Gregg Berhalter has assembled what is arguably the most exciting collection of young talent the U.S. Men’s National Team program has ever brought together into one camp, but don’t assume that means we will see mostly kids for Thursday’s friendly against Jamaica.
Berhalter has long targeted the March friendlies as prep for the Nations League and a change to bring together his preferred lineup in at least one of the two matches. John Brooks and Reggie Cannon are only around for the Jamaica match, meaning that should be our chance for a more veteran group.
When Berhalter brought in MLS players Aaron Long, Kellyn Acosta and Sebastian Lletget it was seen as a bit of a surprise, but Long and Lletget are players he trusts, and in the running for Nations League starting roles, while Kellyn Acosta has come in as the most experienced defensive midfield option in the camp, and a player coming off an outstanding 2020 MLS season.
And what of the new blood, the exciting youngsters? We could have to watch for the Northern Ireland friendly to see some of those players.
So what will the USMNT lineup for Thursday’s friendly look like? Here’s the lineup we could see take the field, and why:
Projected USMNT XI vs. Jamaica
Zack Steffen. Enough said.
Reggie Cannon, Aaron Long, John Brooks, Sergino Dest
All the footage out of USMNT camp showed Dest operating as a left back, which means he and Cannon should reprise their role as Berhalter’s first-choice fullback tandem. That leaves out Antonee Robinson for now, but Robinson should start against Northern Ireland.
The same can be said in central defense, where John Brooks and Aaron Long should get the nod together. Chris Richards is a top-notch prospect, and he’s now earning regular starters on loan with Hoffenheim, but with just one cap under his belt he’s probably not in Berhalter’s starting centerback plans for Nations League.
Kellyn Acosta, Yunus Musah, Brenden Aaronson
Yunus Musah is a lock to start, and nobody will be surprised by that, but it’s the rest of the midfield that has several questions in the absence of Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams.
Kellyn Acosta is the only experienced defensive midfielder on the roster, and as much as Owen Otasowie is an enticing prospect, Berhalter isn’t giving him the keys to the midfield.
The other attacking midfield role goes to Brenden Aaronson, who is in good form with Red Bull Salzburg. Berhalter very well could go with a veteran in Sebastian Lletget, who could project as a Nations League starter, but Aaronson’s form makes him hard to ignore, and his ability to move and combine could work well next to Pulisic and Musah.
Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos
Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Gio Reyna
It has been 16 months since we saw Pulisic with the USMNT, which means this will be his first chance to play with Gio Reyna. They’ll work opposite wings, and it should be fun to see them interchange and float centrally looking for gaps in the Jamaican defense while also serving up chances for Josh Sargent.
Daryl Dike’s loan at Barnsley has gone amazingly well, but nobody should be expecting him to leapfrog Sargent for the top striker spot. Sargent enters the March friendlies in good form and he will be looking to cement his starter status for the Nations League and beyond.
Look for us to see Dike against Northern Ireland, along with a debut for Jordan Siebatcheu.
What do you think of this projected lineup? Who are you most excited to see play? Who isn’t in our projected that you would have made a starter?
Share your thoughts below.