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How might the USMNT line up versus France?

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When we last saw the United States men’s national team, they looked very much like a side that hadn’t played together much.

A surprising first half lead very much against the run of play yielded to the Republic of Ireland’s control and a 2-1 loss.

[ PREVIEW: France vs. USMNT ]

While Dave Sarachan might’ve been tempted to tear up his lineup card and never look back, he won’t be well-served throwing something unorthodox at the wall and hoping it sticks.

That’s because France, in its send-off match, carrying the badge of World Cup contender? Yeah, that’s a tough ask.

Here’s how the guys looked to open Saturday’s loss at the Aviva Stadium:

Hamid

— Yedlin — Miazga — Carter-Vickers — Villafana —

— Trapp —

— Weah — Adams — McKennie — Rubin —

— Wood —

It’s not going to be exactly the same in Lyon. Hamid was rusty, and the USMNT didn’t take Zack Steffen away from Columbus for a couple weeks to plant him on the bench.

Plus, Cameron Carter-Vickers struggled and there are a few guys who, frankly, are probably in line for minutes.

We’ll provide two XIs: one with minimal changes, and another that’s nearly wholesale. What Sarachan tries is anyone’s guess.

Minimal change XI

Steffen

— Yedlin — Miazga — Parker — Lichaj —

— Trapp —

— Weah — Adams — McKennie — Rubin —

— Wood —


All changes XI

Steffen

— Moore — Parker — Palmer-Brown — Robinson —

— Parks —

 — De La Torre — Corona — Green —

— Novakovich — Sargent —


A nice mix of changes XI

Steffen

— Yedlin — Miazga — Parker — Lichaj —

— Trapp — Parks —

— Weah — Adams — Green —

— Sargent —

Red Bulls acquire Parker from Vancouver

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The New York Red Bulls are bringing one of the better young center backs in U.S. Soccer back home.

[ MORE: MLS 2018 roundtable ]

Tim Parker, 25, is moving from Vancouver to RBNY in exchange for Felipe Martins, $500,000 in Targeted Allocation Money over two years, and an international roster spot for 2018.

Parker’s departure is made palatable by the addition of Aaron Maund by Real Salt Lake, as Caps leader Kendall Waston will work with a new center back partner.

As for New York, their ability replace stars with players from their prolific academy (Tyler Adams, Sean Davis) makes them lethal in the trade market.

“Tim is the type of defender we look for,” said Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch. “His soccer knowledge, athleticism, and one-on-one defending ability are qualities that fit with what we ask of our center backs. I know he is glad to be coming home to New York, and we think he will thrive in our style of play.”

Parker’s 3150 minutes for Vancouver last season led the team by 410. The Long Island-born defender was drafted 13th overall by the Caps out of St. John’s in 2015.

Marsch brought Felipe to New York from Montreal, and he played 100 matches for the Red Bulls. The 27-year-old played for the Impact from 2012-14.

Whitecaps defender Tim Parker being tracked by several teams from East

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
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Tim Parker’s next destination could very well be closer to his hometown, however, other MLS sides are in hot pursuit of the U.S. Men’s National Team defender.

[ MORE: CCL recap — FC Dallas falls, Club America struts its stuff ]

The Vancouver Whitecaps center back has been the subject of trade speculation recently, and Pro Soccer Talk has learned that Parker has turned down a new contract with the Cascadia side that would have kept the 24-year-old in Canada for at least three more seasons.

Multiple sources have told PST that the deal Parker rejected was worth over $1.4 million in totality. Metro New York’s Kristian Dyer was the first to report the story.

Parker was subject to make roughly $99,000 in 2017, according to the MLS Players Union, although he’s expected to receive a significant increase with any new deal that he signs. On an average basis, Parker would have made over $400,000 annually had he signed a new contract with the Whitecaps.

A New York-native, Parker has been looking to return to the East Coast after spending three seasons with the Whitecaps. The former Saint John’s University standout was selected in the first round by the Whitecaps in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, after spending all four years with the Red Storm on the collegiate level.

Sources can also confirm that D.C. United and the Montreal Impact have emerged as the leaders to obtain Parker’s services if a deal is struck with the defender, although a move to the New York Red Bulls hasn’t been ruled out.

The Red Bulls have shown interest in the young defender for some time — and would be the preferred destination for the player — given Parker’s New York roots. A combination of allocation money and a player would likely be needed from the Red Bulls if the Eastern Conference side proved to be serious about pursuing Parker.

D.C. has managed to acquire significant allocation money over recent years, particularly GAM, which would prove to be essential in signing Parker. Ben Olsen’s defense has been built around USMNT center back Steve Birnbaum — who arrived in 2014 — but an addition of Parker would surely benefit a D.C. back line that conceded 60 goals in 34 regular season matches a season ago.

Meanwhile, a move for the Impact would be logical given the fact that the Canadian side lost center back Laurent Ciman this offseason when the Belgian international was traded to expansion side Los Angeles FC.

Stock up/stock down after USMNT’s wild World Cup qualifiers

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It’s funny how wild different results can swing a discussion.

Before last week, many United States soccer supporters would’ve gladly accepted four of six points from the qualifiers with Guatemala, knowing those results would’ve cleared its path to the Hex.

[ VIDEO: Previewing every PL match in Week 32 ]

The Yanks, instead, gave Guatemala three in match No. 1 before taking a trio of their own on Tuesday. The U.S. is now in good position to advance, but no one’s doing backflips after this week.

That said, that first loss opened the door for several players to improve their World Cup stock. Naturally, several others will have found their chances significantly damaged by it.

