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Who should the USMNT start vs. Wales? (UPDATED)

The first U.S. Men’s National Team match in almost 10 months is set for Thursday and Gregg Berhalter has a very young roster to choose from as he gets his first chance to look at several of the top prospects in the USMNT pipeline.

With a total of 10 uncapped players in camp, Berhalter is going to give some players their long-awaited debuts, such as Gio Reyna, who is arguably the most exciting prospect to ever make their USMNT debut.

Reyna is a safe bet to start on Thursday, but what other newcomers might Berhalter turn to in order to fill out his lineup?

Here is a look at the starting lineup we could see against Wales:

Goalkeeper

Zack Steffen is your top choice in goal, and the only real question in these November friendlies is whether Berhalter will get Ethan Horvath some minutes. The Panama friendly is a better bet for a Horvath sighting.

Defenders

The biggest position battle is at fullback, where Berhalter has three top choices for two spots. Reggie Cannon and Sergino Dest are your frontrunners to start at fullback, but Antonee Robinson is going to make a strong case for breaking into that tandem. It’s a safe bet we will see Robinson start in one of the two November friendlies, but for Wales we are more likely to see Cannon at right back and Dest at left back.

In central defense, John Brooks is a lock to start as the left-footed centerback if he is healthy. If he isn’t, then Tim Ream would get the nod. The battle at right centerback is between Matt Miazga and USMNT newcomer Chris Richards. Miazga has the experience edge and is the better bet to start, but Richards is the future of the centerback position for the USMNT so Berhalter is sure to give him some minutes in these November friendlies, and likely a start.

Midfielders

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Will Christian Pulisic be fit enough to start? It is probably a bit ambitious to expect him to jump into the starting lineup considering he has been sidelined in recent weeks with a hamstring injury, but if he is fit then he is the first name on Berhalter’s team sheet, even if he just makes a 45-minute appearance.

(UPDATED- Christian Pulisic has withdrawn from the squad due to injury)

Who will Berhalter call on now that Pulisic won’t play? Sebastian Lletget is the most experienced option and fits in well as a more attack-minded partner next to Weston McKennie, who is a lock. Lletget is in form and match fit, having just completed his MLS season. Yunus Musah is another good candidate for the role. Though he isn’t playing in central midfield for Valencia, Musah has been starting regularly and should be sharp enough to start, though the Panama friendly might be the better bet for him to start in.

Tyler Adams is back with the USMNT for the first time in 20 months and he should be penciled in as the starting defensive midfielder in Berhalter’s central triangle.

Richie Ledezma and Johnny Cardoso are also good options to consider coming off the bench, with Cardoso the next best option in defensive midfield behind Adams. Since it is unlikely we see Adams go a full 90 minutes, Cardoso is a good bet to make a second-half appearance, with Ledezma coming in for Lletget and Musah replacing McKennie.

Forwards

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Josh Sargent’s absence creates an opportunity for one of the forwards in camp, and the battle is between Sebastian Soto and Nicholas Goiacchini. We will give Soto the edge given his familiarity with the squad, having been teammates with several players in camp on the 2019 U.S. Under-20 World Cup squad, but Berhalter is high on Goiacchini so he can’t be ruled out as a good option.

On the wings, Gio Reyna should be locked into the left wing role, where he should have the freedom to dictate the attack. He will have license to roam, and interchange with the attacking midfielders, so don’t expect Reyna to just stay locked into one side of the field.

The right wing is really up for grabs, with Tim Weah and Konrad De La Fuente both good options. Weah probably has the edge due to the fact he has been earning regular minutes for Lille, even if only in limited spots off the bench. Berhalter could be tempted to start Musah on the right wing, especially after seeing him perform well in the roll this past weekend against Real Madrid.


