USMNT announces World Cup roster with a few surprises, and two stunners

The U.S. men's national team will head to the 2022 World Cup with a defender who hasn't played for it in over a year, a striker who's never scored an international goal from open play, and without its No. 1 goalkeeper for most of this World Cup cycle.

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter announced his 26-man roster on Wednesday. It includes Haji Wright, a red-hot forward, but not Jordan Pefok nor Ricardo Pepi. It also includes Fulham captain Tim Ream, a 35-year-old center back who hasn't played for the national team since last September.

The biggest stunner, though, was the absence of Zack Steffen, who has started more than any other goalkeeper since Berhalter took charge in 2018.

Among the other notable inclusions are Luca de la Torre, who has spent the past few weeks sidelined by injury; and Joe Scally and Shaq Moore, two fullbacks who beat Reggie Cannon to a roster spot.

Further up the field, Jordan Morris is in and Paul Arriola is out; and Cristian Roldan made the 26 ahead of Malik Tillman.

With club seasons still ongoing through this weekend, and final squads not due until Monday, the USMNT list is still subject to change. But barring injury, these are likely the 26 players who'll meet Wales in Qatar on Nov. 21.

U.S. World Cup roster for Qatar 2022

Goalkeepers: Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson

Fullbacks: Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin, Joe Scally, Shaq Moore

Center backs: Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Ream

Midfielders: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan

Wingers: Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Jordan Morris

Strikers: Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Haji Wright

Meet the 2022 USMNT

Below are the 26 players, in rough order of prominence and importance, with a bit information on each, and with projected startersitalicized.

Christian PulisicClub: Chelsea (England)Positions: Left wing, right wing, attacking midfield

The kid dubbed "Captain America" has been a trailblazer for Americans in Europe. Now 24, he still might be the best player on this USMNT. But he's no longer a singular star. While his development has plateaued, and his club situation has hindered it, others have arisen to shoulder more of the attacking burden. Pulisic, though, remains a focal point of the U.S. attack.

Weston McKennieClub: Juventus (Italy)Positions: Central midfield

One of the USMNT's moodiest players, McKennie can run a game when he's bombing forward into the final third, winning second balls and duels. He's also an elite aerial threat. But he can be sloppy on the ball, and/or muted by the U.S. system if it becomes too possession-oriented.

Tyler AdamsClub: Leeds United (England)Positions: Defensive midfield

Adams, McKennie and Pulisic have known one another, and played with one another, for roughly a decade, since they starred for U.S. youth national teams. Now they're the core of a World Cup squad — and, in a way, the veterans, despite being just 23-24 years old.

Adams, on his day, is one of the world's best front-foot defensive midfielders. He'll zoom around the field rather than hold in front of the back four, and make life hellish for opponents — as long as the USMNT lets him.

Yunus MusahClub: Valencia (Spain)Positions: Central midfield

Musah, 19, might already be the USMNT's most indispensable player — and definitely has its most inextinguishable smile. He's a fearless and explosive dribbler from any spot in midfield. He single-handedly beats presses and drags the U.S. into the attacking phase.

He also has quite the story. Born in New York to a Ghanaian mother, he spent his childhood in Italy and England, then jumped to Spain at age 16. As he began to break through at Valencia, U.S. coaches began recruiting him. He committed to the USMNT in March of 2021, and pretty quickly carved out a path toward stardom.

Gio ReynaClub: Borussia DortmundPositions: Left wing, right wing, attacking midfield

Reyna, who turns 20 on Nov. 13, is the son of former USMNT captain Claudio and former USWNT midfielder Danielle Egan. Not coincidentally, he's also the most highly touted American in men's soccer. He has had a heartbreaking 14 months of successive injuries, but whenever he returns to the field, his creative qualities immediately reappear.

He might not have a place in the U.S. starting 11 on Nov. 21, but he'll get plenty of opportunities — whether off the bench, or from the start in subsequent games — to make an impact in Qatar.

Brenden AaronsonClub: Leeds United (England)Positions: Attacking midfield, left wing, right wing

The fastest-rising American star jumped from the Philadelphia Union to Red Bull Salzburg to the English Premier League in a span of 18 months. At age 22, he's a phenomenal presser with jittery creativity on the ball. Like Reyna, he might not fit in the USMNT's ideal 11, but he will surely have a role to play.

Tim WeahClub: Lille (France)Positions: Right wing

Weah might be the fourth-best U.S. winger, but he brings a directness and verticality that this team otherwise lacks. He scored and created significant goals during qualifying. After turning pro at PSG, he's now firmly established at Lille. He should start in Qatar on the right wing.

And yes, he's the son of George Weah — the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year, and now the president of Liberia.

Sergiño DestClub: AC Milan (Italy)Positions: Right back, left back

Born (and raised) in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and Surinamese American father, Dest came through Ajax's famed academy, but always played for U.S. youth national teams. He committed to the senior team in 2019, and has been a starting fullback ever since — even though his attacking qualities (and swagger) far outshine his defensive qualities (and solidity, or lack thereof).

Antonee RobinsonClub: Fulham (England)Positions: Left back

Robinson, who's lived in England his entire life, is a classic straight-line fullback. He'll charge up and down the left, sometimes a bit unhinged. If he scores, he might celebrate with a backflip. And don't be confused if you hear him called "Jedi" — it's his self-given nickname, and yes, it stems from his love of "Star Wars."

