The U.S. Men’s National Team kicks off a busy 2021 on Sunday with a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago, and as much as the January camp has featured plenty of young faces due to the inclusion of an Under-23 component, we should see a veteran lineup in the year’s first match.
Gregg Berhalter whittled down his camp squad, choosing the Under-23 prospects he felt earned a look as part of the full senior team. How many of those youngsters really boosted their stock will be revealed on Sunday, when we see which of them finds their way onto the field, and even into the starting lineup.
There are some veterans who have made their way back to the team after being away for a good while, including Jozy Altidore, who is facing an improving crop of contenders for the throne of starting USMNT striker. He doesn’t appear ready to give up the throne just yet, and the Florida native will be back in his home state to make his case for continuing as Berhalter’s first-choice striker.
Who will start against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday? Here is the lineup we could see take the field:
Projected USMNT XI vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Matt Turner is the veteran in the group and should start against Trinidad and Tobago. Sean Johnson’s departure from camp opens the door for Turner to make his USMNT debut, a well-earned one after the impressive season he had with the New England Revolution.
The centerback options are pretty clearcut, with veterans Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman the obvious choices, but you have to wonder whether Miles Robinson was able to show enough in camp to close the gap on those two. Robinson is clearly a top option in the U.S. Under-23 setup, and as much as he is coming off a somewhat disappointing 2020, he remains a top prospect at the position.
Julian Araujo was a late arriver in camp, so you wonder whether he will get the nod at right back, or whether Berhalter will instead go with Kyle Duncan or Aaron Herrera. Duncan and Herrera are coming off impressive MLS seasons and you have to think one of them gets the start.
At left back, Sam Vines should be the starter, and his good showing a year ago in January camp bodes well for him making the most of another opportunity. Atlanta United teenager George Bello is also in the mix, and is a candidate for his first cap.
Veterans Sebastian Lletget and Cristian Roldan are safe bets to get the nods in the dual playmaker roles, while Jackson Yueill should be deployed as the defensive midfielder in the central midfield triangle.
Kellyn Acosta has worked his way back into the national team picture, and should get some minuets, while recent USMNT addition Andres Perea is an intriguing defensive midfield prospect who should also receive some minutes playing in his home stadium in Orlando.
Jozy Altidore gets the nod at striker, though a split of the match to give Daryl Dike his 45 minutes in the role feels likely.
On the wing, Chris Mueller should start on the right, with Paul Arriola deployed on the left wing.
What do you think of the projected lineup? Who would you like to see get a chance to start against Trinidad and Tobago?
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