What do you think of the proposed lineup? Who would you start against Wales?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. All I know is that if GB doesn’t look good in these two friendlies then I want USSoccer to start thinking about sending him packing. I think that the fact that he has to tweek positions for players all the time plus his blind loyalty for some MLS players will kill us in the long run. GB was a mistake that must be corrected if he doesn’t show SOMETHING soon

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  2. Berhalter seems to hint Musah will start. Also says we won’t likely see the big turnover from match 1 to match 2 we typically see in friendlies.

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  3. Do you mean Soto his team does not play in division 1 of the dutch league but 2nd. We need Gio on the wings so I dont know about using him as a forward.

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  4. I think given the limited training time we’ll see experienced and players in the first match where possible.
    ——————-Nico——————
    —Llanez—————-Reyna——
    ————Lletget—McKennie——
    ——————Adams (C)————-
    Robinson—Brooks-Miazga—Dest
    ——————Steffen——————
    Subs: Soto, Weah, Cardoso, Musah, Richards

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    • not sure why on earth you start some random Ligue 2 kid he dug up ahead of your U20 star striker who is on a first division hot streak. and who poses more of a dual nationality concern. soto even has more goals this year (5) at a better rate (out of 7 games). i’m sure you’re just residually down on him because y’all used to clown on his career progression. until…..

      do you just kiss up to GB on everything he cooks up?? this is one of the big prospects who until he signed pro was on the fast track. it took him a year but now he’s hot. i used to argue he could be as good or better than sargent. but whatever.

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      • @The Imperative Voice Do you mean Soto his team does not play in division 1 of the dutch league but 2nd. We need Gio on the wings so I dont know about using him as a forward.

      • “not sure why on earth you start some random Ligue 2 kid he dug up ahead of your U20 star striker who is on a first division hot streak.”

        Soto plays in the Dutch second-division.

      • soto is a 9 as is this nico kid. i am saying start your u20 star over the kid you scouted. fair enough on second but that doesn’t make soto worse than nico still then. nico is second also. i was early on the reyna train and he’s not a 9. to me he’s a 10 because he’s so slick and we don’t have one but at minimum as a forward he’s wide and not really a soto replacement.

    • also not sure why robinson should start ahead of cannon. one played poorly and got cut last summer. one was starting last fall. dest can play left and try and redeem himself — and we need someone to play that side — and cannon is probably the most consistent right side player who will defend. robinson to me as previously outside looking in should be more like a sub. otherwise we’re taking club movement way too seriously relative to NT performance. he has something to prove, cannon doesn’t, and they’re both “veteran” in terms of this bunch.

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    • Nico because he’s really good, but I wouldn’t be upset at all if Soto or Weah started up front. You yourself said now that Soto is in camp he’s morally obligated so no worries on his dual ness. As far as Robinson, I actually am ok with Dest starting on the left supposedly Robinson has shown improvement at Fulham either one is fine. We may see Dest in the left one game and the right another.

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      • Johnnyrazor I appreciate your tone and even spirit. Civility is something of a rarity in all areas of discussion. Thanks

        Roster – so many choices. I expect lletget to start since GGG may not want to start a debutant. I don’t even care. I am just so excited to be less than 24 hours away from a USMNT game verse a Legit squad.

      • c’mon, let’s be real here dude, your kid got benched, my kid is emerging on his team. my kid has 5 goals in his last 6 games. your kid has played 10 minutes in his last 3 games. i think pipeline pedigree and long term identification should decide this — we thought he had talent before and we should stick to that particularly as he begins playing and scoring. but even if we play the form game you’re always selling, your guy is still the inferior choice.

      • And he scored in those ten minutes. But now that you remind me he only played 10 minutes it is probably unlikely he starts. I’m going to say Weah starts then.

