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USMNT Stock Watch: Reyna, McKennie start Champions League strong

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s Note: “Plane to Qatar” is FOX Sports’ weekly feature tracking the progress of players hoping to crack the United States Men’s National Team’s 26-player roster for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Here’s the latest example of how quickly things can change within the USMNT player pool.

Seven days ago, U.S. fans were ruing the fact that Gio Reyna was left out of Borussia Dortmund’s Aug. 27 match as a precaution; the club said Reyna, who missed almost the entirety of the 2021-22 season with hamstring issues, reported discomfort in training.

A week later, the 19-year-old was back on the field. And on Tuesday, he was back, setting up two goals — including this one by Jude Bellingham — in Dortmund’s UEFA Champions League-opening win over FC Copenhagen.

Big things are happening elsewhere, too. Also on Tuesday, Weston McKennie scored for Juventus against Paris-Saint Germain. Sergiño Dest played his first minutes for AC Milan. Cameron Carter-Vickers made his Champions League debut, with fellow center back James Sands expected to follow on Wednesday.

Injures (to Jordan Pefok, Jedi Robinson, Cristian Roldan, Zack Steffen and Tim Weah) must be considered. Oh, and next week U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter will name his roster for the Americans’ final two World Cup tune-ups, in Europe in late September against Japan and Saudi Arabia. There may still be 40-odd names on his whiteboard, but difficult decisions loom.

“Some guys have a body of work that stretches over three and a half years, but you still want to get it right, you still want to be comfortable with the choices you’re making, you want to put in the most possible effort, so the players know that they were evaluated,” Berhalter, scouted five players in person in Europe over the weekend, told FOX Sports and others before he left.

“Our staff was all over. We’ve seen a ton of games live, a ton more on video, just doing the due diligence. We’re excited about the next couple months.”

First class

F/M Brenden Aaronson (Leeds): Deployed as a central attacking midfielder, Aaronson made his sixth consecutive start and went 90 minutes in Leeds’ 5-2 loss at Brentford.

M Tyler Adams (Leeds): The deep-lying destroyer is second in the Premier League in combined tackles and interceptions. He’s been Leeds’ best player though their first six games.

D Sergiño Dest (AC Milan): The former Barcelona man played the final half hour of the Rossoneri’s 1-1 tie at FC Salzburg at right wingback.

F Jesús Ferreira (Dallas): Ferreira scored his 16th goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 victory in Minnesota. He’s now tied with Cincinnati’s Brandon Vázquez (more on Vázquez below) for the most among Americans in MLS. 

M Weston McKennie (Juventus): McKennie went 90 for the first time this season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Fiorentina, then came off the bench to scored at PSG.

M Yunus Musah (Valencia): With Berhalter looking on, Musah delivered possibly the finest performance of his young career so far, setting up two goals in Valencia’s 5-1 rout of Getafe. The first was a gem:

F Christian Pulisic (Chelsea): Three days after making his first start of the Premier League season, Pulisic played the final 15 minutes of Tuesday 1-0 loss to Dynamo Zagreb in the Blues’ Champions League opener.

F/M Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund): Reyna’s performance on Tuesday was a hugely encouraging development for the USMNT. Can he stay healthy?

*D Antonee Robinson (Fulham): Jedi was subbed out of the Cottagers 2-1 loss at Tottenham after rolling his right ankle. He’s still a lock to start at left back if recovered by November.

*F Tim Weah (Lille): The 22-year-old winger remains sidelined by a foot injury. 

D Walker Zimmerman (Nashville): In his 25th start of the season, the rangy center back scored Nashville’s opening goal in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Austin.

Comfort plus

M Kellyn Acosta (LAFC): Acosta’s run of 12 straight MLS starts was snapped Sunday because of yellow card accumulation. 

M Paul Arriola (Dallas): The hard-running winger made his sixth consecutive start for FCD.

D Reggie Cannon (Boavista): Berhalter concluded his busy travel weekend in Portugal, where he saw Cannon go the distance as a right center back in a 1-0 win. 

M Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo): De la Torre made his second La Liga appearance last Friday, playing the final seven minutes of a 3-0 win over Cadiz

G Sean Johnson (New York City): The veteran wasn’t at fault on any goal in a 3-0 loss at New England. 

D Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls): Long was dispossessed in the buildup to Philadelphia’s backbreaking second goal in Saturday’s 2-0 loss.

M Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders): The 27-year-old played all of Seattle’s 2-1 victory in Houston. 

F Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin): USMNT scout Eric Laurie went to Germany to watch the striker against Bayern Munich, but Pefok didn’t dress because of what his club says is a muscle injury.

D Tim Ream (Fulham): England striker Harry Kane got the better of Ream on one first half sequence, but the veteran center back was bailed out by his keeper. Overall, Ream was fine in his sixth consecutive start. Berhalter has noticed. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Tim and what he’s doing,” the coach said when asked about Ream, who turns 35 next month. 

D Chris Richards (Crystal Palace): The center back was an unused sub in each of Palace’s last two matches. “He’s still coming to terms with Premier League soccer,” Berhalter said of Richards. “I think he’s going to end up OK.”

F Josh Sargent (Norwich City): The red-hot striker scored his fifth goal in as many games and added an assist in a 3-0 win over Coventry.

*G Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough): The USMNT’s most experienced keeper has missed Boro’s last three contests with a knee injury.

M Malik Tillman (Rangers): Like the rest of his team, Tillman had a rough outing in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Glasgow rival Celtic. With Berhalter in attendance, he was subbed out at the hour mark. Rangers meets Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday.

G Matt Turner (Arsenal): The Gunners’ backup backstop could see his first action of the season in Thursday’s Europa League trip to FC Zurich

D DeAndre Yedlin (Miami): Idle last weekend, the 2014 World Cup vet will look to make his 28th start of the season when Miami travels to Chicago on Sept. 10.

Standby list

F Jozy Altidore (Puebla): The 32-year-old scored his second goal since joining the Liga MX side: 

D George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld): Bello played just 10 minutes off the bench in the second-tier German team’s last two games. 

M Gianluca Busio (Venezia): Like Bello, Busio is fading: he wasn’t in the Serie B side’s squad the last two weekends.

D Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic): Carter-Vickers got a harsh introduction to the world’s top club competition; his missed tackle in midfield led to Real Madrid’s second goal in a 3-0 loss. 

G Ethan Horvath (Luton Town): Although he’s played every minute in the English second tier, it will probably take an injury to Johnson, Steffen or Turner for the 27-year-old to make the squad. 

D Mark McKenzie (Genk): After sitting out Genk’s first three matches, McKenzie has played the last four, helping the Belgian side to a 3W-0L-1T record during that span. 

M Djordje Mihailovic (Montreal): While he scored in Sunday’s win over Toronto FC, the playmaker remains a longshot for the final roster.

D Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes): Troyes has turned their season around in recent weeks, but Palmer-Brown still feels unlikely to make Berhalter’s 26. 

D Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg): Paredes, 19, played left midfield for the final half hour of Saturday’s 4-2 Bundesliga loss to Cologne.

D Shaquell Moore (Nashville): Against Austin, the right back collected his third assist in four games.

F Ricardo Pepi (Groningen): Pepi joined the Dutch club on loan from Bundesliga Augsburg just before the summer transfer window closed. Will the move help the striker find his scoring touch?

“Hopefully he’s going to get into gear also and then make it challenging,” Berhalter said of the 19-year-old Pepi, who could make his Eredivisie debut Sunday against Cambuur.

*M Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders): Recovering from groin surgery, the 27-year-old will miss this month’s USMNT camp.

D/M James Sands (Rangers): The center back struggled with the breakneck pace of the Old Firm derby. He’ll have a chance to redeem himself in a more technical match at Ajax.

D Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach): Laurie watched Scally log 82 minutes in ‘Gladbach’s 2-1 defeat to Mainz, their first loss of 2022-23.

F Brandon Vázquez (Cincinnati): Vázquez was held scoreless for just the third time in his last eight matches in FCC’s 2-0 win over Charlotte. Berhalter admitted that as an uncapped candidate, the target man has an uphill battle to make the World Cup roster.

“If you have four guys who have been in [camp] and are scoring, and he’s the fifth who hasn’t been in and is scoring, it makes it more difficult,” he said. “It doesn’t make it impossible, though.” 

D Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp): It could say something about Vines’ standing that USMNT coaches scouted two other fullbacks (Cannon, Scally) over the weekend instead. 

F Haji Wright (Antalyaspor): On Sunday, for just the second time this season, the 24-year-old didn’t score. He’s still second in goals in the Turkish Süper Lig.

M Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers): The two-way central midfielder was suspended (yellow card accumulation) for Sunday’s 2-1 win in Atlanta.

Added: Mark McKenzie

Dropped: Matthew Hoppe, Gyasi Zardes

*Injured

^Bumped up

⌄Bumped down 


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