Copa América: USMNT vets Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams headline training camp roster

U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter on Monday named 27 players to the Americans’ training camp roster ahead of this summer’s Copa América.

With European domestic seasons either over or nearing their conclusion, Berhalter named an overwhelmingly foreign-based group to prepare for the tournament, for which the U.S. must submit its final 26-player list by June 12. Those selected on Monday will report to Northern Virginia on May 28, ahead of the USMNT’s first pre-Copa tuneup against Colombia on June 8 in nearby Landover, Maryland. The hosts kick off the competition against Bolivia on June 23 in suburban Dallas.

Christian Pulisic headlines the training camp squad. The 25-year-old has one match left in his first season with Italian titan AC Milan, for which he’s scored a career-best 15 goals in 2023-24. Longtime fellow U.S. starters Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Antonee “Jedi” Robinson and Tim Weah were also included. Another lock, 2022 World Cup standout Sergiño Dest, will miss the Copa América after injuring his knee last month.

“We have two high-profile friendlies with Colombia and Brazil, and then we enter Copa América, which will be the most competitive tournament besides the World Cup that we will compete in,” Berhalter said on a Zoom call with reporters after the roster, which includes just four MLS players, was released. “We have a talented group of players, and we’re excited about the opportunity to compete against some of the best teams in the world.”

Here’s the full USMNT training camp squad:

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath, Cardiff City (Wales); Sean Johnson, Toronto FC (MLS);  Matt Turner, Nottingham Forest (England)

Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Celtic (Scotland); Kristoffer Lund, Palermo (Italy); Mark McKenzie, Genk (Belgium), Shaq Moore, Nashville (MLS); Tim Ream, Fulham (England), Chris Richards, Crystal Palace (England), Antonee Robinson, Fulham; Miles Robinson, Cincinnati (MLS); Joe Scally, Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams. Bournemouth (England); Johnny Cardoso, Real Betis (Spain); Luca de la Torre, Celta Vigo (Spain); Weston McKennie, Juventus (Italy), Yunus Musah, AC Milan (Italy); Gio Reyna, Nottingham Forest;  Malik Tillman, PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands); Timmy Tillman (LAFC)

Forwards: Brenden Aaronson, Union Berlin (Germany); Folarin Balogun, Monaco (France), Ricardo Pepi, PSV; Christian Pulisic, AC Milan; Josh Sargent , Norwich City (England) Tim Weah, Juventus; Haji Wright, Coventry City (England)

Veteran keeper Sean Johnson returns to the fold for the first time since the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup, with Inter Miami backstop Drake Callender, who served as Berhalter’s third string behind Turner and Horvath during March’s Nations League finals, left out.

The coach picked five center backs in Carter-Vickers, McKenzie, Ream, Richards and Miles Robinson. Richards is a projected starter but the spot next to him is open. Berhalter will probably take only four central defenders to the Copa. Dest’s injury opened the door for Moore, a Qatar 2022 vet but a somewhat surprising choice over the hugely experienced DeAndre Yedlin (though Yedlin is injured) or prospect Bryan Reynolds.

Tyler Adams is included despite the back spasms that limited the Americans’ 2022 World Cup captain to just one of Bournemouth’s final nine Premier League games. Timmy Tillman, Malik’s older brother, makes his first full-strength U.S. squad after debuting in the January friendly versus Slovenia.

Perhaps the biggest question is how best to replace Dest.

“We have to figure out the right back situation, Berhalter said. “There’s a couple different options we can look at.” 

One is simply moving Scally or Moore into Dest’s spot. The coach could also deploy Weah there, or play with a three-man back line — a system both Richards and Miles Robinson play in for their clubs.

There’s also intrigue up front, where Berhalter took four center forwards in Balogun, Pepi, Sargent and Wright. Originally, it seemed unlikely that all four would survive the Copa cut, with Pepi potentially earmarked for Olympic duty in July instead. But things may have changed since CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body and the Copa organizer, announced last week the expansion of rosters from 23 places to 26. The ability of Nations League hero Wright to line up on the wing provides added flexibility for Berhalter.

“Currently, we see Haji more fulfilling the winger role,” he said. “With us lacking some depth in those positions, we think it’s a great option.

“That would leave us with three strikers,” he added. “When you look at all the guys, they’ve been doing well when given the opportunity and, between their club form and what they’ve done for the national team in the past, we think it’s a talented group of strikers.”

The U.S. boss is expected to announce the final 26-man Copa roster after the Americans face Brazil June 12 in their final dress rehearsal.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer reporter for FOX Sports. He was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports before joining FOX Sports in 2021, and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at FIFA World Cups on five continents. Follow him @ByDougMcIntyre.

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