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Who Should the USMNT start vs. Jamaica?

The U.S. Men’s National Team returns to action this week as it looks for a pair of positive results before the Concacaf Gold Cup begins.

Coming into Wednesday’s friendly against Jamaica at Audi Field, Gregg Berhalter is unbeaten at USMNT head coach and will want to keep that trend going. The USMNT know Jamaica will pose a tough test with several MLS starters expected to be called upon.

Andre Blake, Kemar Lawrence, Alvas Powell, Darren Mattocks, and Leon Bailey are all players to keep an eye on for the Reggae Boyz who are also gearing up for this summer’s tournament.

Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams will not be available for this match so look for Weston McKennie to lead in midfield. Ethan Horvath’s absence means Zack Steffen is likely to be called upon in-goal, while Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, and Gyasi Zardes are experienced strikers whom Berhalter can choose in attack

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

Paul Arrola—————–Jozy Altidore—————Gyasi Zardes

————–Weston McKennie——-Cristian Roldan—————-

———————————-Wil Trapp———————————-

Antonee Robinson——————————————-Nick Lima

————–Matt Miazga————–Cameron Carter-Vickers—-

———————————Zack Steffen——————————-

Zack Steffen is the USMNT’s top goalkeeper and that trend will continue this week. After coming off his final match with the Columbus Crew, Steffen will want positive outings before his move to Manchester City this summer.

With Adams, DeAndre Yedlin, and John Brooks missing we will see some changes in the USMNT backline. Nick Lima has shined with the San Jose Earthquakes this season after winning his job back and is the lone natural right-back on the roster.

Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers should be the duo chosen by Berhalter in central defense. Miazga’s second-half spell with Reading was impressive as the Chelsea loanee helped the Royals fight off relegation. He and Carter-Vickers have a history together, and also with Steffen.

Antonee Robinson returned from a lengthy injury at Wigan Athletic and did extremely well the rest of the domestic season. His pace in attacks gives him a leg up on Daniel Lovitz. For Robinson to gain more experience, he deserves this opportunity against a Jamaican side that likes to use its wingers.

Trapp will play the No. 6 role, with Michael Bradley nursing a hamstring injury. He should operate in a central trio with Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan as the dual attacking midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore brings the most physicality out of any forward on this roster. After not being included for some time, the Toronto FC striker should get the nod as the main forward, with Paul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes on the flanks.

Arriola has the versatility to play on either flank, and can set up on the left wing if Berhalter gives Zardes a look on the wing. If Berhalter decides to give newcomer Tyler Boyd a look, we could see Boyd start on the left wing while Arriola starts on the right wing.


  1. What i’d like to at some point in the game….

    Jamaica is going to attack with speed down the flanks than centering, we need to make sure we’ve got enough speed on the field to negate their strongest attribute. We need to see if Jozy can function as the target striker. See what we have in Boyd & Holmes as new faces.
    Unfortunately I think Berhalter is going to roll out Ream @ LB, Omar @ CB, & Trapp at CDM which is going to play right into the counter attacking strategy of Jamaica, and leave too many players isolated.

  2. @The Imperative Voice, Wow, Mckennie does not make your USMNT starting 11 for the first GC game, whereas Holmes did. I’ve been wondering where you were on this site during the group stage of the U20 World Cup. Maybe your boy Tim Weah didn’t exactly took the U20 world by force as you predicted, maybe. Knockout rounds are coming very soon. Weah may show up at bigger games to save your face.

    • Weah looked much better in the second game at a wing spot — just like Soto looked like a real 9 — and then he had the goal on Qatar. I don’t think anyone watching the games (and realizing he’s not a center forward) would think he’s having a bad tournament. And I still think that at the margins of the USMNT roster he’d be better than people who are in camp (Lewis, Gyau, Amon, Boyd). To be on the team for GC he only has to be better than some of those.

    • Re McKennie, I am not sure long term what position he really plays. I like specialists, people good at their particular spot. So what is that spot for McKennie. Perhaps this is a lingering hangover from Schalke playing him everywhere but goalie. But basically if Adams is played as DM then he is a better stopper than McKennie. Adams’ team finished higher in B.1 with fewer goals allowed — “Germany” doesn’t trump “Germany.” That’s why I favor that one. In which case in a 1 DM scheme McKennie then needs to beat out an AM to start. Lletget I felt like was our best mid in the early friendlies (not named Pulisic, if he is pushed back). I then sit here and think about what McKennie does in the attack, and while I loved that slalom run a year ago I haven’t seen it much since. So I think he needs to either up his game or he is a jack of all trades master of none which usually makes you a bench guy.

      • I am eager to see Holmes play. I think he is going to surprise people and I have been calling for him to play for months.

  3. We need to show, once and for all, that certain players selected for the USMNT are no good against a fast style of play. So, in a “feet to the fire” formation……




    Hahaha….I can’t wait for the struggle against Mattocks, Powell, Bailey.

