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Who Should the USMNT start vs. Mexico?


The latest installment of the U.S. Men’s National Team rivalry with Mexico will have a different feel that past showdowns.

Both Concacaf powers are led by interim managers at the moment, and the squads for Tuesday’s friendly in Nashville lean on the younger side.

USMNT interim manager Dave Sarachan has preached the word opportunity throughout the September camp, and he told reporters on Monday that he’ll make up to six changes for the match at Nissan Stadium.

Two changes are guaranteed with John Brooks and Paul Arriola departing for their respective club sides, but the other positional swaps might be harder to make.

While Sarachan wants to hand out opportunities to as many players as possible, the goal for Tuesday’s match is still to beat Mexico.

Below is a look at how the USMNT should line up Tuesday with some analysis as to why the decisions should be made.

USMNT XI vs. Mexico






The easiest decision Sarachan will make comes at goalkeeper, where Zack Steffen should earn his second start of September.

The Columbus Crew netminder is the best of the three goalkeepers on the 22-man roster, and he’s the smart choice with the confidence he’s displayed in between the pipes.

With Brooks leaving the squad, a hole opens up a center back for Cameron Carter-Vickers to re-establish his partnership with Matt Miazga.

Although it’s a bit risky having Miazga start after a 90-minute showing against Brazil, the on-loan Nantes man was one of the best USMNT players on the field on Friday.

On the flanks, Eric Lichaj’s experience is necessary to get a positive result, while DeAndre Yedlin is a lock to start any USMNT game he’s healthy for the foreseeable future.

Left back was the USMNT’s biggest weakness against Brazil, as Antonee Robinson was exposed multiple times.

Although it would be nice to see Robinson or Shaq Moore in the game, Lichaj’s one of the few players on the roster who’s actually been a part of a clash with Mexico.

Sarachan needs to have some type of change in the middle of the park given the number of contenders for the starting spots in central midfield.

Tyler Adams, Wil Trapp and Weston McKennie got the nods in a 4-1-4-1 formation against Brazil, but with a more attacking setup used for Mexico, Trapp heads to the bench in favor of Kellyn Acosta in a 4-2-3-1 system.

Adams will hold in front of the back four more than Acosta or McKennie, but don’t be surprised if they interchange their roles during some stretches of the contest.

With Arriola back with D.C. United. it’s time to unleash Timothy Weah and have him combine with McKennie, Acosta and Adams.

The 18-year-old PSG winger has waited for his breakout moment, and Tuesday could be the perfect opportunity to catch everyone’s attention in a rivalry match.

Cristian Roldan moves into the squad on the right wing, as he’s played there with the Seattle Sounders during their recent winning streak and provides stability both ways, plus it gives him a chance to combine with a former Sounder in Yedlin.

Up top, Sarachan faces his toughest decision, as Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes and Andrija Novakovich could all make a case to start.

Wood was ineffective in his 70 minutes against Brazil, but Zardes didn’t impress a ton in place of the Hawaii native.

If Sarachan wants an in-form striker up top, Zardes is the guy, and he should get the start to prove what he can do with the confidence he’s earned during his first season with the Crew.

Novakovich is the wild-card in this situation, as he’s performed well in the Dutch second division and deserves a shot to prove his worth, but he seems like a better option off the bench in a game of this magnitude.


  1. Interesting predictions by PRO SOCCER TALK, NBC Sports

    USMNT v Mexico (4-4-2)





    USMNT v Mexico (3-5-2)





    its going to be REALLY interesting what group of player the USMNT puts on the field.

    ⚽?? ⚽?? ⚽?? ⚽?? ⚽??

  2. Brooks gone, Arriola (our right winger) gone, so how defensive is this team going to be??? We all know coach is going to roll out the good old 4-1-4-1 that we don’t have the quick and athletic wingers for (but he is trying to make work). In the 5-3-2 formation without Brooks and Arriola, and possibly resting Bobby Wood (hopefully, as he makes me miss Altidore!!! ? )



    ———- PARKER——–MIAZGA—-Carter-Vickers——————


    but I would have loved to see something like (think of the counter Attacks):






    OR maybe even






    at this point its whatever. Hopefully, Sarachan, who is trying to make a statement as head coach of the USMNT, knows what he needs to do

  3. What I think we’ll see

    I’d rather see, but I don’t really matter.

    Was there ever a statement as to why Nova, Moore, Long, and Horvath didn’t dress Friday, Brazil dressed 23 and we only dressed 20?

