The US Men’s National Team’s world cup hopes came to an end in the Round of 16 after losing to the Netherlands 3-1. Being as dorky as I am, my immediate reaction to the loss is to look 3 years and 9 months into the future, to the 2026 World Cup. Who will be representing the stars and stripes on home soil in 2026? Who might phased out? What youngsters have a chance to crack the team? Let’s take at look, as of right now, at all those questions for the USMNT.
Way Too Early 2026 USMNT Roster Outlook
Look I get it. This is probably all just hearsay. We don’t even know who will be coaching the yanks for the January camp. Gregg Berhalter might get another look, or the USSF may try to poach Jesse Marsch away from Leeds, or go for a big name international manager such as Roberto Martinez. But we all know this is the fun stuff that’s going to keep us entertained as we eagerly wait for 2026. It also is starting to sound like we will have Copa America to look forward to in 2024, not just to compete in, but to potentially host:
The 2024 Copa América is looking like it will be in the USA!! This, after the resignation of Ecuador as host country.
United States, Mexico and Canada have agreed to play. There will be invites to 3 other nations from CONCACAF.
Info via @FOXSportsMX pic.twitter.com/EaGIl9w4sd
— Diego Montalvan (@DMontalvan) December 7, 2022
Getting this out of the way now, this is all assuming everyone is healthy. Personally, I think 13 of the 26 man roster are essentially locks to be with the team in 2026. Barring major changes in quality, the 13 would be:
Matt Turner (32 in 2026)
Cameron Carter Vickers (29 in 2026)
Sergino Dest (26 in 2026)
Joe Scally (23 in 2026)
Antonee Robinson (29 in 2026)
Tyler Adams (27 in 2026)
Yunus Musah (23 in 2026)
Weston McKennie (27 in 2026)
Giovanni Reyna (23 in 2026)
Brenden Aaronson (25 in 2026)
Christian Pulisic (27 in 2026)
Timothy Weah (26 in 2026)
Josh Sargent (26 in 2026)
That’s an extremely strong core of guys that should be right in the middle of their primes. Haji Wright, Jesus Ferreira, and Horvath could very well still be included. Also, Chris Richards and Miles Robinson might have been the starting center back duo in Qatar if not for their injuries. As for the other ten, I think it’s time to thank them for their contributions and phase in some younger, and hopefully better, replacements. Here are 5 guys, who weren’t included in this roster, that should absolutely get a spot.
1. Ricardo Pepi (23 in 2026)
As probably the biggest head scratcher of the Qatar roster, Ricardo Pepi will absolutely be a strong candidate to start up top for the US in 2026. Leading up the World Cup, he was tearing up the Dutch Eredivisie, with 6 goals and 2 assists in 9 games.
2. Gabriel Slonina (22 in 2026)
While he’s still a very raw prospect at this stage of his career, he created a bidding war between Real Madrid and Chelsea, and ultimately ended up at Chelsea, however he will immediately be loaned back to Chicago Fire in the MLS. If he is the next Tim Howard like some think, he could very easily be starting for the US come 2026.
3. Malik Tillman (24 in 2026)
Tillman was a fringe guy for the Qatar roster, with rumors going around before the roster dropped that had even made the team. Obviously that wasn’t true, but the attacking midfielder for Rangers has looked very good in the scottish league, and could be primed for some big moves in his club career. He will almost definitely be with the team in 2026.
4. Paxten Aaronson (23 in 2026)
I’m not just including him because it would be awesome to see brothers share the field for the US at a World Cup, but come on how cool would that be. Paxten, Aaron’s little brother, just took a huge step in his career. Jumping from the Philadelphia Union to Eintracht Frakfurt in the Bundesliga. It’s a big jump, but one that should better his career, and put him on track to be on the World Cup roster.
5. Folarin Balogun (25 in 2026)
Balogun might be the most up in the air option here. As an England dual national, Balogun played for the English U-17s, and the US U-18s. He recently played for the English U-21s, and most signs were pointing towards him representing England. However recently, rumors have been circulating that the talented Arsenal product is likely to choose the USA as his country of choice. He would provide much needed depth at the striker position, and would maybe even walk in and start.
Brandon Vasquez, Johnnny Cardoso, and Taylor Booth are my honorable mentions. With a Gold Cup, Nations League, Copa America, Olympics, and U-20 World Cup, there is so much to look forward too ahead of the 2026 World Cup with this young and exciting pool of players.