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Who should the USMNT start vs. Martinique?


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


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Matt Turner

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.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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.


  1. Why was Cannon not mentioned? Moore did well, but he did expend a lot of energy. It might be better to have them trade off time and stay better rested for games down the road. Of course if Cannon is still injured, that goes out the window.

  2. the midfield would be bad and i think we need a martinique win to advance. you do not want to be depending on that canada game for a result and advancement. beat martinique with the first string and then rotate for canada, who honestly we might not beat straight up.

    • This is not the Martinique we’ve seen in past tournaments. They are predominantly domestic players, and have an average age of 29.5. The average age of their 5 euro players is 31.

      • They qualified early to GC based on NL. In NL they tied Honduras 1-1 at home and lost 1-0 away, finishing second in their group ahead of TnT. If we sent the first choice I’d think 3-0 or 4-0 but this is not even close to our first choice, which you’re not factoring into how we match up. The team we are running out might be weaker than the 19 GC/NL unit that split with Jamaica and Canada, and lost twice to Mexico. So they are better than you’re giving credit and we’re weaker than you’re discounting. They will give us a game and we will max out at like 2-0 tops.

        I like the defense but outside that this is a dumpster fire. Since the defense is decent I would emphasize that in my game planning. I would not depend on the offense unless I retasked a mid or back as a wing so we can get some service.

  3. do people consider that a 352 is big boy pants for the team defense? if the wingbacks get caught up an opposing 433 can expect 3 on 3 the other way. perhaps get where we can competently defend to a result with 4 backs before going to graduate school with 3 backs.

    • i also don’t understand based on the last game why we are yanking a forward to keep the midfielders out there. personally i would go 451 or 442 because Haiti will be as easy as it gets, and our chance of going anywhere is tidy up the defense. but if you want 3 backs then 343 makes more sense if the mids suck and the forwards are slightly better. you stick acosta and lletget out there, drop yeuill, push zardes wide, start one of your herd of 9s. maybe consider starting moore as a RF, start the other RB, zardes wide, lewis to bench.

      something like
      zardes dike moore
      vines lletget acosta cannon/bello
      Robinson Zimmerman Sands

      he screwed this whole roster up on the mids and wings, particularly when he lost arriola.

      • Who plays as your outside midfielders in a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 though? I agree that’s Gregg’s fault for the roster but with most MLS teams playing 4-3-3 formations how many wide midfielders do we have out there? We have a lot of get forward FBs and a lot of don’t defend wide forwards but not a lot of two way wide midfielders.

      • how many wings out there? seriously?
        ggoch konrad boyd sabbi green baird gall tillman moore etc
        tennis with the net down. please.
        you and i both know it’s not a lack of wing players, it’s the coach wanted to look at 9s so bad he rostered 2 wings and four 9s with the (naive) idea nico and co. would be decent enough wingers to get his platoon of 9s some service. as it stands he’s dependent on acosta and moore (and maybe lletget) to provide what the wings won’t. and how do you evaluate your twenty rostered 9s if no one can serve them? coach is an idiot putting together the worst roster since the 2011 group round, who could at least hear the bugles of the knockout round cavalry coming. there is no supplement coming to fix this mess.

      • and while i get your “personnel” point, this team is going to be bad enough you’re going to want tactical shape to help the defense as opposed to being a purist crying for specialists we don’t have to execute some tactically naive 433 or 343 or 352 that makes personnel sense but is pants down for the teams we actually will face. trust me, if you can only beat haiti 1-0 trying to go end to end you need to rethink your concept for chasing this trophy.

      • far as i am concerned you’re repeating the olympics error without realizing it. we have a decent defense. we have a poor offense. if we want to get past the quarters we need to decide to be strong in some phase of the game and not to abstractly play out Berhalter Ball to the inevitable conclusion here.

  4. Roldan has been playing well for Seattle this year, if he looked anything close to that in camp he will definitely play a role. Robinson and Zimmerman looked really good together, I would not be surprised that if both start with one subbed at halftime.
    Unless Hoppe is looking better in training than he did at the end of the season for Schalke I don’t think he will start. Gioacchini wold be my pick, but GB is more likely to go with Zardes.

    • Roldan has been good for the Sounders for the past year or 2. That has yet to translate to good performances with the USMNT. Wondo was a top scorer for the Quakes for years….but outside of 2 or 3 games for the US against CONCACAF Minnows (Cuba level) he failed to produce for the National Team. This happens. Players cannot always transition club performances to the international level or adjust to a different formation/style of play.
      Roldan seems to be the type of player who can’t adapt and/or transition to the International level. And at some point Gregg needs to move on from him and give these types of opportunities/experiences to someone else who can adapt/transition to the international level.

  5. Wow, thats a lot of different starters. I would keep Zimmerman on the backline and keep Roldan off but luv the rest of the lineup


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