  4. It’s a friendly at home, so I want to see more of an attacking formation. From the SBI proposal, I would substitute Novakovich for Roldan and put him and Zardes up top and put Tyler Adams in a more central role with only Acosta in a defensive mid position. Thus we would set up with a 4-1-3-2. There is the danger that Mexico could overrun this midfield, but it’s still time to experiment and the score doesn’t matter, even though it’s Mexico.

  5. Wood Zardes
    Green McKennie Delgado Weah
    Robinson CCV Parker Moore (i think some of the defense last time was 2d choice)

    • I like you’re lineup for the most part. I assume the changes are just for rotation purposes and not necessarily your ideal lineup given the player pool. Either way, I’m not against it. But, I don’t see us playing that formation. I would expect Zardes or Wood to either be dropped or moved into another position. From there, an additional DM would be implemented, allowing McKennie to play further forward or using Adams further forward. Based on your player selection, something like this:


      I would personally do something like this to mix it up a bit:


      • I get what you’re saying and in a world cup maybe the next 2 keepers are rostered but never see the field. You have to have some degree of bench keeper redundancy just as a contingency because I once watched a single game where both Cech and his backup were badly hurt for CFC. However, for friendlies it feels kind of goofy to call in 3 keepers and play Steffen every minute of every game. And IMO this part of the cycle is as much for finding out who the other options are as for confirming your likely starters.

        I also get that it being “Brazil” and “Mexico” encourages us to play for results but I thought we learned last cycle the downside to not only playing too many games “to win” but focusing on the wrong players as the perceived tools to do so. I want to see a variety of players out there to know who can handle it and who freaks, and to make sure the “conventional wisdom” chosen few in fact play up to expectations.

    • I give it 50/50 at best that Steffen starts again Sarachan has been rotating guys during these. You probably need to call in three just for workouts and obviously need at least two for games should the first get injured or red carded.

  6. The team that played France ?? with a few modifications



    ROB——- BROOKS——–MIAZGA—-Carter-Vickers—YEDLIN


    Acosta for Trapp
    Brooks for Parker
    Yedlin for Moore

    GO USA ?? !!!!!!!!

    • I prefer this formation, especially against Mexico where it has worked before. Unfortunately, Brooks is gone, and those are some big shoes to fill. And I can’t remember the other CBs we have. Parker?

      • I don’t think they’re that big of shoes to fill, too many goals allowed, and when the new coach is hired who is going to care what Sarachan thought.

      • Parker was the original back in that game against France and played well, so I think he would be great against Mexico

    • 5 Defenders and three DMs and you were complaining the last lineup was too defensive? I’m just giving you a hard time, the three DMs are really 8s not 6s.

  7. Your set up has Yedlin on the left and Lichaj on the right. I assume that was a mistake. I’m usually ok with Lichaj, and he certainly bring experience, but I’d rather see Robinson get more time. So he got smoked a couple times by Costa on Friday night. Most left backs would have. So I say we give the kid more reps.

    I can’t imagine that Trapp goes from wearing the captain’s band to the bench. He was one of our better players against Brazil. And besides, Roldan has had plenty of chances to state his case in the past, and never impressed for the Nets. So I think Trap plays as one of the D-Mids and either Adams or Acosta moves up.

    I will never be ok with Zardes starting before Wood. I don’t care that Zardes is having a solid season in MLS. Wood has proven to be the more reliable forward. Yeah he didn’t produce much against Brazil. That’s because we didn’t have the ball much in our attacking third.

      • He has been to four camps; GC 2017, Jan.2018, Mar. 2018, and Sept. 2018. He’s played in 4 matches for a total of 165 minutes.
        2017 vs Martinque 90 mins
        2018 vs Bosnia-Her. 68 mins
        vs Paraguay 0 min
        vs Brazil 7 mins

      • Thanks for the info, JohnnyRazor. That’s a lot of looks by the coaching staff during those 4 camps. Apparently, Sarachan agrees with me that Roldan shouldn’t start after watching him train with the team.

  8. I think those are mostly the right players, not sold on the formation. If we are going with a 4-2-3-1 I would play Green as the attacking central mid and push Adams out wide and Roldan to the bench. Need some creativity in there.

  9. Maybe Roldan starts but not because of this: “plus it gives him a chance to combine with a former Sounder in Yedlin.” Pretty sure those 2 didnt overlap at Seattle, at all, so why would that be a factor?

    Really??? “Eric Lichaj’s experience is necessary to get a positive result” If this is true, we are in trouble. At what point does “experience” no longer play a role in these decisions? If you dont play, then you will never get the experience. Get it now before the games actually matter.

    I agree with most of the rest…
    (4) Yedlin (moore subs in), ccv, miazga, robinson
    (2) adams and mckennie
    (3) zardes/roldan/?, acosta, weah
    (1) please lets see Novakovich (wood sub)


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