Minnesota United may be departing the MLS is Back Tournament following their semifinal defeat to Orlando City SC on Thursday night, but Loons left back Chase Gasper's performance during the tournament has given US men's national team manager Gregg Berhalter plenty to think about.
At the very least, the 24-year-old Gasper solidified his place as the best young American left back in MLS, with "young" loosely defined as having his best pro seasons still in front of him. The Montreal Impact's Daniel Lovitz and New York City FC's Ben Sweat are already solidly in their primes. Real Salt Lake's Aaron Herrera is 23 and can play on the left, but is a more natural fit on the right.
But as the gang from Extratime discussed after the Loons' defeat late Thursday night, there is still a way to go for Gasper to reach a level that would put him in regular consideration for important USMNT matches for World Cup qualifying and beyond.
"When you look across MLS, American players playing that position who are doing it well and who are consistent, he’s definitely up there," said MLSsoccer.com's Charlie Davies. "So, should he be in the pool? Yeah, and he is in the pool. Is he the guaranteed star at left back for the US men’s national team? No, not at all."
As Davies went on to note, the versatile Sergiño Dest is likely the de facto starter there for now. By playing on the left, the 20-year-old Ajax product — who has been tied with potential moves to Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus — allows FC Dallas' Reggie Cannon or Newcastle's DeAndre Yedlin to also play on the right side.
Another 20-year-old, PSV Eindhoven reserve Chris Gloster, could quickly play himself in consideration if he finds first-team football soon. He was expected to be the US starter for the U-23 side that was preparing for Concacaf's Olympic Qualifying tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic forced its postponement.
And while Gasper is relatively young and new to fans in his second MLS, season, he's not that young. So if he wants a serious shot at being a serious difference maker, he has to continue improving, and quickly.
"Chase is 24 years old, he’s not 20 or 18, or 19," Davies pointed out. "So he’s probably got a year or two to really make a difference to be a long-term solution for the US national team at the left back spot. But I really like him, he’s got a great mentality, he’s got a good personality, and I think he knows how to get better. He just has to continue to improve."