It’s World Cup roster time, and a former player from Md. believes US is on the rise

The U.S. has unveiled its 26-man roster that will travel to Qatar for the World Cup, and Crofton, Maryland’s Kyle Beckerman knows it’s an emotionally-charged time.

“When I finally made the team before the World Cup in 2014, what hit me was the guys who did not make the team”, said Beckerman. “I knew how crushed they were and knew what the feeling would be like. I had more compassion about the guys not making it instead of the feeling I finally did it — this is my dream come true.”

USMNT 26-man roster

Goalkeepers: Matt Turner (Arsenal), Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Ethan Horvath (Luton Town) (3)

Fullbacks: Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Joe Scally (Monchengladbacj), Shaq Moore (Nashville) (5)

Central defenders: Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC), Tim Ream (Fulham), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic) (4)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (Leeds United) , Weston McKennie (Juventus) , Yunus Musah (Valencia), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Christian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United) (7)

Forwards: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tim Weah (Lille), Gio Reyna (Dortmund), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Josh Sargent (Norwich City), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor) (7)

Read more on the U.S.’s World Cup roster here.

“We have some players at top clubs,” said Beckerman. “It is amazing to see now that guys are playing important roles in the Champions League and all the top leagues in the world. We have some experience even though we are a young team. That experience at a high level will help going into the World Cup.”

One player that Beckerman is excited to see at this year’s World Cup is Brenden Aaronson who leads a new wave of potential American stars. Hailing from Medford, New Jersey, and nicknamed the “Medford Messi,” Aaronson is only 22. He was developed in MLS by the Philadelphia Union and played in Austria before going to the Premier League and Leeds United.

“The amount of work Aaronson does for the team is incredible,” said Beckerman. “The pressing, the chasing, the tackling, and now you see his quality on the ball and how comfortable he is out there. If he gets going, then the U.S. will have good games as well.

Beckerman played 20 years in Major League Soccer and earned 58 caps for the United States including starting all three group stage games at the 2014 World Cup. Still involved in the game, Beckerman is the head men’s soccer coach at Utah Valley University and co-owner of the Annapolis Blues professional soccer team — and is seeing the talent level rising.

“These kids are growing up with pro soccer teams in their backyard,” said Beckerman. “They are growing up with high level of soccer on TV from a very young age … it is much different than when I grew up.”

When Beckerman started his professional journey in 2000, MLS had only a dozen teams. Now the league is closing in on 30 clubs.

In addition to growing the game in the stands, MLS teams now have established academies with developing talent who are attracting attention from overseas.

“We are attracting kids at a very young age and we have the facilities to develop them,” said Beckerman. “A lot of these kids have been better places to train than some of the kids in Europe. That goes hand-in-hand with the talent rising and getting guys to top clubs and historic clubs in Europe.”

The U.S. begins play at the World Cup on November 21 against Wales, and is in a group that includes England and Iran.

“I would love to see us go on a nice run to get in a conversation to win it this year,” said Beckerman. “It might not happen yet, but I am a super positive about this group, that they can get the whole country rocking about soccer — and then we host the World Cup in four years.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: WTOP’s Dave Johnson is part of Annapolis Blues FC ownership group with Kyle Beckerman.

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Senior Sports Director and morning sports anchor. He first arrived at WTOP in 1989, left in 1992 and returned in 1995. He is a three-time winner of the A.I.R. award as best radio sportscaster in D.C. In 2008 he won the Edward R. Murrow award for best writing for sports commentaries.

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