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Who should the USMNT start vs. Costa Rica?


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


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Ethan Horvath

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.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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is in the midst of the MLS season so he should be fit (Miazga most likely would have started this match if he hadn’t withdrawn this week).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.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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.


  1. I know it’s meaningless but I’m still excited! Aaronson & Weah rotating on the wings is interesting enough for me to watch. I still would like to see Weah on the left coming inside. Weah has unique gift of turning speed into power when he strikes the ball. Weah & Robinson on the same side. Imagine the speed, of they get it together. Aaronson, Musah, & Cannon combination play would weave strings around CRs left side. Horvath starts 1st half, 2nd half goes to Ochoa is a nice idea. McKenzie on the left, Zimmerman on the right at CB. Adams is the 6!! Pls, correct me if I’m wrong; isn’t Green in camp? He’s my starter at left mid, would push this team in the right direction. If not Lletget & Acosta are fine. Last but not least, I’d like to see Dike at CF. I don’t mind Siebatcheu being a rotation guy for now. How much speed & pace does the B team have? I don’t know about anyone else but this is quite intriguing to me. Weah, Robinson, Adams, Aaronson have next level speed. Musah, Green, Cannon are right behind them. Dike & McKenzie don’t have bricks for feet, either! Maybe I’ll get the 5 goals I was hoping for vs Honduras match against CR. Clean sheet all day for the US of course!

    • Green did not stay with the team after Switzerland. According to his Twitter he is watching a lot of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

      • You can take a boy out the 813, but you can’t take 813 out the boy!! The defending champions are really good! Lol! My Favorite hockey team!

  2. I like the lineup. I figure Zimmerman will fill one of the centerback spots. Kinda excited to see if Aaronson and Weah at the wide forward can produce chances. Also hoping Dike gets some real minutes up top.

  3. One thing that was obvious from the 2 NL matches is that this team needs to build cohesion, so happy there is one more match, as the WCQ 23 will likely look similar to this current roster…

  4. Please, no more Ream. Zimmerman and McKenzie. I wish we had somebody else besides McKenzie. I’d start Dike instead of Siebatcheu.

  5. I see Dike starting up front and Zimmerman slotting in at centerback next to Ream. Aside from that, and unless there are critical factors we don’t know about, I think this lineup picks itself.


  6. It’s a friendly after a tiring 3 game stretch. Be flexible.

    – Split the striker role between Siebatcheu and Dike. Dike has been practicing with the team during the NL series
    – Since Zimmerman is being brought in, he should see the field for either Ream or McKenzie
    – Split the GK time between Horvath and Ochoa

    • I agree that the lineup should show some changes, and there should be some flexibility. But I thought the whole point of playing Switzerland and CR was to replicate the 4 games in 10 or so days schedule that these players will face during WC qualifying. If you rest a bunch of guys tonight, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

  7. Horvath should definitely start and get most of the game. After Sunday, we need to see if he’s a potential # 1. You want to give Ochoa the last 15 minutes or so since it’s his stadium, do that.

    We’ve got a guy who started at LB in the Premier League, he should at least be in the conversation for starting there tonight.

  8. There is no way I’d put Tyler Adams on the field. This is a meaningless friendly. Let the guy rest and recover for the new season ahead without risking any injury recurrence. He is too important to our team for games that matter.
    I’d also like to see Mckenzie get a shot at a bounce back performance over Ream.

    • I disagree on Adams. If he’s not fully recovered, he wouldn’t have played on Sunday. He can rest after tonight, he’ll have at least a month or so before Leipzig gets going.

      • Totally disagree that Adams playing in the final means he is “fully fit”. He’s likely fine but fresh off an injury and a long season why risk it at all? What is the risk/benefit ratio on that?

    • Agree – Maybe it was just nerves with Mckenzie. He was so solid against Honduras. And he’s fast, and Ream (sorry Ream) showed that we’ll keep getting torched if we don’t put some speed back there. I don’t get the fuss about left/right – I think the pundits are too quick to pigeonhole players. Would love to see Adams/McKennie/Musah get time together as a trio and watch the US control a midfield so I can feel good about it. I doubt it will happen. I agree with the point about rest.

      • Go to the “A closer look …” article from the other day I explained why it is thing especially for CBs after Gary Page questioned it and It’s OK to Think explained it even better.

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