With three points in the bag from Sunday’s 1-0 win against Haiti, and with a challenging group finale against Canada awaiting next week, Gregg Berhalter will have an opportunity to exercise some squad rotation in the U.S. men’s national team’s match against Martinique on Thursday.
The question is just how much will he rotate his squad? Martinique suffered a 4-1 defeat in its Group B opener, and while the Caribbean side did score the first goal, the overall performance wasn’t one that should have Berhalter nervous as he considers lineup option.
That doesn’t mean the Americans should take Martinique for granted, but it should also mean Berhalter will have a bit more confidence about trotting out a second-choice lineup with several new faces.
Berhalter will also be feeling good about the performances of many of his team’s youngsters as substitutes against Haiti, with Gianluca Busio, Eryk Williamson and James Sands all looking sharp in their USMNT debuts.
All three should be in the lineup against Martinique, as they try to impress Berhalter enough to earn a start in what will likely be the decisive group finale against Canada.
With all that in mind, here is the starting lineup we could see the USMNT deploying against Martinique on Thursday:
Projected USMNT Starting Lineup vs. Martinique
Berhalter could turn to Sean Johnson to start here, but giving Turner reps and more chances to work on his distribution wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Shaq Moore, Miles Robinson, James Sands, Donovan Pines, George Bello
Look for the 5-3-2 formation to be deployed after how good the USMNT looked playing in that system in the final 25 minutes against Haiti. Berhalter could keep veteran Walker Zimmerman in the starting lineup, but this would be a good opportunity to rest him and get him ready for what could potentially a run of four consecutive starts if the Americans reach the Gold Cup final.
Donovan Pines has experience playing in a three-centerback setup, as does Sands, so they should form a solid trio with Sands operating centrally and Miles Robinson on the right side.
George Bello gets some run at left wingback, a position he has played before with Atlanta United.
Cristian Roldan, Eryk Williamson, Gianluca Busio
Roldan was held out against Haiti and a start against Martinique as the veteran presence in this trio makes sense. Williamson and Busio worked very well together against Haiti, and should have a chance to shine on Thursday.
Daryl Dike, Matthew Hoppe
Berhalter has a number of ways to go with his two-forward setup, with Dike the safest bet to start. The injury to Paul Arriola puts Nicholas Gioacchini’s importance as a wing option at the forefront, while Gyasi Zardes can be rested with an eye towards Canada. If, as expected, Berhalter rolls with a 4-3-3 for the group stage finale vs. Canada, then Zardes and Gioacchini would be safe bets to start, unless Arriola is fully recovered from the hamstring tweak that forced him out of the Haiti match.
That leaves Matthew Hoppe with a chance to operate next to Dike, and potentially take advantage of the attention Dike is sure to draw.
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.