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Who will, and who should the USMNT start vs. Jamaica?


Trying to construct a U.S. men’s national team lineup without Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and John Brooks would have been a scary proposition heading into World Cup qualifying just a month ago, but while it certainly isn’t ideal to be missing such key figures, Gregg Berhalter has some very talented youngsters to turn to.

The Americans will be taking on Jamaica on Thursday, and as much as the Reggae Boyz had a disappointing set of results in September’s qualifiers, they showed enough toward the end of the September window to suggest they will be a tougher obstacle in October.

The good news for the USMNT is that Jamaican winger Leon Bailey will miss the October qualifiers, but the bad news for the Americans is that West Ham striker Michail Antonio is on the squad, and will spearhead an attack that will look to capitalize on a very young American defensive nucleus.

The absences of Brooks and Tim Ream have left the Americans without a single central defender with World Cup qualifying experience prior to last month, though Miles Robinson’s excellent form should ensure one of the two centerback spots is rock solid.

The attack has some real question marks, with Berhalter facing the daunting task of trying to make up for the absence of Pulisic and Reyna, the two most dangerous attacking weapons in the USMNT arsenal. There are some in-form options though, with Brenden Aaronson and Tim Weah coming in playing very well for their clubs.

Berhalter has stressed the importance of improving the team’s verticality, citing a lack of a speed threat to get in behind opposing defenses in September. Aaronson and Weah can help with that, as could Ricardo Pepi at striker, while Matthew Hoppe and Paul Arriola give Berhalter some variety in his wing options.

Something else for Berhalter to consider is how he spreads out minutes in the October window. We saw Miles Robinson, Tyler Adams and Matt Turner play every minute of the September qualifiers, and it feels unlikely that we will see that repeated as Berhalter works to keep his team fresh by utilizing his entire roster for starting options.

With all that in mind, here is a look at the lineup we could see the USMNT deploy against Jamaica on Thursday:

Projected USMNT Lineup vs. Jamaica

SBI’s preferred USMNT lineup vs. Jamaica


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Who will start: Matt Turner

Who should start: Matt Turner

There feels like a chance Berhalter could turn to Zack Steffen, especially given the fact Steffen won’t be available for the Panama qualifier, but the better bet will be to have Turner start the Jamaica match and Panama match, with Steffen being in line to start against Costa Rica in Columbus.


Who will start: Sergiño Dest, Miles Robinson, Mark McKenzie, Antonee Robinson

Who should start: Sergiño Dest, Miles Robinson, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson

Antonee Robinson’s excellent play in the September qualifiers should lock him in as the starting left back against Jamaica, with Sergiño Dest starting at right back before moving over to left back for the Panama match. DeAndre Yedlin a good bet to start at right back in Panama if that scenario plays out.

Centerback is a much tougher puzzle to solve, with Miles Robinson the sure bet in the middle. There is a three-way race for the central defender spot next to Robinson, and Mark McKenzie feels like the safe bet given he just started for the USMNT in a road qualifier in Honduras.

Chris Richards is the wild card though. He only has three caps and hasn’t played in an official competition yet, but he is starting regularly with Hoffenheim and enters in good form, whereas McKenzie has been struggling for consistent minutes with Genk. It would also make more sense to start McKenzie or Walker Zimmerman in Panama, though if Richards is dominant against Jamaica, he could make a case to remain the starter next to Miles Robinson.


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Who will start: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Sebastian Lletget

Who should start: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Gianluca Busio

Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are locks to start if healthy, so the only real question is who slots into the other central midfield role. Sebastian Lletget and Kellyn Acosta are good candidates for the spot, but both would be better suited to start in Panama. Lletget makes the most sense as the USMNT looks to attack at home against a Jamaica side that should surrender chances if Lletget and the midfield can create chances.

Gianluca Busio is one to consider, given how excellently he has been playing for Venezia, and given the fact he started and held his own against Jamaica in the Gold Cup, at a time when he wasn’t in nearly as good form as he is now.

Lletget would likely be the better option to bring off the bench and make an impact, like he did against Honduras.


Who will start: Brenden Aaronson, Ricardo Pepi, Tim Weah

Who should start: Brenden Aaronson, Ricardo Pepi, Tim Weah

When you factor in form, and Berhalter’s desire for more verticality, it’s tough to see anyone else starting besides this young trio. Yes, Zardes and Arriola have an experience edge, but they would be better suited for the physical battle awaiting in Panama.

