The U.S. men’s national team host Mexico at MetLife Stadium on Friday in a friendly.
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But we all know that it is far from that when the USMNT and El Tri clash. After Mexico beat the U.S. 1-0 in the Gold Cup final this summer, both teams will look vastly different and Mexico will now have their strongest possible lineup.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has given fresh chances to a number of players, as well as calling up some of his best young talent for the mouthwatering clash in New Jersey.
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Below we take a look at the projected starting lineup for the USMNT on Friday, and provide some analysis as to why this is the case.
USMNT projected lineup v. Mexico (4-2-3-1)
—– Steffen —–
—- Dest —- Long —- Brooks —- Lima —-
—- McKennie —- Morales —-
—- Boyd —- Pomykal —- Pulisic
—– Zardes —–
Zack Steffen has had a strong start to the Bundesliga season with Fortuna Dusseldorf, and he should get he nod ahead of Brad Guzan but the veteran has experience in this pressure situations against El Tri so maybe Berhalter will want him on the pitch.
In defense there is finally a chance to see John Brooks back in a USMNT jersey, and his likely center back partner is Aaron Long with young Miles Robinson likely to get some minutes in the second friendly against Uruguay. Full back has been a problem area for the USMNT for some time, and especially with Berhalter’s tactics and need for them to tuck inside and be comfortable on the ball. Ajax youngster Sergino Dest seems like a sure starter at right back, while Nick Lima is likely to slot in at left back. Reggie Cannon is a great option at right back as a pure defender, so don’t be surprised if he starts there and Dest plays at left back.
There’s no doubting that getting the balance right in central midfield has probably been Berhalter’s biggest struggle so far. Weston McKennie is the USMNT’s main man in that area but he needs someone alongside him who can calm things down as he rattles into challenges and tries to get the U.S. moving forward. Enter, Alfredo Morales. We haven’t seen him for quite some time but the Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder is calm on the ball and is also strong and clever in possession. After giving the likes of Will Trapp and Michael Bradley plenty of chances to impress in the engine room, this is Morales’ big chance to shine.
In the attacking midfield areas there should be no question about who starts out wide with Christian Pulisic and Tyler Boyd both locks on the left and right respectively, while the position behind a central striker is very much up for grabs. Paxton Pomykal has been a star for FC Dallas this season and is one of the brightest USYNT products in a long time. He seems to be a great fit to play in the central attacking midfield role. Up top Gyasi Zardes will likely get the nod as his hold-up play brings the likes of Pulisic and Boyd into the game, but Jordan Morris and Josh Sargent are both knocking at the door with goals for their club teams.