A short turnaround time between Thursday’s draw with Wales and Monday’s friendly against Panama in Austria should mean a good number of changes when Gregg Berhalter settles on a lineup for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s second friendly of the month.
Berhalter finds himself in the unenviable position of choosing between looking at as many different players as possible and trying to build some chemistry between players who are part of his first-choice nucleus.
The fact that the USMNT has kept its full squad together between friendlies suggests we may not see a complete lineup overhaul, but there should be several changes.
How many of the newcomers who debuted against Wales will get a second chance to start on Monday? Yunus Musah and Gio Reyna would good to see once again, while finding more minutes for Johnny Cardoso should be something Berhalter looks to do.
Who will get the call against Panama? Here is the lineup we could see?
Here is a look at the starting lineup we could see against Wales:
Projected USMNT XI vs. Panama
When you have a clear-cut number one, and he isn’t getting many club starts, you give him every start you can, so look for Berhalter to go with Zack Steffen for a second straight match.
Look for changes along the back-line, with Sergino Dest potentially the only defender to start two straight matches. Why? Dest started at right back against Wales, but Berhalter will likely turn to Reggie Cannon for a start against Panama, and as much as Berhalter could give Antonee Robinson a chance to redeem himself after struggling against Wales, giving Dest a start at left back, and taking a look at a Dest-Cannon fullback pairing — his likely first-choice tandem — makes sense as a Berhalter move.
At centerback, John Brooks was outstanding against Wales, but it’s tough to see him starting both November friendlies. That means Tim Ream getting the nod as the left centerback.
Panama is the perfect opponent to face if you want to give a central defender their first USMNT start, and Chris Richards is very deserving of a look. Ream’s experience and leadership should help Richards in his first senior international appearance. Of course, seeing a Brooks-Richards partnership would be ideal, especially since there’s plenty of reason to believe that could eventually be a first-choice pairing, but the odds are we will have to wait to see them play together.
Considering how good the midfield triangle of Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah and Tyler Adams looked you couldn’t really blame Berhalter for wanting to see it again. That is wishful thinking though, and the reality is there are some other players to look at.
Richie Ledezma is one such player, and if Berhalter chooses to let Musah sit rather than having him make two starts before returning to Valencia, then the PSV midfielder makes the most sense as an option in the middle.
McKennie hasn’t played consistent minutes at Juventus, so a second straight start wouldn’t be overkill.
One of the big questions surrounding this lineup will be whether Berhalter goes with Tyler Adams for a second straight start. That might be ambitious given the fact he just recently recovered from a knee injury. Johnny Cardoso impressed in his cameo against Wales, and a start, or splitting of the minutes with Adams makes sense against Panama.
The decision to play Sebastian Lletget as a false nine rather than starting Nicholas Gioacchini or Sebastian Soto was one of the biggest surprises of the Wales lineup. It’s tough to see Berhalter going with a false nine again, so look for Gioacchini to get the nod given the fact he has been playing more consistent minutes heading into this November camp.
On the wings, Tim Weah should get the nod in place of Konrad De La Fuente, while Gio Reyna sees a second straight start. Now, if Berhalter decides to limit Reyna to one start in order to keep him fresh heading back to Borussia Dortmund then Ulysses Llanez could get a nod on the left wing.
What do you think of the proposed lineup? Who would you start against Panama?
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