5 players to watch for USMNT during World Cup

Casual sports observers will likely hear a lot about these names in coming weeks

United States soccer players DeAndre Yedlin, Shaq Moore, Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman hold up jerseys, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, in New York, after being introduced announced as defenders on the U.S. men's national soccer roster for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson) (Julia Nikhinson, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

It’s been four years since a World Cup was held, but eight years since a U.S. squad competed in the world’s most popular sporting event.

Given that, it’s probably easy for observers who plan to watch the World Cup — but didn’t follow the U.S. team much through qualifying — to wonder which players the U.S. will most rely on.

Well, we’re here to help!

While the key contributors aren’t limited to these five, going into the USMNT’s first game against Wales on Monday, here are the players most likely to carry the American side.

Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic exercises during a training session of the US soccer team in Cologne, Germany, prior to a friendly match against Japan, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. The USA will play Japan in a friendly soccer match as part of the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar in Duesseldorf on Friday. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A member of the USMNT since he was 17, Pulisic has been the face of U.S. soccer, although the most vivid image of that face was when it was in tears after the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup following a loss to Trinidad and Tobago in the last game of qualifying in 2017.

Still young at age 24, Pulisic will prepare for his first World Cup as the most dangerous striker for the Americans. A member of Chelsea in the English Premier League, Pulisic became the first American to play in a Champions League final in 2021.

However, Pulisic seemed to be out of sorts for most of the qualifying games, and will need to be in top form for an American team that’s usually starved for scoring.

Weston McKennie

Weston McKennie warms up during soccer practice for the U.S. Men's National Team Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

While Pulisic might be the face of American soccer at the moment, there probably isn’t a more vital player to the U.S. than McKennie.

He plays his club soccer for Juventus in Italy, and throughout qualifying games, showed he can be a dominant player in the midfield.

The 24-year old McKennie can distribute to teammates, score off set pieces and frustrate opposing players trying to attack.

Playing on a world stage could really be a coming out party for McKennie.

Tyler Adams

Jamaica's Tyreek Magee (21) and United States' Tyler Adams (4) compete for control of the ball during a FIFA World Cup qualifying soccer match, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Besides McKennie, this might be the player the U.S. can least afford to lose.

The 23-year-old Adams, who plays for Leeds in the English Premier League, is a rock as a defensive midfielder.

He not only organizes the backline, but he starts counterattacks with his vision and passing ability. If he goes down, there’s no suitable replacement for his position.

Gio Reyna

Dortmund's Giovanni Reyna celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Reyna is possibly “Pulisic II,” given he is a dynamic young forward with tantalizing ability and plays for an elite club team in Europe, Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

The only problem for the 19-year-old has been avoiding injuries. He missed much of his club season last year and a majority of qualifying games for the U.S. as a result.

Fortunately for the Americans, Reyna appears to be healthy and in good form leading up to the tournament.

Matt Turner

United States goalkeeper Matt Turner talks to teammates during the second half of a FIFA World Cup qualifying soccer match against El Salvador, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. The U.S. won 1-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

This will likely be the man in goal for the Americans.

The 28-year-old Turner plays for Arsenal in the English Premier League and has emerged over the past year as the keeper head coach Gregg Berhalter can trust the most.

He’s a steadying presence who’ll have to come up big when the Americans are on their heels against opposing attacks.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.