I have said it before, and I will say it again: I am strictly going off form in this position. Yes, I know people will say club form does not always translate to the international game, but without a normal send-off series or a three-week training camp before the first match, I’m bringing the strikers that are in form now. Ferreira, Sargent and Pepi all have that form, and each present something different in the No. 9 position.
If we need to gain more possession through the middle, Ferreira – who earned a spot on the 2022 MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire with 18 goals and six assists in 33 games – is very good at dropping into the midfield to create a numerical advantage , while still also making good forward runs into the box.
Sargent provides excellent movement around the box as a No. 9 and has shown good positional flexibility, scoring as both a striker and a left-sided attacker for Norwich City this season. His eight goals in the EFL Championship are tied for sixth-most in the league.
Pepi (who would not have made my list of 26 a month ago) is a young player who went through a very tough period with FC Augsburg and the USMNT, but has since rediscovered his impressive goal-scoring form while on loan in Holland. He even scored against my beloved PSV in a 4-2 home win. Bringing the former FC Dallas standout is a gamble, but I think it’s worth it.
Our strikers need to handle business on the world’s biggest stage. Can they? We will see. But for me, those three give us the best possible chance.
If the World Cup started a month ago, Pefok would have been on my list. But in the last 10 games, he only has one goal, so he just misses out this time.
The only reason I didn’t put Brandon Vazquez in the 26 is I have never seen him in a USA shirt. In my opinion, he deserved to be in the last full USMNT camp, as well as the recent camp for MLS players whose club seasons have ended.