An intriguing USMNT – Jamaica friendly takes place in Austria, as the Stars and Stripes have their European contingent ready to go and some big names are back in action.
The Reggae Boyz have a large contingent of English-based players, as this is the first of two international friendlies for Gregg Berhalter’s national team in March.
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The Yanks are also set for a Sunday afternoon match-up with Northern Ireland.
The stakes aren’t nearly as high for the USMNT as a team, but there’s plenty of individual status in play and USMNT fans will be hoping to see more comfort inside of Gregg Berhalter’s system with the CONCACAF Nations League, Gold Cup, World Cup qualifying, and — hopefully — the Olympics ahead of them.
How to watch USMNT – Jamaica, stream link, start time, lineup
HERE WE GO! 🇺🇸👊
Your #USMNT Starting XI for today’s match vs. 🇯🇲.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) March 25, 2021
U.S. Soccer men’s national teams in action this week
*Mexico U-23s v U.S. U-23s — 8:30pm ET
Jamaica v USMNT — 1pm ET
Northern Ireland v USMNT — 1pm ET
**U.S. U-23s v. Group B winner/runner-up — 4pm or 7pm ET
* U.S. wins Group A with win, finishes second with draw/loss
**Winner qualifies for Summer Olympics
Knowing the opponent: Jamaica
The Reggae Boyz have been busy recruiting dual nationals like Michail Antonio and Nathan Redmond, but the make-up of Thursday’s lineup will have the United States as heavy favorites.
Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey will not be there for coach Theodore Whitmore, nor will Fulham’s Bobby Decordova-Reid and Anderlecht’s Kemar Lawrence.
So who will be there?
Watford’s Andre Gray will make his Jamaica debut as will Swansea City’s Jamal Lowe, while an England-heavy back line of Adrian Mariappa (Bristol City), Michael Hector (Fulham), and Liam Moore (Reading) will hope to stifle the U.S. attack.
Jamaica is preparing for the Gold Cup, a tournament that has treated them well over the past three editions. The Reggae Boyz were runners-up in 2015 and 2017 before finishing fourth in 2019.
This is Jamaica’s third match since the start of 2020 and by far their biggest test since losing to the USMNT in the Gold Cup semifinals.
They last played a pair of November friendlies against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, losing one 3-0 and winning another 2-1. Decordova-Reid, Bailey, Hector, and Ravel Morrison started in the win, while none of the above played in the loss.
Top storylines and players in focus
How will Zack Steffen‘s status as Manchester City back-up have affected his sharpness? Probably not much at all, as the former Columbus Crew man is unbeaten between the posts for the Premier League leaders, but it will be well-monitored by U.S. fans.
Who will stand out at striker? Daryl Dike has become a Premier League transfer target since heading on loan to Barnsley from Orlando City and leading a promotion push, while Josh Sargent is a weekly starter in the Bundesliga and Nicholas Gioacchini and uncapped Jordan Siebatcheu are strikers hoping to impress Berhalter.
Then there are the teenagers.
Giovanni Reyna (18) has looked a little exhausted with Borussia Dortmund but is still, y’know, playing regularly at 18 for Borussia Dortmund. Yunus Musah (18) is making his first appearance since committing his future to the USMNT, while new AS Roma man Bryan Reynolds (19) and young Leicester City goalkeeper Chituru Odunze (18) would love to assert themselves in the mix.
How might the USMNT line-up?
There are a few options here, especially with the tumult resulting from Weston McKennie being unable to make the trip to Austria due to an apparent hip injury.
Likely preferred XI
Dest — Miazga — Brooks — Robinson
Musah — Lletget
Pulisic — Sargent
There are some tricky ones to pick here, and Kellyn Acosta’s inclusion means it’s likely he plays set back in the midfield with Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie missing from the squad.
Whether Berhalter uses Sergino Dest at his preferred right back or as left back in order to use Reggie Cannon is a big question, as is whether the coach views Matt Miazga, Aaron Long, or Chris Richards as the prime partner for John Brooks.
Few caps XI
Reynolds — Palmer-Brown — Richards — Dest
Otasowie — Musah
Cappis — Aaronson — Reyna
Steffen still plays goal because he’s the program’s No. 1 and the leadership will be necessary.
Dest flips side and Otasowie and Musah partner in a more defensive role to make amends for whatever either might lack to lock down the heart of the pitch alone.
Wild card XI
Reynolds — Palmer-Brown — Ream — Robinson
Aaronson — Acosta — Musah — Lletget
Gioacchini — Siebatcheu
Trying to get minutes out of a number of youngsters while putting a priority on the Northern Ireland friendly, Berhalter hands debuts to three players and sees how Ethan Horvath is handling a backup role to Simon Mignolet, the 25-year-old American making just one appearance since October.