There is a lot of negativity swirling around the U.S. men’s national team right now.
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After a 3-0 shellacking at the hands of Venezuela in their final tune-up before the 2019 Gold Cup begins, new head coach Gregg Berhalter insist he is staying calm and isn’t about to ditch his famed possession-based tactics following two disappointing defeats in friendly games last week.
But the USMNT fanbase is already wondering one thing: do we have the players to play the way Berhalter wants us to?
Right now, the answer is no and with Berhalter unlikely to change his philosophy at all, it will be intriguing to see how this group of players adapt to these tactics throughout the tournament.
Below is the team and formation I would play for the Gold Cup, but I understand that Berhalter’s philosophy means it is very unlikely he will move away from playing four at the back.
Still, with the current group of players he has, I’d go with a 3-4-3 formation to give the USMNT extra defensive solidity.
JPW’s best possible USMNT XI for 2019 Gold Cup (3-4-3)
—– Steffen —–
—- Zimmerman —- Miazga —- Ream —-
—– McKennie —- Adams —– Bradley —- Lovitz —-
—- Pulisic —- Altidore —- Holmes —-
The team above gives the USMNT stability in defense, while solves some of their problems in the full back areas. Not having DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks and Greg Garza available due to injuries is a blow and shouldn’t be overlooked, but the fact of the matter is that there isn’t enough depth in the full back position for the USMNT. Lovtiz should probably start at left back, but there is not decent option at right back, hence the system change to 3-4-3 from 4-1-4-1.
Look, Berhalter loves to build up play from the back and having three center backs splitting wide and a midfield dropping deeper to pick up the ball should still work in this system. If anything, it will work better with the three ball-playing center backs in this lineup.
McKennie has played on the right a lot for Schalke, and in Berhalter’s system he isn’t as comfortable on the ball in midfield as he should be. Having him tuck in from the right flank makes sense, while the experiment regarding Tyler Adams at right back should end right now. He’s the best high-pressing midfielder the U.S. has so he should be played in his best position which is central midfield. Having the experience of Michael Bradley in midfield is a must, and he should be allowed to create and join the attack whenever he can.
Up top Jozy Altidore‘s presence is badly needed as a focal point and Christian Pulisic should play off the right wing and be allowed to surge forward and link up with Altidore. Duane Holmes has looked very good in his appearances for the USMNT and should start out left then drift in to support the attack.