Eric Lichaj

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Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Americans Abroad: Pulisic, Sabbi extend scoring spree

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For a second consecutive weekend, Christian Pulisic tops the list of Americans abroad.

A week removed from his historic, perfect hat-trick, the 21-year-old ace followed up by scoring Chelsea’s game-winner against Watford, stretching his Premier League goal count to four.

From the looks of it, Emmanuel Sabbi has been taking notes of Pulisic’s recent form.

The U.S. U-23 forward also scored for a second consecutive week in the Danish Superliagen. 31 minutes into Hobro’s match against Odense on Sunday, Sabbi, 21, executed his free kick perfectly, curling a right-footed strike over the wall and into the top-left corner.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic’s fine run of form continues. The Pennsylvanian played 83 minutes and scored Chelsea’s second and game-winner against Watford.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin started and played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 3-2 win against West Ham on Saturday. The Magpies are no longer in the drop zone.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan dropped to Swansea City 2-1 on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old is back healthy and starting. On Saturday, Miazga played all 90 minutes in Reading’s 2-1 win over Millwall.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The captain played the full 90 minutes and was instrumental in Hull City’s 3-0 win over Fulham. That’s two straight clean sheets for the Tigers.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender didn’t dress for QPR on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 3-0 loss to Hull City.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers and the Potters take on West From on Monday.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch didn’t dress in Sunderland’s 1-0 win over Southend United on Saturday.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 in Wolfsburg’s 3-0 draw loss to Borussia Dortmund.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  After being inactive against Borussia Dortmund, McKennie played all 90 minutes in Schalke’s 3-2 win over Augsburg on Saturday.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen played all 90 minutes and recorded a save and clean sheet in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-0 defeat of Koln. Morales also started and played 81 minutes on Sunday.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent came off the bench in the 72nd minute in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw with Freiburg.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress in RB Leipzig’s 8-0 thumping of Mainz on Saturday.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson didn’t feature for leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler was on the 18 but didn’t play in Frankfurt’s 5-1 win over Bayern Munich.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – The 26-year-old winger dressed but didn’t play in Paderborn’s loss on Friday.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes in Greuther Furth’s 3-1 win over Darmstadt.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest dressed but didn’t feature in Ajax’s 4-2 win over PEC Zwolle.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 90 minutes in VVV’s 3-0 loss to Feyenoord.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne didn’t dress for FC Emmen over the weekend, again.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a muscular injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Rennes’ match against Nimes over the weekend was postponed.

Honorable Mentions:

Emmanuel Sabbi, Hobro – The 21-year-old winger started and scored Hobro’s lone goal in their 2-1 loss to Odense on Sunday.

Ulysses Llanez, U-19 Wolfsburg – The 19-year-old played 82 minutes and scored in Wolfsburg’s 4-2 win over Hamburg on Saturday.

Americans Abroad: Pulisic shines with hat trick, Sargent assists

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A handful of Americans had a splendid weekend abroad.

Just ask Christian Pulisic, who took the world by storm as he became the youngest player to record a hat trick with Chelsea. The 21-year-old registered a perfect hat trick at Turf Moor in the Blues’ 4-2 win over Burnley on Saturday.

Over in the Bundesliga, Josh Sargent recorded his second assist of the season in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. Also in Germany, John Brooks returned to Wolfsburg’s starting lineup.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic had a historic night on Saturday. The Pennsylvanian scored three goals in under 60 minutes against Burnley on Saturday.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin started and played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 1-1 draw against Wolves on Sunday. The fullback has likely locked in his starting role in Steve Bruce‘s scheme after coming back from injury last month.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson is a fixture at Wigan. The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan picked up a point against Bristol City on Sunday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — Reading’s match against Nottingham Forrest was rescheduled on Saturday.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain started and played the full 90 minutes in Hull City’s 2-0 win over Derby County on Saturday.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender and QPR face Brentford on Monday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started and went the full 90 minutes in Stoke City’s 2-0 defeat to Millwall on Saturday. The Potter’s demise continues, and Carter-Vickers is a part of it.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 90 minutes for Derby County.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch didn’t play in Sunderland’s 1-0 loss to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 in Wolfsburg’s 0-0 draw against Augsburg on Saturday. He made two tackles, won six duels, and made two clearances.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie didn’t dress for Schalke on Saturday.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen started and played all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-0 defeat to Paderborn. Morales came off the bench and played 25 minutes.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  In 84 minutes of playing time, Sargent registered an assist in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress in RB Leipzig’s loss against Freiburg on Saturday.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson didn’t feature on Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 18 this weekend.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler came off the bench and played 11 minutes in Frankfurt’s 4-2 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes for Greuther Furth. Unfortunately, they lost 2-0 to league-leading Stuttgart in the 2. Bundesliga.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – The 26-year-old winger dressed but didn’t play in Paderborn’s loss.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest started, registered one assist and played 81 minutes in Ajax’s smothering of Feyenoord. An update on his international future is expected soon.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 78 minutes in VVV’s 4-1 loss to Fortuna Sittard.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne didn’t dress for FC Emmen over the weekend.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a muscular injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Siebatcheu came off the bench and registered an assist in Rennes’ 3-2 win over Toulouse.

