The latest United States men’s national team roster was missing some European-based players and that certainly raised several questions.
You have the option of a European-based player and an MLSer. Who do you pick? Most would go with the European-based player, obviously.
Well, the United States Men’s National Team have chosen to bypass six particular European-based players to go with MLSers instead ahead of their critical games versus Canada and Cuba in the CONCACAF Nations League.
In some cases, it is actually better to go with an MLSer instead. For instance, the MLSer makes sense if you have to pick between an experienced, in-form MLS player and a youngster who’s barely getting playing time in Europe.
But for the six players below, they’re playing in Europe. Let’s take a look at those U.S. internationals’ cases and see if there’s a plausible explanation of them not making the cut for their country’s upcoming fixtures.
It was Duane Holmes’s birthday a day before the U.S. was scheduled to release their full roster.
Happy Birthday. I hope the #USMNT gives you a nice present this week
— CAS (@togaman) November 6, 2019
Sadly, the American didn’t get a call from his country as a gift.
Holmes is a 24-year-old midfielder who plays in England’s second division with Derby County. He played in 10 of Derby’s 15 domestic games so far this season, including seven starts.
Holmes is a versatile midfielder who can play right, center or attacking midfield.
The 24-year-old only ever played two games with the national team in June. He did pick up an injury in the summer, which kept him out of the Gold Cup. But he’s fully healthy now and is playing.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter picked two other European based midfielders over Holmes. Both of them are playing in the top division in Germany, Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales. That’s understandable.
But Berhalter also favored three MLSers over Holmes, Sebastian Lletglet, Wil Trapp and Jackson Yueill. None of these players had over-spectacular seasons and made the MLS Best XI, so the fact that Holmes didn’t get a call-up is quite puzzling—unless something happened on the inside.
Matthew ‘Matt’ Miazga is a Chelsea F.C. loanee who’s playing for Reading F.C. in England’s second division as a center back.
The only time he didn’t start for Reading this season in the league was when he was nursing a hamstring injury. Miazga scored his first goal for Reading on Oct. 19. The New Jersey native’s goal was a 1-0 winner over Preston North End.
Miazga started the Gold Cup final and the semi-final for U.S.A.; therefore, it is strange not to see him on the roster.
But after looking at the players picked over him, it does make a little more sense. The Yanks’ MLS center backs are Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman. Long won the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year and had interest from European teams this season, while Zimmerman made the MLS Best XI.
Nevertheless, even after looking at those two MLSers’ resume, it’s still a headscratcher to say that the U.S. has a center back, who’s playing in the world’s most competitive second division and can’t make the roster over MLS players.
Perhaps, Berhalter wasn’t impressed by how Miazga performed in the team’s last game, a 2-0 loss to Canada. Wait, Miazga didn’t play in this match; the two center backs were Tim Ream and Aaron Long.
The last time the 24-year-old played for USMNT was in a 7-0 win versus Cuba on Oct. 11.
Antonee Robinson is a 22-year-old left-back who’s played a full 90 in 14 of 15 of Wigan Athletic’s game so far in England’s second tier. Why didn’t he get called up? He did get called up, but on the under-23 squad.
The U.S. does have a huge under-23 competition coming up this summer, the Olympics; perhaps they want some of their best talents to help out in that tournament.
But the senior team is obviously the priority. Do they have talented left-backs on their first team before two crucial Nations League games?
Tim Ream has played in every single second of Fulham F.C.’s season so far in England but he’s not a fullback. He’s a center back. Berhalter has used him at left-back but Ream gets uncomfortable, at times, on the left side of the defense and loses the ball.
Ajax youngster Serginho Dest’s main position is right back. He can also play on the left. But would it really be wise to use one of your most promising young players in his second position?
The MLS left-backs on the senior roster are Chase Gasper and Daniel Lovitz. Gasper hasn’t dressed for the senior team yet and Lovitz plays for Montreal Impact, a club that didn’t make the playoffs.
Is it the best choice to send the guy who played left-back the most at the highest level to the under-23 team, especially when the U-23 side already has a talented left-back who started 23 MLS matches this season, Sam Vines?
Another player who’s playing in Europe but is on the under-23 squad is Cameron Carter-Vickers. He’s playing for Stoke City F.C. on loan from Tottenham Hotspur F.C. As his international teammates, Robinson and Miazga, Carter-Vickers is a starter.
But it does sound more probable to put him on the U-23 team than in Robinson’s case. U.S.A. has two other center-backs who are playing in Europe, John Brooks and Ream. Plus, MLS-based center defender Long is talented enough to get offers from Europe.
If Carter-Vickers were on the senior team his playing time wouldn’t have been a guarantee, which would slow down his development.
Chris Richards is a 19-year-old F.C. Bayern Munich II defender. The U.S. chose to put him on the under-23 side, which is plausible.
Bayern’s second team plays in Germany’s third division and as mentioned the U.S. have European based defenders on their senior team already.
Nineteen-year-old Richard Ledezma is playing in Netherlands’ second division as a playmaker for PSV Eindhoven U-21. He tallied two goals and one assist in 12 appearances.
Ledezma is with the U.S. U-23 squad and it makes sense. He’s playing in Europe but in a development league with an average age of 22.8.