Top 50 Americans in the 2022 World Cup player pool

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If the 2022 World Cup seems a million years away, it's because it's going to feel that way as U.S. national team fans are forced to endure the years of waiting to see their team return to the sport's biggest stage.

That World Cup is slated to take place in December 2022, making it still more than four years from now before we can hope to see American players taking on the world's best in an event U.S. fans grew to take for granted after qualifying for seven straight tournaments.

Americans are living in a new reality, though, one where last year's World Cup qualifying debacle in Trinidad & Tobago left them with no choice but to forge ahead and think about the future and the young players who will look to lift the program from the ashes.

The good news is that there is a considerable amount of young talent on the way up the pipeline, in MLS and abroad — arguably more young talent than we have ever seen at one time. Christian Pulisic's meteoric rise in Germany has inspired dozens of fellow Americans to make the jump overseas in search of glory, while more and more teenagers are signing deals in MLS.

With that in mind, here is a closer look at the talent pool that will be drawn from to build the next U.S. World Cup — assuming the Americans successfully qualify. The Top 50 is based on current form, as well as potential, which is why some top prospects just beginning their careers are listed ahead of established professionals, and why an elite talent like Giovanni Reyna can be included despite having yet to formally start his professional career.

We will exclude all players who will be in their 30s in 2022, which leaves out the likes of Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood. Obviously there should be a few players in their 30s on the 2022 U.S. World Cup squad, but the team's success will hinge on the nucleus of players in their prime years.

Here are the top 50 players and prospects in the U.S. 2022 World Cup player pool, based on a combination of current form and potential :

  1. #1 Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund

    After months and months of speculation about his club future, Pulisic ended up staying at Borussia Dortmund, where he will take on an even bigger role in his third full season as a first-teamer. The most talented player in the USMNT pool hasn't seen much time with the national team since last year's failure to qualify for the World Cup, but there's no denying he is the centerpiece of the team's future.
  2. #2 John Brooks, Wolfsburg

    The oldest player on the list, Brooks will be 29 when the 2022 World Cup kicks off, and if he can cut down on his penchant for injuries, there's no telling how good a defender he could be. His first season at Wolfsburg — which he joined in a USMNT player-record $22.5 million transfer — was decimated by injuries. He's back healthy, and has helped Wolfsburg get off to a strong start to the new Bundesliga season.
  3. #3 Weston McKennie, Schalke

    The 20-year-old defensive midfielder enjoyed a breakout season with Schalke, helping the Bundesliga side to a second-place finish and spot in the UEFA Champions League. He has become a regular starter in the USMNT youth movement, and figures to be a box-to-box presence in the U.S. midfield for years to come. 
  4. #4 Tyler Adams, New York Red Bulls

    The most highly regarded U.S. prospect in MLS, Adams has enjoyed the breakout year he was expected to have in 2018. Along with establishing himself as one of the better defensive midfielders in MLS, he has become a regular starter for the USMNT, playing in every national team game since the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup. With a transfer to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig looming in January, and with his game-winning goal against Mexico on Sept. 11, Adams' stock is skyrocketing.
  5. #5 Timothy Weah, Paris Saint-Germain

    Known more for being George Weah's son before his breakout performance at the U-17 World Cup in 2017, Timothy Weah showed good flashes in his first USMNT appearances, and turned heads with some surprising playing time for Paris Saint Germain early in the new season. The 18-year-old could find time at PSG tougher, but should get more looks with the national team before he'll have to reconsider a loan move this winter.
  6. #6 Matt Miazga, FC Nantes (via Chelsea)

    No defender has taken more advantage of the USMNT youth movement than Miazga, who has solidified his place as the top young central defender in the player pool. He capped a second strong season with Dutch club Vitesse and parlayed that into a move to Ligue 1 side FC Nantes. He is still waiting for his chance to break back into Chelsea's first team, but he has established himself as a regular starter for the United States. His performances against Brazil and Mexico, including his villainous turn against El Tri has only served to boost his profile.
  7. #7 Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen

