The US men’s national team will play their first game of Gregg Berhalter’s second coaching stint Saturday evening when meeting Uzbekistan at CITYPARK, home of MLS expansion side St. Louis CITY SC. Next Tuesday, the USMNT will take on Oman at Minnesota United FC‘s Allianz Field to conclude their September FIFA international window. Both Asian Football Confederation (AFC) foes – the 101st and 102nd opponents in USMNT history – are preparing to compete in the 2023 Asian Cup.
Big picture, the Yanks are laying the groundwork for co-hosting the North America 2026 World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico. They have auto-qualified, providing an opportunity to build off a Round-of-16 finish at Qatar 2022.
Berhalter was re-hired in mid-June, though he observed the Yanks’ Concacaf Nations League title and Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal appearance from afar as interim-turned-assistant coach B.J. Callaghan oversaw the group. While Berhalter is a divisive figure in some corners of the USMNT community, influential players have voiced support for his return and building off the foundation they established in the 2022 World Cup cycle.
As the USMNT continues to build toward 2026, four MLS players are called up by Berhalter. Inter Miami CF midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi is the headliner, enjoying a breakout season as an 18-year-old, lately benefiting from playing alongside stars Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. The dual-national talent is also eligible for Argentina.
Several of the USMNT’s most important players are called up – AC Milan forward Christian Pulisic, Monaco striker Folarin Balogun, Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, PSV Eindhoven fullback Sergiño Dest and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Matt Turner chief among them. But some centerpieces aren’t included due to injury and/or fitness concerns, including AFC Bournemouth midfielder Tyler Adams (hamstring injury) and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna (just returned to training). Regardless of who Berhalter uses in his starting XI, the USMNT will enter as heavy favorites.
Uzbekistan will get a dose of the Concacaf elite in September’s international window, first meeting the USMNT before encountering Mexico on Sept. 12. The White Wolves will be serious underdogs in both contests, sitting No. 74 in the latest FIFA World Rankings.
The majority of Uzbekistan’s squad plays in their domestic league, though all-time top scorer Eldor Shomurodov features for Italian Serie A side Cagliari, midfielder Otabek Shukurov is at Turkish Süper Lig club Fatih Karagümrük and winger Jaloliddin Masharipov has competed in the Saudi League. While they lack star power, this squad’s not to be overlooked either. Uzbekistan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, are yet to compete at a World Cup and finished fourth in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.