Tim Weah should also be an easy call to start given his excellent form for Lille. Only an injury kept him out of the September qualifiers, and he has the very qualities Berhalter is looking for in his attack, between his speed and ability to press.

What do you think of the projected starting lineup options? Which lineup would you go with?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. to me the AM rank order of late — using his people and not mine — would be something like mckennie acosta lletget/musah busio roldan delatorre. not sure why lletget before acosta on sustained performance. lletget will do something very nice once every 3-4 games and then disappear. not sure why busio before musah. musah while i had some concerns was moving the ball around better. i get busio is at venezia now but based on gold cup, meh. he looked like a player whose edge of the box shooting could be tactically useful as a sub but who wasn’t a 90 minute guy, got gassed and quit jogging after his man. i had him down as interesting but not ready, and less so than musah. valencia isn’t exactly chopped liver, either, to the extent it matters, and i wish it did less. once you get caps it should be you showed up a few games and this is what happened in red white blue. club form is argued as a positive but is often used to take some favored performing NTer down a peg (horvath) and elevate club players whose NT performances are dubious. in other words it’s like arguing with the NT performance or pretending it never happened. busio at the end of gold cup was playing a half hour of the B team tournament final that went to overtime to get him even that much. anyhow, just not sure how he leapt up the pecking order so fast.

    • and then i personally by the time we’re down to lletget etc. am like why aren’t green, holmes, and a few others out there. they are that level at least, and holmes when he was chasing players in his cameo looked every bit as tenacious as busio or roldan. but anyhow, my primary point is like why do we end up so far down the AM list based on doing something in a NT game ie actual proof of concept.

  2. Lletget, Buiso, Arriola, or Roldan?

    NO question. Roldan. All day long. Seb Lletget isnt doing anything this season compared to Roldan carrying his team to first, on a team missing starters for every game this year, sometimes 8 of them. 8 !
    Arriola ? nope like him, but nope

    Roldan is so much more of a complete player than any of them, he wins out in every catagory, scoring, passing, D. Busio beats him in one catagory, so an also-ran in Italy like him. He is young, so he can be sold on. dont care.

  3. Lletget, Buiso, Arriola, or Roldan?

    NO question. Roldan. All day long. Seb Lletget isnt doing anything this season compared to Roldan carrying his team to first, on a team missing starters for every game this year, sometimes 8 of them. 8 !
    Arriola ? nope like him, but nope

    Roldan is so much more of a complete player than any of them, he wins out in every catagory, scoring, passing, D. Busio beats him in one catagory, so an also-ran in Italy like him. He is young, so he can be sold on. dont care.

  4. I don’t get the need to anoint Busio has a USMNT starter after a few decent games in Italy. Yes, he has shown well but his defensive liabilities did not just disappear.

    KC is actually playing better without him…

    I understand his inclusion in 27 but not ready for 11 yet in my opinion.

  5. Musah had an inconclusive Covid test yesterday and a negative Weds. morning, waiting on third test in afternoon. Seems doubtful he’ll start Thursday since he hasn’t been able to be with the group today. I guess was at training but only got to work with a trainer not the team.

    • US Soccer announced he passed his PCR test and is available to return to full team activity. If you saw the video it was pretty comical, the team was doing like a warmup lap and then like 15 yds behind them was Yunus and two staff members running together.

    • The language he’s been using regarding Musah- seems as though he doesn’t plan to start him. When specifically asked- the gist of his response was something along the lines of- over 3 games he should see the field at some point.

      • see my comment above. i get the coach is entitled to his own opinions but in the real world such decisions are made looking down a bench with a set of other candidates. he would be suggesting he’s worse or less helpful for these 3 games than roldan, delatorre, busio. i buy he’s a work in progress but in relative terms i don’t buy he fairly slots in that far down. at least some of this is this stupid “club form” stuff where we discount how you looked for the US for how you looked at club, rather than the other way around. i thought we already learned and relearned this wondolowski lesson. when we began the summer he was in the camp with the best 23 players. he never kicked a tournament ball and slipped to “maybe.” we’re then reading into an absence as opposed to a performance. plenty of horvath/weah proof that evaluation tool is inaccurate, that a talented player sitting in club might be just fine. but then we elevated horvath while he sat in club then slapped him right back down for the same reason. i’d always be favoring the ones who actually did it in stars and stripes in roughly the last year. to me the club form stuff is like can you re-scout my guy. once you have caps you have a track record. that’s what you should be rising and falling on. at a loss. to me it’s the coach looks engaged and busy if he makes decisions based on the neverending stream of weekly club games. but you don’t suddenly get better or worse for how last weekend went, in the big picture.