    A year removed from his star turn at the Under-20 World Cup, Sargent is thriving in Werder Bremen's reserve ranks, but is still waiting for his first-team debut. He is scoring goals in bunches with the reserves, though, and should get an opportunity with the senior team soon. He scored in his USMNT starting debut, and should also be back into the national team mix soon enough.
  8. #8 Zack Steffen, Columbus Crew

    An outstanding 2017 for the Columbus Crew gave Steffen momentum heading into this year, and he hasn't let up. He has cemented his status as the top goalkeeper in the USMNT depth chart, and has continued to play well for the Crew. The question now is how long will he stay in MLS? Bristol City came in with a multi-million dollar offer that was turned down. More offers should come in this winter.
  9. #9 Cameron Carter-Vickers, Swansea City (via Tottenham)

    The 20-year-old defender has long been seen as a national team center back of the future, and 2018 has seen him take his first major steps with the USMNT. He put together a pair of successful loan stints in the Championship last season, and should get another year of seasoning with Swansea City. He has plenty of room to develop, but is already playing well enough to be considered a threat to start in the next World Cup qualifying cycle.
  10. #10 Giovanni Reyna, New York City FC academy

    The youngest player on the list, Reyna is the son of former U.S. national team captain Claudio Reyna. His high-level technical skills and ability to create chances and score goals drew the attention of several European clubs, and sources tell Goal he will Join Borussia Dortmund's academy when he turns 16 in November. While it may be seen as a stretch to project him on the 2022 U.S. World Cup team — when he would be 20 — if anyone in his age group is going to make that jump, he's the most likely to make it happen.
  11. #11 Jonathan Klinsmann, Hertha Berlin

    There is a good crop of young goalkeeping prospects in the U.S. pipeline, but Klinsmann's rapid rise from U.S. Under-20 standout to Bundesliga goalkeeper has the 20-year-old looking like he could develop into the best of the bunch.
  12. #12 Jonathan Amon, Nordsjaelland

    Injuries put a damper on the early part of Amon's 2018, but now he's healthy and showing why there is building buzz about his potential as a USMNT wing option. The 19-year-old speedster has scored three goals in his past five matches for Nordsjaelland, the kind of run that could earn him a look for USMNT friendlies later this year.
  13. #13 Antonee Robinson, Wigan (via Everton)

    The England-born left back parlayed a strong loan spell at Bolton into a look with the USMNT, and he took full advantage, establishing himself as the best young left back in the U.S. talent pool. The 20-year-old defender has hit the ground running at Wigan, starting and impressing on one of the surprises of the early season in the English second division.
  14. #14 Paul Arriola, D.C. United

    D.C. United's recent chase for a playoff spot has provided an excellent showcase for Arriola to remind people that he's very much a solid winger option for the USMNT player pool. It's easy to think he's older because he's been around for a while, but he's just 23 and he'll be in his prime at 27 when the 2022 World Cup comes along. One interesting development to keep tabs on is his forays at right back, which could make for an interesting positional change at some point.

  15. #15 Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders

    Roldan took a major step forward in 2017, going from impressive starter to Best XI-caliber midfielder on a Seattle side that came close to a second straight MLS Cup title. Roldan is continuing to mature as a midfielder and a leader for the Sounders. He's facing some tough competition from younger midfielders, but Roldan is going to be in the picture for a while.
  16. #16 Kellyn Acosta, Colorado Rapids

    It hasn't been an easy past year for Acosta, who saw his skyrocketing career stall out, leading to a trade from FC Dallas to Colorado, along with a hiatus from the USMNT. He has made the most of his move to the Rapids, and has returned to the national team setup, but with younger options emerging in central midfield, Acosta could find it tough to regain the position he enjoyed just a year ago. It's easy to forget that he's just 23, and he appears to be turning things back around.

