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Who Should the USMNT Start vs. Trinidad & Tobago?

The long wait for the U.S. Men’s National Team is finally over.

After rolling past Guyana 4-0 in its 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup opener on Tuesday, the USMNT finally get a crack at Trinidad & Tobago. T & T ended the USMNT’s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and now the USMNT can exact revenge on the Soca Warriors.

Tyler Boyd and Paul Arriola stole the show in Minneapolis on Tuesday, combining for three goals and two assists in the lopsided win. Weston McKennie and Michael Bradley were also impressive but T & T will pose a tougher test than Guyana did.

It is unsure if Gregg Berhalter will rotate some players for this match to give some guys a break before Matchday 3 against Panama. McKennie left Tuesday’s match due to cramping, while Christian Pulisic also got rested early.

Trinidad & Tobago may also be playing for their Gold Cup lives after a 2-0 loss to Panama on Matchday 1. Kevin Molino is the Soca Warriors most dangerous threat offensively, while Joevin Jones is also a speedy wingback who can get upfield. Cordell Cato is another player that T & T can call on as well in attack.

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

Zack Steffen

Nick Lima —  Omar Gonzalez —  Aaron Long — Tim Ream

Michael Bradley

Tyler Boyd — Weston McKennie — Christian Pulisic — Paul Arriola

Jozy Altidore

Some players may get a break in this one, but look for Berhalter to play a strong squad in Cleveland.

Zack Steffen is the No. 1 option in goal and will again be between the posts for the USMNT. Steffen wasn’t called into action much against Guyana, but could face more shots against Trinidad & Tobago.

Nick Lima was fine against Guyana but wasn’t rarely troubled against the lowest-ranked side in the tournament. Dealing with a tougher attack though could mean Lima’s pace and physical play may come into play as he tries to help the USMNT to another clean sheet.

Aaron Long will continue in the backline, but Omar Gonzalez should get the start next to him. Gonzalez’s physical presence can help against a team like T & T who are struggling to get going offensively. He was on the field in Couva that night when the USMNT failed to get the job done and surely would love to get back against a rival.

Tim Ream is another player who will keep his place in the starting XI after doing a solid job against Guyana. Again like Gonzalez, experience will help against T & T and an aggressive defender like Ream could frustrate the speedy wingers on the other side of the ball.

Michael Bradley will once again wear the captain’s armband as he starts in the No. 6 position. Bradley assisted on Tyler Boyd’s first-career USMNT goal with a lovely diagonal ball into the ball. He will have the task of shutting down T & T’s central midfield options.

Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic will continue their partnership in midfield, while McKennie can help Bradley if needed. Both players were good against Guyana but will need to raise their game a bit with tougher competition on the other side of the pitch. Pulisic may even move to the wing like he did in early parts against Guyana.

Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd are coming off strong outings against Guyana and should be starting once again. Both players have the ability to create chances for themselves, but also for their teammates. Arriola had plenty of chances to score numerous goals against Guyana and Boyd showed positive signs of trying new ideas inside of the box.

Gyasi Zardes did get credit for a goal against Guyana but outside of that the Columbus Crew man didn’t create many chances. Instead of trying efforts, Zardes would try the extra pass and it did not work out in the end. Jozy Altidore was rested against Guyana and deserves the start against T & T on Saturday.

Altidore’s physical presence can wear down the center back duo of Mekeil Williams and Daneil Cyrus. His hold up play will allow Boyd, Arriola, and Pulisic to latch on balls, while his confidence in front of goal seems to be a bit higher than Zardes at the moment.

Zardes, Jordan Morris, and Cristian Roldan are three players that Berhalter can call on off the bench if the USMNT needs a goal. Jonathan Lewis is also an option on the wings to try to create opportunities offensively.


  1. So, on a non lineup note, anyone else notice that Google is now directing a search for men’s national team to USWNT? I don’t mean the results are mixed together. I mean you can’t get to the standard screen, on the mobile version at least, that shows you the matches, news, etc that is usually the top result when you type “USMNT”.It shows that info hub, but for USWNT instead. If you actually type out “US men’s national team”,it still takes you to the women’s page. I’m all for equality, but this is getting ridiculous. The media are in such a contest to be the most woke on this issue. You don’t have to be a sexist misogynist to understand that people are just simply more interested in men’s team sports. That’s not a human value issue. It’s a market issue. And it’s OK.

    • I’m not sure what you did but I searched “us men’s national team” on google and only got info about the men’s team. Even has the men’s match at the top of the page. Maybe it’s just your device that is woke.

  2. So here is an open question…. who takes the penalties (if it should come up) for this US team right now? Looking through the lineup I’m not sure I see a single guy who is or has ever been the regular penalty taker for his club side (admittedly I could be wrong, but nobody springs to mind). We were spoiled when we had Donovan and (mostly) Dempsey, who usually could be counted on to convert under pressure. But nobody on our team has much of a resume here.
    I’d like to think Pulisic could be reliable here. McKennie too. And Boyd’s prowess on dead balls thus far suggests he may be good at PKs. Altidore has a cannon shot when he wants so I’d throw him in. What do others think?

    • Good question. For me, it’s Jozy if he’s on the field. He’s the best striker, and the only one I can think of that has taken them before. After that, it’s a toss-up. Maybe go with who is hot (Boyd).

      • I feel like Jozy has gotten hurt taking penalties at least once maybe more. I would think Pulisic would step up, Gyasi takes and scores his penalties well for the Crew.

  3. There are a myriad of reasons you don’t start Gonzalez against T&T.
    BTW, I didn’t see it reported anywhere, but remember OG did not dress against Guyana alongside Jozy. Fitness could be an issue. Now, T&T looked utterly toothless against Panama, so maybe you get away with it, but I wouldn’t take the risk.

