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PREVIEW: USMNT resumes Concacaf Nations League play against Grenada

CHICAGO – The U.S. Men’s National Team’s aim to return to the Concacaf Nations League Final Four continues this week with two matches to close out Group D, beginning on Friday, March 24 away against Grenada at Kirani James Athletic Stadium in Saint George’s (8 p.m. ET; TNT, Universo, Peacock).

Currently in second place with four points and one behind El Salvador, the USA then hosts La Selecta three days later at Exploria Stadium on Monday, March 27. Coverage begins at 7 p.m., with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET, also on TNT, Universo and streamed on Peacock.

USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough/ENG; 29/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 24/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 23/2), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 10/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 50/1), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo/BEL; 2/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham; 33/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 20/3), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 3/0), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City/ENG; 0/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 28/6), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; 4/0), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 12/0), Weston McKennie (Leeds United/ENG; 41/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 23/0), Alan Soñora (Juárez/MEX; 2/0)

FORWARDS (7): Taylor Booth (Utrecht/NED; 0/0), Daryl Dike (West Bromwich Albion/ENG; 8/3), Djordje Mihailovic (AZ Alkmaar/NED; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 12/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 56/22), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 16/4), Alex Zendejas (Club América/MEX; 1/0)

The only player to appear in all eight of the USMNT’s previous Concacaf Nations League matches, Weston McKennie leads the list of 14 players with previous CNL experience, followed by Pulisic and Ream (5); Aaronson, Dest, Antonee Robinson and Steffen (3); de la Torre, Horvath, McKenzie, Reyna and Weah (2); Musah and Turner (1).

WHAT IS THE NATIONS LEAGUE?

Created to maximize the quality, quantity and frequency of competitive matches for all of Concacaf’s 41 Member Associations, the 2022/23 CNL is the second edition of the regional tournament. The USMNT are defending champions following a thrilling 3-2 defeat of Mexico in extra time of the inaugural championship match in 2021.

The CNL Group Stage is played in a three League format (A, B, C), with home and away round robin play on the FIFA Match Windows of June 2022 (double window) and March 2023.

All 41 Concacaf Member Associations were allocated in a League pot based on their Concacaf Ranking following the conclusion of the FIFA Men’s International Window of March 2022.

The USMNT plays in League A, which consists of four groups of four teams. The winners of each group will advance to the Concacaf Nations League Finals at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the semifinals set for Thursday, June 15 and the third place match and final played on Sunday, June 18.

Additionally, the Concacaf Nations League serves as qualifying for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup, with the two top teams in each League A group booking their ticket. The USA can clinch its place in this year’s Gold Cup with a draw or win in either match this window.

Concacaf Nations League A, Group D Standings
Team GP W L D GD Pts.
El Salvador-x 3 1 0 2 2 5
USA 2 1 0 1 5 4
Grenada 3 0 2 1 -7 1
x-Qualified for 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup

CNL REWIND – JUNE 2022

June 4: El Salvador 3-1 Grenada – After the hosts’ Nelson Bonilla scored the first of his two goals in the second minute, Alexander McQueen equalized two minutes later. Bonilla struck for the go-ahead tally before the break, and Grenada’s A. J. Paterson put the ball in his own net to close out the scoring.

June 7: Grenada 2-2 El Salvador  – The Spice Boys twice took the lead behind goals from Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong and Jamar Charles, but El Salvador found a late equalizer, with Cristian Gil putting one home in the 88th.

June 10: USA 5-0 Grenada – Jesús Ferreira’s four goals propelled the USA to rout in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,500 at Q2 Stadium. His FC Dallas teammate Paul Arriola also tallied.

June 14: El Salvador 1-1 USA– The USA came from behind to tie La Selecta on a rain-soaked, mud-patched field at Estadio Cuscatlán. Jordan Morris brought the USA level in second half stoppage time, heading in Luca de la Torre’s cross for the tying goal.