  17. #17 Erik Palmer-Brown, NAC Breda (via Manchester City)

    A move to Manchester City last winter on a free transfer from Sporting KC meant a chance for Palmer-Brown test himself in Europe. His first loan, to Belgian side KV Kortrijk, produced a decent amount of playing time. His latest loan, to Dutch side NAC Breda, will allow him to face a better caliber of attacking talent, though Breda has the early look of a struggling club. Palmer-Brown is still just 21, and has time to develop, but he's playing catch-up with other center backs like Miazga and Carter-Vickers in the USMNT player pool.
  18. #18 DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United

    One of two holdovers from the 2014 World Cup who are on this list, Yedlin will be 29 when the 2022 World Cup rolls around, and it will be interesting to see how he evolves as a fullback during that time. He relies a lot on his blazing speed, but has continued to improve his defensive instincts as a starter in the Premier League. There are some promising right back prospects who could challenge him at some point in the next cycle, but Yedlin should be locked in as the U.S. starter for years to come.
  19. #19 Andrija Novakovich, Fortuna Sittard (via Reading FC)

    The 6-foot-4 striker enjoyed a breakout season with Dutch second-division side Telstar, playing well enough to pave the way for a move into the Eredivisie with Fortuna Sittard. He remains on the books with English side Reading, but a full season starting in the Dutch top flight should only boost his stock. He has enjoyed his first experiences with the USMNT, though he hasn't been able to garner many minutes just yet.
  20. #20 Nick Taitague, Schalke

    Overshadowed by Weston McKennie's breakthrough, Taitague is widely regarded in American soccer circles as one of the most technically skilled prospects to ever emerge from the U.S. An attacking midfielder by trade, Taitague still has yet to make his breakthrough as a pro, but the 19-year-old is considered someone destined to be a senior national team contributor.
  21. #21 Justen Glad, Real Salt Lake

    Of all the talented youngsters at RSL, Glad showed the most growth as a player in 2017, solidifying a regular starter role after recovering from an injury suffered while with the U.S. U-20s. A poised and highly skilled central defender who is also showing signs of being a leader, Glad is just 21 and has closed ground on the other top young defenders in the pool.
  22. #22 Romain Gall, Malmo

    One of the year's true success stories, Gall enjoyed an outstanding season with Swedish side Sundsvall and parlayed that into a move to Swedish champion Malmo. The former U.S. Under-20 midfielder has evolved into a real goal-scoring threat, and the 23-year-old should be on the USMNT radar after the year he has had.
  23. #23 Emerson Hyndman, Hibernian (via Bournemouth)

    Emerson Hyndman has stagnated since he left Fulham for Bournemouth, with the lone saving grace being some promising loan spells in the Scottish Premier League. He is back in Scotland this season, with Hibernian, and he's earning regular playing time. Will that be enough to help the 22-year-old climb back into the USMNT picture? Time is on his side, as well as his skill set. Hyndman is the kind of attack-minded central midfield the national team needs more of.
  24. #24 Chris Durkin, D.C. United

    Arguably the most impressive player on the U.S. team at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, Durkin broke through with the D.C. United first team in 2018. He's among the MLS leaders in minutes played among teenagers, and the 18-year-old remains a highly regarded prospect by European scouts.
  25. #25 Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas

    After a quiet rookie season where he saw just one minute of playing time, Cannon is in the midst of a true breakout second season, establishing himself as a regular starter at right back for a strong FC Dallas squad. The 20-year-old defender has shown the combination of solid defending and quality in attack to develop into a strong international option. He should also be a top option in the next Olympic qualifying cycle.
  26. #26 Will Trapp, Columbus Crew

    The oldest player on the list, Trapp will be close to 30 when the 2022 World Cup kicks off. As tough as the competition is in central midfield in the U.S. player pool, Trapp is a unique prospect who provides something different as a smooth deep-lying distributor.
  27. #27 Julian Green, Greuther Furth

    It's wild to think that Green scored a goal at the 2014 World Cup at the age of 19, yet isn't widely regarded as someone who will be a factor in 2022. We shouldn't go writing him off just yet, however. The 23-year-old found consistent playing time while on loan to Greuther Furth, helping the 2. Bundesliga side to avoid relegation. It also earned him a permanent move to the club, and he's become a key starter. As a result, Green has earned a return to the USMNT, and his goal against France in June stands as a new highlight of his renaissance.

