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Who Should the USMNT Start vs. Colombia?


The third of the six fall friendlies for the U.S. Men’s National Team takes place on Thursday in Tampa against Colombia.

The roster for the upcoming games against Colombia and Peru was diminished a bit after Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams out due to injuries.

That presents interim manager Dave Sarachan with an interesting decision-making process given the presence of Michael Bradley in the squad among a deep group of defensive midfielders.

Based off what we saw in the September friendlies against Brazil and Mexico, the back four is solidified for the time being, but questions still remain about the quality of the squad.

Below is a look at who Sarachan should start against one of the top South American sides.

Who the USMNT Should Start vs. Colombia


Yedlin — Brooks — Miazga — Robinson

Bradley — Trapp

Weah — Green — Saief


Zack Steffen is the No. 1 goalkeeper of the present and future, and even with Guzan in camp, the Columbus Crew netminder should be Sarachan’s first choice.

Building up Steffen’s international experience is the best possible way to move away from the older group of players at the position, although it’s necessary to keep Guzan in the squad for experience in training based on the state of the positional pool.

Unless something significant hampers one of the first-choice defenders, the back four appears to be settled for the future as well.

DeAndre Yedlin is one of the first names on the team sheet at right back, and an argument can be made that he should captain the side as one of the leaders in a young group.

The center-back pairing of Matt Miazga and John Brooks needs to build more chemistry in front of Steffen,

The only other option to start at center back is Cameron Carter-Vickers, but until a new manager is brought in, three at the back with Brooks, Miazga, and Carter-Vickers is an experiment to hold off on.

Antonee Robinson’s taken hold of the left back position, even though he struggled against Brazil.

The 21-year-old has earned the trust of Sarachan, and just like some of the other young players on the roster, he needs to continue to receive playing time on the international level.

The controversial decision comes in midfield, where the experienced Michael Bradley slides into the defensive midfield alongside Wil Trapp.

It might not be the sexiest combination in front of the back four, but the pair of MLS-based midfielders are effective enough to break up plays in the middle of the field, especially when Colombia counters.

That part of the field would’ve had different players in the lineup if Adams and McKennie were healthy, but this is the most effective duo to use.

Julian Green at the No. 10 position has been one of the few revelations over the last few months, as he’s found success in a new role at the club level.

Green was one of the bright spots against Mexico, and he is deserving of a start behind Bobby Wood.

Timothy Weah and Kenny Saief bring pace to the wings but don’t be surprised to see Fafa Picault or Jonathan Amon bring a boost to the squad in the second half, as well as Josh Sargent.


    • I agree, or we need someone like Green sitting under the target forward like Landon used to do, which might as well be a forward (“withdrawn”), whatever label you want to stick on it, he needs someone quickly available to move the ball on to. Or he needs plentiful runners from the midfield. An isolated forward against 4 backs with the mids way back doesn’t work, at least not unless you’re playing some sort of Northern Ireland stalemate machine hoping for 0-0 or 1-0.

  1. Why not. I would rather Acosta for Bradley, but given the injury absences I can go along with SBI lineup. Acosta in around the 60th. Please oh please let Trapp keep wearing the armband. Or give it to Yedlin.

  2. I don’t know how and why folks keep anointing Saief a starter for this team when he isn’t even starting consistently for Anderlecht. He’s been injured and is just coming back into his own, but off the bench, so if anything he is only a 30-40 minute player right now. Amon, Picault or and Weah need to be starting on the wings imho, because at least they have been playing consistently at club level or for the USMNT(only Weah from this group). Amon is showing his ass in Denmark, Picault the same in MLS, while Weah has put together some solid showings for PSG and the USMNT. We need to let Saief wok his way back slowly, and i think he got hurt initially with the Nats because we pushed his inclusion to start too fast! I’m also not a fan of starting Bradley and Trapp together, they are too much alike for my taste. With Trapp being captain, he’ll get the start, and Bradley needs to start on the bench. I like Acosta to get the start alongside Trapp if the formation above holds true, but i think Sarachan sticks with his 4-1-4-1 formation which would imply that we’ll see some combination of Acosta, Bradley and Trapp. I think Bradley could actually be more productive in a more free flowing role, or higher up the field as a #8, and with McKennie and Adams being injured that scenario makes sense!

