Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley have been ruled out of the U.S. men’s national team’s upcoming Nations League clashes with Canada and Cuba.
The U.S. is set to host Canada in Orlando on Friday, having suffered a 2-0 defeat to their northern rivals in October to make the upcoming clash a must-win.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter invited 20 players for a pre-camp which began on November 2 before adding the team’s European-based players after the conclusion of their club fixtures.
However, Berhalter will be missing at least three key players in Pulisic, Bradley and Zack Steffen, the latter of which pulled out due to a knee injury.
Pulisic was left off the squad after suffering a hip injury in Chelsea’s win over Crystal Palace, while Bradley’s absence comes after the midfielder picked up a knock in Toronto FC’s MLS Cup defeat.
“Christian is officially at this stage ruled out. We just got that information. This was a collaborative decision with the club, looking after the best interest of the player,” Berhalter said.
“These decisions are always difficult because this group and the coaching staff want nothing more than to have Christian here, but it was a risk we weren’t willing to take at this time.”
While Bradley will miss out, two players on the winning side of MLS Cup will join the squad as Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris enter the fray after guiding the Seattle Sounders to the club’s second title in four seasons.
The squad also features Sergino Dest, who recently committed his international career to the USMNT after being courted by the Netherlands. If the Ajax defender were to play against Canada or Cuba, he would officially be cap-tied to the U.S.
A total of 18 players return from the October squad, with Alfredo Morales and John Brooks among those returning to the fold after missing out since the September friendlies.
The U.S. will need to win both remaining matches and achieve a superior goal differential to Canada, who have earned all nine points and a plus-nine goal tally from their three Nations League matches thus far.
While the U.S. did suffer that 2-0 defeat to the Canadians, a 7-0 win over Cuba in their opening fixture does provide a little bit of hope ahead of the group finale against the Cubans on November 19 in the Cayman Islands.
“Advancing to the knockout phase is our priority, and that starts by getting a win against Canada,” Berhalter said. “We will be ready to play, the team is looking forward to competing in front of our fans. Orlando has been a great venue for the National Team, and the support of our fans makes a big difference.”
Here’s a look at the full squad:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
DEFENDERS: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergino Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
MIDFIELDERS: Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)
FORWARDS: Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)