USMNT World Cup roster snubs, ranked: Zack Steffen and Ricardo Pepi deserved to be in Qatar 2022 squad


The United States men’s national team’s World Cup roster was announced on Wednesday in what was a list that featured some surprises. Following the big reveal, the conversation quickly shifted over to which players were left off. Depending on how you look at it, there were maybe just a couple surprises and for others several. But one thing is for sure: This isn’t the roster anybody foresaw just a few days ago.

Here is the complete roster and the five biggest snubs.

USMNT World Cup squad

  • Goalkeepers (3): Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson.
  • Defenders (9): Cameron Carter-Vickers, Sergiño Dest, Aaron Long, Shaq Moore, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, DeAndre Yedlin, Walker Zimmerman.
  • Midfielders (7): Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Cristian Roldan.
  • Forwards (7): Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, Haji Wright.

Listen below and follow In Soccer We Trust: A CBS Sports Soccer Podcast where your three favorite former USMNT players cover everything you could possibly want to know about the United States men’s national team during the World Cup in Qatar.

Here are the five biggest snubs ranked.

5. Reggie Cannon (Boavista)

The case for him: Cannon is familiar with this system and has been a big part of the team over the last couple of years. The feeling was that he could at least be a depth option behind Sergino Dest, while also offering the ability to get forward.

Why he was cut: He’s in a tricky spot at the moment. His club situation at Boavista is messy with the failure to earn a move to another league – such as France – and he has played just 10 games so far this season. He wouldn’t enter in the best form.

USMNT future outlook: Sure to be back at some point, especially if he can find a better club with a more comfortable situation.

4. Malik Tillman (Rangers)

The case for him: Berhalter lacks attacking midfielders that can create. He could have been the one to fill that void. It’s a shame to see him off as he was brought on this year as a fresh face, and there was some positive chemistry there.

Why he was cut: He’s emerging with Rangers, though his performances have cooled off a bit. He lacks experience with just four USMNT caps. Also, the midfield is pretty set and there was a need for veteran depth.

USMNT future outlook: A bright future and potentially a starter down the road, depending on the formation. The midfield position appears locked up for a while though with Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah and Tyler Adams.

3. Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin)

The case for him: One of the more in-form strikers in Europe. At a top four Bundesliga team (at the moment) in Union Berlin, he has three goals and three assists. Just a month or so ago, he was the hot name at striker.

Why he was cut: He’s cooled off after a red-hot start to the season. In Berhalter’s mind, he wasn’t quite a natural fit at the striker position in his system. He also has scored just one goal in his last 10 games.

USMNT future outlook: He’s already 26 years of age, and while there is still time, he may find it tough to be the guy at the No. 9 spot, especially with quality, young strikers on the rise.

2. Ricardo Pepi (Groningen)

The case for him: Pepi was the biggest name at striker, the guy viewed as the problem solver for all of the woes at the position. He’s tall, he’s quick, he gets into dangerous spots. If you’re building a team that can pose a threat in 2026, wouldn’t you want him being involved in the 2022 setup to gain some experience? So what happened here?

Why he was cut: He’s inexperienced and has had a rough year or so, only now getting into a groove with his loan move at Groningen in the Netherlands. The other options were viewed as the more in-form ones.

USMNT future: The future No. 9 if he can continue to develop. No doubt he’ll be back in the picture at some point soon.

1. Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough)

The case for him: Long been the No. 1 goalkeeper and goes way back to his Columbus Crew days with Berhalter. He’s been the guy for a few years now and has a ton of ability. How the hell does he get left off the roster?

Why he was cut: We told you Tuesday night he wasn’t on the team. Berhalter’s explanation during the roster reveal party was this was more about what they have as opposed to what they don’t have … as if they are loaded at the goalkeeper position. It’s hard to buy what he’s selling given their relationship dating back to their days at Columbus and the fact that Turner is still working his way back from injury. Steffen played this week for Boro and isn’t injured, so what gives? Something seems off here, and maybe we’ll find out more details in due time.

USMNT future outlook: Well, we’ll see. One would think that he will be back in the fold before long, but that depends on how some of the goalkeepers perform at the tournament and afterwards. Would Steffen willingly serve as a backup after starting for so long?

USMNT World Cup schedule

Monday, Nov. 21: vs. Wales, 2 pm ET
Friday, Nov. 25: vs. England, 2 pm ET
Tuesday, Nov. 29: vs. Iran, 2 pm ET

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