When the US men’s national team meet Wales Thursday (2:45 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN), some of the program’s most promising young European talent will be on display.
But former Real Salt Lake Homegrown product Sebastian Saucedo said Gregg Berhalter is overlooking rising American players in Liga MX in favor of those competing in Europe.
“There are players in Europe that are playing and they are called just because they play in Europe," he said in an interview with ESPN's Ahora o Nunca. "They under-appreciate the Mexican league. The Mexican league has spectacular players that are called up to their national teams. And it seems a little unjust.”
The 23-year-old Pumas UNAM winger, who holds dual citizenship, said he “never had the intention to come for the Mexican national team” after coming up through the US youth ranks, including playing in the U-20 FIFA World Cup with Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent, who regularly get called into Berhalter’s sides.
Saucedo, who became a regular starter for Pumas in his first season, is waiting for his first USMNT appearance. Shortly after signing with Pumas UNAM in December, Saucedo rsaid he eceived a call from Berhalter to join his team for an international friendly against Costa Rica in early February — the last USMNT match before the coronavirus pandemic — but his new club refused to release him because it conflicted with a Liga MX match.
"The senior team called me in to play Costa Rica, but because of a game here, we traveled to Torreon and the US game against Costa Rica was Saturday, so they didn't let me go," Saucedo said at the time. "For Olympic qualification, there's the FIFA date. I imagine the club will deal with that when it comes to letting us go or not. I'd like to go. It'd be a dream to qualify for the Olympics.”
Saucedo, who is just returning from injury, still has that Olympic dream, but he doesn’t believe his chance will come with the USMNT while he’s in Mexico.
"The U.S. national team hasn't called me up and I'm focused on the Under-23s," Saucedo said. "Hopefully [the] Tokyo [Olympics] happen, but I'm more focused on my club than the national team because I don't think the opportunities will come here in Mexico.”
"It's a little bit frustrating," he added. "There are players that deserve to be in the national team and there are others that don't. That's football."