    • I think you might be reading too much into the comments. He was talking about Musah because he came up do to the inclusive test. I haven’t seen where he’s said any of those others will start either. Obviously one has to start against Jamaica and since Yunus had to train socially distanced Wed it probably won’t be him. Doesn’t mean Berhalter rates someone higher or lower overall, just that Thursday probably isn’t the time to start him.

  6. I think he’ll start Hoppe of the left with Bello, then use Robinson and Weah as impact subs.

    Hoppe. Pepi. Aaronson
    McKennie. Busio
    Bello. Richards. Miles. Dest

  7. 4-3-3
    LW-Weah, CF-Zardes, RW-BA
    RM-Lletget, 6- Acosta, LM-McKennie
    LB- A.Robinson, CBs- Richards, M.Robinson, RB-Dest
    Subs- ‘75-Hoppe (Weah), Musah (McKennie), ‘80-Moore (Dest), Roldan (BA), Pepi (Zardes) – One manager I’ve researched presses out of the 4-3-3. Klopp’s teams press at certain intervals (‘15, ‘30, ‘40 for example, or defensive matchups). Weah, & BA are smart enough to see Zardes press, and fast enough to follow suit. I want to see balance, between ages (vets & young guns)/MLS/European players. This lineup will bring continuity. 2 new starters covered by reoccurring players. Pepi has showed his quality on the road, so he’s my “road warrior!” Gets a sub role here. Starts at Panama for me. If Arriola does start, I hope he doesn’t challenge Jamaica’s for headers again. He’s 5’6, 5’7 trying to out jump 6 foot defenders. He looks silly. Better off waiting for a mistimed jump or a tipped header. Anyway, I want 3 goals against a desperate Jamaica. 3-1 USA They’ll have their Premiere & Championship players this match! Let’s go Stars & Stripes!

      • For sure. I’d personally fool them all and start Luca De La Torre alongside Weston McKennie and play him in the 8/10 hybrid role. You know they’re going to bunker, you know you’re going to need some niftiness in tight spaces to thread your way through…La Torre seems the most suited to unlocking a stubborn defense and holding possession high up the field. He’d be my preferred starter in this situation, anyhow, because he’s the piece you need to counter what they’re going to do.
        Gregg’s answer is undoubtedly Arriola. As others so eloquently stated: ugh.

      • one reason to not advertise so much what you’re up to is so the opponent doesn’t just show up in a 631 with the bus parked. that being said, it is always possible we are being sneaky, just to me GB tends to come right at you about like you’d expect. and to me he seems sensitive and defensive about critique to the point where he might give away operational tactical details to defend himself from the press or social media. “you wanna beef we’re too slow in the build and predictable? fine, we’re gonna use speed players next time.” which dukes it out in the media but the idea is win games not fight critics. you win games and the team looks good and the critics shut up.

    • while i am thinking about it, dude would be deeply confused, then. you talk about “verticality” and then you favor arriola over weah? arriola has some foot speed but would not be my choice if the idea was getting behind already athletic defenses, which would require an actual “burner.”

      maybe this means zardes is starting sooner than we might think. there is a question of whether his injury last window hid how much affection GB still has. i think some of us assumed zardes was fighting for one of the last roster spots, got hurt, and shouldn’t have made it anyway.

      he strikes me as the sort of coach who might very well turn our winter blowout of jamaica with attacking players into something closer and more tense like this summer, with more of a hustle player selection. based on that blowout and their qualifying goals allowed, i wouldn’t play “cagey,” i’d get after them.

      • fwiw you need a cooperative opponent for speed stuff. as my dynamo and elis learned many times, if the opponent bunkers or doesn’t play along with a high defensive line you’re forced into half court most of the night even if your goal in life was get out and run.

