Gregg Berhalter unveiled the 26 players who will represent the USMNT at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar 2022, however, the note is not who is going to the tournament, but who, or who, has been left out of the call-up, the coach took some time to talk about some of the more controversial names.
Perhaps the three most controversial cases are those of goalkeeper Zack Steffen and striker Ricardo Pepi, three players who were part of this whole tortuous Qualifiers process, who were even part of several Team USA starting 11s and who Berhalter admitted were very difficult calls to make to explain to them that their dream would not come true.
Zack Steffen, from starting goalkeeper to being discarded
First up is Steffen, who a year ago was the team’s starting goalkeeper, was even part of Pep Guardiola’s team at Manchester City, has a connection to Berhalter from his time with the Columbus Crew in MLS and has now been dropped.
“Me and Zack go way back, and Zack’s been there for me a bunch of times. And to tell him he’s not going to be part of the World Cup team was heartbreaking for me,” Berhalter said.
Ricardo Pepi and his goals won’t be at Qatar 2022
On the other hand, there is the case of Pepi, who has arguments to be Team USA’s Most Valuable Player in the CONCACAF Octagonal, his goals literally took the team to Qatar 2022, but after being sold from FC Dallas to Augsburg of Germany, he was loaned this season to Groningen of the Netherlands, the good step in the Eredivisie was not enough for Berhalter.
“Ricardo Pepi could have a great argument for why he should be there, and I can understand that argument. But we had to choose to bring three strikers and these are the three that we chose,” Berhalter said.