What is the USMNT’s best starting XI?

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The USMNT will not be playing in this international break, as Gregg Berhalter hasn’t been able to get his squad together and name a lineup since early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.

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Unlike nations across Europe, South American and elsewhere, qualifying for the 2022 World Cup has been put on hold in the CONCACAF region. Just because the USMNT aren’t playing, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about them.

Our own Nick Mendola recently ranked the player pool and the current top 25 USMNT players, and that got me thinking: what is the strongest USMNT lineup right now?

Granted, we have a little bit of time to think about this and plenty of complications.

[ MORE: Ranking the USMNT pool ]

The USMNT will next play a competitive game in 2021 and are expected to play in November but games are yet to be announced. Due to the current situation with COVID-19, we may see friendlies in Europe and the roster split up into a US-based squad with players in MLS and a European-based squad. That is a tough blow for a young, developing USMNT side who need all the minutes and training sessions together they can get.

But as you can see from below the XI I’ve gone for is totally made up of European-based USMNT players. That tells you two things: 1) American players are getting lots of great opportunities to play in Europe. 2) they are making a great impression when they do play.

We’re talking Chris Richards breaking through at Bayern Munich, Sergino Dest joining Barcelona and Weston McKennie signing for Juventus. This has been a huge start to the season for the USMNT squad and the young Americans in Europe, with Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna all stars at huge clubs. This is the probably the biggest splash USMNT players have made, collectively at the same time, at European clubs.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of great talents in MLS, because there is and Berhalter is high on many of them and Brenden Aaronson is the latest to head to Europe to sign for RB Salzburg from the Philadelphia Union.

JPW’s strongest USMNT lineup (4-2-3-1)

—– Steffen —–

— Dest — Richards — Brooks — Robinson —

—- McKennie —- Adams —-

— Weah —  Reyna — Pulisic — 

—– Sargent —–

Subs: Johnson, Miazga, Bradley, Aaronson, Morris, Zardes, Boyd
Next in line: Guzan, Robinson, Yedlin, Ream, Morales, Trapp, Altidore

Analysis of USMNT lineup

Steffen is the undisputed number one in goal. We can all agree on that. Richards ahead of Miazga is due to the hugely impressive feat of him playing for Bayern Munich but Miazga, and Ream, have been solid for the USMNT and could play at center back. Dest could play at left back and Yedlin could play right back, if needed, but let’s play players in their best positions. Antonee Robinson at left back needs to happen.

In midfield, the holding two (McKennie and Adams) pick themselves but if you go for a three-man central midfield, Michael Bradley is ready to step in and Berhalter is a big fan of Wil Trapp.

In attack, Pulisic and Reyna must start at this point but Timothy Weah, Jordan Morris and Tyler Boyd are all battling for that other wide spot. As the lone forward Gyasi Zardes and Josh Sargent are going head to head, while Altidore is a very good experienced option.