  3. I don’t quite see the point in starting a bunch of veterans or even the kids who are becoming core. I don’t see what that teaches you about the team going forward. What, you mean Steffen can play? Wow, news flash there. The one older player who you are interested if they’ve come around is Wood, but he’s routinely been started mid slump for us, where it’s like, are we going to try other people in case he’s a mess, or someone gets hurt? Sarachan is basically full speed ahead on running the team like he owns it, and settling on a lineup, when this phase is really supposed to be about assessing the pool. Nor do I think when I see Trapp or Miazga or Bradley or others out there (assuming) that there is thorough evaluation and accountability going on, he kind of knows where he wants to head, and who cares if someone looked over their head in a recent game. Same attitude problem Arena had, hard headed.

    • I also think the more professional and modern player pool is less in need of general leadership or education in professionalism. We are rarely if ever bringing in college kids or unseasoned pros. What this generation needs is likely position specific or how to deal with qualifying. More to the point, I have not seen a ton of consideration in the head coach hiring process or the mentoring ideas of Sarachan, of what this generation needs, like, you know, asking them. This team does not have the same hangups that need addressing as the last cycle.

      • I get what you are saying but when you see the lineup of:
        Yedlin — Brooks — Miazga — Robinson
        Bradley — Trapp
        Weah — Green — Saief

        that looks like “playing to win” and not “let’s try new people” or even “let’s test the more routinely called upon elements of the kiddie corps.” Other than seeing if Saief is healthy and how he looks, or whether Wood is fixed, it’s literally just a game, few new people or ideas.

        God forbid we need to field a second keeper besides Steffen, or it dawns on people how inconsistent the CBs are, or we admit Trapp is meh, or Wood goes back in the tank, because we are making very little effort at figuring out our options and testing them as well.

  4. So we have these friendlies…. Sarachan probably still thinks he has some chance IF he could show well. So he loses a few with injuries but he still wants a result. I will bet that means he will play known players like Wood or Bradley in hopes of getting that result.

    This is why it was a mistake keeping him on this long

    • You are coming at the same ideas I am from another direction. To me it is in a caretaker-who-want-the-job’s interest to reintegrate veterans from his past cycle, rehabilitate himself in the process, limit risky kid usage, and play to win or at least for results. But shoving this back in the direction of Guzan/Horvath/Brooks/Miazga/Trapp is not pushing the program forward very far. I thought his keeper choices were horrendous, and I agree that this call sheet is likely to result, at least for Colombia, in this XI. I expect more creativity for Peru but I also think the way he keeps doing this means only 1 game out of any 2 has any novelty or use for evaluating the talent of people other than those he is focusing on. Inasmuch as not every player he is focused on is beyond debate, he’s deciding on one side of the argument very fast, and I think that’s a little arrogant for a caretaker. I agree, he’s not mowing the lawn for the next homeowner, he’s basically moving in. I don’t trust his judgment or his tactics and his results are fairly meh.

      People seem to get aspects of the argument when it’s Bradley specifically but not that Guzan and other holdovers have the same age and quality problems and even less upside, and that after barely dipping into the pool he’s stopped looking at what’s there.

      The one that truly drives me nuts is Guzan and Horvath, I mean, Steffen we already know is good, but if we want to run out the 2 for the other game, I am like, wow, that’s absolute rubbish to choose from. It’s basically carrying over Arena’s pecking order regardless how either has looked for a year or two.

  5. —————————-Timothy Weah———————————

    Kenny Saief————–Julian Green—————–Fafa Picault

    —————-Wil Trapp————-Kellyn Acosta———————

    Antonee Robinson————————————Deandre Yedlin
    ——————Matt Miazga——–John Brooks———————-

    ——————————Zack Steffen———————————-

    Truth be told, as long as we are still experimenting with ALL youth……I guess I’m really okay with whatever

    Postion and Alternate postions of players
    Timothy Weah – LW,CF⚽,RW

    Kenny Saief – LW⚽, LM, AM

    Julian Green – LM, AM⚽, CF

    Fafa Picault – LW, RW⚽, CF

    Wil Trapp – CB, DM⚽, CM

    Kellyn Acosta – LB, DM⚽, RB

    • I like this, as RonnieT pointed out not sure if Saeif is good for 45 minutes or more based on what he’s played but other than that no questions. Still think Dave will play his 4-1-4-1 though.