Honorable Mentions:

Emmanuel Sabbi, Hobro – The 21-year-old winger started and scored a goal in Hobro’s 1-1 draw with Silkeborg on Sunday.

Americans Abroad: Pulisic assists, Yedlin starts in Newcastle win

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Christian Pulisic‘s struggles at Chelsea took a positive turn on Sunday, as the 21-year-old came off the bench and assisted Michy Batshuayi in the Blues’ 4-1 win over Southampton. The American’s 10-minute cameo were his first league minutes since August.

Elsewhere in England, DeAndre Yedlin returned to Newcastle’s starting lineup, following his lengthy injury. With Yedlin going all 90 minutes, the Magpies pulled off an upset victory over Manchester United. In Stoke, Cameron Carter-Vickers continues to be a fundamental piece for the struggling Potters. In similar fashion to Americans in England this week, however, there was a happy ending for Stoke City and Carter-Vickers, who earned their first victory of the season, edging Swansea City 2-1.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea – Pulisic started on the bench, but capitalized his brief cameo, recording his second assist of the season. Heading into the match Chelsea manager Frank Lampard warned the 21-year-old that hard, not his price tag, was going to turn his fortunes around. From what he showcased on Sunday, it seems like Pulisic listened paid close attention to his boss’ words.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle – It is safe to say Yedlin is finally up to speed, and Newcastle are reaping the benefits. On Sunday, Steve Bruce and company walked away from a passionate St. James’ Park with three points after getting past Manchester United. Yedlin started and played all 90 minutes in the Magpies 1-0 victory.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan –  Robinson has been a fixture for the Lactics, and that didn’t change this weekend. The 22-year-old played all 90 minutes in Wigan’s 1-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday. Still, a USMNT return doesn’t seem imminent.

Tim Ream, Fulham – The experienced defender started and played all 90 minutes in Fulham’s 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic. 11 matches in, the Cottagers are seventh in the league.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — Miazga is up and running again. The 24-year-old defender started and played 90 minutes in Reading’s 1-0 to Bristol City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — On Saturday, the Tigers suffered a 3-0 loss to Huddersfield Town. Things aren’t looking up for Lichaj and company, who despite the woes, continues to register minutes under his belt as a through-and-through starter.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — With Cameron as a starter and playing all game, QPR picked up a 4-2 win over Blackburn Rovers after a two-game losing streak.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — There’s no way around it: Stoke City are struggling. And despite the struggles, the 21-year-old is putting together a formidable season. Over the weekend, he recorded seven clearances and three blocked shots in Stoke’s 2-1 win over Swansea City – their first victory of the season.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes’ weekend could have been better. The 24-year-old came off the bench and only played six minutes in Derby’s 2-0 win over Luton Town.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie’s season at Schalke’s has been quiet, to say the very least. The USMNT midfielder has yet to record a goal or an assist this season, which didn’t change on Saturday after 45 minutes of playing time in Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Koln.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — On Friday, Fortuna Dusseldorf fell to Hertha Berlin 3-1. Steffan was between the two sticks, and didn’t record no saves, while Morales returned from injury and played 19 minutes off the bench.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  After recording an assist last time around, Sargent started and played 72 minutes in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig Adams is back and training with Leipzig, but his official return is yet to be determined.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach — Johnson missed his four straight match with back problems.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler dressed but remained on the bench in Eintracht Frankfurt’s draw.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – It was done in an unconventional fashion, but Shelton is the latest American in the Bundesliga. On Saturday, he came off the bench and played 26 minutes in Paderborn’s 2-1 loss to Mainz.