    • Yeah in 2011 Panama showed what happens when the US tries to show up slow and semi-technical. We overrate our skill superiority and we overrate our ability to win soccer games running out lesser athletes. People forget at their peril that what Landon, Dempsey, and Beasley could all do was run and run and run some more. The snobs want a slicker team but you can’t make a slick team without a lot more slick players.

      • Totally agreed with your assessment in this one response; however, you contradicted yourself in the latter post on the USMNT starting 11 in the first GC game by trotting out the technical but slow Tim Ream at left back.

        “Yeah in 2011 Panama showed what happens when the US tries to show up slow and semi-technical. We overrate our skill superiority and we overrate our ability to win soccer games running out lesser athletes.”

      • simonlovesusmnt
        There is “MLS slow” and there is “EPL slow”…..there is defending against Accam slow and defending against Hazard slow (we can’t have speed in all corners of the field but if someone on the team is slow…..make sure he is playing at the highest level). So I see your point but just remember “inexperienced speed (in MLS)” is just as bad as “experienced slow (in EPL, Bundesliga)” at Left-back, so at this point pick your poison

      • This wasn’t “who would I start at left back from the pool,” this became, who would I start at left back from the parts already rostered on the 28-man. Within those confines, I think Lovitz is horrible and while I like Robinson going forward, I think he is an even worse defensive liability than Ream. I am not a Ream fan but strange as it sounds I think he is the best defending option on the list, short of pulling someone like McKennie back, or switching Adams from RB to LB, which is not how the scheme is meant but might work in practice. I also think ironically you are overrating Robinson based on his offense which I know is usually the slap against Ream (and fair). I just think in the land of the blind this one eyed man is king. I think they messed up the LB call sheet and was disappointed they didn’t experiment more. But within the 28-man, it is what it is.

      • Let’s face it, there is no first (or maybe even second choice) at LB. Ream is a smart defender and is pretty good on the ball, but he is too slow and unless he gets help, that can be fatal in a fullback. Villafana is decent and has better speed than Ream, but he does not seem to have what it takes to defend 1v1 at the international level and he sometimes gets caught too far up-field to defend well, Robinson has speed, but he is still developing his soccer brain and will get caught out from time to time, F. Johnson is serviceable, but it is not his best spot and he may have seen his last USMNT appearance, and Beasley is retiring. Others have been tried and found wanting.
        All that leaves the USMNT with a hole to fill that good attacking teams will exploit. All we can do is hope that some young player like Nelson comes along to become that first choice player.
        BTW, I finally watched the Seattle-Dallas game; near the end when Seattle was trying to get an equalizer and much of the Dallas defense lost a bit of cool under the pressure, Nelson stayed focused and did his job at left back by being well-positioned to clear dangerous crosses played into the box from the other side of the field (true, he looked a bit nervous on the 2nd one, but he was well-positioned and his clearance was effective enough.)

    • @ Dennis, that young guy coming up through the ranks plays in English Championship. His name is Antonee Robinson. Yes he got absolutely torched last fall by Colombia and Brazil (I believe, I am old and my memory is bad), but by all accounts he was much much better the second half of the club season. And who doesn’t get torched by Col & Brazil. Up and comers struggle at different times. That’s how you learn, unless you are a freek . I hope we see Robinson all night long on the left side.

  4. Start Boyd I wanna see how he does against Jamaica. Bailey is a pretty good player usa needs to watch out for. Also Tyler Adams is to deadly to be wasted as a RB. Play him in midfield since we dont have Pulisic play him as a CM or RWM.

  5. No,no, no to Zardes on the wing. It is forward or bust for Zardes.

    Forward needs to be the position he competes for, pushing Jozy to step up and win the position back.

    None of this BS of trying him on the wing. Period.

    • There is no way Greg puts Zardes at winger, don’t know why the author of this piece even intimated that was a possibility. Zardes was really good for Greg at Columbus at ST, and has been pretty good for him at ST for the USMNT, no need to go changing what has worked, and with so much potential and speed at the winger spot on this roster it be a waste of time to try anyone but the natural wingers. Can someone explain to me why Nagbe isn’t on this roster? Is he still in contention for the GC squad? How can we omit arguably the MLS best midfielder, especially considering he was both mentioned in the lead up to the last 2 camps but was not called in due to needing rest, and he was also on the 40-man provisional roster?

  6. Is it still too early for 21 yo John Nelson to be on GB’s radar? He is a natural left back and now is routinely starting there for Dallas.
    It is hard for backs to get press unless they are big and fast. Nelson is fast, not big, but when you watch him play it is hard to remember his defensive work because he makes few positional mistakes, wins the majority of the 1v1s he is involved in but his awareness seldom means he has to resort to latch ditch defending. He gets forward in the attack. I suppose when he scores a couple goals or gets multiple assists he will start getting some attention. I think he will be the answer for a position the US has had no clear choice for since at least 2002.

    • I don’t know about him, he’s basically a rookie, but I do question the pushbutton listing of Robinson and Lovitz, I mean, has GB watched the recent games (including the ones he coached)? Usually when something works horribly you try something else if but to not waste more of your time. Particularly for Robinson, the issue is both got their tails kicked by good teams and the worst thing you could do, a la Wondo, is convince yourself someone is ready for prime time based on a GC group round. At best, I would need to see them show up and dominate someone like Mexico or CR, not just the early games.

