USMNT: Several Americans Impress as European Season Kicks Off Ahead of 2022 World Cup

As European soccer leagues across the continent start their 2022-23 seasons, players from countries that have qualified for the upcoming 2022 World Cup need to play well in the next three months to impress their national team coaches. This is true for the Americans playing abroad, and several players hoping to make or play significant roles on the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) in Qatar started to make their case this weekend.

USMNT players in Europe  

Brenden Aaronson (L) of Leeds United and the USMNT celebrates with teammate Jack Harrison.
Brenden Aaronson (L) and Jack Harrison | David Rogers/Getty Images

With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar just over three months away, American players in Europe are trying to catch USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s eye. Here are how several possible (or guaranteed) USMNT players did this weekend.

Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams — Leeds United

Leeds United and American manager Jesse Marsch kicked off the 2022-23 Premier League season in style with a sweeping comeback victory over Wolves.

USMNT midfielder Tyler Adams started for Leeds, as did forward Brenden Aaronson. Adams was good and played better in the second half after a relatively quiet first. Aaronson, on the other hand, was the Man of the Match for Leeds.

The New Jersey native was his team’s best, most dangerous player in the win. Wolves defender Rayan Aït-Nouri ultimately got credit for an own goal on Leeds winner, but it was Aaronson who made it happen.

If Aaronson keeps playing like this, he could earn more USMNT playing time in Qatar than most national team watchers initially thought.

Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson — Fulham

Fulham’s Tim Ream at left center-back and Antonee Robinson at left back had one of the hardest jobs in all of soccer this weekend. They had to contain Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah.

The pair did a decent job of this overall, which was a big reason the recently-promoted Fulham were able to steal a point against last year’s Champions League finalist.

Salah did set up Liverpool’s first goal and scored one himself late, and Ream was in the middle of both those plays. The 34-year-old CB also made a mess of a great run on a set piece in the first half. All in all, though, Ream and Robinson had good days with an incredibly tough assignment.

USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter has to be especially happy to see how well the 25-year-old Robinson stood up to a world-class player like Salah. He’ll see a lot more players like that in the World Cup.

Jordan Pefok — Union Berlin

The hottest competition on the USMNT is for the No. 1 striker spot. Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok added to his resume for the position with a goal in his Bundesliga club’s 3-1 win over Hertha Berlin.

The 26-year-old from Washington D.C. is making a major step up in competition this season, moving from Young Boys in the Swiss Super League to the German Bundesliga, one of the best in the world. If he continues to perform like this at that level, the USMNT No. 9 spot could follow.

Christian Pulisic — Chelsea

Not every American in Europe had a great first weekend. Christian Pulisic was one of those players. The USMNT superstar couldn’t crack the Chelsea starting lineup over Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, and Raheem Sterling.

The good news for Pulisic and USMNT fans is that the Chelsea attack struggled mightily against Everton and might be due for a shakeup. Pulisic didn’t set the world on fire when he came in for the final 25 minutes, but if Thomas Tuchel does want to make a change up front, “Wonder Boy” should be in line for a start.

Zack Steffen — Middlesbrough

Maybe the worst day of all the USMNT players abroad went to goalkeeper Zack Steffen. The keeper got a summer loan from Manchester City in the Premier League to Middlesbrough in the EFL Championship.

In his second start, Steffen had a horrific day, letting in three first-half goals, including a soft goal on a set piece that was entirely his mistake. Even though Steffen’s USMNT counterpart Matt Turner isn’t going to get a ton of playing time at Arsenal, he might win the job by default if Steffen keeps playing like this.

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