  6. Why do you play these games? Must be to get MB more international experience. Get him off the field ,he has shown us his value in many games. Give the young guys this experience. And get the team a coach without ties to MLS or our past failures.

    • My thing is you could say the same thing about even the new leadership like Steffen. Steffen is proven beyond doubt. Why am I watching him again. It helps us win immediately to do so. But what if we ever have to field someone else.

  7. I wouldn’t start Trapp and Bradley their skill sets are two similar especially with Weah and Green more forward than midfielder our lines would be very disconnected. I would put Acosta in place of either one. Sarachan has used the 4-1-4-1 most of the time I don’t think we see something different this time.

  8. I’m fine with the formation and 10 of the 11. The one change I’d make is starting Bradley. I wasn’t a fan of his being called into camp, but if he has to be there put him in his place….On the Bench.
    If you want to play him get him accustom to what his role will ultimately be if he does continue with the team. That of a late game sub. Bring him in for the last 5-10 minutes.

    • I’d question whether a veteran player who has seen the field for pretty much every TFC contest this year, and who produced 0G 4A, should make the team. Setting aside the sort of incumbency rights being exercised here for him, and the can of political worms he opens about TnT, I don’t think objectively watching him play, or reading his stats, you would be like, wow, he needs to be here.

      To me if his job is to lead in practice or in down time that can be done independent of playing time. But I agree, if he’s there and forced on us, we shouldn’t even pretend he should be a starter, his only possible short term role is a late game sub. But the whole thing stinks to me of the sort of pecking order rubbish this team has been struggling with lately. Why not play the people who show well — like Delgado — as opposed to the ones living off their name.

  9. I like the formation, and I like our back four. We might get crushed in the center of midfield, but Adams and Mckennie will be back soon, and we can ditch Bradley. I agree that Sargent needs to get minutes.

    • I am not sold McKennie is a 6 yet. I am not sure what he is. He doesn’t come across as a destroyer. Adams, yes. He took over that Mexico game in the 6 hole. But I am still waiting to see someone else who looks like a Jermaine Jones type pitbull.

      And that to me is not Trapp. Trapp is the Parkhurst of the midfield. It’s pretty to watch when a team doesn’t take advantage of him athletically. But I don’t think he can keep up with fast teams where you can’t just get by on brains and positioning. We should already know this from tape so why does he get another start instead of pushed by a different option.

  10. Like Gary says it doesn’t matter who starts only thing that matters is getting some tape on these young guys against high level competition. That said I’ll only be watching to see the fans boo the crap out of MB every touch he gets. Looking forward to that.

    • I think they should pick someone who is a high percentage likelihood to be a regular leading starter. Pulisic is the obvious choice except he has absented himself. I think we should encourage that role upon him ASAP in case he is wavering on loyalty. Here, take this whole thing more seriously please.

      Until then, use a placeholder. I would have said Wood until recent struggles. I don’t think Brooks is going to be as much of a default selection under a different coach. Steffen or Yedlin would be closer to sure things, but not normally a keeper.

      • I would like to see Pulisic step into this role, as well. But yeah, I haven’t been blown away by his commitment to the cause over the last year. Hopefully the next manager gets his full attention.

  11. “The controversial decision comes in midfield, where the experienced Michael Bradley slides into the defensive midfield alongside Wil Trapp.”

    What is a friendly for if we’re going to roll out two uncreative, holding midfielders (one who isn’t going to be a part of, or shouldn’t be a part of, the future)? Come on.

    • You want to play one non-attacking CM against Rodriguez, Cuadadro, and Bacca? What are we going to learn about our team if we can’t even compete in the center of the field? We’ll be pressed the whole game with a handful of hurried counters.

      I personally would go with 3 two-way CMs, and then try and see if we can get the wingers some good opportunities to show something on the ball. Green adds nothing to this team at the 10 if we never have possession.