      • Exactly- and bunkering is what we WILL see the majority of the time in majority go games in CONCACAF. And for very good reason- LoL in poassession- they’ve got us right where they want us… we’ve few ideas- created scant goals and few opportunities outside of set pieces and counters attacks.

  8. I expect Berhalter to make the following changes from the SBI projected lineup. McKennie on right, Lletget on left, Hoppe for Weah and playing on left, Aaronson on right, and Acosta for Adams to leave him fresh for late sub and next two games. As strange as it sounds, I would not be surprised if Zimmerman started next to Robinson in light of Brooks not being available. I don’t think he envisioned McKenzie starting any of the games and there is a definite lack of experience at centerback on this roster.

    • i considered your backfield but then wondered if zimmermann and robinson together was perhaps a little slow afoot. i ultimately thought 3 backs — since i couldn’t settle on 2 — but while those 2 might be the best marking backs — and i approve of that — i worried about mobility particularly if they have to clean up for the wingbacks eg dest. i ended up thinking 3 backs was the best solution to any concerns about experience, communication, mobility.

      • Isn’t Miles Robinson fast? I’ve only seen him playing with Nats but he seemed to have great recovery speed from what I remember. Did I get that wrong? I am old and the memory is the first thing to go. I was excited because I thought his speed would help provide cover for Brooks.

      • Tele57 Blond,

        The typical CB pairing usually has the younger, faster athletic physical guy (Miles), paired with the older,wiser better on the ball veteran (Brooks). There are lots of variations on that but the basics are pretty common.

        Miles isn’t slow. And for that matter Brooks had wheels when he was healthy and younger. And besides with CB’S it is usually about then getting the right angle to run a man down.

        Miles is just the new younger, fit, Aaron Long. If and when Aaron gets back, Miles should not play with him because they are basically the same type of CB.
        But Aaron has teacher’s pet status so if they get to the World Cup, the manager is going to try to cram him on the roster.

        Brooks may be out of form at the moment but they are going to need him down the road if he can get his suspension repaired. None of these CB’s are as good as Brooks when he is right, at the moment.

      • i consider robinson to be moderate speed and have seen him outrun on a few plays. not like brooks or ream “slow.” but enough where i wouldn’t consider him the “athletic” guy to mop up for a slower pair eg zimmermann.

        realistically long is out for all of quali, that’s a lengthy rehab. when he does come back he would have to wade through a likely long list of quali-experienced backs. not sure if he can get up to the 23 man level if all he has is a handful of friendlies before qatar, some of which would be dedicated to getting the chosen ones on the same page. that being said, he is a former midfielder who is quietly the most offensively productive defender — he actually does in goals and assists what fanboys imagine brooks and ream do — and he can mark ok. but he would have to re-prove he can do that anymore and arriola’s long road back underlines it could take years, which he would run out of time. we have a ton of CBs and personally i’m like focus on the healthy ones and he can make any case he has when he’s healed.

  9. aaronson pepi dest
    Arobinson mckennie adams moore
    Mrobinson zimmermann richards

    good luck defending that, and solid defense.

    steffen johnson bello mckenzie yedlin acosta musah busio arriola weah hoppe zardes

    343….home game….poor defensive opponent. go for the neck. both lineup suggestions are like we are playing for 1-0 in the one obvious game in the deck that screams for tactical aggression.

  10. Not a knock on its use in this article, I see it frequently, but I am bothered by the way the term “verticality” has crept into soccer discourse. Literally, if you wanted more more verticality, you would be talking about selecting a player who is very tall, or a player who frequently kicks the ball very high. It becomes even more confusing because from the perspective of someone watching on TV or from a sideline (which is all of us), because what a coach describes as “verticality” is actually horizontal movement. And yes, I know that it means people want to move the ball towards the goal quickly, rather than side to side, but there has to be a less silly way to say that.

    • Fair enough. Everyone who follows the game hears this choice of description tho so I’m doubting it’s confusing that many people. Verticality just means up the pitch after all. As far as the uninitiated goes I don’t believe in pandering to the newbs. They gotta figure it out like the rest of us did. It’s like when the games started appearing on TV more pre-2000 and you hear someone like that doorknob JP Dellacarma explain the offside rule. You’d never hear that in the nfl.

