Three USMNT Players Expected To Shine During the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers
In July 2020, CONCACAF unveiled their revised format for 2022 World Cup qualification which includes a 14-match “Octagonal” and an expanded eight team final round.
Although the new arrangement has received mixed reviews, it was welcomed by USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, who can now begin planning for a jam-packed 2021.
With the three top teams automatically booking their spot in Qatar, and the fourth place finisher forced to play an inter-continental playoff, the former Columbus Crew boss will be desperately hoping that his side can secure their place at the tournament with minimum fuss.
There is undoubtedly enough talent in the ranks with the likes of Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams having impressed at the highest level this season, however, there are also a handful of players who are yet to fully establish themselves on the international stage, and will be hoping to play a pivotal role during the qualifying period.
Although he was born in Milton Keynes, left-back Antonee Robinson qualifies for US citizenship and was given his debut in May 2018 by USMNT assistant manager Dave Sarachan. Having featured regularly for Everton Under 23s, he got his first taste of senior football at Bolton Wanderers two seasons ago. He also spent time at Wigan Athletic, before being signed by recently promoted Fulham this summer. The Cottagers had to rely on the play-offs to achieve promotion as they beat local rivals Brentford in the final, who are expected to follow them this season as they are priced at 4/1 to win the league in the English Championship odds along with Norwich.
Scott Parker is reluctant to radically overhaul a promotion-winning squad, so Robinson may have to wait a little while longer before making his Premier League debut. Robinson’s athleticism is his greatest asset with the defender able to track back to cover for errant team-mates. His attacking qualities are also admirable with the full-back having claimed at least one assist in each of his last four seasons.
Although he is yet to make his first competitive appearance for USMNT, he has been capped on seven occasions in international friendlies and is likely to get the opportunity to impress throughout 2021.
Having chosen to represent the US over the Netherlands, Sergino Dest is expected to become a mainstay in the USMNT XI over the next couple of years. He was named as Ajax’s Young Talent of the Year last season, and his performances in the Eredivisie have prompted a bidding war between Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
He was handed his debut by the current coach, with Berhalter clearly impressed by the youngster’s ability to get forward at every opportunity. Although the right-back needs to work on the defensive side of his game, he is likely to create plenty of chances and will help USMNT stretch the opposition throughout the 90 minutes.
Similar to Robinson, Timothy Weah is yet to make his full competitive debut for his country, yet he’s impressed during his fleeting appearances in international friendlies. The forward has endured a torrid twelve months suffering two injury setbacks, but he’ll be hoping that he can remain fully fit and focused throughout 2021.
He’s been gradually eased back into action at Lille this season, playing just 30 minutes of Ligue 1 football. Although he is technically classed as a striker, Weah prefers to cut in from wide positions and use his pace and trickery to bamboozle the opposition defense.
He’s already up and running for USMNT and fans will be hoping that the lively forward can play a significant role in helping fire Berhalter’s men to Qatar.
It’s been reasonably slim pickings for the USMNT coach in recent qualifications with the same old faces struggling to make an impact on the game. However, Gregg Berhalter finds himself in an enviable position and has several young, hungry and hugely talented players to choose from as he aims to successfully guide the Stars and Stripes to the 2022 World Cup.