The battle for first place in Concacaf Gold Cup Group B takes place on Sunday, and the U.S. Men’s National Team will be expected to deploy a veteran squad in its quest to beat Canada and top the group.
The Americans are coming off a 6-1 against Martinique in a match that featured the youngest starting lineup in a competitive match in USMNT history, but Gregg Berhalter will likely go with a veteran-heavy squad to try and halt Canada’s winning streak.
Reggie Cannon is back and healthy after missing the first two USMNT matches at the Gold Cup and should step into the lineup, while veterans Sebastian Lletget and Gyasi Zardes should return to the lineup after not starting against Martinique.
Berhalter will have some difficult decisions to make, particularly in the defensive midfield role, and at striker, where Daryl Dike made a strong case to remain a starter after his two-goal effort on Thursday.
With all that in mind, here is the starting lineup we could see the USMNT deploying against Canada on Sunday:
Projected USMNT Starting Lineup vs. Canada
After two straight starts, Turner should continue to be the starter on Sunday. Gregg Berhalter could give veteran Sean Johnson a look, but Turner is the safer bet to stay in the role.
Reggie Cannon, Walker Zimmerman, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines
Reggie Cannon’s confirmed on Saturday that he is ready to go for Sunday’s match against Canada after missing the first two Gold Cup matches, and his return is key because he will likely being seeing plenty of Canada’s most dangerous attacking weapon, New England Revolution winger Tajon Buchanan.
Sam Vines should return to the starting lineup at left back, with George Bello not having done enough against Martinique to justify unseating Vines from the first-choice role.
Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman should start if Berhalter goes with a four-man defense, and they match up well with Canada’s physical forwards, with James Sands the safe bet to step in and start of a 5-3-2 is deployed.
Sebastian Lletget, Cristian Roldan, Kellyn Acosta
Lletget and Acosta return to the starting lineup after not starting against Martinique, while Roldan retains his starting role after impressing on Thursday.
Gianluca Busio has been outstanding in his two Gold Cup appearances and has given Berhalter a lot to think about regarding how to handle the defensive midfield role, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Berhalter entrusts Busio with a start on Sunday. That being said, with Cannon back, Kellyn Acosta should step into the defensive midfield role, where his experience will be key to trying to neutralize Canada’s solid midfield, while Busio is a good bet to be used off the bench.
Matthew Hoppe, Daryl Dike, Gyasi Zardes
The safest bet to start among the forwards is Zardes, who came off the bench and scored a goal against Martinique and was clearly rested with an eye towards Sunday. The big question is whether Berhalter deploys him as the lead striker, or in a wide forward role.
Daryl Dike looked outstanding against Martinique and has made a strong case to start against Canada, and it will be up to Berhalter to decide if he wants to make Dike the lead striker and Zardes a wide forward, of play Zardes in his natural striker role and play someone like Nicholas Gioacchini as a wide forward.
Matthew Hoppe is still building up his match fitness, but his showing on Thursday, and the unique qualities he brings to the front line compared to the other forward options, should earn him a place in the front three.
What do you think of this projected lineup? Who are you most excited to see play? Who isn’t in our projected starting lineup that you would have made a starter?
Share your thoughts below.