    • I guess Berhalter might have been a Raiders’ fan during the 70/80’s when Ken Stabler and Jim Plunkett took 7-step drops and threw the ball vertically down the field. Berhalter must have felt very smart & cool to invent the term “verticality” in soccer. Can our midfielders, Tyler, McKennie, Lletget, Busio & Musah pass the ball as accurately as the NFL QBs to achieve verticality? Let’s see.

      • Also, how do you throw something vertically down? This is my whole problem with this term. It’s like up means down, black means white, and literally means literally all of a sudden.

      • Or fumble the ball 20 yards forward into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown on the last play of the game.

    • Think of the field as a coordinate plan the center line as your horizontal axis (y-axis) then moving toward either goal would be moving along the vertical axis (x-axis). In 2D vertical means up and down, in 3D it is referring to height. And no Berhalter didn’t coin the phrase.

      • This made me smile. But then isn’t the x-axis generally horizontal? No matter. Wait. What about z?

      • It’s not that I don’t understand what is meant by “verticality”, I just think it is a very silly term. But to go a little more into it, because for some reason this is a hill I’m ready to die on, why do we want to think of the field as a 2-d coordinate plane? How does that help us understand or enjoy a 4-dimensional game better?

    • I love that you used 4 dimensions. I would have only thought of x, y, and z but of course time is critical; especially when we are all screaming for subs!! Doh!!

      • Not sure why I am chiming in to this debate, where I don’t think you really care for an explanation or want be persuaded, nor am I any great proponent of the term, but…I think it has less to do with viewing the game on TV or from the sidelines and has to do with the way coaches and analysts diagram the pitch when explaining concepts of player movement. In almost all instances the pitch is diagrammed as in this article with the defensive half at the bottom and the offense at the top. Hence, more direct play is equated to more “up” in the diagrams, or more vertical.

    • I think you have overlooked something. This not an absolute, but typically a long pass gets higher off the ground than a short pass. So using long passes into attackers also includes hitting the ball vertically. This is not a hill I want to die on.

    • i’d be curious if “vertical” came from high angle wide field camera work football teams might have had done for practice and game film. almost looking down, so that you can see positioning, spread, individual bodies. c. 1960ish in the NFL the vogue was running between the tackles and it wouldn’t have moved much up the film screen. in an overhead shot with the team marching up the screen a bomb pass (or kickball over the top) would move vertically. just like while a straight ground pass is one dimensional (well two counting time) while a curved long ball is three dimensional (four with time) (and has vertical height like a bomb pass).

      personally i think it’s some combination of ruse or oversensitivity. he’s either playing head games (doubtful) or he’s so sensitive he’s spilling game plan tidbits to ward off critique. and to me when he gets theoretical he trends vague and opaque rather than simple, IMO to try and come off smarter. he has to be the mad scientist behind this. even though to me the talent looks better than his tactics make them play. so we can’t just pick a speed team, and that speed is a player talent, it has to be a tactic he chose and that is verticality.

  11. While I like these lineups on paper, it’s hard for me to believe that Berhalter will go so young, probably a veteran here or there.

  12. Like many, I prefer Ives’ lineup except with Musah starting, but like he said GGG will likely go with Lletget. However, I’m afraid Arriola will start on the wing instead of Weah. Against Jamaica, he will struggle due to his lack of speed. Now, I think Arriola starting against Panama has value, the grit and hustle needed on the road. And as we know the pitches aren’t the greatest down three which mitigates a skill advantage.

  13. doesn’t it defeat some of the point to tactics if you announce them ahead of time? “i want more verticality,” he shouts into a megaphone. “i am picking players for that purpose!” i will be playing Player X at Y position, he might as well have continued. canada’s coach made pretty clear they tasked someone on their staff with reading social media and press clippings as sort of open source intelligence on our plans. i personally agree we could use some wide speed. but why can’t you select and plan around it but keep your fat trap shut that’s what you’re up to?

    but then you can see his preferred playing style coming a mile away. we’re gonna take the ball to the flag, make a few passes, then cross it in. telegraphed. where is the element of surprise?

    • “doesn’t it defeat some of the point to tactics if you announce them ahead of time?”

      This isn’t the NFL. Regardless of what the manager thinks, the USMNT is not that sophisticated. The USMNT is a team with a lot of newish type players and a dysfunctional manager.

