The U.S. Men’s National Team will square off with its biggest rival on Sunday, with the winner claiming the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup title.
Gregg Berhalter’s side will take on Tata Martino’s Mexico on Sunday night in Chicago, looking to win its first competitive trophy under the former Columbus Crew boss. A 3-1 semifinal win over Jamaica sealed the USMNT’s return to the final, while Mexico defeated Haiti 1-0 thanks to a late penalty kick goal.
Berhalter made a few changes going into the clash with the Reggae Boyz, starting Reggie Cannon, Matt Miazga, Jordan Morris and Jozy Altidore in match. Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie will be two players who are very likely to remain in Berhalter’s starting XI against El Tri, while Zack Steffen continues to retain the No. 1 goalkeeper spot.
Here’s a closer look at one USMNT lineup Berhalter could go with Sunday night:
Reggie Cannon – Matt Miazga – Aaron Long – Tim Ream
Jordan Morris – Christian Pulisic – Weston McKennie – Paul Arriola
Zack Steffen unfortunately conceded his first goal in the competition against Jamaica, but overall will keep the No. 1 job in between the posts. Steffen has come up with quality saves when called upon this Gold Cup and will face his toughest test yet in Mexico.
Reggie Cannon excelled against Panama and did well once again against Jamaica. The FC Dallas man brings a lot of the same to the pitch as Nick Lima, but looks to be holding the edge due to his ability to create chances for his teammates in the attacking end. Tim Ream will start at left back as he continues his underrated performances this Gold Cup. His ability to stay at home should help against a Mexico attack who will be sure to create chances.
Matt Miazga got the start over Walker Zimmerman against Jamaica and should get the nod with Aaron Long again. Miazga has some cutting edge in this fixture and will look to help Long deal with the physical Raul Jimenez (five goals). Both are also threats on corners and free kicks with their ability to head balls towards goal.
Michael Bradley has plenty of experience against Mexico and will be dealt with the task of shutting down Andres Guardado and Jonathan dos Santos. All three are experienced players who will be looking to put in strong shifts for their teams. Bradley will not be left alone though, as Weston McKennie’s ability to track back will help when Mexico has possession.
Christian Pulisic is coming off another sensational performance in the Gold Cup and will face his toughest test yet. Mexico will try to pressure Pulisic throughout the match and pester him with tackles, so the midfielder must be ready for that. His ability to run after defenders with the ball has been huge for the USMNT this Gold Cup and will need to be a factor if the team wants to leave Chicago with the trophy.
McKennie has also played well of late for the USMNT and will try to get involved in the attacking third. His late runs have caused problems for opposing defenders and his aggressive nature to defend should him greatly against a top opponent.
Paul Arriola and Jordan Morris have the ability to run after defenders and try to get service into the box. Both players started against Jamaica and will continue to do so against Mexico. While Tyler Boyd and Gyasi Zardes will also make cases to start on the wings, Arriola and Morris also have the ability to win fouls for free-kick chances for the USMNT.
Jozy Altidore’s physical presence should help against Mexico and is a better option than Zardes. While Altidore can provide a tough battle for the Mexico center backs, Zardes has been lacking the creativity in the final third which has seen him benched for Altidore. Like Bradley, Altidore knows what is needed to win this rivalry match and should be playing with an extra boost of confidence.
What do you think Sunday’s score will be? Who would you like to see start in attack? Do you think Berhalter will make any changes from the Jamaica match?
Share your thoughts below.