The United States Men’s National Team prepares makes its first foray into the CONCACAF Nations League and will do so with Columbus Crew SC striker Gyasi Zardes and midfielder Wil Trapp on the roster after they were called up to the team on Wednesday. Both playerss have become stalwarts during the Gregg Berhalter era. Trapp and Zardes were called into the September friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, both starting against Mexico and Zardes making an appearance as a substitute against Uruguay.
Zardes continues to earn call-ups under his former manager, returning after a goalless two national team matches in September. To date, the Crew striker has scored 10 goals and provided nine assists during his 53 caps with the USMNT. Zardes was unable to find the back of the net in the September friendlies but did score three times during this summer’s Gold Cup.
Trapp has cemented himself as a USMNT rotational player during the previous year, earning frequent call-ups with caretaker manager Dave Sarachan and continuing to find the field with Berhalter. Trapp’s start against Mexico is a sign of the midfielder’s value to his former manager and Columbus fans should expect to see Trapp on the field during the Nations League.
The CONCACAF Nations League is a new tournament developed in the wake of the UEFA Nations League and aimed at providing teams with competitive matches to replace friendlies often played during off-windows. The tournament is divided into three separate leagues (A, B and C) each of which will have its own champion. Those leagues are then divided into groups for home-and-home round-robin play.
The United States has been placed into League A and Group A with Canada and Cuba, who have already begun Nations League play by facing each other twice. Both matches were won by Canada who sits at first in the group with six points. The USMNT will play both Canada and Cuba twice to complete Group A play. The winner of Group A will move on to the League A semi-finals while the top two teams in Group A will automatically qualify for the next edition of the Gold Cup.
Cuba is up first, and will travel to Audi Field in Washington, D.C. for the team’s third (the U.S.’s first) match of the Nations League on Oct. 11 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Cubans lost both matches to Canada (6-0, 1-0), so the USMNT will be expected to take home a win and get a valuable tune-up against a difficult Canadian side.
Canada will host the USMNT on Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET in the home of Toronto FC, BMO Field. The CANMNT will trot out arguably their toughest starting lineup fielding multiple MLS players as well as a host of European standouts.
All of these matches come after the end of the MLS regular season. With the Crew officially out of contention for a playoff spot, Zardes and Trapp won’t miss any MLS matches.