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

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What can the U.S. men’s national team do for an encore after its convincing and satisfying 2-0 victory against Mexico on Friday? Another road win, and another big step toward qualifying for the 2022 World Cup would do nicely and it will be up to Gregg Berhalter to cook up the right lineup to topple the Reggae Boyz.

The option of sticking with the same lineup that beat Mexico isn’t on the table due to suspensions for Weston McKennie and Miles Robinson, and Berhalter’s changes may not necessarily be limited to those two now-vacant spots.

Fatigue could be a factor as the Americans play their second match in four days, with temperatures in Kingston, Jamaica potentially reaching the mid to high 80s with rain. Someone like Yunus Musah, who was excellent against Jamaica, but who hasn’t been earning regular minutes with his club, might not be a lock to start a second straight, while Berhalter could look for fresh legs at right back after Yedlin’s taxing shift chasing around Hirving Lozano on Friday.

Then there is obviously the big question of whether Christian Pulisic is an option to start against Jamaica. He was a super sub against Mexico, scoring the winning goal shortly after entering the match, and Berhalter could opt for keeping him in that role on Tuesday.

With all that in mind, here is a look at the lineup we could see the USMNT deploy against Jamaica on Tuesday, and the lineup SBI would like to see:


Projected USMNT Lineup vs. Jamaica



SBI’s Preferred USMNT lineup vs. Jamaica



Goalkeeper


Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos

Who will start: Zack Steffen

Who should start: Matt Turner

Zack Steffen is coming off an excellent match against Mexico, so why make a change in goal? Turner has started every road qualifier, and Jamaica won’t be pressing the may Mexico did so ball possession under pressure won’t be as much of an issue, which is something that worked in Steffen’s favor when Berhalter was choosing his starter for Friday’s match.

Berhalter really can’t go wrong with either choice, but another start for Steffen would officially cement him as the unquestioned starter for the rest of the Octagonal.

UPDATE- Gregg Berhalter confirmed on Monday that Zack Steffen will start vs. Jamaica


Defenders


Who will start: Reggie Cannon, Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson

Who should start: DeAndre Yedlin, Miles Robinson, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson

The Miles Robinson red card shakes things up in central defense, where Chris Richards should slide into the starting spot next to Walker Zimmerman, who is coming off an excellent match.

Given Jamaica’s speed, Berhalter could be tempted to go with a Mark McKenzie-Chris Richards tandem. McKenzie hasn’t been playing much for his club lately, but he has done well in road qualifying before, and he also has ties to Jamaica, which could provided some added motivation for him.

DeAndre Yedlin held his own on Friday, helping limit Hirving Lozano’s opportunities, but will Berhalter giving him a second straight start after making what was his first start of the Octagonal? If there is a concern about fitness level and Yedlin’s ability to recover, then Reggie Cannon would make sense as a player who has played in big matches before (though not in qualifying)


Midfielders


Who will start: Tyler Adams, Kellyn Acosta, Yunus Musah

Who should start: Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, Gianluca Busio

Weston McKennie’s suspension for yellow card accumulation opens the door for Berhalter to start either Kellyn Acosta or Gianluca Busio. Acosta has the World Cup qualifying experience edge, and well-suited to handle the physicality of the Jamaican midfield.

That being said, Busio faced Jamaica in the Gold Cup, and came into camp in good form as a regular starter for Serie A side Venezia, and he has a bit more of an attacking element to his game, which can help make up for the attacking flavor lost by McKennie’s absence.

If Berhalter decides two starts in four days is too much of a workload for Musah, who hasn’t been seeing regular minutes at Valencia, then we could see Acosta and Busio paired together in front of Tyler Adams, who is coming off another stellar performance.


Forwards


Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos

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

Who should start: Aaronson, Pepi, Weah

Is Christian Pulisic ready to start, and will Berhalter risk starting him against a physical Jamaica side that will be sure to try and rough him up if he is in the starting lineup?

With three points in the bag from the Mexico match, Berhalter can afford to take it easy with Pulisic, and look to give him a more extended look off the bench, either as a halftime or 60th minute substitute.