2.Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – Expected or not,Green is putting together a positive season in Germany’s second-flight. The 24-year-old started and played 79 minutes in in Greuther Furth’s 2-0 loss to Hamburg on Saturday.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest has yet to make up his mind on who he wants to represent at the national level, but that didn’t impede his productivity at the club level. The full-back started and played all 90 minutes in in Ajax’s 2-0 win over ADO Den Haag on Sunday.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — VVV-Venlo fell to PSV 4-1, and Wright started and played 87 minutes, earning his fifth start of the year. The striker has yet to score a goal this season.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne was left out of the squad for the tfourth straight week.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a hamstring tear. There is no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Siebatcheu is on the outside looking in at Rennes. On Sunday, the 23-year-old was left out of the French side’s 18.

Honorable Mentions:

William Yarborough, Club Leon – Back as Leon’s first-choice ‘keeper, Yarborough started, made three saves, and played 90 minutes in Club Leon’s 1-1 draw with Veracruz on Saturday.

Ventura Alvarado, Necaxa – Necaxa are atop of Liga MX after 13 games, and Alvaro has led the side as the captain. On Friday, he started and played 90 minutes in Necaxa’s 3-2 win over Morelia.

Combing through Gregg Berhalter’s latest USMNT call-ups

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This is going to meander a bit, because I’m just not sure what to make of Gregg Berhalter’s latest selection of USMNT call-ups other than to say that they make me uneasy.

The roster may be meant to develop long-term success, but his unorthodox decisions are — rightly or wrongly — putting a lot of eyes on short-term results. Because like it or not, the CONCACAF Nations League results affect their FIFA rankings, which matter to Hex qualifying places.

The U.S. was always expected to boss Cuba on Oct. 11 before a challenging match versus Canada at BMO Field four days later. The Yanks haven’t lost to Cuba since 1949, and the matches are usually quite one-sided.

[ MORE: Dest turns down cap-tie call-up ]

Facing an improved Canada angling for a Hex berth is a different feat, even if the Americans haven’t lost to the Canucks since 1985. That’s a run of 17 matches which includes 10 wins.

That could well end this month.

Single matches have become as scrutinized as ever since Bruce Arena’s USMNT crashed out of World Cup qualifying in Couva. Arena has rebounded, rescuing the New England Revolution and putting them into a playoff spot, but the national team has been at sea since Berhalter took the reins of the club.

Now Berhalter is making a habit of calling up players who are not in form, or not the best at their positions amongst Americans in MLS. There was online buzz about Berhalter calling up Brenden Aaronson instead of some non-first team players in Europe, and that’s an interesting conversation, but really we should be asking what qualifies Aaronson ahead of a number of his peers (let alone those a bit older and more experienced than him).

As an aside, I’m thrilled for Aaronson and excited to see an 18-year-old prospect put on the shirt of the country. There’s always hope, and the U.S. and MLS are churning out better players than ever before. I just don’t get this selection now.

Cannon and Aaronson (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I want to reiterate that I’m not judging players against some sort of perceived “Eurosnob” standard, though I’ll raise my hand high in the air and acknowledge that while I really enjoy MLS and marvel at its incredible rise, there are at least a dozen leagues in Europe (including two second tiers) which are currently above it in top-to-bottom roster quality.

The issue I see with Berhalter’s roster isn’t about Richie Ledezma (please actually call the kid, okay?) or Eric Lichaj or Julian Green. It’s about the players Berhalter is picking from within his own backyard.

Go back to his first January camp and first match as USMNT boss: Nine of the 11 starters are still with the squad (Djordje Mihailovic and Jeremy Ebobisse are out).

Fourteen players are back from that squad, which did not include any European-based players. The MLS additions are Brad Guzan, Jackson Yueill, Jozy Altidore and Brenden Aaronson. The others are Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and Weston McKennie (Schalke).