  5. This is not my lineup but who I think GB plays.
    4-3-3 Formation
    LW- Reyna, CF/9- Soto, RW- Nico
    10-Lletget , 8-McKennie, 6-Adams
    LB- Robinson, CBS- Brooks, Miazga, RB- Cannon
    GK- Steffen
    4 subs- 70’- Weah (Nico), 80’ – Dest (Cannon), 90’+- Llanez (Reyna), Ledezma (Lletget)

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    • So what you’re saying is that you think the coach might not start a player who has left back starts in la liga for one of their giants, but would leave him out for basically a lower tier player, at least until this season? That’s Robinson, whom I refer to, and dest.

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      • I think, GB subs Dest one match, and starts him one match. My guess Dest, starts against Panama, @ LB, where the players in his birth year get the most run! I wouldn’t want to damage Barca goods as to your point. GB called in Robinson who is a the only true left footed LB. Dest best position is RB. Dest only played LB for Barca because Alba was injured.He hasn’t played LB since. Dest only played LB @ Ajax because Tagliafico was injured. Dest wasn’t sign by Barca to play LB. Way to comment without dropping a lineup!

      • I’d think if it’s between a guy from French second division, with no caps, and a guy from la liga, who just put in a strong shift against real, who also has zero caps, that later player might get the nod. Could go to weah on the right as well
        ——————Soto—————-
        Weah———Reyna———-Musah
        ———-Weston——Adam’s——
        Dest—-brooks—Miazga——cannon—
        ——————Stefan————

  6. What I’d like to see and what we’ll get are totally different things.
    I’d go with….
    ——————–Soto—————
    –Reyna———-Musah——–Weah/Konrad–
    ——–McKennie———Adams————-
    Robinson—–Brooks——Miazga——Dest
    ——————Steffen——————
    If Pulisic is healthy enough insert him on the Left and push Reyna/Musah to the Right. With Sargent out I don’t have a preferred striker (coin toss).
    2nd Game go to a 4-1-4-1:
    Richards & Miazga @ CB. If Cannon doesn’t start the 1st game he starts the 2nd. Dest/Robinson each get a 1/2. Replace Adams w/ Cardozo, McKennie w/ Musah & add Ledezma at the CM roles. Uli & Konrad/Weah as the wings. Nicho gets the CF spot to experience CONCACAF opponents.

    What I think we’ll get is
    —Uli———–Soto———-Musah—
    —–McKennie———–Lletget——–
    —————-Adams——————
    Dest—-Brooks———Miazga—-Cannon

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      • #Lame would be not reading the line-up I would like and seeing that Reyna starts at LW. Since he’s never played under Gregg and Uli has I could easily see Gregg giving Uli the start over Reyan. Gregg’s done similar things in the past….giving the preference to someone who’s been in “his” system before…especially when that individual is also older than the new guy.

  7. The media probably loves it but Berhalter talks too damn much. Process is important. But ultimately outcomes matter. He needs to balance quality , chemistry and balance get the players fit and game ready and go at it,

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  8. I haven’t seen enough of Cardoso to rate him above Otawasie. I just hope all the young ones are good enough to be put on the field for us to check them out up close

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    • i would assume it gets run like the canada/cuba games with the veterans and maybe a random kid to fill out the wales xi first game, send some of them home, we see the bulk of the kids as subs first game and starters second game with panama. the “exceptions” will probably be adams — who has been out for injury — and reyna — who is the consensus Next Big Thing. everyone else gets the proverbial sub cameo in the “a” game and then starts the “b” game. except the way he set up the roster the backs kind of have to be holdovers. i will be curious how richards gets treated but i’m guessing he starts at least the second. i doubt the first but that’s berhalter’s mistake. i think the second game will probably have better younger defenders and a more attacking midfield.

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  9. i would favor experiments and thus
    Horvath
    Cannon Richards Miazga Dest
    Musah Reyna Adams de la Fuente
    Soto Llanez

    i expect more like
    Steffen
    Dest Brooks Miazga Ream
    Adams McKennie Lletget
    Reyna Soto Pulisic

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    • Tim Ream has not been starting or even off the bench for Fulham the past 2-3 Premier League games. Either Ream carried an injury, or he was not fit. How can we pencil in a slow-footed Tim Ream as the starting left back against the speedy Wales wingers? The last time I checked, Antonee Robinson is the current starting left back at Fulham!

