For the next few months and years, the U.S. Men’s National Team will be in the midst a process of defining itself. As things stand, we have no idea what the best USMNT will look like when World Cup qualifying begins again. The next year or two are about figuring that out.
Knowing that, the U.S. will be experimenting and shifting for quite some time, and you can expect more of the same on Tuesday against Paraguay.
Tuesday’s match is the first of the year featuring a full complement of European-based players, and it’s apparent when looking at a Euro-heavy roster. Regulars like DeAndre Yedlin and Bobby Wood are back in the fold, leading a group with a number of veterans scattered throughout.
Still, there’s plenty of youth to be excited about and a number could make their senior debuts on Tuesday. It’ll be about finding a balance, sure, but expect some new faces and some new looks during Tuesday’s friendly.
With that said, here’s a look at how the USMNT could line up:
As exciting as it would be to go all out with a full youth movement, you have to expect some veteran holdovers to headline the squad. DeAndre Yedlin is the closest to a sure thing given his experience and the fact that an appearance on Tuesday would be his 50th cap. Over the next few years, Yedlin will be one of several players with the potential to step into a leadership position, and that begins on Tuesday.
In addition to Yedlin, it wouldn’t surprise to see a number of veterans headlining the USMNT lineup. At forward, there are interesting options in Rubio Rubin and Andrija Novakovich, but Bobby Wood seems a safe bet to get some run out to start the match. In defense, Jorge Villafana will likely get the first 45 minutes before a swap for someone line Antonee Robinson. The midfield, meanwhile, should be headlined by Darlington Nagbe, one of the few players in camp with legitimate playmaking skills and the ability to link the defense to the attack.
Starting with that defense, Tuesday could be the beginning of a long-awaited partnership between Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers. We’ve seen the two play together on the youth level with big-time success and, with both now getting minutes in Europe, it’s well past time to start bringing them along. John Brooks remains the USMNT’s prime centerback, but Miazga and Carter-Vickers have the chance to be 1B and 1C in the coming years.
The midfield picture could go a number of ways. In an ideal world, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie get another match together but, with McKennie dealing with a bit of an injury, it’s hard to predict how long he’ll get. In that case, playing Wil Trapp is the safe bet, and a deserved nod for a player that looked good in January.
Overall, expect a balance between the ambitious and the predictable. Sarachan likely won’t go full pedal to the medal with the young stars, and that’s fine. However, you should expect to see a number of new faces on the field as the USMNT program looks to figure out what kind of pool will be in place when a new coach comes in later this year.