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Three biggest decisions behind USMNT’s World Cup roster

Yahoo Sports soccer writer Henry Bushnell takes a look at some of the most notable choices for the U.S. Men’s National Team roster at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which was announced on Wednesday.

Video transcript



HENRY BUSHNELL: The USMNT's World Cup roster is here. Gregg Berhalter made a few surprising decisions on Wednesday. I'm Henry Bushnell from Yahoo Sports, and I want to focus on three of them.

The first is Zack Steffen. He isn't on this 26-man roster. He's been the starting keeper for most of Berhalter's tenure, so his omission was pretty stunning, but it's understandable. Matt Turner is going to start in goal, assuming he's healthy, and Ethan Horvath is a perfectly serviceable number two.

The second is Tim Ream. He is on the roster, and his inclusion says a lot about Berhalter's willingness to be flexible and adaptable at this World Cup. Ream isn't the best system fit for this team. He was never the fleetest of foot, and he certainly isn't at age 35, but he's a left-footer who's great on the ball. He's been so solid at Fulham this season. He's an English Premier League captain, after all. Perhaps in an ideal world, he's not needed in Qatar, but World Cups never go exactly to plan. By selecting Ream, Berhalter is expanding his tactical options.

And then there's striker. The other big names missing are Jordan Pefok and Ricardo Pepi. And a couple of months ago, when Pefok was scoring and leading Union Berlin to the top of the Bundesliga, his exclusion would have been blasphemous. But now he hasn't scored since mid-September. Ricardo Pepi has been scoring a bunch in the Netherlands, but the Dutch league is infamously weak defensively. So Berhalter has gone with Haji Wright, who, again, is the hottest American striker in soccer right now. He scored 9 in 12 games in Turkey this season. He'll be the guy that the US turns to when they need a late goal in Qatar.