Top Stories

Who Should the USMNT Start vs. Jamaica?

The U.S. Men’s National Team continues through knockout stage action at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup on Wednesday.

Gregg Berhalter’s side is coming off a sluggish performance against Curacao in the quarterfinals and now faces Jamaica in Nashville in hopes of booking a place in July 7th’s final. This will be the third-consecutive Gold Cup these sides will be meeting in the knockout stage as they’ve rotated wins over the past four years.

Berhalter went back to his starting XI that won on the first two matchdays against Curacao, but changes could be in the future after several players did not do well. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Zack Steffen excelled against the Concacaf minnows, but other players could force their way into Berhalter’s XI for Wednesday.

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

Zack Steffen

Nick Lima – Walker Zimmerman – Aaron Long – Tim Ream

Michael Bradley

Jordan Morris – Christian Pulisic – Weston McKennie – Paul Arriola

Jozy Altidore

Zack Steffen’s biggest moment of the Gold Cup so far helped the USMNT avoid any slip-up against Curacao. His huge save on Leandro Bacuna in the dying moments at Lincoln Financial Field saved the USMNT from not only allowing its first goal in the tournament so far, but also avoiding any possible extra time or shootout.

Nick Lima and Tim Ream will continue to start at the wingback positions until they prove they shouldn’t do so. Both players have gone under-the-radar this Gold Cup and will have tough tasks on Wednesday, dealing with the pace and skill of Jamaica’s forwards. Whatever side Leon Bailey ends up on will be the toughest matchup on the field.

Walker Zimmerman has continued to excel this Gold Cup and will once against pair with the feisty Aaron Long. Shamar Nicholson and Dever Orgill will be the likely duo to start up top, while Darren Mattocks can also be tossed onto the field by Jamaica. All three will try to use their physicality against Zimmerman/Long so the center backs will need to stand their grounds on Wednesday.

Michael Bradley was stretched by Bacuna on Sunday and will need to be strong defensively against Jamaica’s playmakers. He may be asked to sit deeper in this match to avoid being caught out upfield when Jamaica tries to counter-attack.

Christian Pulisic is coming off his best two-way performance of the Gold Cup so far, assisting on the lone goal against Curacao. Not only did Pulisic put his pass on a dime for Weston McKennie to head in, but he covered a lot of ground and did not show any signs of giving up despite fatigue. He will have to deal with Jamaica’s defensive midfielders harassing him all night, but he should be ready to have another strong offensive performance.

McKennie was also stretched against Curacao and will need to put in a strong defensive performance. Not only can he help in attack, but the Schalke man can cover a lot of ground if Jamaica holds plenty of possession. He may be asked to one-on-one mark Bailey if his Bundesliga counterpart is put in a more central position.

While Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd bring flashes of pace and attacking skill to the mix, Arriola is the more likely to keep his spot. He will need to create chances whether it is with shots himself, or by setting up his teammates. Boyd has been quiet of late and would provide a better chance off the bench in this one. Jordan Morris has experience against Jamaica and brings freshness to the starting XI and possibly some new ideas than Boyd.

Gyasi Zardes recorded two shots on Sunday and was ineffective for the most part. Despite scoring three goals in the opening two matches, Jozy Altidore is well-rested and should get the nod over Zardes. Altidore brings physicality to the mix and a better eye for goal than Zardes and deserves a shot to prove himself in the knockout round.

Zardes and Boyd are two options off the bench if changes are needed to score a goal.

What do you think Wednesday’s score will be? Who would you like to see start in attack? Is Altidore a better option against Jamaica than Zardes?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I thought Morris was a big zero when he subbed in for Boyd. Boyd may hae given away some balls, but Morris never got involved in the first place. Morris still looks like a guy who is fast and happens to find himself in a soccer match.

    I will be surprised if GB changes the starting lineup at all. The only slight chance of a change will be Altidore for Zardes.

  2. I seem to recall Tim Ream doing pretty well in midfield in England and Im kind of surprised at the fact that this doesnt come up more often. If I think anything should happen, its the introduction of one more central midfielder to help us out defensively. Sure, we’ll probably suffer offensively, but we were never going to be the team to blow opponents out of the water with like 4 or 5 goals once we got out of the group stage. We need some stability through the middle. I also think having someone behind McKennie and Bradley will free those two up a bit to attack. Bradley especially I think could do with a return to his usual #8 role where he can help us transition better.

    • According to Transfermkt Ream played DM 9 times and the last time was April of 2015. Of course he’s only played LB 19 times in the last three years for club.

      • Appreciate the research. I think he’d be effective as a defensive midfielder that drops in to the defense to form a back three, akin to Sergi Busquets. He’s got the ball-playing ability for the role, I think its just a matter of having proper support with athletic midfielders and defenders.

  3. Considering our available player selections we cannot have Altidore and Bradley on the field at the same time….that will definitely mean “denial of service” all over the field for the USMNT. If Bradley is on the field then we have to adjust to using Zardes, if we have Altidore on the field we are going to have to manage with a slightly more vibrant Trapp (geez…lol). Morris needs to come in later….Boyd starts for me

  4. The options aren’t overwhelming, but I would consider Roldan to give us some possession and defense in the middle. I thought he would have made a good sub around the 60 min in the last game when we were conceding possession and couldn’t hold the ball. I would prefer him to Bradley, especially against a speedy Jamaica. But since that won’t happen, maybe push Pulisic wide and take out Arriola or Boyd.

    • I agree about limited options, but I wish we could sub Roldan on in the 60th FOR JAMAICA. I’ve had enough of him, and I am not bashing your point believe me, if I had to bring someone on centrally it would be him based on options, but the thought makes me throw up in my mouth

  5. Morris is bad defensively? Not just Morris. One of the problems the USMNT has had this entire Gold Cup is how ineffective they are at getting pressure on the ball. Thinking back to the friendlies, it was embarrassing how easy it was for Jamaica to make a few passes, drive down the field and clip in a cross or bomb a shot at goal. Bradley does a good job with distribution, but it’s like playing a man down at times with the way he plays defense. Unfortunately, we don’t have a replacement. Ariola is not a strong defender. Altidore won’t defend much if at all. So Weston McKinnie has to chase players all over midfield until he gets tired and/or frustrated and quits doing it. Our defenders are exposed because they’re outnumbered frequently as teams cut through our midfield. Maybe it’s part of the master plan, but a wise coach once told me “if you want good players to look great, give them time and space on the ball.” We are giving too much time and space to our opponents.

    • Always feels like even defensive-minded USA players are reluctant to tackle. They press and even expose the ball on occassion but, besides Mckennie and Adams, players seem hesitant to really put a foot in to win the ball. It’s frustrating.

    • Bradley one of the few who actually closes down the ball and successfully pressures the ball the whole tournament. you may not like him, and he may suck tonight, but he’s pressured well, but he tires too

  6. Morris is so bad defensively, please no Morris. The Jozy inclusion seems logical but who knows. Without Holmes, Adams, Brooks, and Yedlin this seems about as good as we can do.


Leave a Comment