Big USMNT impact? Evaluating MLS players' form for World Cup qualifiers

Can club form carry over to country form? US men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter is certainly hoping that’s the case with 10 MLS players (of 27 total) called in for the upcoming critical stretch of World Cup Qualifiers – many of whom starred in Week 4.

Will that also translate into meaningful contributions when the USMNT visits Mexico on March 24, hosts Panama on March 27 and then travels to Costa Rica on March 30?

We shall see as Concacaf's three automatic Qatar 2022 spots get decided.

With injuries in the USMNT midfield, namely to Juventus star Weston McKennie, Acosta could play an important role in this final trio of qualifiers. He's helped new club LAFC remain undefeated in the 2022 season, with a solid performance in a 3-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday. Acosta completed 87.9% of his passes and just once this year has he been below 85% since his trade arrival from Colorado Rapids.

Capable of playing as a No. 6, a No. 8 or even at fullback, the 26-year-old brings tremendous versatility to the squad. Last time out for the Yanks, he was Man of the Match during a 3-0 win over Honduras in icy Minnesota.

Arriola is also making the most of a move to a new club, with the winger scoring his first goal for FC Dallas in a 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday. Arriola also helped set up Jesus Ferreira’s first goal with a clever dummy on a pass from Alan Velasco as FC Dallas picked up a second consecutive win.

The former D.C. United standout is settling in quite nicely to FCD's 4-3-3 formation, one that head coach Nico Estevez employs in a similar fashion to when he was a USMNT assistant coach under Berhalter.

No one is on better form, at least when it comes to Week 4 performances, than Ferreira, who scored his first career hat trick in that win over the Timbers. Ferreira, whose last goal for club or country came on Oct. 30, scored all three goals in a 10-minute span of the first half. He then set up Arriola’s dagger strike during the second half in that false No. 9 role.

In a position where there haven't been many positives in terms of current form, does that play Ferreira onto the team sheet for Thursday’s showdown against Mexico at Estadio Azteca?

The New York City FC captain is likely No. 3 on the goalkeeper depth chart, behind Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath. Johnson helped lead the defending MLS Cup champions to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals but is coming off back-to-back defeats to Comunicaciones and the Philadelphia Union, with the Cityzens' match load and travel seemingly catching up to them.

New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (foot/ankle injury) may have taken Johnson's spot had he been healthy, while Chicago Fire FC youngster Gaga Slonina is also in the conversation as the 17-year-old goalkeeper ascends.

Before his Achilles injury, Long was a regular starter for club and country, even wearing the captain’s armband for the USMNT on occasion. He’s back in his usual position anchoring the New York Red Bulls' defense, completing a season-high 78.3% of his passes in a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew Sunday at Red Bull Arena. Perhaps as importantly, Long logged 90 minutes for the third time this season.

Long was part of USMNT camps during his rehab, a big part of Berhalter's plans. He's also in camp ahead of Wolfsburg center back John Brooks, while Hoffenheim center back Chris Richards is out injured.

Having started in a 1-1 draw against Club Leon in Mexico that helped secure the Sounders' safe passage into the CCL semifinals, where they’ll meet NYCFC, Morris came off the bench for a 34-minute shift in a 1-1 draw against Austin FC Saturday. That’s just over 90 minutes for the week for Morris, who also scored in back-to-back wins over the LA Galaxy and in a 3-0 first-leg triumph over Leon.

Morris appeared in all three of the USMNT's winter window qualifiers, and now looks awfully like his old self as his ACL recovery turns into a status of full strength.

Robinson has been a regular for Berhalter since Long’s injury, but his form going into this FIFA window hasn’t been the best. He was nutmegged by Ismaël Koné and then pulled down the CF Montréal midfielder in the box. Romell Quioto buried the ensuing penalty to put the visitors in front by two goals in the first half before Atlanta rallied for a 3-3 draw.

Robinson was also sent off in a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids in Week 2.

Roldan has gotten off to a great start with the Sounders. His assist on Will Bruin’s late first-half goal in a 1-1 draw against Austin FC on Sunday was his sixth in eight matches across MLS and CCL this season. Berhalter has used Roldan as a late second-half substitute throughout the qualifying cycle, but he could be poised for additional minutes based on his form to start the 2022 season.

Also, will Roldan continue with the USMNT as a No. 8 or shift into the pressing-winger role he's found great success with in Seattle? System intricacies and coach preference will dictate that conversation, though the latter position has the 26-year-old thriving.

Inter Miami CF have conceded 10 goals across three consecutive defeats, but it’s tough to pin that on the veteran fullback. Yedlin completed 83.3% of his passes and won 57% of his duels in a 3-1 loss to FC Cincinnati after an 84.8% completion rate in a 2-0 loss to LAFC.

Being one of the most experienced players on Berhalter’s 27-man roster, Yedlin’s veteran presence could prove invaluable in the cauldron that is Estadio Azteca. He's one of two natural right backs on the roster alongside FC Dallas product Reggie Cannon.

Another center back who has seen ample minutes under Berhalter, Zimmerman got on the end of a Hany Mukhtar service and powered in a headed goal that leveled the score for Nashville SC before an eventual 2-1 road defeat to Real Salt Lake Saturday. He also completed 86.8% of his passes after an 83.8 completion percentage in a Week 3 loss at FC Dallas.

Not even on the squad during September qualifiers, Zimmerman has become the USMNT's defensive cornerstone and awaits a continued significant role in the program's Qatar 2022 ambitions.