Who Should the USMNT start against Venezuela?

Who Should the USMNT start against Venezuela?

U.S. Men's National Team

Who Should the USMNT start against Venezuela?


The U.S. Men’s National Team has its final tuneup on Sunday against Venezuela before the start of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

After a 1-0 loss to Jamaica on Wednesday in what proved to be a lackluster affair offensively for the USMNT, Gregg Berhalter will look to give some guys a rest to avoid any injuries before the June 18th Gold Cup opener.

Christian Pulisic joined the USMNT after a long break but Gregg Berhalter said on Saturday he will not play against Venezuela. Several players who did not dress on Wednesday will also make a case to play in order to bolster their case for starts in group stage play. Veteran Jozy Altidore is expected to play some part, while Michael Bradley has also been ruled out. Newcomer Tyler Boyd is available to make his first USMNT appearance but will be limited.

Venezuela will bring speed into the mix but also a pair of well-known strikers. Salomon Rondon is a tall forward who can be a handful for the USMNT in aerial battles and corner kicks, while Josef Martinez came into camp on strong form with Atlanta United.

Here’s a closer look at one USMNT lineup Berhalter could go with:

Zack Steffen

Nick Lima —  Aaron Long —  Matt Miazga — Daniel Lovitz

Wil Trapp — Weston McKennie

Jonathan Lewis — Cristian Roldan — Paul Arriola

Jozy Altidore

Gregg Berhalter stated that several players will be given a rest following Wednesday’s 1-0 to Jamaica. Other players are continuing to recover from injuries and may not be used in order to save them for the Gold Cup. Rotation is expected, but also look for some players to earn some minutes off the bench in order to earn at least some playing time before the meaningful matches begin.

Zack Steffen deserves another crack in goal as he continues to prove his worth to be the No. 1 for the USMNT going forward. Steffen was beaten by a wonderful strike by Shamar Nicholson on Wednesday, but did make several other saves to keep the score-line at only one.

With Tyler Adams not in camp yet, Nick Lima is the likely choice to start at right back. The San Jose Earthquakes defender is having a strong campaign in MLS after winning his job back and only appeared off the bench against Jamaica. His pace and ability to get up field can give the USMNT another option to get crosses into the box.

With Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream both starting in defense against Jamaica, Matt Miazga and Aaron Long should get the nod on Sunday. Miazga played 79 minutes in the loss but needs more minutes to continue to grow as a National Team player. Especially with John Brooks unavailable for this Gold Cup, Miazga is the No. 1 option at centerback.

Long’s rise up to the USMNT is one of the better stories in American soccer and he will look to put in a strong performance after missing out lately with injury. Paired with Miazga, both defenders will have the tough task of dealing with Rondon/Martinez.

With Antonee Robinson out of the squad, Daniel Lovitz is the lone natural left-back on the roster. To get him more minutes under Berhalter, Lovitz deserves a chance in the starting XI and would add a more-physical presence than Robinson brought.

Rotation should continue through the starting XI with Wil Trapp and Weston McKennie starting slightly above the backline. With Michael Bradley ruled out, Trapp can continue his role as the No. 6, allowing McKennie the ability to move up-field in attack.

With Christian Pulisic not playing, Cristian Roldan will play in an advanced role to help with the attack. Roldan did well in the opening 20 minutes as well as Paul Arriola, but outside of that was left frustrated at the end of Wednesday’s friendly. The Seattle Sounders man will also get help at times from McKennie, who has the ability to get back and defend.

On the sides of Roldan would be Jonathan Lewis and Paul Arriola. Lewis has found life in Colorado after hitting a dry spell with NYCFC earlier this season. The 22-year-old adds pace to the team and is a player that can get after wingbacks, something that was lacking against Jamaica.

Arriola’s role with the team continues as an attacking player, but also one that can track back if needed. With Arriola and Lewis both bringing the same traits to the field, they can interchange and take their abilities on against different defenders.

Unlike Josh Sargent, Jozy Altidore should have a better time in front of goal. The veteran striker brings physicality and international experience to the squad and would be a pest for the Venezuelan centerbacks to deal with. Should Altidore not be chosen, it will be unclear who else would start with Gyasi Zardes and Jordan Morris recovering from injuries in time for the group stage.

Tyler Boyd is another option to play on the wings and can be an option off the bench, as well as midfielder Duane Holmes who added a spark on Wednesday.

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