The USMNT are set for their final three 2022 World Cup qualifiers and there is still plenty of work to do for Gregg Berhalter’s men.
With a trip to Mexico followed by a home game against Panama in Orlando and then finishing off qualifying in Costa Rica a few days later, these final three qualifiers signify the toughest window yet for the young USMNT squad.
The math is pretty simple for the USMNT to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar: get five points from their three games and they are in. Sealed. Clinched. That is it.
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The tough part? The USMNT has never won away at Mexico or Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying.
Which players will be tasked with getting the USMNT over the line to qualify for the 2022 World Cup? That is the all-important question and Berhalter has some key enforced absentees through injury and he made a few surprise omissions in his squad for this window.
Below we select the best USMNT from this squad ahead of these final three World Cup qualifiers.
[ MORE: USMNT World Cup qualifying schedule ]
Best USMNT XI for final three World Cup qualifiers
—– Steffen —–
— Yedlin — M. Robinson — Zimmerman — A. Robinson —-
—- Adams —- Musah —-
—- Weah —- Reyna —- Pulisic —-
—– Pefok —–
Analysis of USMNT roster
Okay, so the XI above is the best available starting lineup for these qualifiers. But it doesn’t mean they will start in each game as there is plenty of travel involved and there’s no way Berhalter doesn’t make changes for these matches.
We know Zack Steffen is going to start in goal because Matt Turner is out with an injury, while the back four is pretty settled at this point as DeAndre Yedlin will come in for the injured Sergino Dest.
In midfield it gets interesting. In theory, with no Weston McKennie (two broken metatarsals ended his season at Juventus), Yunus Musah should start alongside Tyler Adams in central midfield. But in the first game of this window away at Mexico, it is likely Kellyn Acosta will start alongside Adams to add defensive steel.
Berhalter will likely try and go with his preferred 4-3-3 lineup at Mexico, which could see Adams, Acosta and maybe even James Sands or Gianluca Busio start in a solid, defensively solid midfield three as keeping the ball when you win it back is key.
But against Panama and Costa Rica, the more attacking lineup I’ve listed above is what you should go with. If Reyna is fully fit, he starts. If not, Brenden Aaronson would have started in the No. 10 role but now he’s out injured too. That’s a real tough one for the USMNT and puts more pressure on Reyna, just back from a long injury, to play plenty of minutes. Depending on how deep they want the No. 10 to drop, that could make this a 4-5-1 out of possession and a 4-2-3-1 in possession. Those two more defensive formations should be used away at Mexico.
Christian Pulisic should start on the left and Tim Weah on the right, while Jordan Pefok’s superb recent form for Young Boys means he should start up top. Ricardo Pepi is also an option, but he has struggled in recent months for club and country after his move to Augsburg.