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The SBI Show: Episode 308 (Talking USMNT Gold Cup lineup options, Americans Abroad transfers, and more)


With the U.S. men’s national team learning the opponent for its Gold Cup opener on Sunday, Episode 308 of The SBI Show goes into detail regarding the starting lineup options USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter will consider.

Host Ives Galarcep discusses Gianluca Busio’s rapid rise, and his prospects of playing a key role at the Gold Cup, as well as the decision Berhalter will have to make at the striker position.

Episode 308 of The SBI Show also discusses Americans Abroad transfers, including rumored links as well as the recent moves made by Sebastian Soto and Alex Mendez to Portugal.

MLS topics are also discussed, including the recent firing of Chris Armas by Toronto FC, and Charlotte FC’s recent coaching hire.

You can listen to Episode 308 of The SBI Show on Spotify and the Apple Podcast app, and you can also listen to it here.


  1. Regarding the GC squad, I think that given the players Berhalter has to work with and their qualities, the US should go with a 4-4-2 for this tournament. Maybe add Busio or Arriola to the midfield and then pair Zaqrdes and Dike up front with one group, and Giochini and Hoppe with another.

    • I don’t think you’ll see that early on but Gregg has shown his willingness to adapt the formation. I think he’ll give players chances to show how they operate in the 4-3-3 that the main group uses and then adapt if he thinks it necessary in the knockout stages.

      • I hope you’re right, johnny, because a good coach should adjust his team to fit his players and their strengths. While winning the GC isn’t paramount, I think it would be helpful to be able to play a formation with 2 strikers if that is what works best for a particular situation. We don’t know, but in the future having two strikers may be our best offensive formation. I have no problem with the lone striker we’ve been using heretofore, but flexibility is a good thing.

      • While the USMNT has a lot of interesting striker prospects, the reality remains that there aren’t at present two top-end, un-benchable strikers so only playing one striker isn’t the problem some people seem to think. The two best attacking players in the setup happen to be wide players in Pulisic and Reyna, so the 4-3-3 suits them perfectly. And look, Berhalter doesn’t play the 4-3-3 because he has Pulisic and Reyna, but right now the USMNT plays a preferred system that happens to put their best attackers in good positions to impact the game.

        And as for being able to play two forwards, that isn’t really a problem, but what I don’t think we are going to ever see much of is two true strikers playing together. You can see a Sargent/Dike striker and a second forward who is more mobile and creative, but I’m just not really sure we’ll ever see a ton of Sargent/Dike or Altidore/Sargent or Dike/Altidore.

        Playing two pure strikers together means having one less player in central midfield, and increasingly in the modern game you’re just not seeing teams make that sacrifice. Sure, if you have a dominant central midfield with the likes of Kante or Casemiro then maybe, but even France and Brazil don’t currently deploy two strikers that way. The reality is deploying two strikers makes it easier to defend two attacking players given they will tend to operate in the same space. A three-forward setup, with the solitary striker and wide forwards, is better for stretching defenses and being able to shift into a stronger defensive shape when you don’t have the ball.

        What’s kind of hilarious is the idea that now some people want to see a two-forward setup, when the biggest complaint years back was when the team played the 4-4-2 “empty bucket”.

        Of course, if and when the USMNT has the centerbacks and midfielders to play a 3-5-2, it would make it a bit easier to try and play two strikers, but even then I think you’d be more likely to see one true striker and one more mobile forward option playing underneath, like a Weah or a Reyna.

        Lastly, I don’t really see the two-striker system ever being the best offensive formation for the USMNT, not just for the reasons mentioned above, but also because I’m not all that convinced the actual strikers in the current pool would operate all that well in tandem alongside a similar player. That’s why I don’t have nearly as much of a problem with Berhalter experimenting with Hoppe and Gioacchini in wide roles, because ultimately finding strikers who can play wide is what is going to help alleviate the potential logjam of strikers.

    • I asked Berhalter if we might see a two-forward setup and he made it clear he prefers going with three across the top, but did point out that if we see two up front, it would be as part of a three-centerback formation, so a 3-5-2. That said, it didn’t sound like it was something we’d see that much off, probably just later in any match where the scoreline allows for some experimentation.

      • Ives, any idea why Qatar got invited the Gold Cup?? Makes sense when CONMEBOL (10 members) has guests teams to make up the numbers for 12, but CONCACAF has plenty of other teams actually part of the confederation that were eliminated trying to qualify for the tourney.

      • Feels like a favor among confederations. Qatar gets some needed variety in international competition, and the top teams in Concacaf get a chance to see a team they could potentially face at the World Cup. The consolation is Concacaf built in some Gold Cup preliminary rounds, so more Concacaf teams were able to get competitive matches.

        And it should be noted the Gold Cup has had guest teams in the past, with Brazil, Colombia, Peru, South Korea and Japan among the countries to be guest participants. Not really a bad thing to throw one into the mix, especially a team you know is going to be in the World Cup.

    • Reg, I don’t know if Ives has any info but Qatar is rated 58th in the world and just won the Asian Cup in 2019 (they beat South Korea and Japan in the knockout rounds). The highest rated Concacaf team not in was Guatemala at 127 but they’ve replaced Curaçao due to Covid. It’s also just doing a solid to the WC hosts who won’t have the benefit of competitive qualifying matches this fall.

    • Yeah, Ives I guess what I was trying to say was if the Hoppe/Giaocchini wing experiment isn’t working I could see Nico operating as a 2nd strike underneath Dike/Zardes but I’m not sure that’s really a space Hoppe would work in.
      I think most of the 2 forward crowd are also 3-5-2 fans so you’d still have numbers in the midfield. I think people get too caught up in formations on the lineup sheet anyway. Berhalter seldom attacks and defends in the same set up anyway. People were excited the US was playing a 3-5-2 against Mexico and Berhalter was like what do you mean we were defending in a 4-4-2.


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