USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Five fringe USMNT players looking to make their mark in Saturday’s friendly

On Saturday, the United States men’s national team will take on Bosnia in a friendly to keep players fit between the Major League Soccer season ending and the January international break. That break will see the United States take on El Salvador, Canada, and Honduras in critical matches for qualifying for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar (you can catch Concacaf World Cup qualifying, including all USMNT road matches on Paramount+). Because this match is not during a FIFA sanctioned international break, Gregg Berhalter will have a mostly domestic-based roster at his disposal, along with a few European based guys who aren’t playing regularly in Bryan Reynolds and Taylor Booth. 

Camps like this are a good time for these fringe players to improve their stock with the team, to hopefully get a look in for important games on the schedule. Young players also get to learn from the experienced veterans, like at keeper where Matt Turner will likely start the match versus Bosnia but youngsters John Pulskamp and Gabriel Slonina will get valuable experience and training minutes while being with the side. 

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Here are five members of the squad who have something to gain from being in this camp:

1. Jonathan Gomez, Left Back, Louisville City

As of January first, Gomez will make the leap from USL to Real Sociedad following a season that saw him score two goals and register ten assists. While Antonee Robinson is locked in as the starter currently, Gomez is talented enough to push him in the future and could contribute as a backup now if a good enough showing convinces the coaching staff he should be ahead of George Bello. Also, having represented Mexico at the youth levels, this camp will likely be important in helping determine where Gomez’s future may lie. Given his technical abilities and that he can also take set plays, Gomez could be useful to the United States but at only 18-years-old, anything could happen.

2. Bryan Reynolds, Right Back, Roma

Frozen out at Roma under Jose Mourinho, Reynolds needs a move as things have stagnated. Reynolds is a versatile player who can play right back, left back, and some midfield but he has only played a total of 91 minutes across all competitions this season while not making the squad for most matches. This is quite the feat with some of the injuries that Roma has suffered as well. It looked like things were on the up for Reynolds at the end of last season featuring in five of the last 12 matches of the year but it wasn’t to be. Being back stateside can be a much needed reset for Reynolds and there could be the added bonus of being able to sort out a January move as well by generating a little buzz on the pitch.

3. Cole Bassett, Midfielder, Colorado Rapids

While Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are locked into the USMNT midfield when healthy, the third spot is up for grabs for whoever can turn in the best performances. This season for the Rapids, Bassett chipped in five goals and four assists while helping them to secure the top seed in the Western Conference. Being on the cusp of a European move after trialing with Arsenal in the past and being linked to Benfica this could be a critical camp if Bassett can parley it into a squad position with the senior side. A talented midfielder with an eye for a pass, Bassett could help with breaking down low blocks in Concacaf if given the chance but he’ll need to show Berhalter that he belongs first.

4. Jesus Ferreira, Attacking Midfielder/ Forward, FC Dallas

I don’t feel like we’ve seen enough of Ferreira mainly due to the amount of talent that he is competing against but after getting a taste of World Cup Qualifiers during the last international break this is an opportunity to keep his momentum going. Performing well in training and on the pitch without the regular veterans there will show a self motivation that is important for Ferreria’s national team future. As Ferreira has mainly been used as a center forward for the national team, all he needs is a few good performances and he could be in the starting eleven versus Canada. That’s quite the opportunity.

5. Jordan Morris, Winger, Seattle Sounders

Morris is a little different from the rest of these guys in that he doesn’t have much to prove but after finally reaching the end of the long road to recovery from a brutal injury, the goal of the camp is getting minutes under his belt and ensuring that he is healthy. Morris has been a useful player for the national team but it’s been two full years since he’s featured thanks to his ACL injury. With ten goals and eight assists, in his USMNT career, if Morris can prove that he’s healthy and able to compete then the door to the national team could reopen. While it will be harder due to the performances of Timothy Weah, to say nothing of the development of stars like Cristian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, a good showing from Morris could give Berhalter the flexibility to try Weah at the nine. Also being able to play the nine himself, Morris being healthy gives the team an extra dimension.

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