Despite a minor national freakout after Sunday afternoon's 2-0 loss to Canada, the U.S. men's national team emerges from the second-to-last World Cup qualifying window in second place. Sure, there's a four-point gap to Canada in first, but more importantly, there's a four-point gap to Panama in fourth and the undesirable intercontinental playoff that comes with it.
Gregg Berhalter and the USMNT is this close to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. The remaining schedule isn't easy -- and, you know, remember Couva and all that -- but barring a massive collapse over the final three matches, they'll be in Qatar.
Guess what that means? Ten straight months of roster speculation, baby! While the squad can sometimes seem stratified -- all the guys who play in the Champions League, and then everyone else -- it's a little trickier than that. We still haven't seen Giovanni Reyna share the field with Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Sergino Dest. Yes, they've never played a single minute together. Plus, we didn't get to see Pulisic, McKennie, Adams and Dest play with each other until this window -- and they lost one of those games.
At this point in the process, the team does not pick itself.
There's also a ton of soccer to be played over the next year, which means some guys will get hurt, others will fall out of form, some new stars will emerge out of nowhere, and some prospects will suddenly become legitimate pros. So, from now until the final roster is named, some combination of ESPN writers will be keeping track of the 23-man picture, answering questions like: Who's in? Who's out? Who deserves a look? Who's overstayed their welcome? And how do you gauge a positional battle between two keepers who are probably going to be backups for their club teams over the next calendar year?
Welcome to the first edition of our USMNT Big Board.