      Every time this manager tries to introduce some slick tactical nuance or some fancy brand new formation, like starting Pepi at right back and Hoppe at left back, since they have no practice time to it tends to confuse the USMNT more than the opponents and they wind up shooting themselves in the butt.

      All our opponents have internet access so it’s not like the USMNT can spring some great surprise on the Jamaicans, Panamanians and Costa Ricans. I’m sure they all read SBI religiously.

      “OMG, they’re starting Yueill!! Whatever will we do!!”

      Someday this USMNT may be playing at a level where that sort of detail matters but right now, that’s way off in the future.

      • dude, if you start hinting at who you are starting and how you intend to play i can tailor my formation and player choices to the telegraphed tactics. if you want to go over the top with speed i drop my defense back and play faster wingbacks. if that new style was not a tactical tendency i could see on tape, i would have prepared for the style of play i saw on tape. maybe i press with a high line and start technical slow backs who can be beat over the top, thinking you are going to do the slow motion water torture buildup GB always does. i do agree generally talent wins out but in a particular contest sometimes you are handed a formational, tactical, or matchup “gift.” like cuba had that one side we could go down all day. so IMO shut up about why you picked players and potential tactics until the game is over, and let Jamaica be surprised. maybe they hand us something.

      • Re Tactical deception

        You’re overthinking this.

        Jamaica has the a manager who is derided as being as inept as the USMNT manager.

        They should be evenly matched in the battle of wits.

  14. Building rapport between 2 CBs takes time so expecting to avoid growing pains is unrealistic … but with the way their games/strengths compliment each other, a Robinson & Richards pairing has some potential to be something special. Richards is looking really solid in Bundesliga and Mckenzie not so much playing time… and not really anything there with past performance that tells me it’s the safer bet. At home against a countering Jamaica is as good a time as any coming anytime soon to bring in Richards. Big picture- it would sure be nice to have them with some games under their belt before our next run of quals… against say…. Mexico.

    • i think the rapport thing is overrated. i want the best talent out there and let them start working on rapport. you don’t want to waste “gel” on the wrong people — as GB is learning now. it’s kind of like “experience” in the sense it’s inherently conservative and risk averse. to me we have generally looked such a mess in the back — outside of perhaps gold cup — where i’m like, when did we ever gel? think it makes sense as a paper concept but just like the team in general doesn’t seem to have ever clicked with whatever GB is trying to play — the defense never seemed like that well oiled a machine where don’t touch it.

      fwiw richards’ limited 3 caps happen to include 2 friendlies with panama and jamaica. not sure if it’s even the same people, but maybe that is the logic. he is not broadly experienced but he in theory has some familiarity with certain opponents. i could see the coach using him away to panama just like he threw some fresh meat out there honduras away. maybe he thinks those points are more expendable.

      • Yeah IV- We agree. We need to put our best combo whose skillset compliments each other on the field. Rapport / defender’s knowing each others tendencies/responsibilities is definitely important to work in sync. That is gained through games together, but too- it is quicker and much easier for complimentary players because they are put into a position to do what they do best, so… innately. (I suspect this will be the case w/ Robinson/Richards) So anyhow… let’s get our best long term combo out there together and get that process going at home against Jamaica.

        This issue comes into play in the inverse with the pitfalls Brooks has had. Game-plan and conflicting tendencies with players. He certainly could/should have done better- hustled back quicker on some of those plays- but his team mates weren’t doing him any favors knowing his weaknesses and considering what is being asked of him. Brooks will never have recovery speed and is being asked to move forward and be a main cog in distribution. Knowing this- it is even more- vitally important that you have other defenders- at least one of your FBs covering his backside. We’ve got 2 FBs in Robinson and Dest who love to get forward. Sometimes takes time together to form that habit if its not your natural inclination- and you’re not asked to do it with club. What is exciting is….. Richards at his spot will help with this vulnerability- compliment GB’s gameplan as he is a great on the ball- passing and much more mobile.