Stock up

Steve Birnbaum —  Kind of surprising Birnbaum didn’t get a look ahead of Michael Orozco in the first match, but the latter’s implosion in Guatemala City allowed “Birdbomb” to get a home start on Tuesday. One of the stars of the Yanks’ winter wins over Iceland and Canada, Birnbaum moved up the depth chart a peg this break.

Geoff Cameron —  This “stock up” is more in public perception than Jurgen Klinsmann’s mind, we think, because Cameron is a top-flight defender and has been for some time. He was dynamite against Guatemala in Columbus, and one of the only effective USMNT players in Guatemala City.

As the only full-time American field player in the Premier League before DeAndre Yedlin broke through on loan with Sunderland, Cameron can also adequately play defensive mid and right back. On a team without Michael Bradley, he just may be the captain.

Every player who wasn’t called up or was hurt — Life without John Brooks and Fabian Johnson wasn’t dandelions, let alone roses. Given the poor displays almost across the board on Friday, it’s not absurd to think players like Matt Hedges, Eric Lichaj, and Tim Ream are all looking a bit more attractive to Jurgen Klinsmann.

Stock down

Mix Diskerud — It’s hard to imagine what’s become of Diskerud in a year. The midfielder came to New York City FC and has since struggled to play well for the national team. After scoring three goals for the U.S. in 2014, he’s since nabbed just a lone tally for the Stars and Stripes. Yes he was played out of position, but the jury remains out on Mix after seeing his first season’s production at NYC fail to meet his last season in Norway.

Michael Orozco — With plenty of respect to a veteran Liga MX defender and the fact that he shouldn’t have even been on the pitch for the USMNT after going months without first team football, Orozco had a terrible game alongside Omar Gonzalez in Guatemala City. At 30 and with Matt Miazga, Tim Parker and Cameron Carter-Vickers waiting in the wings, Orozco has probably done his last cap dance.

Stock questionable

Gyasi Zardes —  At 24, Zardes is unquestionably a remarkable talent when ‘on’. But at what point do we cross the line from “He’s inexperienced at a high level” to “He should really have a better first touch by now.” Zardes has a good head for positioning and works his tail off, and has three goals in his first 22 caps (just one since July). Given his playing time, shouldn’t it click soon? At least for the Galaxy? Still he was an integral part of two goals in the 4-0 win over Guatemala, and an international goal is an international goal almost regardless of where it’s scored.

MORE: NASL adds first West Coast team ]

Bonus stock ups and downs — U.S. U-23s

UP
Tim Parker — Up until his stamp in leg 2, Parker was the best player on the side.
Ethan Horvath — The front-runner to be a long-term USMNT goalkeeper

DOWN
Jordan Morris — His slow start to life in MLS moved onto the U-23 pitch
Kellyn Acosta — Was played out of position, but that doesn’t excuse everything.
Wil Trapp — Also a bit out-of-position, yet had little influence.

Three things from the U.S. U-23’s 1-1 draw with Colombia in Olympic playoff 1st leg

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After an hour or so of allowing my heartbeat to return to a normal rhythm given the relentless Colombian attack and its threats to crush my Olympic dreams or at least the chance to watch the U.S. men play soccer in the Olympics, I’m ready to speak.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

Here’s three things we learned from the 1-1 draw in Barranquilla on Friday.

CENTER BACK(S?) ON POINT

Three years ago, Tim Parker (above) was playing in the NPSL. Two years ago, he was a St. John’s team that went 4-10-4. Last year, he was breaking into the lineup for the Vancouver Whitecaps, also on loan to their USL side.

Tonight, he was the best player on the United States men’s U-23 national team, keeping the flame burning for a nation’s men’s Olympic hopes.

Parker combined with Matt Miazga (Chelsea) to form a solid backbone for Andi Herzog’s unit, and he was a step above his center back mate. Given the relentless pressure provided by the Colombians, it’s a minor miracle they didn’t find a second goal. But they didn’t… and Parker was the main reason why.

ADJUST MUCH?

Herzog’s plan for the first half-hour, keeping a very narrow midfield in a bit of a 4-3-1-2, frustrated and flustered Colombia. It arguably kept them off-balance enough to allow Mario Rodriguez to set up Luis Gil for the opening goal.

The second half, though, had the U.S. looking disjointed whenever they found possession. Granted Herzog was forced into an early sub when goalkeeper Ethan Horvath was hurt, but his two remaining subs were used to take out Gil and Rodriguez.

United States' coach Andi Herzog instructs players during a U-23 first leg soccer match qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics against Colombia at the Roberto Melendez Stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Kellyn Acosta and Jordan Morris were gasping for air, and Acosta was toasted on the right flank time and again. Some are writing that off as Acosta playing out of position — he’s a DCM for FC Dallas — but regardless he needed to be moved. He could’ve slid into center for Gil if the midfielder needed to come off that bad, but it was clear it wasn’t his night against a dangerous wide attack.

We saw this in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, too. Herzog show some terrific game-planning and seems to be a heck of a coach, but his adjustments have been disappointing.

AIR JORDAN

As in gasping for air. Jordan Morris might be the great hope of the United States, but we’ve seen he’s far from a finished product. His outside of the right foot bender off the crossbar was gorgeous to watch, but that’s a left-footed shot he passed up to take it. And we’re not talking about a “He thinks two steps ahead of the goalkeeper” right-footer, but a “He went out of his way to use his right” right-footer. Disappointing.

Then again, Morris was gassed and playing in terrible heat (the pregame index was a “real feel” of 102). He’s also on the heels of his busiest and most unrelenting game sequence of his career (full college season, trial with Werder Bremen, Sounders preseason, starting role for Seattle). He can be forgiven, but we’d love to see him breakthrough for club and country ASAP, thanks.

United States' team pose for a group photo prior to the U-23 first leg soccer match qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics against Colombia at the Roberto Melendez Stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)