WORLD CUP VETERANS RETURN

  • With this being the first international window on the FIFA calendar since last December, a dozen European-based players return for the first time since featuring in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
  • Christian Pulisic leads all players on the roster with 56 caps and has scored four times at Exploria Stadium in Orlando during his national team career.
  • Fulham and Leeds United from the English Premier League each contribute a pair of players as the defensive duo of Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson head to Orlando joined by Brenden Aaronson and Weston McKennie.
  • The full list of World Cup returnees: Brenden Aaronson, Luca de la Torre, Sergiño Dest, Ethan Horvath, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Christian Pulisic, Tim Ream, Gio Reyna, Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, Matt Turner.

BACK IN THE MIX

  • As the only MLS-based player on the roster, Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson makes his USMNT return after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered with his club last May. The 26-year-old last appeared for the USMNT on March 30, 2022 at Costa Rica, the night the team qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Coincidentally, Robinson scored his first international goal at Exploria Stadium in 2021. Meantime, goalkeeper Zack Steffen also returns to camp for the first time since that March 2022 window when he appeared in all three matches to help the USA qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
  • After injuries kept him out of the National Team throughout 2022, striker Daryl Dike will seek his first USMNT cap since the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinal win against Qatar, while fellow striker Ricardo Pepi has nine goals and three assists in 20 matches for FC Groningen. Defender Bryan Reynolds also returns to the USMNT for the first time since the December 2021 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Two players are seeking their USMNT debuts: Utrecht winger Taylor Booth and Birmingham City center back Auston Trusty. Both have been called for previous USMNT camps, with Booth last summoned in December 2021 and Trusty last taking part in January 2022.
  • On March 14, Mexican-American winger Alex Zendejas – who made his USMNT debut in January’s friendly against Serbia – declared his commitment to represent the United States. Alan Soñora, who holds citizenship in Argentina and the USA, earned his first two caps for the USA in the matches against Serbia and Colombia. Should either player appear in the Nations League matches, they would be officially tied to the United States for international competition.
  • Djordje Mihailovic has played six times for the USMNT, scoring in his international debut during the USA’s 3-0 shutout of Panama on Jan. 27, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. His most recent appearance came in the 6-0 win against El Salvador on Dec. 9, 2020, in Ft. Lauderdale. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., he was part of the squad that reached the final of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup and was last summoned for the 2022 January camp.