That seems like a pretty high number to return from a side which is 7-4-2, with a 1-2-2 record against Top 50 sides. The win is a B team beating a Costa Rica B team. The USMNT has also lost to two teams (Jamaica, Venezuela) outside the Top 50.

It’s not like these players have shown an incredible amount in a U.S. shirt, but aren’t in a good fit in their club. Considering that the Yanks are not producing goals by the dozen, consider this:

The leader in “big chances created” in MLS this year is current call-up Jordan Morris with eight. Jozy Altidore is second, also a call-up. No sane mind has a problem with either of those players being on the roster.

But Corey Baird has created two, good for 60th in the league amongst Americans. He is credited with 28 key passes. That’s 19th amongst Americans. He has five goals and three assists, both good for the fifth-highest totals… on his team, which has the scored the second-fewest of any playoff team.

I literally feel bad for harping on Wil Trapp‘s continued presence on the squad, because it’s not his job to turn down call-ups, but this one is astounding. The Columbus captain has started just three of the Crew’s last six matches. Known for his familiarity with Berhalter’s system as well as his passes, Trapp is 40th amongst American MLS players in key passes. He is fifth amongst U.S. MLS midfielders in accurate long balls, and three of the four players ahead of him (Michael Bradley, Jackson Yueill, and Cristian Roldan) have been called up, too. So there’s some method to that madness, but still should that override a consistent series of pedestrian at best performances in the USMNT shirt?

Aaronson is another weird one, and not just because he’s an unfamiliar name at age 18 in MLS. We should absolutely note that he’s unlikely to play a ton, especially against Canada, so the argument here is more about Berhalter’s rationale than Aaronson doing some sort of damage to the team’s fortunes.

He’s been a part of U-23 camp as Jason Kreis prepares for Olympic qualifying, and there’s really no need to see him ahead of a number of players who aren’t in contention for the Olympics. And if in fact the U-23 pool is in play, then there are a number of players from that group worth considering over him.

He might be great, and this might be a bit of brilliance from Berhalter, but he’s also the 10th rated American midfielder under 20 inside of MLS, many of whom play a similar role as him (How Paxton Pomykal isn’t in this camp is beyond me). Even taking out Sands, Cerrillo, and Durking, there’s a series of players in a bit better form above him. Again, I’m not questioning Aaronson’s long-term prognosis, rather where he is now. You don’t want to see what happens when you toss 20- and 21-year-olds onto this list.

Fullbacks Reggie Cannon, Daniel Lovitz, and Nick Lima have all dipped 10 places or more amongst American players in MLS (WhoScored) since the last round of call-ups.

Here, without judgment, is a list of American fullbacks who rank higher in performance score this year than all three of those players on multiple stat sites, having played at least 20 matches (ages in parentheses)

Ryan Hollingshead (28)
Tommy Thompson (24)
Aaron Herrera (22)
Jordan Harvey (35)
Graham Zusi (33)
Donny Toia (27)
Justin Morrow (31)
Jorge Villafana (30)
Keegan Rosenberry (25)

I’ve written this before, but this round of call-ups seems to reinforce it: The only conclusion I can reasonably come to is that Berhalter is so confident in being able to out-produce his peers, as he did with a substandard roster in Columbus, that he doesn’t care what the metrics say.

I get Gyasi Zardes, who is presently a very decent bench option beyond Jozy Altidore and Josh Sargent. The majority of the roster is defensible, which is a low bar, but fine.

I just feel like Berhalter is about to hang his hat on how his side fares against a Cuba team which should be defeated by any combination of regular MLS starters, let alone the best available to him.

Then Canada, who is much improved despite its losses to Mexico and Haiti and Gold Cup (At least they scored against Mexico, amirite?).

Canada has a Champions League goalkeeper in Red Star Belgrade’s Milan Borjan, but very little in defense. Their midfield is going to be a batch of MLS players and Rangers man Scott Arfield. The one place they can burn you is with talented attackers Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Jonathan David (Gent), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) and others.

So it’ll be a bit concerning if his XI looks like anything other than this:

Steffen

Yedlin — Zimmerman — Miazga — Ream

Bradley — McKennie — Lletget

Pulisic — Altidore — Morris

That’s still a lineup that beats Canada, maybe comfortably.