The United States Men’s National Team is set to play its final two preparation matches for the World Cup over the course of the next few weeks. Ahead of those games, Gregg Berhalter announced the United States roster for those games.
While the roster for these two games will not be the same as the United States World Cup roster, it still provides an important indication of which players have a good chance of making this fall’s World Cup team. These two games will provide an important opportunity for Berhalter to evaluate the roster and make his final decisions ahead of the tournament.
Ferreira, Pepi, and Sargent Selected to Roster
One of the most important remaining decisions for Berhalter and his staff to make during the next few weeks is which center-forwards will be on the United States roster for the World Cup. Unsurprisingly, Jesus Ferreira was selected to play in this month’s friendlies. Ferreira is currently expected to be the starting center-forward for the United States this fall, and he will almost certainly be a member of the US World Cup roster.
While Ferreira is expected to be on this fall’s World Cup roster, it is unclear which other players at the position will join him on the team.
Ricardo Pepi and Josh Sargent were the other two center-forwards selected for this month’s roster. Both players were chosen ahead of others, such as Jordan Pefok, Darryl Dike, and Haji Wright.
Sargent and Pepi both have considerable prior experience with the national team. Sargent has been the starting center-forward for the United States in the past, but he hasn’t played as frequently for the US over the past year. However, this season Sargent has scored six goals in 10 matches in the EFL Championship for Norwich City, and as a result, he will likely be a member of the United States World Cup team this fall.
Pepi, like Sargent, has started several matches for the United States in various competitions, but he hasn’t been a member of Berhalter’s starting lineup recently. That is partially a result of Pepi joining FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga in January.
During the past several months, Pepi played in 15 Bundesliga games for Augsburg without scoring. However, he joined FC Groningen in the Netherlands on loan at the end of the summer transfer window. In his first two matches in the Eredivisie Pepi already has one assist and one goal.
While Pepi, Sargent, and Ferreira were selected to the United States roster for this month’s matches, that isn’t a guarantee that they will play in the World Cup. Several other players still have an opportunity to be selected for this fall’s roster.
The most notable among those is Jordan Pefok. Pefok previously played for BSC Young Boys in Switzerland, where he was one of the best goal-scorers in the Swiss Super League. This summer Pefok joined Bundesliga side Union Berlin. Pefok has scored three goals in six Bundesliga games so far this season; sixth-most in the league so far this year.
Berhalter’s decision regarding which center-forwards will be on the United States team in Qatar this fall will remain one of the most interesting storylines in the buildup to the World Cup. This month’s roster is the first insight into his decision-making ahead of the tournament.
Malik Tillman Could Be on This Year’s World Cup Roster
When Malik Tillman announced he would represent the United States at the international level earlier this year, it added to the excitement for the 2026 World Cup. Tillman, who is 20 years old, could be one of the United States’ most important players when it helps host the tournament in four years.
However, it now appears possible that Tillman will make his World Cup debut before 2026. Tillman, who made his debut for the United States on June 1, was selected to the US’ roster for this month’s friendlies, making it even more likely he will play in the 2022 World Cup in a few months.
Tillman has only made 44 career appearances at the senior level, and 25 of those were as a member of Bayern Munich II in the 3. Liga and Regionalliga in Germany. While Tillman has limited experience, his excellent start to the season on loan with Rangers in Scotland has positioned him to be a member of the World Cup roster.
This season, Tillman has scored one goal in the Scottish Premiership in addition to both a goal and an assist in the Champions League. He can play as an attacking midfielder, a left or right winger, or even as a center-forward. His positional flexibility and an excellent start to the season, where he has performed well in three positions for Rangers, have given him the opportunity to make his the United States and World Cup debut in the same year.
The United States midfield is arguably the team’s greatest strength, with a well-established group of players including Giovanni Reyna, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, and others. Tillman’s versatility will add increased depth to the position group, and Tillman could have a similar role to Brendan Aaronson’s. Aaronson has played both as a winger and as an attacking midfielder for the United States in the past.
Reyna’s return from injuries over the past year at Borussia Dortmund adds to the depth of the United States midfield, but means Berhalter will have to make a few tough decisions regarding which players will be in the starting lineup for the United States this fall. Tillman could be an important player for Berhalter in the future, and he could play in multiple positions for the United States in this year’s World Cup.