      • I think y’all are confusing trying to win and what that would suggest, with trying to learn about our players. if you’re trying to learn about players, you stick younger names out there in a vanilla formation and see how they cope. I want to see them figure out how they will corral their future opponents. if the formation and rigor carry a lot of the load, I am just watching team effort and not seeing which players excel or adjust.

        I also see a walking contradiction between the conviction that these kids are so good and the need to deploy defensive formations to protect them. This isn’t a game that counts, and how do you know that for sure? Go toe to toe and see what you’ve got. If we need a result later in the cycle and can’t think of the players to do it, then you can come back and go negative.

        Mexico should be banging you over the head. The half we went negative they dominated. The half we put the kids on and turned them loose we won.

        Last point, what about our DMs and CBs screams out to you, airtight? The people advocating negative play don’t seem to have analyzed one bit what the roster actually looks like and where our strengths lie.

    • The age old question is are they being held back in a defensive formation or pinned back by a superior side? Are they being let loose by the coaching staff or are just playing better with more confidence?
      None of us really know the answer to that and its easy to see how either could be true.

      • I thought Mexico showed that if we sit on their end attacking with more of our attacking stars, that is actually more effective in terms of relief from opposing pressure, than sitting back and playing defense on purpose. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. I like Steffen and the outside backs but I would put more faith in the attackers doing their bit than on trusting Trapp and Miazga and Brooks to pitch shutouts. The hex stats bear this out, we were top in GF but 4th in GA. I know tactics 101 is in tough games or road games be more conservative but I don’t think the roster we have is built to execute those tactics. We need a real 6 and some stud CBs and then we can do the controlled 1-0 thing.

      • Our matches in CONCACAF are a completely different animal than these friendlies vs world powers we have been playing. I’ve seen you mention how the scheduling of our friendlies vs this level of competition is making evaluation very difficukt and I completely agree. I love seeing us test ourselves vs the best, but we also need to mix in more teams in our weight class to get a proper view of what we have to work with.
        Ie: vs Brazil/France we struggled so mightily to even get control of the ball and move into the attacking third. Success for a player in those games was work really hard, don’t make a crucial mistake…. Our expectation level drops mightily and we are not looking for the person who can combine in the attack, make smart penetrating passes etc..

  12. “Building up Steffen’s international experience is the best possible way to move away from the older group of players at the position, although it’s necessary to keep Guzan in the squad for experience in training based on the state of the positional pool.”

    Isn’t that argument also true of Bradley? Giving him minutes in a friendly is absolutely pointless. This is not about holding a grudge regarding his performance in the WCQ. If these friendlies are about building for the future, then Bradley does not belong on the field. Even if Bradley ends up starting in the GC this summer, he still shouldn’t eat up others’ value playing time. Building for the GC are what the spring international fixtures are for, not these fall games.

  13. I agree that you have to start MB and Will Trapp but only because the next best weren’t selected. Morales starts week in and week out in the Bundesliga. Are you telling me he is not better than Trapp? Everyone and I mean everyone recognizes the decline in Bradley’s game. Danny Williams isn’t playing yet, so that eliminates him, not that I am sure he would have been called in. It’s just hard to have much excitement for a game or even the team, when US Soccer appears to care so little about the results of the program, and only about the money they can collect at the gates. I watch every game, and look forward to the next one every time. But I am not all that enthused about seeing MB and Trapp in midfield. I hope I am pleasantly surprised. Go Red, White and Blue!!

  14. What I wrote before the last pair of friendlies is still true–it doesn’t matter much until the new permanent coach takes over. Given that, the proposed lineup here is probably as good as any and I would bring on Sargent fairly early, like the 70th minute, to give him the experience of facing a top team. I was on a vacation, so a little out of touch for a week. Is Colombia bringing a lot of first teamers? I hope so because then some of the young players can get really tested. Better to learn from playing against someone like Brazil’s Costa than against a player from the Colombian domestic league.

    • it dosent matter? is that code- language for ” let me put some cold water on the MB hate” ?

      Because I bet if everyone wanted Bradley starting, you would say how important these games are.

      • It’s absolutely true that this game does not matter. If you think otherwise you are mistaken.

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