USA ROSTER NOTES

  • The roster holds an average age of 24 years, 94 days as of March 24.
  • Players on the roster hold an average of 17 caps and 10 in official competition.
  • Twelve players were part of the USMNT’s 2022 FIFA World Cup roster.
  • Seventeen players are 24 or younger.
  • Christian Pulisic leads all players with 56 caps, followed by Tim Ream (50), Weston McKennie (41), Antonee Robinson (33) and Zack Steffen (29).
  • The roster features players who ply their trade in nine different countries: England (10), Belgium (2), Germany (2), Mexico (2), Netherlands (3), Spain (2), Brazil (1), Italy (1) and USA (1).
  • Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson makes his USMNT return after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last May. The 25-year-old last appeared for the USMNT on March 30, 2022 at Costa Rica, the night the team qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Robinson tallied his first international goal at Exploria Stadium, heading home from close range in the 55th minute of the USA’s 7-0 rout of Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 31, 2021.
  • Goalkeeper Zack Steffen also returns to camp for the first time since the March 2022 window when he appeared in all three matches to help the USA qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
  • After officially committing to play for the USA on Tuesday, winger Alex Zendejas will have the chance to represent the USMNT for the first time in official competition during the March Nations League matches. Born in Juárez, Mexico, the Club América attacker grew up in El Paso, Texas and made his senior international debut on January 25 against Serbia, having previously represented the USA at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
  • Two players are seeking their USMNT debuts: Utrecht winger Taylor Booth and Birmingham City center back Auston Trusty. Both have been called for previous USMNT camps, with Booth last summoned in December 2021 and Trusty taking part in January 2022.
  • After injuries kept him out of the National Team throughout 2022, striker Daryl Dike will seek his first USMNT cap since the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Final win against Mexico. The 22-year-old scored his sixth goal of the season for EFL Championship side West Bromwich Albion in their 1-0 win against Middlesbrough last Wednesday.
  • Dike and Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner both earned their first cap in Orlando during the 7-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 31, 2021. In that match, Turner became the first USMNT goalkeeper to save a penalty kick in their international debut when he stopped Alvin Jones’ spot kick in the 66th minute.
  • Striker Ricardo Pepi has also shown strong attacking form with Eredivisie side Groningen this season, tallying 10 goals and three assists in 22 matches across all competitions.
  • Defender Bryan Reynolds also returns to the USMNT for the first time since the December 2021 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina. The right back has found a great form on loan with Belgian Jupiler league side Westerlo, where he’s made 21 league appearances and contributed one goal and four assists so far this season.
  • Midfielder Alan Soñora joins Alex Zendejas as the other January camp returnee. Soñora earned his first two caps for the USA in the matches against Serbia and Colombia and has since joined Liga MX side FC Juárez where he’s appeared in each of the last five matches.
  • The USA’s CNL group finale against El Salvador on March 27 in Orlando occurs one year to the day of the team’s 5-1 defeat of Panama in World Cup Qualifying, a match in which Christian Pulisic recorded a hat trick to all but secure the USMNT’s place in Qatar. In total, four of Pulisic’s 22 international goals have come at Exploria Stadium, with the attacker also scoring the opener in the USA’s 4-0 qualifying win against Panama on Oct. 6, 2017.
  • One of the standout U.S. players at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, veteran defender Tim Ream has continued his strong form with eighth-place Fulham this season, captaining the side in all 27 league matches. Should he appear in either match this window, it would mark Ream’s first international match on this side of the Atlantic since the opening game of qualifying on Sept. 2, 2021 at El Salvador.
  • Fulham teammate Antonee Robinson scored a particularly big goal against El Salvador just over a year ago, tallying the difference-maker in a crucial 1-0 World Cup Qualifying win on Jan. 27, 2022 at Lower.com Field in Columbus.
  • The only player to appear in all eight of the USMNT’s previous Concacaf Nations League matches, Weston McKennie leads the list of 14 players with previous CNL experience, followed by Pulisic and Ream (5); Aaronson, Dest, Antonee Robinson and Steffen (3); de la Torre, Horvath, McKenzie, Reyna (2); Musah and Turner (1).

LAST TIME OUT

January 25, 2023: In the USA’s opening match of the new year, a remarkably green line-up fought hard but ultimately couldn’t overcome Serbia at LAFC’s BMO Stadium. One of eight players to make their USMNT debut, forward Brandon Vazquez opened the scoring in the 29th minute. Serbia was able to equalize on a free kick from Luka Ilić just before the half, and found the eventual game-winner moments into the second half. At 18 years, 255 days, Gaga Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper to play for the USMNT, and the eight debutants marked the USA’s highest total of first caps in one match since the 2-0 win against Canada on Sept. 3, 1992.

January 28, 2023: The USMNT wrapped up its January camp with a 0-0 draw against Colombia in front of a loud, sellout crowd of 27,000 at Dignity Health Sports Park. Four more players made their USMNT debuts in an end-to-end game with the USMNT producing the better quality scoring opportunities despite being outshot on the night and had two shots on goal to just one for Los Cafeteros.