    • Berhalter stated on Friday they Jozy is in good shape right now as well as McKennie for Saturday. People also need to get over the Gonzalez game from 2017, guy cannot be blamed for one thing and one thing only

      • I do give him credit for talking to the press that night as well and owning his mistakes. I don’t think he’s better today than the other options but you might be right that he’ll get a chance as Gregg looks to rotate players. I’ve never understood why Omar, Jozy, and Bradley continue to take heat while Nagbe who was equally responsible that night is largely given a pass.

      • I also find it remarkable that he narrative about the 2018 WC failure has been limited to 3 games. Between the Mexico home loss (we all know the dos a cero couldn’t last forever), and the Costa Rica away loss (We always lose there, even though it’s usually not that ugly), it seems that everything in between has been deleted from history. It’s remarkable that effectively zero attention is ever given to the 7 games in between (all winnable, with the exception of the Azteca game, which we claimed a surprising but deserved point from). Many, many players underperformed in that cycle. Arena and Klinsmann messed the bed plenty, but blaming everything on “bad luck” own goal on a sloppy pitch by Omar is just odd.

    • I wouldn’t mind Omar starting this match. The psychology behind it. The fact that he took questions after that debacle in Couva shows to me that he will be focused and wants to learn from his mistakes. I think he will have a little extra focus tomorrow and probably play one of his best games. The flip side is, he tries too hard and ends up making more mistakes. While that secession is possible, I think it’s less like that the former.

  4. “Tim Ream is another player who will keep his place in the starting XI after doing a solid job against Guyana”

    What game were you watching?

  5. Not sure if Zardes starts again. He really didn’t do much for me other than the wicked deflection off his head. T&T didn’t look convincing against Panama so U.S. should be good

    • Depends on Jozy’s fitness, Gregg needs him for the knockout stages. I know he started the last couple for TFC so he should be good unless there has been a set back we don’t know about.

  6. I think 3G will go with a very similar lineup to game 1, with maybe change or two for fitness reasons. I wouldn’t mind a 4-2-3-1 with McKennie and Tradley, you could very experimental with Mihailovic as a 10 and CP at LW or keep CP as the 10 and play Arriola wide. It’s the formation Gregg used at Columbus so should fit the system and allow to have better control of the midfield. It should also link better with CP than the 4-1-4-1 did against Guyana.

  7. I think your right about the lineup, for this match. This is the reason, I think, Berhalter called in certain players, for this match. Tim Ream & Gonzo started with USMNT, when GB was on his way to retiring, and he wants them to “die on the shield!”. 4 players weren’t involved in the failure’17, in your lineup, which I see as positive. If McKennie is healthy, I’m good, if he’s hurt, I think Roldan. I still like to have Zimmerman, over Long. I’ll prolly beat the drum on Zimm, all tourney, lol.
    LarryHenry Jr, never sleeps!

      • I share johnnyrazor’s puzzlement. Matt Miazga is good enough to start on a slightly better than mid-table Dutch team. Most observers would take that to mean that Miazga is better than both Zimmerman and Omar. Early this season I saw an MLS game where Zimmerman made a really bad error that led to a goal. Most of the time, though, he’s pretty solid for LAFC.

      • Another ridiculous take!
        Do you really think that the difference in quality between MLS and Holland is so great that an questionable starter for a top team in MLS translates to a bench player on a mid-table team in Holland? The two leagues are now pretty close to quality outside of the big three in Holland

      • For Yevgenly: Right now LAFC is so much better than the MLS competition, they could compete with the top 3 in Holland.

      • Miazga is not good enough to make the Bench for a top 3 team in Dutch league. Miazga is very overrated, I never thought he was good even when he was at Red Bulls. He is very inconsistent. I would rate Zimmerman over Miazga if I was coach. The logic is there! Zimmerman is good enough for europe, thats my point, is he good enough to make bench for top team in Dutch league no. LAFC would get dragged by Ajax you all are very delusional. Lol smh

    • This talk about Ziommer5man is ridiculous. Has he turned down offers from Europe? I think only his agent claimed he had such offers because he wanted to get a raise from LAFC. If he did get an offer from a decent European team, he was a fool not to take it. Even in Holland the competition and the money are better than MLS. MLS still hasn’t caught up to Liga MX. I’m not an MLS hater or a Euro snob, just a realist..

      • LAFC couldn’t hang with Ajax or PSV but you might be right about 3rd on down in Eredivisie. Vela was not playing this well in Spain, Rossi (although young) was not a top player in Uruguayan league, and Diomande had 3 disappointing seasons at Hull City so who knows.
        As far as Zimmerman vs Miazga both have had highs and lows in their young careers, both have moments where they seem to turn off, both are great on set pieces, I’m going to trust the career CB to pick the one that is better for this tournament.

      • The Miazga vs. Zimmerman argument is intriguing to me. I mean, I’d settle for either of them reaching even a Jay Demerit upside right now (i.e. unglamorous but confident, hardworking and largely mistake-free).

    • @Gomer. I love Demerit, Demerit’s career, his toughness, makeup as a player. That said- he was able to hang w/ the international game because what he was asked to do didn’t overextend his capabilities. He did quite well on set pieces, defending w/ an organized back line with a team packed into the box, not letting anyone get in behind. If you were to insert him into a team trying to play out of the back, hold a high line press the other team, he’d have been exposed big time. As he was on occasion with teams countering us, running by with ease.

      • Rico: I agree we could say that about a lot of past NT players the game has definitely changed especially for CBs.

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