Walker ZimmermanClub: Nashville (MLS)Positions: Center back

A Taylor Swift-loving, man-bun-sporting rock at the back, Zimmerman, 29, was a fringe member of the squad when World Cup qualifying began last September. But he earned the trust of Berhalter and teammates. He's became the de facto leader within the USMNT players' association, and the most reliable center back in the pool.

Matt TurnerClub: Arenal (England)Positions: Goalkeeper

Turner, the pride of Fairfield University, has been the top American shot-stopper for a while now. His shortcomings with the ball at his feet hindered his rise to undisputed USMNT No. 1, but that's what he's now become — even though he's a (recently injured) backup at Arsenal.

Tim ReamClub: Fulham (England)Positions: Center back, left back

Ream, a Premier League veteran, has been rock-solid captaining Fulham. He earned his recall despite, by all accounts, being a poor system fit with the USMNT.

"Some of the things that we're looking for in our center backs is to play a high line, cover a lot of space behind them, be dominant in the air, dominant on offensive and defensive set pieces," Berhalter said in September. "And that's not Tim's strength."

But his passing and solidity bring skills and a presence to this USMNT that it otherwise lacks. The question, now, is whether he'll ever start alongside Zimmerman, or merely back up Long and Carter-Vickers.

Cameron Carter-VickersClub: Celtic (Scotland)Positions: Center back

The son of an American former NBA player, "CCV" was born and raised in England, and discovered by U.S. Soccer while playing for Tottenham at a youth tournament in Florida. The early stages of his pro career were nomadic, but he has now found a home at Celtic, and as the most athletic center back on this U.S. roster.

Aaron LongClub: New York Red Bulls (MLS)Positions: Center back

Long was an uncontroversial regular under Berhalter before tearing his Achilles in 2021. Now he's a controversial regular. He hasn't been the same player since returning in 2022. But he started all six World Cup tune-ups in June and September.

Jesús FerreiraClub: FC Dallas (MLS)Positions: Striker

Born in Colombia, Ferreira moved to Texas as a child when his dad, David, came to play (and win an MLS MVP) for FC Dallas. After rising through the FCD academy, Ferreira gained citizenship and committed to the USMNT.

He has not scored consistently for the national team — at least not like he has in MLS — but Berhalter loves his pressing, his pace and his ability to drop into midfield and link the beginning stages of an attack (rather than focusing solely on finishing one).

Josh SargentClub: Norwich City (England)Positions: Striker, left wing, right wing

Sargent spent a good chunk of 2021 playing his way off the USMNT. He entered last summer as the starting striker. By the fall, he wasn't even on rosters, and wasn't starting nor scoring for Norwich in the Premier League.

But he's spent the past few months tearing up the English second tier, and playing his way all the way back into contention for a starting spot in Qatar.

Haji WrightClub: Antalyaspor (Turkey)Positions: Striker

Wright, a one-time teen phenom, endured a rocky early-career road and became good over the latter half of last season. He began scoring for Antalyaspor in Turkey, including nine goals in 12 Turkish Süper Lig games this season, and hasn't really stopped since.

Luca de la TorreClub: Celta de Vigo (Spain)Positions: Central midfield

Luca has battled injuries and been buried at European clubs. He has spent significant time out of the national team altogether. But throughout World Cup qualifying, every time Berhalter called upon him, he performed. He's tidy on the ball. He seemed to lock up a roster spot in June — only to have this latest injury pop up at the absolute worst time.

If he's fit, he could be the first central midfielder off the bench. But as of Wednesday, that remains an "if."

Kellyn AcostaClub: LAFC (MLS)Positions: Defensive midfield, central midfield

Acosta is Adams' backup, a well-rounded midfielder, and one of a few holdovers from the failed 2018 World Cup cycle. He was a youngster on the aging team that lost in Couva, Trinidad; now he's a vet.

DeAndre YedlinClub: Inter Miami (MLS)Positions: Right back, right wing back

The only player on the roster with World Cup experience, Yedlin was a fearless youngster back in 2014. Now he's ... in a remarkably similar role. He'll likely only be used as a second-half sub in a game the U.S. is leading.

Joe ScallyClub: Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany)Positions: Right back, left back

Scally jumped from New York City FC to Germany upon turning 18 in late 2020, and soon jumped into Gladbach's starting lineup. He has since played right back, right wing back, right center back, left back and left wing back in the Bundesliga, and could play any of them in a pinch for the USMNT in Qatar.

Shaq MooreClub: Nashville (MLS)Positions: Right back

Moore has been a serviceable backup for the USMNT, and is widely praised for his 1v1 defending — which could come in handy late in a game that the U.S. is leading.

Jordan MorrisClub: Seattle Sounders (MLS)Positions: Right wing, left wing

Morris made his USMNT debut in 2014 while still in college at Stanford. He was a powerful striker then. He's since become an accomplished (and still powerful) MLS winger who offers the national team directness and a penalty box presence off the bench.

Cristian RoldanClub: Seattle Sounders (MLS)Positions: Central midfield, attacking midfield, right wing, left wing

Roldan is a beloved teammate, an awesome "locker-room guy," and Mr. Versatility. He'd play anywhere in midfield if you asked him to, and could even deputize at fullback in an emergency.

Ethan HorvathClub: Luton Town (England)Positions: Goalkeeper

Horvath has quietly been very good in the English second tier. Earlier in his career, he was shaky, but he's now best remembered as the penalty-saving hero of the 2021 Nations League victory over Mexico. He's probably the USMNT's No. 2.

Sean JohnsonClub: New York City FC (MLS)Positions: Goalkeeper

A reliable third keeper, a 2021 MLS champion, and an all-around great guy.