After a match as dramatic and unforgettable as Sunday’s Concacaf Nations League final was for the U.S. Men’s National Team, playing a friendly just three days later feels extremely anti-climactic.
That doesn’t mean Wednesday night’s showdown doesn’t have some value. There are several interesting players who didn’t get to feature much in the Nations League due to depth or injuries who should get a chance against Costa Rica.
Yunus Musah is at the top of that list, as are Tyler Adams and Jordan Siebatcheu. Brendan Aaronson is another enticing prospect who should be showcased, along with Tim Weah.
Berhalter could also be casting an eye towards the Gold Cup, which is why someone like Daryl Dike should get some minutes, and Walker Zimmerman could start despite just being called in to replace Matt Miazga.
With all that in mind, here is the starting lineup we could see the USMNT deploying against Costa Rica:
Projected USMNT Starting Lineup vs. Costa Rica
Though you could make the argument that Horvath put in enough work in against Mexico to merit taking this game off, Berhalter will want to give Horvath a start. That said, you have to think we see David Ochoa in his home stadium, potentially for a half.
Reggie Cannon, Tim Ream, Walker Zimmerman, Antonee Robinson
After three straight starts, John Brooks can look to his vacation. Sergiño Dest could also use a break. The rest of the defenders on hand should feature and split up the minutes against Costa Rica.
Mark McKenzie just played a full 120 minutes against Mexico, in his third straight start in eight days, and even though he is young and didn’t play a heavy number of minutes for Genk, Berhalter could choose to go with Zimmerman, who is in the midst of the MLS season so he should be fit (Miazga most likely would have started this match if he hadn’t withdrawn this week).
If Ream is still worn out from the Mexico match, we could see McKenzie get a look as a left centerback. Though he isn’t left footed, McKenzie has played in that role on the club level.
Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams, Sebastian Lletget
The fact Musah didn’t feature in Nations League has become one of the big talking points among USMNT fans, but anyone looking at Musah’s social media can see a player who has fully embraced being part of the team.
It will still be good to see Musah in action, and this match offers the perfect opportunity. Lletget didn’t start against Mexico so he makes sense as a starter next to Musah in the dual 10 roles.
Adams spoke to the media on Tuesday, which is usually a sign that a player will start. He might just see a half of action, with Jackson Yueill available to spell him.
Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Kellyn Acosta should be rested after the Mexico match, though we could certainly see one or two of them off the bench.
Brenden Aaronson, Jordan Siebatcheu, Tim Weah
Josh Sargent, Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic could all be excused for not starting after their roles in the Nations League, but Berhalter has plenty of options in the attacking roles.
Siebatcheu showed against Honduras that he can deliver a goal, but now he should get a chance to show he can start and generate multiple chances. Aaronson and Weah will give Costa Rica problems on the wings.
Daryl Dike is also available for the match, and should see some minutes as a substitute.
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.