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Who Should the USMNT Start vs. Curacao?

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s hopes of lifting the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup title continue on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Gregg Berhalter’s side clinched top spot in Group D which set them up with a date against Curacao on Sunday night. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two countries as both aims for a spot in next week’s Gold Cup semifinals.

After making 11 changes in the final group stage match against Panama, the USMNT should be well rested for this showdown at Lincoln Financial Field. Christian Pulisic, Gyasi Zardes, and Tyler Boyd appeared off the bench against the Panamanians but should find themselves in the starting XI.

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

Zack Steffen

Nick Lima – Walker Zimmerman – Aaron Long – Tim Ream

Michael Bradley

Gyasi Zardes – Christian Pulisic – Weston McKennie – Paul Arriola

Jozy Altidore

After Sean Johnson got the start against Panama, Philadelphia native Zack Steffen will return in-goal. Steffen has rarely been troubled so far in this Gold Cup and remains Berhalter’s No. 1 option between the posts. He could face more shots against Curacao than in the three group stage matches combined.

The starting backline for the first two group stage matches was rested against Panama and should be back on the field.

Reggie Cannon did a good job against Panama, but Nick Lima is the best bet at right back. He provides more physicality defensively than Cannon and should get the nod over the FC Dallas product.

Walker Zimmerman has done well this Gold Cup and will once against pair with Aaron Long. Both are tall defenders who are willing to put their bodies on the line. The rising MLS defenders will go up against a pretty-much unknown attacking front that has seen Gevaro Nepomuceno, Jafar Arias, and Jarchinio Antonia start the last two matches together.

Tim Ream will replace Daniel Lovitz at left back, adding a veteran presence back into the XI. Ream may hang home more than he goes upfield, but it’s better to have him ready to defend against Curacao’s playmaking options.

Michael Bradley will start over Wil Trapp at the No. 6 position, continuing to try and spray passes forward for his attacking teammates to run onto. Bradley’s battle with Curacao’s Leandro Bacuna may be the most intriguing to watch. Bacuna has the ability to create when on the ball so Bradley may be called to watch him 1-on-1 for most of the match.

In attack, Christian Pulisic will start in the No. 10 role with Weston McKennie next to him. The young faces of this USMNT roster will try and create chances like they did against Trinidad & Tobago on Matchday 2. Although Pulisic played more on the wing against Panama, he will drop back into his usual role.

Paul Arriola’s creative abilities will continue on the left side while Gyasi Zardes deserves the nod on the right. Zardes has three goals and has an eye for goal, more so than Tyler Boyd. Although Boyd may be able to go after defenders more, Zardes is riding a good run of form.

With Zardes on the flank, Jozy Altidore should get the nod up top. Altidore brings more physicality to the mix than Zardes and can hold balls up for his teammates to get upfield. His goal against Panama was a positive sight heading into this match and he will go up against Feyenoord centerback Cuco Martina.

Should the USMNT need a spark off the bench, Boyd, Jordan Morris, and Cristian Roldan are all options in attack.

What do you think of this lineup? How many changes do you think Berhalter will make? Do you see Jozy Altidore and Gyasi Zardes both being used in the starting XI?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Would someone please let me know when a real tournament with full teams is planned for the US? I presume it’s the next World Cup cycle?

    • Clarifying… full teams as in Mexico didn’t even bother to bring their full A squad. Does anyone know if CRC / Panama / Honduras did the same?

      • Actually excluding Mexico (who have still fielded a credible senior side with many regulars), most sides have effectively brought their A team’s, injuries aside. Navas for Costa Rica is an obvious exception, but he has not played a gold cup since 2011 so no big surprises.
        If what you are looking for is the USA to face some better competition in non-WC or WCQ matches, the Copa America is the most realistic chance of improvement to this situation. No solutions yet but seems there is some serious ongoing negotiation here that is only being held up by resolvable money disputes.

  2. Going into the tournament Gyasi shouldn’t even be on the roster. Accidentally scored against Guyana “what Zardes way to score by getting hit in the face.” Scores two nice goals against the worst Trinidad team in 25 years. GYASI’S OUR LOCKDOWN STARTER!
    I like Gyasi, I’d start him tonight, but I understand what he’s good at. He’s not going to go at someone 1v1, he’s not going to hold up play under pressure, he’s not going to turn play the wings in on goal. He’s going to pressure when the defense is in possession, he’s going to make runs to drag out the CBs, and he’s going to run all day to try to somehow get the ball in the net.

  3. Yeah I think its going to be the starters from TnT, Berhalter seems to be settled on that as his starting group. Only real question is if he sees Jozy as fit enough yet to start, there is also the tidbit that Zardes leads the team in goals. Zimmerman/Miazga is really close, and could go either way.

  4. idiot, JA should be benched period. group plays were OK. If JA starts in knock-out games then he will sink the entire tournament. Only “blind” will let him play

    • Tata out if they make the semi with yellow cards. Ref has been pretty bad, but he’s hurt both teams so I guess it’s ok.

  5. Miazga should start after the way he played in the last game. I think his performance was the best defensive one by the U.S. This tournament and it came against a tougher opponent than the other 2 games. But keeping long and Zimmerman together is probably going to happen.

  6. do you know what happens when you don’t have consistency on your team?