      • RP: personally i think “gel” as something that just happens over time is overrated. to me teams that work like clockwork tend to be well planned. a functioning system. some sense of how player types interact. for that matter just some players are better combining with others as opposed to being selfish. i can’t sell ferreira on here but i liked how he was both setting others up and also getting “his.” i always thought a good 6 helped a defense and some attacking players who combine well helps an offense. that and precise finishing. to me a lot of “gel” is getting the right players out there together who can combine and help each other. it’s not just get an all star team out and drill them. i do think there is some room for selfish but you better finish if you freelance all the time.

      • Again we mostly agree- I’m not at all going to rule out the role time played together plays in tightening things up., BUT as I was saying: having players whose tendencies and talents compliment each other and what is being asked of them / the managers tactics is huge. And why I’m sometimes baffled at the conflict between what GB says about tactics/what he is trying to accomplish vs. the players he selects to do so.

      • he’s either clueless or a snake oil salesman. personally i lean towards he knows what to say to the press or a boss but lacks some combination of the chops or sincere desire to make it happen. he said possession soccer. i thought that was naive for us. but like you say, he’s never put out the people to do it. he ironically plays attacking backs but with too many sloppy two way hustle player attackers. if you really wanted to possess you’d play technical attackers who can evade tackles and complete their passes. klinsi had a whole different set of mids when he tried to spread the field and knock it around. so either he’s a fake — and he was arena’s assistant way back when, and we play a lot like Late Era Klinsi or Arena — or he lacks the chops to get why we can’t get where he wants to go. i would note the crew won a title after he left. personally it’s always been my critique of these “value” coach favorites — like moyes before him — that they don’t have to actually win and prove it really works. they kind of inspire interest by doing decent with an average team but then you give them the missing resources and it still looks like they are coaching everton. you have to know what to do with what you now have…..

  15. why does steffen need to start anything? this is money on the table time, not friendlies or tournaments, and keepers only usually get rotated when you clinch.
    of all the positions keeper bench is closer to an injury contingency than a sincere tactical choice or tiredness-driven necessity, who needs to be ready and likely gets rotated. if the suggestion is steffen needs minutes, why is that a basis for horvath to be dropped but for steffen to get starts? (do people see why i think the “form” thing is inconsistently deployed?? steffen played 1 lower division cup opponent in like 2 months.)

    i could see GB doing it for the same reason zardes is back. he’s the type who would bench lou gehrig to get wally pipp back out there after his migraines stopped. this is my starter….

    • Because Steffen is an excellent keeper. I have nothing against Turner, he is playing excellent but I also have no concern about Steffen getting a game. I’d like to see the position remain a little open.

      • the position to me was fairly open. he got to play Nations League. he got hurt. he was on the WCQ roster. he got covid. he has 6 post pandemic caps where he allowed 7 goals, a GAA of 1.16. Turner has 10 caps, 3 GA, in other words, 0.3 GAA. we mixed out the games and one guy won, pretty clearly. steffen might have had a chance to stop that but couldn’t stay healthy. to me the real debate is Horvath vs Steffen for the second keeper slot, based on how Mexico turned on a dime.

        to me the years of cycle leading up to this point are where we should tinker. ironically we burned a lot of that handing the vast majority of minutes to steffen. at this point you go with the performers. the positions where i am like, well, kick the tires on some new ideas, you have performance issues. this guy is barely allowing any goals and hasn’t lost a game. you roll with that until he cracks. i get dismissed for wanting to use friendlies like an experimenter but my process would be try a few out when they don’t count but then pivot definitively to the performers for qualification.

        fwiw even if you bought GB’s ideas on such things, he isn’t playing club much at all so he’s not the hot hand who in his mind deserves a chance to unsettle things. he should be as rusty as horvath.

  16. I just can’t get the view out of my mind of McKenzie passing directly to an opponent twice in one game deep in our third. Another game it would have happened again but fortunately the ball went through the opponents legs. Richards ahead of McKenzie, PLEASE. As for midfield, I prefer Musah and Lletget over Busio because I think both are more capable of making the killer pass to open up a defense and spring an attacker free. I worry about this game because Jamaica is traditionally very athletic and they have recently brought in a lot of new players from England. It was no surprise that they did poorly the first 2 games because they were integrating new players. Their weakness has always been poor organization, particularly on defense. If they are organized and get their D together they can be more dangerous, IMO, than either Panama there or CR here. They are a dangerous team that can really test our defense, even without Bailey.


