NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter will be going with a bigger roster to deal with three games crammed into a seven-day span when 2022 World Cup qualifying starts in September.
General manager Brian McBride said Wednesday that the U.S. men’s national team will bring in at least 26 players, three more than are eligible to dress for each match. That will provide some flexibility for the U.S. with the tight schedule for both travel and games.
“We can bring players into the roster for a second game that wasn’t a part of the first game,” McBride said. “And then you add in the add in the COVID aspect of it, hopefully knock on wood that doesn’t have an effect or doesn’t factor into our decision making. But all of those things definitely point to having a larger squad as possible.”
Berhalter likely will announce his roster Aug. 26. American players from European clubs and Major League Soccer teams will report to Nashville starting Aug. 29, then fly Sept. 1 to San Salvador for the opening qualifier against El Salvador the following night.
The U.S. plays Canada in Nashville at Nissan Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, on Sept. 5 before going to San Pedro Sula for a game against Honduras on Sept. 8.
That’s three qualifying matches in the span of seven days in three different countries.
Nashville was picked for the Americans’ lone home game in the September qualifying to help make the travel a bit easier from Europe and for both road games. Midfielder Tyler Adams, who plays for RB Leipzig in Germany, has a match moved to a Sunday night start on Aug. 29, delaying his travel until the following day.
After the third match, U.S. players will arrive in Miami on Sept. 9, then return to their clubs.
Christian Pulisic has a bit of a break with his first match back with Chelsea in the Premier League, at home against Aston Villa, pushed back to a 5:30 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 11. But midfielder Brenden Aaronson still doesn’t know when his match for RB Salzburg at Swarovski Tirol will be that weekend.
All of which made Nashville, which is bidding to be among the U.S. cities hosting the 2026 World Cup, a good location for the September games.
“That is part of the design,” McBride said. “So I think that that what we’re doing is looking at all the different variables.”
McBride and the U.S. Soccer Federation brought both the CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League trophies to Nashville on Wednesday to help promote the qualifier on Sept. 5 at Nissan Stadium in connection with a game by Nashville’s MLS team.
Players will run up the frequent flyer miles again for three more qualifiers in October, whe the U.S. hosts Jamaica at Austin, Texas, on Oct. 7 and Costa Rica at Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 13 around at Oct. 10 qualifier at Panama.
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