How will the USMNT line up against Canada?

first_imgCuba was merely an opening act, a warm-up for the highly-anticipated featured performance. Any seven-goal win will go down as a positive, even ones against clearly overmatched opposition, but for the U.S. men’s national team to consider this international break a success, it is the Canada game that matters.It is a matchup that has taken on increased importance for a variety of reasons. First, to their credit, is Canada’s recent surge, as the USMNT’s northern neighbors have seen a number of top young players emerge in the past few years. Budding stars like Alphonso Davies, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Jonathan Davies have all become key pieces of the national team as Canada is seemingly on the right path towards hosting the 2026 World Cup.The USMNT’s path, meanwhile, has been questioned each and every day since falling to Trinidad & Tobago two years ago. Recent losses to Mexico have shown that there is a considerable gap between CONCACAF’s two perennial elite sides. Is the USMNT closer to closing that gap, or have they fallen more towards Canada, Costa Rica and the rest of the pack with World Cup qualifying on the horizon? Tuesday’s game will not completely answer that question, but it will give us a glimpse of where this current U.S. team stands. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career Gregg Berhalter’s squad sees Josh Sargent start up top once again, with Christian Pulisic and Jordan Morris on either side. Michael Bradley anchors the midfield behind Weston McKennie and Christian Roldan while DeAndre Yedlin makes his first USMNT appearance since March at right backActual USMNT XIAhead of Tuesday’s clash, Goal had three projections for some different looks USMNT could offer against Canada. Most Likely XIMost Likely USMNT XI CanadaBerhalter is in a slightly tricky balance to find on Tuesday. Does he reward those that shone against Cuba with another start in what will certainly be a much tougher match? Or does he rely on fresh legs and, ultimately, a bit more experience after taking down Cuba with a younger side? The answer will likely be somewhere in the middle.Fortunately for Berhalter, one key player from the Cuba game is fully rested, as Weston McKennie played limited minutes and still found a way to net a hat-trick. That makes him a very safe bet to start on Tuesday, with either Christian Roldan or Sebastian Lletget on the other side. Berhalter has shown a preference for Roldan recently, so look for him to get the nod. Behind them, Michael Bradley should be selected for the experience factor, despite Jackson Yueill showing generally well so far.Zack Steffen is a lock to start in goal as he returns to the lineup, while Miles Robinson’s injury means that either Matt Miazga or Tim Ream will need to pull double-duty. At fullback, DeAndre Yedlin should get the start in what is a big chance for the World Cup veteran while Nick Lima could be a strong option to replace Daniel Lovitz after another quiet performance from the Montreal Impact defender.The biggest question lies at striker. Does Berhalter go with Josh Sargent on the heels of a good performance against Cuba or does he go with a more trusted option in Gyasi Zardes? Sargent’s ankle injury could make that choice straightforward, though, giving Zardes the advantage up top.Sargent startsSargent USMNT XI CanadaIf Sargent is healthy, Berhalter does have the option of giving him the nod up top. Sargent is certainly the striker of the future, and he has been for quite some time, but it could just about be time he proves he is the striker of the present as well.It has always made sense to bring him along slowly, and maybe it still does, but, at the end of the day, the USMNT has a gap to fill. At 29 years old, this is almost certainly Jozy Altidore’s last cycle with the national team and, aside from Sargent, the striker options are not too inspiring anywhere behind him. Aside from Sargent, and perhaps someone like Tim Weah, there are not many young strikers banging down the door for the U.S. at this current moment.And, knowing that, it could be time for the fast-track.You know what you get in Zardes: energy, effort and, although often overlooked, a knack for getting the finishing touch. Sargent’s potential is all we know right now, and, if completely healthy, a start against Canada would make for a hell of an audition ahead of World Cup qualifying.Pulisic tucks insidePulisic USMNT XI CanadaChristian Pulisic’s USMNT position has long been up for debate. At club level, he is a winger that looks to beat defenders in one-on-one situations. But at national team level, there is a desire to get him more time on the ball in a central role, even if those extra chances at central creativity limit his dribbling ability.Pulisic and McKennie have shown a very good understanding when Pulisic has tucked inside, and having him do so against Canada just gives the U.S. another weapon on the field. It would be an attacking option to be sure but, if Berhalter wants to take the game to a young Canadian team, giving the midfield Pulisic to think about would certainly complicate their gameplan.If he does opt to tuck Pulisic into one of those duel 10 roles, Tyler Boyd would make a natural replacement on the left. Boyd has slowed down a bit since his rapid-fire start with the U.S., but the Besiktas winger is another player that could use the experience of starting in these types of games after generally handling those experiences well at the Gold Cup.last_img read more

Continue reading