Early exits from the MLS playoffs or missing the postseason altogether have resulted in extra looks with the U.S. men's national team for a select group of players and extra preparation for a pair of Concacaf Nations League matches.
Gregg Berhalter has called in 20 MLS-based players for a pre-camp gathering ahead of the final preparations for the upcoming games vs. Canada and Cuba. Not all of these players will make the final squad for those games, and European-based players will be added when the FIFA international window opens. But for a U.S. team that flopped in Toronto and must beat Canada on Nov. 15 in Orlando, Fla., in order to have a shot to win the group, save face and reach next year's first Concacaf Nations League semifinals, the extra preparation time for even part of the group can only help.
The group will gather in Bradenton, Fla., for a week starting next Tuesday. The day after this portion of camp ends, Nov. 10, players from Europe will arrive with a few days to prepare for the rematch vs. Canada. Participating players who are consumed by MLS Cup will follow. Four days after the Canada game, the USMNT heads to the Cayman Islands to face Cuba to cap the group stage.
“We have the opportunity to take advantage of the MLS postseason window to start preparations for the matches against Canada and Cuba,” Berhalter said in a statement. “It’s another week to keep progressing as a group as we focus on getting the results we need to advance to the knockout phase of the Nations League.”
Here's a closer look at who was called in and who is likely to be with the final group for the games:
Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
Guzan and Johnson have been the second- and third-choice options behind Zack Steffen and figure to be serving those roles in the upcoming matches, provided Steffen arrives in camp fully healthy. Turner enjoyed a breakout campaign with the Revs and has earned his first look in U.S. camp.
Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Chase Gaspar (Minnesota United), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Gaspar, like Turner, had yet to be called into a camp by Berhalter. This figures to be essentially a tryout for him, but with left back far from sorted–Sergiño Dest played there in September but plays mainly on the right for Ajax–it's a clear opportunity for him to make an impression. The rookie was a breakout talent for Minnesota this season.
The injury suffered by Atlanta United's Miles Robinson in the last international window looks to have kept him out of contention for this one.
With Matt Miazga, Tim Ream and DeAndre Yedlin taking part in the previous camp, John Brooks back to 90-minute fitness and Dest committed to the USA for the long haul, this is likely to be an area of great turnover and competition for the final roster.
Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)
Michael Bradley and Cristian Roldan are tied up with MLS Cup duties but should be expected to join a group that will likely also be augmented by Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. The 19-year-old Aaronson gets another look after being a bystander for the matches earlier this month, while Mihailovic, the January camp breakout star who faded over the course of the year, is back with the senior group after time with Jason Kreis's U-23s.
Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
Like Bradley and Roldan, Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris are taking part in MLS Cup, though the injury Altidore suffered before the last batch of Nations League games has prevented him from playing since, and it's not yet clear if he'll be fit for the next set.
Josh Sargent figures to be at the front of the line of the European contingent to join this group, while Tyler Boyd remains a candidate, too, despite a lack of regular playing time at Besiktas.