NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Sargent is back on the U.S. roster for the first time in a year, picked at forward along with Ricardo Pepi and Jesús Ferreira for the Americans’ final two World Cup warmup matches.
Defenders Sergiño Dest, Chris Richards and Sam Vines, and winger Gio Reyna also were among 26 players selected Wednesday by coach Gregg Berhalter after missing the four previous matches in May and June.
The 13th-ranked Americans play No. 23 Japan on Sept. 23 in Düsseldorf, Germany, and 53rd-ranked Saudi Arabia four days later in Murcia, Spain. Berhalter plans to announce his 26-man World Cup roster on Nov. 9, 12 days before the Americans’ opener at the tournament in Qatar.
Six players from the late spring games were dropped: defenders George Bello, Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson, midfielder Cristian Roldan, winger Tim Weah and forward Haji Wright.
Robinson, Roldan, Weah and goalkeeper Zack Steffen have been sidelined by injuries. Steffen withdrew from the spring roster for family reasons.
Among the notable omissions were defenders John Brooks, Tim Ream and Shaq Moore, midfielder/defender James Sands, midfielder Djordje Mihailovic and forwards Jordan Pefok and Brandon Vazquez.
Back in the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the U.S. opens against 20th-ranked Wales on Nov. 21, plays No. 5 England in a Black Friday matchup four days later and closes group play on Nov. 29 against 21st-ranked Iran.
Sargent appeared in the first three qualifiers last September but was dropped by the U.S. during a scoring slump at Norwich, which was relegated from the Premier League to England’s second tier. He has revived his play this season, scoring five goals in his last five matches going into Wednesday night’s game.
Ferreira is fourth in Major League Soccer with 18 goals for Dallas, but Pepi is scoreless in 30 games for club and country since he got two goals in a qualifier against Jamaica on Oct. 7. He had an assist last weekend in his debut for Groningen following a loan from Augsburg.
Injuries and lack of playing time remain a concern.
Central defender Miles Robinson will miss the tournament after tearing his left ACL on May 7. Weah has not played in the French league this season because of a foot injury. Steffen has been out since Aug. 20 due to a knee injury, and Roldan has been sidelined by a groin injury since Aug. 23. Left back Antonee Robinson hurt his right ankle on Sept. 3.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner has played just once this season at Arsenal, where he is Aaron Ramsdale’s backup. Christian Pulisic has one start this season for Chelsea, and Luca de la Torre has played just 12 minutes over two games in his first season with Celta Vigo.
Reyna, coming back from leg injuries that decimated his 2021-22 season, has been limited to four second-half substitute appearances since April 8 and Dest to one since April 24.
Berhalter’s roster will average 24 years, 201 days as of the start of training on Monday. Nine players have changed clubs in recent months. Eight players are from MLS, nine based in Europe and nine in England and Scotland.
Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Luton Town, England), Sean Johnson (New York City), Matt Turner (Arsenal, England)
Defenders: Reggie Cannon (Boavista, Portugal), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Glasgow Celtic, Scotland), Sergiño Dest (AC Milan, Italy), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace, England), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp, Belgium), DeAndre Yedlin (Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (Los Angeles), Tyler Adams (Leeds, England), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo, Spain), Weston McKennie (Juventus, Italy), Yunus Musah (Valencia, Spain), Malik Tillman (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)
Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds, England), Paul Arriola (Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen, Netherlands), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Josh Sargent (Norwich, England).
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Ronald Blum, The Associated Press