USA VS. GRENADA

  • The away match in Grenada marks the fifth all-time meeting between the teams.
  • Grenada is one of two teams, along with Barbados, that the United States has played four times and won every meeting.
  • The USMNT has played only one previous match in Grenada, a 3-2 win in a World Cup qualifier in June 2004.
  • In the CNL Group D opener last June, Jesús Ferreira’s four goals propelled the USA to a 5-0 home rout of Grenada in Austin, Texas.
    • Ferreira became the third player in USMNT history to score four goals in a competitive match, joining Landon Donovan in the 2003 Gold Cup and Aldo Donelli in the 1934 World Cup.
  • Prior to 2022, the USA and Grenada last played on July 4, 2009 in the opening match of the 2009 Concacaf Gold Cup with Freddy Adu, Stu Holden, Robbie Rogers and Charlie Davies scoring the goals in the 4-0 win.
  • The teams first met during a two-leg preliminary round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup:
    • On June 13, 2004, the USMNT utilized the first-career brace from DaMarcus Beasley, as well as a late goal from Greg Vanney to down the Spice Boys 3-0 in Columbus.
    • On June 20, 20024, Beasley tallied what would stand as the game winner following goals from Landon Donovan and Josh Wolff as the USA took a 3-2 wild win and rainy affair at Grenada’s National Stadium in St. George’s.

GRENADA ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jason Belfon (All Saints United FC/ATG), Trishawn Thomas (Queens Park Rangers), Jeremy Richardson (Paradise FCI)

DEFENDERS (6): Aaron Pierre (AFC Wimbledon/ENG), Benjamin Ettienne (Charleston Battery/USA), Christian James (FC Camerhogne), Trevon Williams (Queens Park Rangers), Dorrel Pierre (Paradise FCI), Sawan Mark (Sunsetters FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): AJ Paterson (Charleston Battery/USA), Regan Charles-Cook (KAS Eupen/BEL), Kwazim Theodore (All Saints United FC/ANG), Steffon Abraham (Paradise FCI), Kayden Harrack (Queen’s Park Rangers), Jacob Agyepong (Gloucester City FC/ENG), Ashley Charles (Wealdstone FC/ENG)

FORWARDS (7): Jamal Ray Charles (Paradise FCI), Romar Frank (FC Camerhogne), Saydrel Lewis (Paradise FCI), Joshua Isaac (Paradise FCI), Kairo Mitchell (Eastleigh FC/ENG), Kriston Julien (Hurricanes SC), Myles Hippolyte (Stockport County/ENG)

IN FOCUS: GRENADA

  • The team is led by interim head coach Anthony ‘Nixon’ Modeste, a former national team player and assistant who took over for Michael Findlay last fall.
  • The roster includes nine players playing overseas, and 14 playing domestically.
  • Midfielder AJ Paterson and defender Benjamin Ettienne play for USL side Charleston Battery. England-born Regan Charles-Cook plays in Belgium’s first-division side Eupen and two years in the Scottish Premier League.
  • Grenada has already played five friendly matches in 2023 – all at home – drawing Barbados three times (2/22: 1-1; 2/24: 2-2; 2/26 2-2) and splitting two games with Saint Lucia (3/2: 1-2; 3/5 2-0).
  • Shermine Williams got one back late in the loss to Saint Lucia, while Kimron Marshall and Kriston Julien converted in the 2-0 win.
  • Grenada earned promotion to League A of this year’s Nations League after going undefeated in the 2019/20 League B, winning Group A with 14 points (4-0-2). Jamal Charles scored six of the team’s eight goals, including late winners in each of the first two wins and a hat trick in the 3-2 win against Belize.
    • W 2-1 Saint Kitts and Nevis
    • W 2-1 Belize
    • D 0-0 French Guiana
    • W 1-0 French Guiana
    • D 0-0 Sant Kitts and Nevis
    • W 3-2 Belize
  • Grenada has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, making its competition debut in 1998.
  • The Spice Boyz have participated in three Concacaf Gold Cups, going three and out in the group stage of the 2009, 2011 and 2021 editions of the tournament.
  • The squad has enjoyed greater success in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Cup, finishing as runners-up in 2008 and in fourth place in 1997 and 2010.

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