  28. #28 Gianluca Busio, Sporting Kansas City

    The 16-year-old made his first-team debut for Sporting Kansas City this year, and while his minutes have been limited on the Western Conference power, he has already made a strong impression. The second-youngest player on this list, Busio is a dynamic attacking talent who will look to make his mark with the U.S. Under-17 national team in 2019.
  29. #29 Theoson Siebatcheu, Rennes

    American fans don't know much about the 22-year-old striker, but Siebatcheu was born in the United States and has been in touch with U.S. Soccer about the possibility of playing for the USMNT. A starter for a Ligue 1 side and one-time French Under-21 call-up, Siebatcheu is very much a prospect to keep tabs on, especially if he accepts a call-up in the near future.
  30. #30 Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas

    It was a forgettable year for FC Dallas in 2017, but Gonzalez definitely should not be forgotten as a worthy contender for the starting U.S. national team goalkeeper job in the coming years. He may boast the most natural talent of the many candidates lining up to replace the likes of Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, but has been in and out of the lineup in 2018 as he continues to lose ground to the likes of Jonathan Klinsmann and Zack Steffen.
  31. #31 Keaton Parks, Benfica

    The 6-foot-4 Texas-born midfielder has been a revelation at Portuguese giant Benfica, and while he's still just taking the first modest steps into top-level playing time, it can't be overstated how impressive his run to this point has been. The 20-year-old is a highly skilled distributor who is far better on the ball than most players his size, making him an intriguing prospect in an already-stacked U.S. midfield pool.
  32. #32 Shaq Moore, Reus Deportiu (via Levante)

    A surprise breakthrough with La Liga side Levante last season helped put Moore on the USMNT map, and even though he wasn't able to maintain his place with the Spanish club, he still caught the attention of the national team, earning some call-ups and appearances against both France and Mexico. He looks like an heir apparent to DeAndre Yedlin, and if he can continue to develop, Moore could eventually give the next U.S. coach a valuable second option at right back.
  33. #33 Timothy Tillman, Nuremberg (via Bayern Munich)

    The 19-year-old German-born midfielder has represented Germany in the youth ranks, but has had discussions with U.S. Soccer about playing for the United States. He is a highly regarded prospect for Bayern Munich, and was sent on loan to fellow Bundesliga side Nuremberg this season. The loan has yet to provide him with first-team minutes, but remains an exciting prospect who the USMNT will be hoping plays for the Under-20 team in the next World Cup cycle.
  34. #34 Ethan Horvath, Club Brugge

    Horvath followed up a roller-coaster 2017 with a disappointing 2018, which has seen him stuck on the bench at Belgian giant Club Brugge. He is still in the USMNT picture because he is young and talented, but he has lost ground to other goalkeepers in the pool.
  35. #35 Lynden Gooch, Sunderland

    The speedy and tenacious winger has had his share of difficulty finding consistent minutes for Sunderland, but in recent weeks he has found more time and is making the most of it. The 22-year-old still has plenty of time to develop and has shown good promise in his handful of U.S. national team looks. He should be a factor as a winger in the next World Cup qualifying cycle.
  36. #36 Brooks Lennon, Real Salt Lake

    The former U.S. Under-20 standout is one of the more exciting wing prospects in the national team pool, though 2018 has seen him play mostly as a right back for Real Salt Lake. He has adapted well to the position change, but it remains to be seen if that's really going to be a long-term move for him for both club and country. The 20-year-old should be a key figure in the next Olympic qualifying cycle.
  37. #37 Marco Delgado, Toronto FC

    The 23-year-old played a key role in Toronto FC's MLS Cup-winning season in 2017, and while TFC has endured a forgettable 2018, Delgado has continued to play well. The former Chivas USA player is a versatile midfielder capable of playing centrally or on the wing, and he has earned some national team looks this year despite being in a crowded pool of young midfielders.
  38. #38 Alex Bono, Toronto FC

    The MLS Cup-winning goalkeeper enjoyed his first full season as a starter in 2017, showing all the poise and overall qualities that helped him beat out veteran Clint Irwin. The 24-year-old is facing plenty of competition in the U.S. goalkeeper pool from a plethora of standouts right around his age, but Bono showed in 2017 that he's going to have a say in that race in the coming years.
  39. #39 Tim Parker, New York Red Bulls

    A trade from the Vancouver Whitecaps to the New York Red Bulls has boosted Parker's career, and helped him earn a call-up to the USMNT. The 25-year-old has started earning regular call-ups and has enjoyed a stellar season in MLS as one of the key figures on the Red Bulls' league-leading defense. Parker is in the final year of his contract, and could make a move to Europe this winter.
  40. #40 Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders

