Injured Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna left off U.S. men’s World Cup qualifying roster
Forwards Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna were left off the 27-man U.S. roster for October’s three CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, but midfielder Weston McKennie made the cut after missing the last two games to suspension.
The U.S., unbeaten at 1-0-2 three games into the 14-game tournament, will play winless Jamaica on Oct. 7 in Austin, Texas., before traveling to Central America to face unbeaten Panama on Oct. 10. The U.S. will close the second round of qualifiers in Columbus, Ohio, against once-beaten Costa Rica on Oct. 13.
Pulisic and Reyna were both injured in this month’s qualifiers, Pulisic twisting an ankle in Honduras and Reyna tweaking a hamstring in El Salvador. Coach Gregg Berhalter said it’s possible, if unlikely, they could join the team for the Costa Rica match.
“I wouldn’t rule them completely out,” Berhalter said. “I’d describe the situation as day to day.
“With players like that, you want to leave the door open as long as possible.”
In the meantime, former Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes and D.C. United’s Paul Arriola have taken their place on the roster, which was announced Wednesday. The team includes 10 players off MLS rosters and 17 from Europe. Eighteen of the players called up were on the team for the three September games while nine have never played in a World Cup qualifier.
As for McKennie, he returns after being suspended for multiple violations of the team’s COVID-19 protocols earlier this month.
“Like any player, you talk through it and the player takes responsibility,” Berhalter said. “But there’s a certain amount of trust that Weston needs to rebuild with the group. And he’s willing to do that. That’s the important thing.”
The top three teams in the eight-team competition, which ends next spring, will qualify automatically for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The U.S. enters the second qualifying window tied with Canada and Panama for second place, two points behind Mexico.
With three matches in seven days, roster depth will be tested in the October window, one reason Berhalter called up 27 players, four more than the game-day limit for selection. Another reason is the three U.K.-based players on the roster — Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Fulham defenders Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream — will miss the middle game because Panama is one of 54 countries on Britain’s red list for travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
Taking part in that game would impact the players’ abilities to return to their club teams.
Redondo Beach’s Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott are determined to grow the Refugees United Soccer Academy, which teaches soccer and life skills to displaced Darfuri people and other refugees.
In addition to Zardes and Arriola, players returning to the team following the first round of qualifying include midfielder Gianlunca Busio of Italy’s Venezia, forward Matthew Hoppe of Spain’s Mallorca and defender Shaq Moore from Tenerife in Spain, all of whom played for the Gold Cup-winning team last summer. Midfielder Yunus Musah (Valencia) and forward Tim Weah (Lille) return from injury.
Also summoned was Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who scored the final U.S. goal in the first three-game qualifying window in Honduras. He has appeared in 15 of the national team’s 16 matches this year and is tied with Brenden Aaronson for the team lead with four goals.
Omitted was defender Julian Araujo, Lletget’s Galaxy teammate and a dual national who remains undecided whether he’ll play for Mexico or the U.S. — although Berhalter hinted a decision was near.
“That’s information that he’s going to share with the group. It’s not for me to share,” he said.
Goalkeepers: Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
Defenders: George Bello (Atlanta United), John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Gianluca Busio (Venezia), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Sebastian Lletget (Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)
Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg), Paul Arriola (DC United), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Tim Weah (Lille), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus)
CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings
Pts W L T
Mexico 7 2 0 1
Canada 5 1 0 2
U.S. 5 1 0 2
Panama 5 1 0 2
Costa Rica 2 0 1 2
Honduras 2 0 1 2
El Salvador 2 0 1 2
Jamaica 1 0 2 1
U.S. vs Jamaica, Austin, Texas
Honduras vs. Costa Rica
Mexico vs. Canada
El Salvador vs. Panama
Panama vs. U.S., Panama City
Jamaica vs. Canada
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador
Mexico vs. Honduras
U.S. vs. Costa Rica, Columbus, Ohio
Canada vs. Panama
Honduras vs. Jamaica
El Salvador vs. Mexico