Callender has been great and arguably got his call up on his own accord.
Cremaschi on the other hand has made the most out of having Messi as a teammate. The two linked up beautifully for their recent goal against the New York Red Bulls.
Messi --> Cremaschi --> MESSIOUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. pic.twitter.com/NzBKniNExm
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 27, 2023
Rewind four months ago and no one is thinking about calling up Cremaschi. The 18-year-old has burst onto the scene with Miami’s new arrivals and could be rewarded with his national team debut.
3. Berhalter calling up Ricardo Pepi is a good sign
One relationship that seems on the mend is between Berhalter and Ricardo Pepi. The now PSV forward was arguably one of the biggest snubs from the 2022 World Cup roster.
Pepi was very disappointed to not receive a call-up for the World Cup but kept at it and landed a big move to Dutch giants PSV. It’s likely he’ll play second fiddle to Folarin Balogun but having him on September’s 24-man list is reassuring.
Bonus takeaway: We have another dual national
One of the best things Berhalter has done for the national team is his ability to convince players to play for the U.S. over other countries. This 24-man roster alone includes Pepi, Balogun, Yunus Musah, Sergiño Dest, Malik Tillman, Johnny Cardoso, Antonee Robinson and Timothy Weah.
Dual nationals have played a big role in the USMNT’s success, and it looks like Berhalter has another one on his radar with Kristoffer Lund. The 21-year-old left back plays for Serie B side Palermo.
Born in Denmark to a Danish father and American mother, Lund is eligible to play for the USMNT. He’s only ever played on Danish youth national teams from U17 through U21. This move from Berhalter could be to reinforce the left back position which has been dominated by Jedi Robinson.
If Lund plays in September, it won’t tie him to the USMNT as the games aren’t an official competition.