Pepi, Pulisic in USMNT squad; Morris back

Football

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams highlight the United States roster for manager Gregg Berhalter ahead of the three-game World Cup qualifying window that begins next week.

The roster also includes Ricardo Pepi, fresh off his transfer from FC Dallas to Augsburg earlier this month.

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Through eight of 14 matches, the United States sits second in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings with 15 points — a point behind first-place Canada and a point ahead of Mexico and Panama. The top three teams automatically qualify for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, while the fourth-place finisher will play a single-match qualifier in June.

The United States hosts El Salvador in Columbus on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, watch LIVE on ESPN2) and plays at Canada in Hamilton on Jan. 30, before finishing the window against Honduras in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Feb. 2.

The 28-man roster features the return of Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris, who missed most of the 2021 Major League Soccer season with an ACL injury and did not take part in the first eight World Cup qualifying matches. Morris is one of 13 MLS-based players on the roster, including 17-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, who is one of four goalkeepers (Zack Steffen, Matt Turner, Sean Johnson).

Timothy Weah, one of the standout players for the USMNT through qualifying, had been a question mark due to an injury he suffered in December with Lille, but he was included after returning to action this week.

The midfield options include projected starters Yunus Musah, McKennie and Adams, along with Luca De la Torre, who has seen his profile rise recently through strong play with Heracles in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Notable exclusions include VfL Wolfsburg center back John Brooks, Borussia Monchengladbach fullback Joe Scally, Young Boys striker Jordan Pefok and Norwich City forward Josh Sargent. Borussia Dortmund attacker Giovanni Reyna, who recently returned to training in Germany following a hamstring injury he suffered on international duty in September, remains unavailable.

GOALKEEPERS (4): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 26/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 13/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Sergino Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 15/2), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United; 1/0), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 6/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 15/3), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 15/3), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 71/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 23/2)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 45/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 22/1), Luca De la Torre (Heracles/NED; 4/0), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 28/8), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 11/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 30/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 15/5), Paul Arriola (DC United; 42/8), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 40/10), Chelsea/ENG; 42/17), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 18/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 66/14)

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