Pulisic, McKennie, Balogun headline USMNT Concacaf NL squad

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Folarin Balogun headline the 24-player U.S. roster that will prepare for the final four of the Concacaf Nations League.

The men’s national team roster marks the first under interim manager B.J. Callaghan, who was appointed earlier this week after predecessor Anthony Hudson departed to take up a managerial post with an unidentified club in the Middle East.

Leeds United midfielder Tyler Adams is injured and did not make the squad. Adams was listed on the preliminary roster last month despite undergoing hamstring surgery in March, ruling him out for the rest of the Premier League season.

The players will begin reporting to Los Angeles on Sunday for training camp.

The final, 23-player roster won’t be official until submitted to Concacaf, which is required no later than Monday.

The U.S. is set to square off against rival Mexico on June 15.

“In addition to having big-game experience and top-level talent, what’s great about this group overall is the familiarity and understanding that’s been built together these last four years about our style and our culture,” Callaghan said in a statement. “We’re excited to integrate some of the newer faces as we set out to achieve our first goal of the summer in defending the Concacaf Nations League title.”

Balogun will be taking part in his first U.S. camp since filing a one-time change of association with FIFA to represent the country.

He is coming off a stellar season while on loan with Stade de Reims, scoring 21 goals in all competitions. He is expected to make his debut against El Tri.

“I can tell you that his commitment to the U.S. is unwavering,” Callaghan told media of Balogun. “He’s excited to come in with the group. He’s someone that I spoke to about embracing the brotherhood that we have. It’s a welcoming environment. The guys are going to welcome him in. They’re all excited and he’s excited.

“But at the same time I challenged him and I said, ‘listen, you have to put yourself out there and you have to integrate with the group. We’re going to work as hard as we can to integrate you. And at the same time, it’s your responsibility on the field and off the field to become part of this group as quick as we can.’

“We have a lot of case studies of guys that have come in and it’s been super successful and I expect nothing different with [Balogun].”

Other uncapped players are the goalkeeping duo of Inter Miami’s Drake Callender and Maccabi Haifa’s Josh Cohen.

There is considerable experience as well, as 13 players took part in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including eight who started all four matches in Qatar.

Pulisic is the most-capped player with 58.

Overall, the training camp roster’s average age will be 24 years, 216 days as of the first day of training. The squad averages 17 caps overall and 11 in official competition.

Among those sidelined because of injuries are Adams, Celtic defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, West Bromwich forward Daryl Dike, Luton Town goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, Fulham defender Tim Ream, Norwich City forward Josh Sargent, Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Rangers attacker Malik Tillman.

The absence of both Horvath and Steffen practically ensures that, barring injury, Arsenal’s Matt Turner will be starting in goal.

Steffen had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair meniscus damage he suffered early last season and had to manage all year, a source told ESPN.

The source said he will be out three to four months, which will likely postpone a decision on a loan destination. Steffen is under contract with Man City for two more years and will rehab with that team in meantime.

Callaghan also confirmed that LAFC midfielder Kellyn Acosta was left out as a precaution after he sat out the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League final against Leon on Wednesday, but suggested he could be included in the Gold Cup roster later this summer.

DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (Club/Country; Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS (4): Drake Callender (Inter Miami; 0/0), Josh Cohen (Maccabi Haifa/ISR; 0/0), Sean Johnson (Toronto FC/CAN; 12/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 26/0)

DEFENDERS (7): Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 24/2), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 8/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 34/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 21/3), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 4/0), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City/ENG; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 39/3)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; 6/0), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 14/0), Weston McKennie (Leeds United/ENG; 43/11), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 25/0), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 18/4), Alan Soñora (FC Juárez/MEX; 2/0)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 30/7), Folarin Balogun (Stade de Reims/FRA; 0/0), Taylor Booth (Utrecht/NED; 2/0), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 14/6), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 58/23), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 29/4), Alex Zendejas (Club América/MEX; 3/1)