MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

USMNT vs. Mexico: Which MLS players could be called up this month?


As the perfect appetizer to a busy, Concacaf-infused summer, the US men’s national team will host Mexico on April 19 (10 pm ET | TBS, Telemundo, Universo, HBO Max, Peacock) for a friendly that’s been dubbed the Allstate Continental Clásico.

These rivals will meet again in June at the Nations League semifinals and are expected to find each other late in the Gold Cup in July as usual.

Since this friendly falls in a non-FIFA window, both squads will largely be from MLS and Liga MX. Players will participate in their club game on the weekend before the game, fly to Arizona for the Wednesday match, then turn around and be available on the following weekend for their club.

The USMNT named an almost exclusively Europe-based squad over the March international window, knowing this squad will be almost exclusively domestic-based. Who from MLS could make up the squad?

One name who won’t be there is Miles Robinson. The Atlanta United center back returned to the USMNT in March, where interim head coach Anthony Hudson said it made more sense for him to be with that group than at this match (because it’d potentially set him up to play three games in a week between club and country).

This isn’t a hard-and-fast roster projection, but the majority of the roster will come from the names below.

The usual suspects
  • Kellyn Acosta, M (LAFC)
  • Paul Arriola, F (FC Dallas)
  • Jesús Ferreira, F (FC Dallas)
  • Sean Johnson, GK (Toronto FC)
  • Aaron Long, D (LAFC)
  • Jordan Morris, F (Seattle Sounders FC)
  • Shaq Moore, D (Nashville SC)
  • Cristian Roldan, M (Seattle Sounders FC)
  • James Sands, M (New York City FC)
  • DeAndre Yedlin, D (Inter Miami CF)
  • Walker Zimmerman, D (Nashville SC)

Nine of these 11 players were on the USMNT's FIFA 2022 World Cup squad, while the other two (Arriola, Sands) were with the group throughout World Cup qualifying. All but Johnson and Sands have more than 15 caps, with four having 50+ caps.

I’d feel pretty strongly the majority (if not all) will be called in this month. They’re known commodities, so let's not spend too long here.

Jordan Morris currently leads MLS in goals with eight, splitting his time as a left winger and emergency center forward. He’s well on his way to setting a new career high for goals (12 from his rookie 2016 season).

Zimmerman was a key starter at the World Cup, won MLS Defender of the Year in two of the last three seasons and made MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire in each of the last three years.

Ferreira now has four goals in seven matches this year, after a breakout 18g/6a last season. He’s still just 22 years old.

Sands returned to NYCFC after about 14 months in Scotland with Rangers FC. He has quickly established himself as one of the best DMs in MLS.

MLS standouts
  • Roman Celentano, GK (FC Cincinnati)
  • Julian Gressel, D/M (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
  • DeJuan Jones, D (New England Revolution)
  • Matt Miazga, D (FC Cincinnati)
  • Aidan Morris, M (Columbus Crew)
  • Paxton Pomykal, M (FC Dallas)
  • Timothy Tillman, M (LAFC)
  • John Tolkin, D (New York Red Bulls)
  • Brandon Vazquez, F (FC Cincinnati)

While the annual January camp serves as a better chance for fringe US roster guys to impress the coaching staff – longer time with the group, actual training sessions, etc. – this non-FIFA-window match against Mexico is the same. Beyond the usual suspects, the squad will have a number of MLSers who have earned a chance with form or have been on the fringe of the pool.

Most of the players above were in the January camp and have done nothing to have fallen out of favor. Vazquez has been on the cusp of a full camp as well and scored in his USMNT debut in January.

Aidan Morris has been one of the league’s standout players over the first seven matchdays, continuing his development under manager Wilfried Nancy in Columbus. He was also in the January camp and I’d be borderline shocked if he doesn’t get the call for this match against Mexico.

Three fullbacks – Tolkin, Jones and Gressel – were all at the January camp and could return for the friendly against Mexico as well.

FC Cincinnati defensive anchor Matt Miazga has played himself back into the picture. Miazga has already accrued 22 senior USMNT caps, but hasn't been involved with the group since 2021. He has been excellent for Cincy since joining last summer from Chelsea.

One name who wasn’t in the January camp is Timothy Tillman. The former German youth international has quickly won a starting spot with LAFC after arriving this winter from the 2. Bundesliga. His brother, Malik Tillman, filed a one-time switch to represent the USMNT last year and has been around the senior roster. Maybe Timothy gets the chance as well, as long as there aren’t unexpected paperwork hold-ups.

At this point, 20 players have been suggested. Not all 20 will be called in, as some non-domestic players (like Club América winger Alejandro Zendejas) will no doubt be included in the squad. But it feels safe that a strong number from these two groups will make up the squad and perhaps a few from below.

NOTE: Were it not for another ACL tear, Portland Timbers midfielder Eryk Williamson would likely be here. Just brutal news, man.

U20 World Cup-eligible
  • Cade Cowell, F (San Jose Earthquakes)
  • Jack McGlynn, M (Philadelphia Union)
  • Jalen Neal, D (LA Galaxy)
  • Quinn Sullivan, M (Philadelphia Union)
  • Caleb Wiley, D/F (Atlanta United)
  • Owen Wolff, M (Austin FC)

I’m not sure how many of these players will get called in, as they’re certainly longer shots to make the roster. All are expected to play key roles at the FIFA U20 World Cup in May.

Cowell has the best chance, given how long he’s been in the San Jose first team as well as his impressive performance in senior camp in January. Hudson was full of praise for the 19-year-old.

McGlynn and Neal are two others I could see maybe sneaking onto this roster. Neal was with the senior team in January as well – making his senior international debut before his MLS debut – and has become a regular for the LA Galaxy. McGlynn has been a valued squad member for the Philadelphia Union since joining the first team in 2021.

Beyond that trio, Wiley has been among the breakout young stars in MLS to start the season. The versatile left-sided player excelled at left wing over the first month of the season and now has started a few games at left back, the position he projects to over his career.

Sullivan has also been in the Philly first team alongside McGlynn, though has amassed fewer minutes. Wolff has been one of Austin FC’s few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing start to the season.