What to Watch for in USMNT’s 2024 year

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Joined: Nov 2016

The U.S. men’s national team enjoyed plenty of successful moments in 2023 and with added competitions coming in 2024, head coach Gregg Berhalter will be hoping similar success can occur in the new year.

Copa America, CONCACAF Nations League, and the Paris Olympics will all be on the USMNT’s schedule in 2024, providing ample opportunities to prepare the squad for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Both the Copa America and the Nations League Final Four will be on American soil too, adding a home-field advantage for the USMNT in both competitions.

In addition to competitions, the continued growth in the squad will also be something to keep an eye on. Between the ever-changing No. 9 race to the continued battles for starting center back spots, we will surely see ample players called in throughout the year.

Here is a closer look at what to watch for in 2024:

Copa America on home soil

With no World Cup Qualifying cycle coming for the USMNT, the 2024 Copa America becomes that much more important for Gregg Berhalter and his squad.

Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia headline a talented CONMEBOL federation that will be making their way to the United States next summer. It will mark the Americans’ fifth-ever involvement in the competition and their first since the 2016 Copa America Centenario, which was also on home soil.

The USMNT will want to prove itself against Lionel Messi, Neymar and Co. and what better way to do it in preparation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Folarin Balogun, Ricardo Pepi headline No. 9 race

Robin Alam/ISI Photos

The U.S. men’s national team has two thriving candidates to claim the No. 9 job in 2024, but the return of several injured players will also grow the competition for minutes.

Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi enter the new year as the favorites to lead Berhalter’s line after featuring heavily in 2023. Balogun scored three goals and added two assists in eight USMNT caps since committing his future to his country of birth.

He has also shown positive moments for AS Monaco since making a permanent move from Arsenal this past summer.

Pepi netted seven goals in 10 USMNT caps last year, mainly contributing off the bench in Nations League and friendly play. Similar to Balogun, Pepi also made a switch at club level, enjoying a larger role at PSV than he did at Augsburg.

Josh Sargent and Daryl Dike are two long-term absentees that will be in the mix to get back to their best in 2024, while FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira and FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez are also attacking options for Berhalter to consider again.

Haji Wright enjoyed a strong first half of the EFL Championship season with Coventry City and will be pushing to get into the squad long-term.

The USMNT certainly has depth at the No. 9 position this year, but ultimately it will come down to which way Berhalter goes?

Gio Reyna’s long-term USMNT role

Robin Alam/ISI Photos

Gio Reyna’s future at Borussia Dortmund may be worrying, but his future with the USMNT has not looked brighter.

Reyna appeared in eight USMNT matches last year, scoring three goals and adding two assists in all competitions. He helped the Americans win the Nations League title last summer before also helping the USMNT clinch their return to the tournament semifinals.

Reyna’s return to full fitness has certainly been crucial to his production with the USMNT, but the rekindling of his relationship with Berhalter is equally as important.

The USMNT will definitely need Reyna if it wants to pick up a few trophies in 2024 and it will be interesting to see whether or not the 21-year-old makes a club move in January.

Who will be the centerback pairing?

Chris Putman/ISI Photos

From Tim Ream to Chris Richards to Miles Robinson, Gregg Berhalter has plenty of options at centerback in 2024, but the real question is, who will be the starters?

The USMNT has ample depth in the heart of their defense, with youth headlining the group. Richards, Robinson, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie will all fight for minutes in 2024, especially after holding consistent jobs at club level.

Ream remains a veteran presence in the squad, while Hoffenheim’s John Brooks could also be in the mix this year. Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman will also likely be considered after featuring heavily during Berhalter’s reign as head coach.

Don’t forget about U-23 options Jalen Neal, Brandan Craig, and Jonathan Tomkinson as well.

Will anyone push Matt Turner for the No. 1 goalie job?

Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos

Matt Turner enters 2024 as the USMNT’s No. 1 goalkeeper, but will anyone push him for the starting job?

Turner made 13 starts for the USMNT last year, enjoying nine victories and posting seven clean sheets. However, his up-and-down first half of the season with Nottingham Forest is a worry heading into March’s CONCACAF Nations League schedule.

Ethan Horvath and Zack Steffen are out of action with their respective clubs and will likely need to do a lot to get back in form. Horvath and Steffen both could be on the move in January, with hopes of earning consistent playing time elsewhere.

Gabriel Slonina has continued to play regularly in Belgium and could be in the mix to be part of the squad long-term. MLS shot-stoppers Drake Callender and Roman Celentano are coming off positive 2023 campaigns, as is U-23 prospect Chris Brady.

Turner might be pushed for the No. 1 job, but it seems unlikely he will be pushed out of the role unless his form takes a major dip on the international level.

What will you be monitoring in 2024? Are there any positions you will be keeping a closer eye on? Who do you see making a major splash with the USMNT this year?

Share your thoughts below.


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