As the 2022 World Cup looms, GOAL takes a look at the top 50 players currently in the USMNT player pool
What once felt like it was a lifetime away is now suddenly just around the corner. The 2022 World Cup will kick off in Qatar before we know it, ending an eight-year wait that has felt like a lifetime to those that follow the U.S. men's national team.
The USMNT arguably has more young, talented stars than ever before, with players featuring for Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.
Players like Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest are playing for Champions League contenders, while several up-and-comers have taken their own steps to join them in Europe's major leagues. Meanwhile, the quality of MLS continues to rise with several North American-based stars emerging as potential starters.
Yet, the past still hangs over the current crop of players. Having missed out on the 2018 World Cup thanks to that haunting night in Trinidad & Tobago, the current U.S. generation carries added pressure on its shoulders.
As the 2022 World Cup edges closer, here's a look at the top 50 Americans in the U.S. men's national team player pool looking to make supporters proud:
Perhaps one of the more interesting races on the road to Qatar is the one for the No. 1 shirt.
There are two main contenders for that role: Zack Steffen and Matt Turner. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and both have made impressions on head coach Gregg Berhalter.
But there's also the battle for third-choice goalkeeper at the World Cup, and that one is just as compelling, with an MLS Cup MVP and goalkeeping prodigy among the candidates.
Zack Steffen - Middlesbrough (on loan from Manchester City)
Since Berhalter's arrival, Steffen has almost always been the USMNT' No. 1 when healthy. He's worked with Berhalter at club level, played at Manchester City and is an incredible athlete with decent ball skills for his position.
But Steffen's lack of games came back to bite him at times as his form has dipped during his time as a backup at Manchester City.
In the battle with Turner, he'll need game time at Boro to prove that he does, in fact, remain the USMNT's best goalkeeper.
World Cup status: Locked in
Matt Turner - Arsenal
Turner got his dream move this summer, joining Arsenal after becoming the best goalkeeper in MLS with the New England Revolution. However, it remains to be seen how that move affects his chances to start at the World Cup.
A backup behind Aaron Ramsdale, Turner may find himself in the same position Steffen did as Ederson's understudy. Turner is likely a better pure shot-stopper than Steffen and is improving with his feet, but, if he doesn't get minutes at Arsenal, the job will likely belong to Steffen.
World Cup status: Locked in
Sean Johnson - NYCFC
Last season's MLS Cup MVP, Johnson has built momentum for the third goalkeeper spot. He's continued to shine in MLS for one of the league's best teams in NYCFC and was fantastic against Uruguay in his last USMNT appearance.
He's a distant third behind Steffen and Turner, but if Berhalter is simply picking the best possible goalkeeper right now for that third reserve position, Johnson is the guy.
World Cup status: Has a chance
Gabriel Slonina - Chicago Fire (on loan from Chelsea)
The 2022 World Cup may be a bit soon for American soccer's goalkeeping prodigy, but he certainly has a chance to be on the plane to Qatar.
Slonina transferred to Chelsea this summer, but was subsequently laoned back to the Fire to continue his development. He's committed to the USMNT, turning down interest from Poland, as he looks to be American soccer's next great goalkeeper.
Does Berhalter use that third spot to give Slonina a taste of the big stage, or does he use it to bring the best possible goalkeeper? The answer to that question will determine whether or not Slonina is on the plane this fall.
World Cup Status: Has a chance
Ethan Horvath - Luton Town
Horvath is in a weird spot. He hasn't been in the form of Johnson and he's nowhere near as young as Slonina. And so, the 27-year-old goalkeeper looks like he'll be on the outside looking in for a World Cup spot.
A move to Luton Town could prove helpful for a player that hasn't played nearly as much as he'd like since he was replaced by Simon Mignolet at Club Brugge in 2019. Can he play his way into the squad? Sure, but he'd need a whole lot to go his way for that to happen.
World Cup status: Unlikely