    I know, I know, 4-3-3 and all that, but Jamaica is going to defend and try to counter. So Push 4 up instead of just 3 and occupy both CBs. But whatever, will we even have 11 healthy players by the time the game starts? GGG26 is his nickname, for only wanting 26 players in any given camp.

    • I would do what you’re doing. And I’m a USSF coach.

      The devotion to the 4-3-3 feels artificial. What’s WRONG with a 4-4-2, when it suits your personnel and seems likely to deliver a minimum of a 2-0 result?

      I know we played a 4-4-2 a bunch in the Bad Old Days, and bunkered. And I know a bunch of folks see the 4-4-2 and start going all PTSD. But it doesn’t have to reflect a switch in philosophy, just formation.

      Chill, peoples.

      • Hey, it’s possible, some 4 4 2 ideas and looks, defending in our own half. GB’s 4 3 3 is to press, it often plays differently defending in our own half, but GB uses it to create pressure in opponents half, like most do using a 4 3 3. It’s a defensive pressing system that invites WBs forward in transition to attack especially weakside. Against a bunkered D, it’s whatever like any formation, breaking that down is instead more about ideas and movement (deep runs, overloads, 1v1 wins, combo play, etc.) AND strong anti-counter attack provisions, like in transition D for us it asks the midfield to do a lot of the contain while WBs and wingers all track back. I’d start Acosta at the 6 in this one, matches up well and has performed well against them before. That could allow Busio instead of Lletget so Sebas can come in last 25 or so as he’s done before so well, including against Jamaica I think. Also saves Adams on wear and tear. we’ll see

      • Thanks, it does feel artificial. That is what I have been looking for to describe what we have been doing. And much of the time I watch, it feels like a 4-5-1 most of the game – then we wonder why a guy like Sargent isn’t lighting the world on fire… I mean, it just feels different watching us play a 4-3-3 and teams that have the players for the system doing it. Maybe it is the passing… maybe it is the compactness and moving together… I’m not sure what, but ours doesn’t seem to be as dangerous as that of other teams.

        but I digress, artificiality, it’s my new favorite word until game-time.

  18. I think GB is going to go with players that got him the win in Honduras since the first game has very little time to prepare. I see MRob and McKenzie paired. I wish it was Richards but GB’s thinking is he is going with the players that saved his bacon.
    Lletget will play over Musah. Aaronson will be the LW. I would hate to see Arriola but most likely that is what GB is going to do.

  19. Who should start:

    McKennie Musah
    Robinson Richards Robinson Scally

    The Musah, Adams, McKennie looked strong when all three played in friendlies last year. And yes, I’ll keep beating the dead horse on Scally…

    Who will start? GGG’s pattern has been to throw in an old favorite that’s out of form, a fan favorite, and a curveball so:

    Acosta Adams
    Robinson- Robinson- Zimmerman-Dest

    Lletget, Zardes and McKennie off the bench in the 89th minute to salvage a draw

  20. Aaronsen and Weah are solid and fast. I know Aaronsen had kind of an invisible game in one of those last qualifiers, but I think he’s up for this. I feel pretty confident in these two up front. And of course Pepi is too young to know that he should not be this good, and there’s no reason to believe that can’t continue. I think this front line can be pretty dangerous.

  21. I too prefer Musah in the midfield. Also, while I will be pleased if Weah starts, I think the coach goes with Arriola, which will make me a many USMNT fans very, very sad. Arriola is a good worker bee, but not someone to break down the Jamaican defense on the dribble, hit the killer pass, or even get the shot on frame. Consequently, I hope Ives is right or the Arriola proves me wrong.

      • But you have to admit, sometimes his misses are truly something to behold. Almost like they defy the laws of physics. Sometimes I think he walked under a ladder holding a cat. If he can get behind the defense and change they way they have to defend which impacts the way they attack, it does help. Not as much as scoring though :).

  22. While I like Busio, I would start Musah or even Lletget over him. True, Busio also provides good service on free kicks and can distribute well. Musah has not played with this group for a while, and GGG may just not rate him. Even so, I prefer more of a ball winner who can take and keep possession through the midfield over someone with Busio’s skill set. Busio has improved that aspect of his game in Serie A, but Lletget and Musah give more bite as of today. Busio off the bench imo. Start him against CR, off the bench against a bunkering Panama.


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