    Sidelined for most of 2018 with a torn ACL, Morris has become a bit of a forgotten man in the U.S. national team picture. He's still just 23, and should return in 2019 ready to challenge for a place on the USMNT. Don't be surprised if the 2017 Gold Cup hero is on the U.S. squad for the 2019 tournament.
  41. #41 Auston Trusty, Philadelphia Union

    It isn't easy being a 20-year-old starting central defender in MLS, but Trusty took full advantage of being made a starter by the Union heading into the season. The left-footed center back has played a big part in the Union's run to the U.S. Open Cup final, and their push for a playoff berth.
  42. #42 Richie Ledezma, Real Salt Lake Academy

    Another MLS academy product set to make the jump to Europe, Ledezma turned 18 earlier this month and is reportedly on the verge of joining Dutch side PSV Eindhoven. The U.S. Under-19 standout is a skilled central midfielder who is one of the best talents in his age group, and the latest gem to emerge from the Real Salt Lake academy. He's more of a long-term prospect, but if he can blossom at PSV, he could be climbing up this list quickly.
  43. #43 Russell Canouse, D.C. United

    A preseason knee injury cost Canouse the first half of the 2018 MLS season, but since his return he has been a key factor in D.C. United's turnaround. The 23-year-old defensive midfielder is tough on the tackle and also a good passer, and while he's facing a lot of competition for the defensive midfield role with the USMNT, he has the talent to push for a national team look.
  44. #44 Walker Zimmerman, Los Angeles FC

    It has been a good year for Zimmerman, who followed up a disappointing 2017 at FC Dallas by landing with a promising Los Angeles FC side and earning a return to the USMNT. He scored his first national team goal in May, and while he is one of the older players on this list, the 25-year-old should challenge for more call-ups in 2019.
  45. #45 Kenny Saief, Anderlecht

    The 24-year-old midfielder has been hit by injuries over the past year and change, and that has kept him from not only finding consistent playing time with Anderlecht, but also with the USMNT. He's still too talented and versatile to write off, and he should earn a USMNT recall once he finds consistent playing time in Belgium.
  46. #46 Sebastian Soto, Hannover 96

    One of the most prolific goal-scorers in the U.S. youth national team ranks, Soto left the Real Salt Lake academy to sign with Hannover 96's Under-19 team in August. A key figure on the current U.S. Under-20 national team, Soto is part of a new wave of young American strikers who will be called on to fill a void at the position. A composed forward with good back-to-goal skills and technical quality in the penalty area, Soto has enjoyed a rapid rise in 2018 and will be one to watch in 2019.
  47. #47 Chris Richards, Bayern Munich U-19s (via FC Dallas)

    When 2018 began, Richards was an amateur player who wasn't well known outside Texas, but the U.S. Under-20 defender then signed a homegrown player deal with FC Dallas in the spring before going on loan with Bayern Munich's U-19 team. Richards really impressed was during a stint with Bayern's first team in the International Champions Cup, showing excellent passing ability and good physical qualities as a central defender. He should be a key figure in Under-20 World Cup qualifying in November.
  48. #48 Luca de la Torre, Fulham

    The Fulham academy product began to break through with the Cottagers first team in 2017, but it was his work at the Under-20 World Cup with the U.S. that reminded us why he has been such a highly regarded prospect for so long. Still just 20, De La Torre has much room to grow, and is probably still a few years away from being a viable U.S. national team option, but he's someone who could develop into a force by 2022.
  49. #49 Ulysses Llanez, LA Galaxy II

    Arguably the best American prospect born in 2001, Llanez is emerging as a very talented midfielder, having begun his pro career playing in USL. Llanez has already begun testing the waters in Europe, and seems ready to make the jump when the right opportunity comes along. He could push for a place on the U.S. Under-20 team by next year's World Cup.
  50. #50 Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes

    A fast and technical right back who has all the tools to be a U.S. national team prospect, Lima has been one of the few bright spots in a forgettable season for the Earthquakes. The 23-year-old has the two-way ability to make a real push for a national team place in the coming years.