Wales v United States

Reyna, Musah, De la Fuente and more: Meet the new USMNT call-ups

11/11/20
Wales v United States
United States
Giovanni Reyna
Sebastian Soto
Features & Opinions
Konrad De La Fuente
Richard Ledezma
Friendlies
João Cardoso
A total of 10 new faces have been called into the U.S. squad, with several having the potential to be key in the run up to the 2022 World Cup
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The U.S. men's national team player pool might be larger than ever before. That can be seen as a problem, but there are few better problems to have. 

But with that player pool chopped in half due to the decision to leave MLS players at home, Gregg Berhalter has turned to a bunch of new faces for the upcoming matches against Panama and Wales.

In fact, of the 24 players called into the U.S. squad, only six have more than 17 caps, with the average age set at just under 22.

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Headlining that youth movement are a series of young, uncapped newcomers, 10 of them to be precise.

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Their stories and paths vary, with some already playing on the global stage and others currently working their way there.

Some are very much for the future, while a few could be vital throughout the run to the 2022 World Cup.

But who are the USMNT newcomers, and how good are they?

Gio Reyna - Borussia Dortmund

He may be a newcomer for the USMNT, but Reyna's is certainly a familiar face at this point.

The son of former U.S. internationals Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan, Reyna has already established himself with one of Europe's top teams in one of Europe's top leagues.

The 17-year-old winger is at the perfect club with Borussia Dortmund and, somehow, he is already ahead of schedule.

The youngest American to ever start a Champions League game, Reyna has broken several records for Dortmund already and, as he stars in an attack alongside Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, there may be more to come.

It is safe to say that Reyna is the USMNT's next big star. 

Nicholas Gioacchini - Caen

Out of all the new call-ups, Nicholas Gioacchini may be the least familar to fans of American soccer.

He has never represented the U.S. at the youth level but, having become a regular for French side Caen, he could grow into a player that plays a part for the U.S. in attack.

The Kansas City-born forward made 17 league appearances for Caen last season, scoring two goals to help the club secure a 13th-place finish in Ligue 2.

This season, he has already fired two more in seven games, pushing his side to eighth in the table in the early weeks of the campaign.

Able to play either out wide or centrally, Gioacchini is most likely to feature on the right wing in Berhalter's system, although he sees himself as a striker, and he could play a role there given the ongoing competition for the No.9 position.

Konrad de la Fuente - Barcelona

Sergino Dest may have beaten him in the race to be Barcelona's first American debutant, but Konrad de la Fuente's rise through La Masia has him very close to being the second.

De la Fuente has been a regular for the U.S. youth teams, and was the second-youngest player in the squad that went to the Under-20s World Cup last year.

The Florida-born winger has risen through Barca's youth ranks, and he is now a regular for Barcelona B having already earned praise from first-team boss Ronald Koeman for his pre-season efforts.

A talented winger that can play on either side, De la Fuente has all of the physical tools to thrive, although, like in most young players, his decision-making could still improve.

He is just 19 and very much one for the future, but this November call-up will give him a taste of the senior game ahead of what could be a breakout season.

Johnny Cardoso - Internacional

It has been 24 years since a player outside of CONCACAF or UEFA was called up to the USMNT.

Johnny Cardoso is the player to break that trend, though, becoming the first player since Cobi Jones to be part of a squad while playing in South America.

Jones, a mainstay for the USMNT throughout his career, was featuring for Vasco da Gama when he was selected for the 1996 Gold Cup and, in the two-and-a-half decades since, American players have had little to no presence on the continent.

Cardoso, who was born in the U.S. but moved to Brazil as a child, made his debut for Internacional last year. This season, the defensive midfielder has made five appearances, including three in the Copa Libertadores. 

The 19-year-old midfielder, who is also eligible for Brazil, was called into the U23s team in 2019 and should be a key player at the U20s World Cup in 2021.

Yunus Musah - Valencia

Perhaps the most unexpected call-up, Yunus Musah was never really a player earmarked to represent the USMNT.

And, when this is all said and done, his international future may not lie with the U.S. after all. But, for now, he is clearly open to giving the U.S. a chance, and that is good news for Berhalter.

The Valencia winger has captained England at youth level, having emerged as a player to watch at the Arsenal academy. He left the Gunners for Valencia in 2019 and, this season, has emerged as one of the Spanish side's brightest stars.

His promotion to the Valencia first-team is in part due to necessity thanks to the club's summer firesale, but the winger's ability to cope with La Liga has nothing to do with luck.

He scored his first La Liga goal in Valencia's 2-2 home draw with Getafe on November 1, having already become the club's youngest-ever foreign player.

At just 17, Musah still has plenty of options, as he remains eligible for England, Ghana and Italy.

Sebastian Soto - Telstar 

Musah is not the only dual-national that the U.S. is battling to keep hold of, as Sebastian Soto's international future has been a major talking point in recent weeks.

The Telstar forward, on loan from Norwich City, is off to a hot start on the club level, scoring five goals in six matches this season.

That form has drawn interest from Chile, who have seen Soto as a potential answer up front as they aim to  add fresh blood to an ageing team.

To date, Soto has said he is open to representing either the U.S. or Chile, but his future may now be settled with this call-up.

That would be good news for Berhalter, who will have seen Soto finish tied for second overall in scoring at the U20 World Cup, with only Dortmund superstar Haaland scoring more goals. 

Chitiru Odunze - Leicester City

 

The third-youngest call-up in this group, Odunze joins the USMNT after featuring for the U.S. at the U17 World Cup in Brazil. 

Born in North Carolina, Odunze rose through the ranks of Canadian soccer, becoming a homegrown signing for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

A trial at Leicester City led to a move to the Premier League club, where he has featured for the Foxes' youth teams. 

Odunze's future with the U.S. is not necessarily a guarantee, as he is also eligible for Canada and Nigeria, having represented the former as an U15 player.

Chris Richards - Bayern Munich

Chris Richards has been on the radar for quite some time, having long been tipped as the USMNT's next regular center-back.

And while that day may not be here just yet, it is certainly getting closer.

Richards has become a member of Bayern Munich's first-team squad, having filled in at both center-back and right-back early on in the season.

He is by no means a regular and there is still a long way to go, but the fact that he is in Hansi Flick's plans in some way is a positive sign for the 20-year-old.

He is widely expected to be a key player for the U23s team whenever that group reconvenes after starting all five matches during the U.S.'s run at the most recent U20 World Cup.

Richie Ledezma - PSV

Richie Ledezma has been viewed as a player to watch since breaking through with Real Salt Lake's academy in 2018, earning a move to PSV.

And, while he may not be truly there yet in terms of reaching his potential, he is getting closer.

The midfielder recently made his debut for PSV's first-team, and he immediately made an impression by assisting a goal in a 4-0 win over ADO Den Haag.

To be fair, Ryan Thomas' laser of a shot did most of the work, but it was a positive start to life with the senior team for Ledezma.

Internationally, Ledezma has been a mainstay for the youth teams, starring at the U20 World Cup last summer. He was chosen for March's U23s roster and should be involved when Olympic qualifying does eventually resume. 

Owen Otasowie - Wolves

Owen Otasowie is another player on the precipice of a first-team breakthrough, having made his debut for Wolves in the Europa League last season. 

This season he has earned two bench appearances in the Premier League and, with the English schedule only getting busier, it would not be a surprise to see him involved sooner rather than later.

Able to play in defense, he has recently featured as a central midfielder for Wolves' U23 side.

Internationally, the 17-year-old has featured for the U.S. up to the U18s level, though he is eligible for England or Nigeria as well.