The U.S. Men’s National Team delivered a big win against Canada on Friday, but that victory will quickly become irrelevant if it isn’t followed up with a win on Tuesday against Cuba.
Gregg Berhalter deployed a surprising starting lineup to beat the Canadians, and as a result, he has several fresh options to turn to for Tuesday’s match against Cuba.
With the weather in the Cayman Islands for Tuesday’s match expected to push toward 80 degrees, the USMNT will be facing warmer conditions than they saw in Orlando on Friday, and the conditions of the playing surface, always a trick proposition in the Caribbean, could also make it tough to circulate the ball on the ground smoothly.
Despite that, the Americans will be expected to cruise to a win, no matter who Berhalter puts in the lineup.
Who will he turn to on Tuesday? Here is the lineup we could see face Cuba:
Brad Guzan should get the nod once again in goal, though Sean Johnson is a capable option as well. Guzan wasn’t called on to do much against Canada, but his national team experience should come in handy as the team goes on the road to face Cuba.
DeAndre Yedlin should step into the starting lineup at right back after Sergino Dest played the full 90 in a strong showing against Canada. Yedlin has experience playing in official matches on the road in Concacaf, and he should help bring some poise to the back-line.
The centerback tandem of John Brooks and Aaron Long was outstanding against Canada, but it might be pushing it to expect Brooks to start in both matches in this international window. Berhalter could choose to insert Walker Zimmerman, who has partnered with Long before.
Why not start Brooks again? Given his track record with injuries, Berhalter could decide it would be better to let Brooks return to Wolfsburg healthy after having recently returned from his most recent injury issue.
At left back, Sergino Dest could get the nod. He hasn’t faced the challenge of playing on the road in Concacaf, but with UEFA Champions League experience under his belt, Dest shouldn’t be too fazed by the conditions.
The midfield trio of Weston McKennie, Sebastian Lletget and Jackson Yueill performed well against Canada, but Berhalter should shake things up in that part of the field, with McKennie the only likely holdover.
Alfredo Morales should get the starting nod in the defensive midfield role. Berhalter could go with Wil Trapp, with the idea being that Trapp’s passing could help unlock what will likely be a Cuban bunker, but Morales is in top form and fitness at the moment and not having start in either Nations League match would be a bit of a head-scratcher.
Cristian Roldan should get the call against Cuba. Fresh off an MLS Cup-winning performance for the Seattle Sounders, Roldan has had a week to recharge his batteries, and should step in for Lletget, who had a good game against Canada.
Gyasi Zardes scored two goals against Canada and rewarded Berhalter’s faith in him, but we shouldn’t expect him to start two matches in a row coming off an extended break. That opens the door for Josh Sargent to get the start. He started against Cuba in October, and should have a chance to show off his improving hold-up play.
On the wings, Jordan Morris is on too much of a roll to put on the bench. He’s playing with confidence, and making things happen, and if he can help the Americans jump out to a big lead, he can always call it a day early.
Tyler Boyd should get the nod on the right wing .Arriola started and did well against Canada, but asking for him to start two straight in a four-day span is a bit much considering it had been almost three weeks since he’d played before Friday.
What do you think of this projected lineup? Who would you like to see start against Cuba?
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