    Haita 3 vs Canada 2

    Coming back from 2 goals down no less….inconsistency in formations and player selections, Canada had no response for Haiti’s speed


    • Might not be too accurate with that take

      Borjan GK played every minute
      Davies LB played 320 of 360 minutes 1/2 at LW 1/2 at LB
      Cornelius CB played every minute
      Henry CB 241 minutes
      Godinho RB 270 of 360 minutes
      Hutchinson DM 270 of 360 minutes
      The backline was used to playing with each other they just weren’t very good. A better question might be is Godhino your best RB, clearly at fault on first two goals. Davis caught on the last one after making one appearance for Bayern at LB this season (his one goal).
      As far as formation they’ve run a 4-3-3 every game except Mexico and they kind of switched to that in the 2nd half of that match. Canada’s core group played about the same amount as the starters for any other “top” team. Seems more a case of team that almost always comes up short finding a way to lose.

      • “Might not be too accurate with that take”……Hmmmm lets see.

        Against Haiti ?? – June 29
        18Milan Borjan⚽, 4Derek Cornelius⚽, 15Doneil Henry⚽, 23Marcus Godinho, 8Scott Arfield, 21Jonathan Osorio, 12Alphonso Davies⚽, 13Atiba HutchinsonC, 10Junior Hoilett, 19Lucas Cavallini⚽, 20Jonathan David
        No Larin, No Samuel Piette, No William Johnson, No Russell Teibert, No Zachary Brault-Guillard

        Against Cuba ?? – June 23
        18 Milan Borjan⚽, 4 Derek Cornelius⚽, 15 Doneil Henry⚽, 23 Marcus Godinho, 6 Samuel Piette, 8 Scott Arfield C, 21 Jonathan Osorio, 12 Alphonso Davies⚽, 10 Junior Hoilett, 19 Lucas Cavallini⚽, 20 Jonathan David
        No Cyle Larin , No William Johnson, No Russell Teibert, No Atiba Hutchinsonl, No Zachary Brault-Guillard

        Against Mexico ?? – June 19
        18Milan Borjan⚽, 2Zachary Brault-Guillard, 4Derek Cornelius⚽, 15Doneil Henry, 14Mark-Anthony Kaye, 7Russell Teibert, 5William Johnson, 13Atiba HutchinsonC, 19Lucas Cavallini, 12Alphonso Davies⚽, 9Cyle Larin
        No Marcus Godinho, No Samuel Piette, No Scott Arfield,, No Junior Hoilett, No Marcus Godinho, No Jonathan Osorio

        Against Martinique ?? – June 15
        18 Milan Borjan⚽, 23 Marcus Godinho, 4 Derek Cornelius⚽, 14 Mark-Anthony Kaye, 6 Samuel Piette, 8 Scott Arfield C, 13 Atiba Hutchinson, 21 Jonathan Osorio, 12 Alphonso Davies⚽, 10 Junior Hoilett, 20 Jonathan David
        No Larin, No William Johnson, No Lucas Cavallini, No Zachary Brault-Guillard

        So, do you know what happens when you don’t have consistency on your team? YOU LOSE TO HAITI (after 2 goals up). you can’t try to find the “formula” in a win or go home quarter final. How many players have played together in their last 4 matches? You are listing minutes played which has nothing to do with consistency. If you have 11 players that are use to playing together and you throw in 2 to 4 different players you change the chemistry. Just like if the USMNT did well with the current set up (racking up goals) and you start throwing our #1 striker to the wing and put someone who cannot score up top, bench someone dynamic who can run at players 1-V-1…..YOU CHANGE THE CHEMISTRY OF THE TEAM

    • If you read my comments below you’d see I’m not for putting Zardes on the wing in fact I suggested the exact line up you wanted. Canada’s CBS are teammates at Vancouver and started most of 3 of 4 Nations League qualifiers with Hutchison in front of them. Godhino is the least experienced of the Canada squad but the other RB is a 20 year old part time starter for Montreal with 4 total caps and 90 minutes in the GC. I’m not disagreeing with your initial point that the US should stick with its original lineup I just disagree that was Canada’s problem. They played their best lineup who played together since last fall for the most part with a couple injury exceptions. Canada had 2 true FBs on their roster Morrow’s backup atTFC and a backup at Impact. So instead he plays 3 midfielders Davies, Kaye, and Godhino (who played half his games as FB and half at M for Hearts). That killed them not cohesion.

      • If you agree with what I am saying as far the the USMNT and has seen that Canada has not played with the SAME team (HENCE THE SAME STARTING 11) in 4 straight games in a major competition (again reaffirming my point about interrupting consistency and changing team chemistry), I’m trying to figure out your argument here then. ?

      • Consistency is important but it’s not the only important thing. I think the US should start the 11 from the first two matches, but I disagree that’s what beat Canada. If Haiti charged out to a 3-0 lead I’d say you’re right but instead when things got nervie 50 plus mintutes in they collapsed just like team who has learned how to win.

  7. I hope GB is a coach that rewards hard work and results….and is not into selecting “has beens”, one trick ponies and one dimensional players that don’t defend or even make the attempt to take on players 1-V-1.






    We need to run this team until the “wheels fall off”….and when they do, that’s when we try to fix the areas in which things went wrong or where thing came apart. We should be perfecting our team comradery, enhancing timing and coordination and building on what we have. The more these players train + play together, the more they understand each other.

      • Agreed, JA is lazy boy, he is not able to hold a f. ball for seconds, his passing 98% inaccurate. Only a freak can start him

    • In a rare occurrence, I agree with Bizzy on this. There is no obvious reason to change the starting 11, even if you think Jozy is much better than Zardes or that Miazga deserves a start, do not mess with success.
      It was JK’s endless tinkering with the lineup (aided by some key injuries) and public shaming of players that hurt the US and resulted in his firing.

  8. Zardes on the wing instead of Tyler Boyd? I don’t think so. Just because Zardes scored 2 goals against T&T (like Long did) does not make him more valuable than TB.


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