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These USMNT roster spots are up for grabs ahead of the 2026 World Cup

The United States' core is at least partially in place. Here's what's missing.

5 min read
Design: Peyton Gallaher

Folarin Balogun’s debut. The possibility of Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah playing as a double pivot against quality opposition. The chance to see some of the same energy that permeated the last meeting between the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League.

Even with the team’s lack of a permanent manager lurking in the background, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about what’s coming for the USMNT over the next week.

With a clash against Mexico in the Nations League semifinals on Thursday and a game against Canada or Panama in either the final or the third place game, the U.S. will have a chance to play some savvy opponents with their healthy first-choice players for the first time since the 2022 World Cup. Most of the core players, the ones who played key roles for the U.S. last winter, are in the squad for these two Nations League games.

So many of the USMNT’s top players are either in their prime — Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, for example — or still haven’t entered it yet — Gio Reyna and Musah, for example. That means many of them are likely to be around the program for several cycles. Still, there aren’t enough obvious top players to make up a 23- or a 26-man roster in any given window. There’s always some guesswork.

With that guesswork in mind, at least some of our mental energy during each window on the road to 2026 should shift to this question: who will join the core? Which players will step up and become high-level performers who genuinely fight for minutes?

Let’s take stock of the USMNT by going through each position to pick out the roster spots that are there for the taking — and contenders to fill them.

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