      Last but not least, I’d like to point out that Chris Richards started at right back and played admirably for Bayern Munich against Hertha Berlin in October. Besides playing at his best suited center back position, Richards can also join the rotations at right back. Chris Richards almost pulled off a “hat trick” assists miracle had Thomas Muller not been a half body offside and the Hertha’s goalie saved Lewandowsky’s goal bound header. https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2020/10/04/chris-richards-gets-first-bayern-munich-start-bundesliga-game-against-hertha-berlin

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      • Ream has been the captain for Berhalter more than anyone else. Berhalter also mentioned him multiple times at his presser as a leader of the team. I’m not sure how he would fit but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him start.

      • i am not advocating ream personnaly. i am ventriloquizing the coach who has captained him a few times. if i was starting the veterans i personally would have cannon out there with richards and miazga and then dest left because “someone has to start there.” re richards i think we have a few right back options in camp, and while that might be another option at some point, we could also really use a CB long term, which as you say is one spot where he often plays. i think his impact would more dramatic there as cannon is good and dest serviceable left but if we don’t get richards inside it’s like the iffy long or brooks or CCV or EPB or Miazga or……don’t you wish we had one good player there? that’s why central.

  10. i repeat, why do we have injured players in camp, veteran or otherwise? i knew about CP but adams has been out a lot and now you’re saying brooks may have a knock. that’s all a tad desperate. the potential learning from them is outweighed by the detriment if they get hurt longer term. and it’s a busy couple seasons with little break.

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    • It’s out in the media that Pulisic wanted to be there regardless of fit and got permission from Chelsea to go…whether he sees the field is another story. Seems these guys like each other (chemistry) and wanted to see each other after a year of not being together…are we really gonna complain about that? Of course we are. *eyeroll*

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      • you’re stretching. he is described as “day to day,” not “in camp for leadership purposes.” “day to day” is a playing description. he does “say he wants to be there” but no mention of chemistry and this is where the adult supervision needs to step in when one has a pulled hammy they aggravated once already just two weeks ago. you don’t call a hurt player, it’s asking for him to limp off 30′ in. you want him to heal up. you only heal a hammy resting.

      • GB quote reads: “It really says a lot about Christian that he wasn’t playing for Chelsea but he wanted to come into this camp and be around the team.” Which sounds rather like… he is there for team building more than it does he is playing.

    • Lol! Imperative “you’re stretching”…classic projection. Can’t find a real critique of GB, huh? Just wait….there will be games that will provide everyone with examples to back their entrenched opinions. 2 more days…

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      • no. sorry. complete bs. he missed the first several games of the season with this injury. played a grand total of 3 league games and 2 european games, tweaks hammy again on halloween — which anyone who ever actually played knows is hard to overcome without just rest — which is 10 days ago. 10 days is not enough time off for a hammy pull. has not even been dressed for the last two league games — including last weekends — and the european game midweek last week. but we’ve brought him in within those 10 days for camp and wish us luck!! if you have literally ever played soccer at all you would know this is beyond stupid. we do not need him at a friendly at risk he pulls the hammy yet again. you can debate 22 other players but this one is stupid, and i am not straining the slightest in saying so. did we call adams hurt? weah? but we’re going to risk the meal ticket who hurt his hammy again on halloween and hasn’t played since? i mean, seriously

      • and to underline the precariousness and randomness of his situation, he yanked it again slipping while running in warm up. i have tweaked them, when injured, stepping off a curb before. or celebrating a winning goal in men’s league when i thought i was healed. this is not the world cup or deciding qualifier, there is no need to risk it. i assume the only reason we are getting away with trying this nonsense is the normal rules on calling players are suspended — which usually allow clubs to declare a player injured and they are immediately off limits.

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