Update: U.S. Soccer announced on Friday, March 18 that Sergiño Dest is officially out and George Bello has replaced him.

A U.S. men’s soccer fan base that seems perennially prone to fits of extremism has gone through another roller-coaster ride lately.

Their team is in pretty good shape to qualify for the World Cup in the upcoming FIFA window, potentially with a berth-clinching home win over Panama on March 27 in Orlando. But the games around that are at Mexico next Thursday and at Costa Rica on March 30, where the Americans have never won in qualifying.

Left winger Christian Pulisic is on a hot streak in Europe, and right winger Gio Reyna is back from injury. But central midfielder Weston McKennie is out with a long-term foot injury, and right back Sergiño Dest got hurt in Barcelona’s UEFA Europa League round of 16 win at Galatasaray on Thursday.

So there were a lot of frayed nerves out there when U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter went on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” a few hours after Dest came up hobbling, to reveal his final roster of the World Cup qualifying run. That was an extra layer of drama on its own, compared to the usual news release by email and Twitter.

Would striker Josh Sargent make it, amid an upturn in form for Norwich City? Or Jordan Pefok, the only American striker scoring regularly in Europe right now, albeit in the Swiss league? Or veteran centerback John Brooks?

The answer came down: yes to Pefok and Dest, no to Sargent and Brooks. Downingtown’s Zack Steffen, the team’s top goalkeeper, is also on board after recent back issues; and Bear, Del.’s Mark McKenzie did not make the cut amid struggles at Belgium’s Genk.

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‘Not great news’ on Dest

The immediate questions were about Dest, and Berhalter’s answers did not sound optimistic.

“It’s not great news — the initial diagnosis, it seems to be a hamstring injury,” Berhalter said in a news conference after the announcement. “We’re going to get the final details tomorrow, but we may need to replace him, and we’ve identified candidates to replace them and we’re already prepared to speak to him first thing tomorrow.”

Who might that man be if Dest has to be dropped from the roster?

“We’ve been thinking about it, and we do have options,” Berhalter said in his ESPN appearance, naming George Bello, Joe Scally, Shaq Moore and Sam Vines as candidates. “But Sergiño is one of a kind with his skill set, and it’s not going to be easy to replace him.”

In the news conference, Berhalter said he’d most likely call in a left back, since Dest is a backup on that side and there are other right backs on the squad in Reggie Cannon and DeAndre Yedlin. That boosts the odds for Bello and Vines, with Scally also able to play on either flank.

Midfield options

Who might stand in for McKennie? Berhalter noted fellow regular starter Yunus Musah, and also named Reyna, Medford’s Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, Luca de la Torre, Cristian Roldan, and Gianluca Busio.

“You don’t replace him, that’s the thing — he’s been so important to this group that we’re not going to plug a guy in and get a like-for-like,” Berhalter said. “But that’s OK. We’ve won games before without him, and we’ll do it again.”

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Busio is a promising option, as he plays for Italy’s Venezia — and has played for the U.S. — in a versatile role that resembles McKennie’s.

“He’s doing a great job of getting on the field in Italy,” Berhalter said. “He’s playing different positions, sometimes it’s attacking, sometimes it’s defensive. We see him as covering two positions, attacking mid and center mid.”

Berhalter also said he plans to be cautious with Reyna given the 19-year-old’s recent return.

“The important thing is us qualifying for the World Cup, first of all, but secondly, it’s Gio returning healthy to his club,” Berhalter said. “We’re mindful of his load, we’re mindful of the work that he’s done in the last couple of weeks, and we’re going to adjust accordingly.”

Other notable inclusions are goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, centerbacks Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown, all of whom have been out of the national team picture for a while.

The U.S. roster

Goalkeepers (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest, England), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Manchester City, England)

Defenders (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista, Portugal), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona, Spain), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes, France), Antonee Robinson (Fulham, England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (Rangers, Scotland), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Los Angeles FC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, Germany), Gianluca Busio (Venezia, Italy), Luca de la Torre (Heracles Almelo, Netherlands), Yunus Musah (Valencia, Spain), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

Forwards (9): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Pefok (Young Boys, Switzerland), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg, Germany), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Tim Weah (Lille, France)

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The schedule

Thursday, March 24

7:05 p.m.: Jamaica vs. El Salvador (Universo, Paramount+)

9:05 p.m.: Panama vs. Honduras (Paramount+, TelemundoDeportes.com)

10 p.m.: Mexico vs. United States (CBS Sports Network, Paramount+, Univision, TUDN)

10:05 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Canada (Universo, Paramount+)

Sunday, March 27

4:05 p.m.: Canada vs. Jamaica (Universo, Paramount+)

5:05 p.m.: El Salvador vs. Costa Rica (Paramount+, TelemundoDeportes.com)

6:30 p.m.: United States vs. Panama (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)

7:05 p.m.: Honduras vs. Mexico (Telemundo, Universo, Paramount+)

Wednesday, March 30

All four games will be simultaneous. CBS Sports Network will televise one of the four, but it hasn’t decided which one yet.

9:05 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. United States (Universo, Paramount+)

9:05 p.m.: Mexico vs. El Salvador (Univision, TUDN, Paramount+)

9:05 p.m.: Panama vs. Canada (Paramount+, TelemundoDeportes.com)

9:05 p.m.: Jamaica vs. Honduras (Paramount+, TelemundoDeportes.com)