Full question submitted by Dan K.: Who has a better chance of sneaking on the plane to Qatar: Kevin Paredes or Bryan Reynolds? As a follow up, what is your ultimate 26-player “wish fulfillment” World Cup roster for the USMNT?
I have to emphasize this first before answering the question: it would be a truly meteoric rise if either Bryan Reynolds or Kevin Paredes made it onto the U.S.’s World Cup roster. It’s orders of magnitude greater than DeAndre Yedlin’s emergence from 2013 to the 2014 World Cup, if only because both Reynolds and Paredes will have to prove that they belong in a World Cup roster while competing for playing time in European top flights.
I’m not here to argue if the play in MLS or Belgium is better or worse across the board; I’m just saying that it’s probably more difficult for both of them to come by the playing time there that they had in MLS. With only two more friendlies before the World Cup and neither player involved in the June camp, the only way they’re getting on the roster is if they’re actually playing for their clubs consistently, and impressing while they’re at it.
If one of these two players make it, however, I’m inclined to think it will be Paredes, mostly because he makes more sense to bring along positionally. When healthy, the USMNT has a lot of right back options. Sergino Dest is the obvious starter in most situations, but Berhalter also has Yedlin as a fairly clear secondary option at the position, and then even more options behind him in Reggie Cannon, Shaq Moore, and Joe Scally. There’s a lot of right backs!
Now compare that to the team’s left back options behind Antonee Robinson. There’s… Dest, again, and then people like George Bello. The position is much more bare. Paredes is also a player who could potentially play left back in a similar way to how Robinson plays that position, which none of our other left back options have done in his stead. And that’s pretty important, given how Robinson functions as a vital cog in the USMNT’s attack. If he can’t play, you ideally want someone that can do their best impression of him.
There are plenty of tiny variables that could affect any potential battle for the 26th spot between the two players. Maybe playing time at Westerlo is easier to come by for Reynolds than minutes at Wolfsburg will be for Paredes – or maybe both get time and a judgment call has to be made between the two. It’s all very much up in the air.
For the bonus points, here’s a roster that signifies all of my wishes coming true for both the USMNT and its players in their respective club careers.
GK: Matt Turner, Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath
DEF: Sergino Dest, DeAndre Yedlin, Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, John Brooks, Aaron Long, Antonee Robinson, Kevin Paredes, Joe Scally
MID: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta, Keaton Parks
FW: Tim Weah, Christian Pulisic, Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna, Paul Arriola, Jesus Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi, Daryl Dike