      • Robinson will be the guy. He is 21 and needs reps. Has the ability, which no one else in present player pool has in my opinion. He spent another year learning the ropes. He is the best we have. We don’t have any studs hiding anywhere that we can call on. Let him learn.

  7. GB is the coach, he will decide the starting line-up based on what he wants to see or what he wants the players to do. I am pretty neutral about who he plays in the friendlies. It will b interesting to see what GB does.

    Bradley and Long have been nursing injuries, so I do not expect them to figure much in the friendlies.

  8. Trapp will get run over by the bigger and faster Jamaicans. Nothing new here. Don’t understand the hype with this guy.

    Should have called up Danny Williams as he is a year younger than Bradley and was not involved with the failure of World Cup qualification.

    • I also think that lost in the process of churning the midfield is the fact he’s already 26. People think of him like he’s a recent U20 captain. That was 2013. Ask yourself why he wasn’t already in the last 2 cycles’ worth of USMNT teams, even as a sub. He has gotten treated like one of the new kids but at his age this is more like Lichaj or Garza, is he simply even ever going to cut it?

  9. Gyasi Zardes is such an atrocious consideration: what do we not know about the mediocre forward? Is the USMNT now going to prop up Berhalter’s old players because they know his system and are good cogs?

      • Agreed. Zardes as of late has been impressive up top. His touch has dramatically improved over the past year.

        Is a mediocre forward by world standards?
        I mean, in european top flight leagues, mediocre is kind. But he has been impressive this year in MLS and also during his 2019 USMNT appearances at target man.

        I cannot name one other target forward in our pool that has been better.
        Until Sargent can take over as our front man, him and Jozy should have to compete for that top spot. That competition, in theory, will make us better.

      • Apples and oranges. For the Nats he has like 1 goal in 3 years, the one his fans won’t stop talking about. He used to be a wing and he needs to go back out there where the speed and semi skill is an asset. But if he is the guy I am trying to set up from wide with crosses it will be frustration city.

      • No, I’ve seen quite enough the past two years to understand his ceiling. He’ll continue to disappoint at the international level until he drastically improves his touch and passing.

  10. Miller
    Lima Zimmerman CCV Lovitz
    Yeuill Roldan Holmes
    Boyd Gyau Lewis

    Because the idea here should be to give the marginal players a long runout to decide who should make the 23 man GC roster, as opposed to confirming your feelings about the players who already will make the cut. US fans are so winning obsessed they don’t get that the way you get there is finding the supporting and bench players who can best work with the obvious people.

    You then play the A team for the second game, if everyone is healthy you make cuts accordingly. If not, then the options for roster replacements got a long runout against Jamaica to distinguish themselves.

    • There is a 13 day break from Jamaica to GC and a 9 day break from Venezuela to GC. So I would play the B/C game first and the A game second to try and keep the A team sharper for the first contest.

      • The last time Jozy did a sprint for the usmnt was 5 mins into the ’14 world cup. The wing maybe could work in 2010. I think you are misreading his game and the skillset of the modern target fwd in a system like Berhalters. This isnt FIFA ’19, unfortunately.

      • KC: go back and watch footage of him c. 2006 or so when Henry was the NYRB CF and Altidore ran the wing. He has done it within his career, and well enough to get sold to Europe. It is always a fair question whether he would hold up health wise, but I think he would be a better wing than Morris, Arriola, Zardes, etc. “his competition.” Kind of like with people dissing Ream above, it’s like, who else is going to play wing forward and are they really better at that, or healthier, than Jozy? Is Gyau healthy? Morris?

    • In terms of a first team:

      Lima Zimmerman Long Ream
      Lletget Holmes
      Jozy Sargent Robinson

      • I think he is mislabeled. Jozy is a big dude so like Kenny Cooper and others he is assumed to be a target player. The English teams he played with made the same mistake. He is not a McBride. I have seen few turn and shoot goals from him, though some headers. But back at NYRB they used to use him some as a RW. He has some foot speed and skill and passing, and would be frightening running at someone. Most of his goals I remember are like we go on a break and he poaches off the cross. And I have seen him whip some balls into the box. Try him as a wing.

        I don’t think Sargent is your typical header winning striker but I think he does have touch on the ball and can turn and shoot. I think he will grow into playing the 9.

        And then Robinson can hit a cross. We can keep trying to force him as a back, where he is a defensive liability, because we want the offense. Or as we have done with FJ and Yedlin before, move him up a line or 2 and have him hit those crosses with less defensive obligation.

        Zardes needs to go back out wide and fight for playing time.

        I am curious where Boyd plays in a 433.

      • I forgot Adams and Pulisic joining the team late.

        Pulisic Sargent Jozy
        Lletget Holmes
        Ream Zimmerman Long Lima

        Don’t know if they would be in for the friendlies, so the above is that team, but this would be first game GC.

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