The United States will get their 2023/24 CONCACAF Nations League tournament underway with two quarterfinal legs against Trinidad and Tobago in the November international break.
As one of the top-four-ranked teams in CONCACAF, the USMNT got a bye through to the quarterfinals alongside Mexico, Canada, and Costa Rica. Their opponents, meanwhile, earned their way through by securing a spot via the League A group-stage phase, finishing top two in their six-team table.
The first leg was played at home in Austin, Texas, while all eyes will be on the emotional return leg in Port of Spain. It will be the first time the USMNT returns to play at Trinidad and Tobago since the shock in 2017 that led to their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup tournament.
After playing four friendlies across the September and October international breaks, Gregg Berhalter will now take charge of the first competitive fixtures in his new head coaching tenure, with very little to gain but a lot to lose.
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The 24-man USMNT squad for the pair of matches against Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals were announced on November 9.
Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah were the two big initial absentees from the squad, with the Serie A stars both suffering hamstring injuries.
Quarterfinal matchups are between four seeded teams, which earned a bye to this round, against four qualifiers from the group stage.
In the table below, the home team’s score is listed first in each match, with seeded teams hosting first leg and unseeded teams hosting second leg.
To determine semifinal matchups, quarterfinal winners are re-seeded, placed in a table based on their results across two legs in the quarterfinals.
The biggest names missing from the November roster are Juventus pair Weston McKennie (knee) and Tim Weah, who suffered a hamstring injury in the October 28 match against Hellas Verona in Serie A play, and AC Milan star Christian Pulisic, who also has a muscle issue.
It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Weah, who not only had just earned a regular spot in the Juventus starting lineup but had also been one of the top performers for the USMNT across the last few months.
Pulisic came off late in AC Milan’s gutsy win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League just two days before the roster was announced. He appeared to have suffered a muscle injury and was in real pain coming off, but shouldn’t be out long-term.
Also absent from the roster is midfielder and captain Tyler Adams who remains sidelined long-term with the hamstring injury that has destroyed nearly a year of his career. Adams had a second surgery on the troublesome muscle and is out until 2024.
Goalkeepers Zack Steffen and Sean Johnson remain out of action due to injuries. Additionally, Josh Sargent is out with a long-term ankle injury, while Daryl Dike is also unavailable after tearing his Achilles.
Antonee Robinson missed the October friendlies against Germany and Ghana as he recovered from the onset of a sports hernia, but he’s been playing for Fulham since club action restarted and will return for these competitive fixtures.
Internacional midfielder Johnny Cardoso (ankle) joined McKennie in being forced to leave the squad after initially joining.
With Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, both the USMNT starting wingers, absent due to hamstring injuries, as is captain Tyler Adams.
That has forced a few players into key roles for the United States.
Gio Reyna, who has been at his best for the U.S. in a No. 8 midfield role over the last year, is capable in a wide role but it does take him out of the position where he’s most influenced games in recent windows.
Reyna scored the USA’s third goal in their 3-0 win at home to Trinidad.
Others who could be deployed out wide include Brenden Aaronson and Yunus Musah, but both are right-sided players, as is Reyna, so a solution will have to be devised for the left wing.
Cardoso, who has emerged as a potential long-term option behind Tyler Adams at the defensive midfield spot, had stepped up before being injured.
The 22-year-old has been a key player for his Brazilian club team as they progressed to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores, earning talk of a winter move to Europe. With Adams likely out a number of months, Cardoso should see significant time at this position moving forward.