Neither Aaronson or Pepi had their usual highly-productive games against Mexico, but both should be in the lineup against Jamaica, a team they can both have real success against give Jamaica’s defensive frailties.

As for the right wing, Tim Weah was SBI’s pick as Man of the Match against Mexico, and his mother is Jamaican so Tuesday should provide a motivating platform for the Lille speedster.

Paul Arriola should see time off the bench, as should Jesus Ferreira.


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

Share your thoughts below

Comments

  1. going to lob a thought grenade in here and say i’d really like to have some other traditional striker than pepi. pepi’s gone back cold and his other option is basically the FCD fire/ice combo from a team that missed the playoffs. i like ferreira for certain tactical situations but why not pefok for that header in the last 15′? or even instead of pepi and toss pepi on late. odd that GB is willing to risk keeper for the sake of “position competition” but pepi a few games in has engraved title to his spot. heck, what about fresh legs?

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  2. should be
    turner
    cannon zimmerman richards vines
    adams
    weah busio acosta musah
    pepi

    personally i’d like to have moore CCV green holmes pefok sargent around for this game. i would feel a lot more comfortable if there was at least one other 9 option that is a traditional striker. pepi has cooled off and ferreira is more of a tactical changeup than a “send him out there to get a last minute header” type.

    off the bench aaronson ferreira pulisic scally robinson, pound them with fresh players for a half, make them work, hit them with the starters. less fit pulisic needs to be used strategically. aaronson typically looks tired and less effective on multiple games. see what we can do with a rotate 11 and then hit them 30-45 left where the two dynamic players can go all out.

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    • @IV, As much as I normally disagree with a lot of stuff you said here, I found myself agreeing with almost everything you said on this.

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  3. I almost lost it when I read the idiot is starting Steffen. I almost hope it blows up in his face. Why cant we get a good coach? What next Lletget? Arriola???

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    • Seriously? You are complaining about Steffen? I would rather him start Turner as well, but it’s not that big a deal. It’s really 1a and 1b. However, in the more difficult matches I would rather have Steffen because he is much better with his feet. Assuming the US qualifies, that will be important against Argentina, Germany, England, France, etc.

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      • Whether the keeper can stop a shot is more important. Against anyone. Are we seriously going to the reverse of picking forwards for pressing? Keepers for passing? That’s what you want to do with the world’s elite, is try and build 110 yards all day??

        It’s also like people forget who was in net for Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica L, Venezuela, Mexico Ls, Canada L. Or that Steffen gave up that slow roller to Costa Rica.
        Turner is the one with 12 caps — including several qualifiers — and only 1 loss.

  4. With Musah and Adams as likely 2 of the 3 starters in MF, I’m a bit worried that Acosta with them would be too defensive of a trio. Feels like this is a solid enough time to utilize Busio and see what he has.

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  5. the card suspensions will force 2 changes and i’d swap out yedlin and a forward as well. you then bring on pulisic and the rotated mexico starters as second half subs. if you don’t do some swapping out i don’t think you learned the lesson of trinidad, where bruce did the front half of the job 4-0 over panama at home and then ran out an exhausted unit in the caribbean. one reason i wanted more technical or attacking mids is so he could rotate mids without installing the stalemate machine.

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  6. Berhalter needs absolutely 100% go for the win against Jamaica and put in the players that maximize 3 points and NOT put in any players that he would play if he were thinking about a tie. We are at the top of the table and should act like it. Top of the table teams do not fear Jamaica.

    Mathematically a tie does not do much for us. A point is a point, but ties on the road are desirable mostly when it denies the home team 2 points that could do us harm. Jamaica is no threat to us so denying them points is not an issue. Getting 3 points on the road would massively improve our chances Jamaica is the easiest place we are going to get them.

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    • Agree 100%. I assume Jamaica will be full of fight being at home and badly needing a win. Qualification is right there for the taking. Nut up- grab hold of it! 6 pts this window and we’re in very good shape. Start the same line-up- replace Robinson with Richards- Busio in for Mckennie. Let our core build on the momentum of a great performance.

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  7. I’d like to see Busio start but can understand if Acosta does. Keep it simple and go for the tie. We don’t need to do anything crazy.

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  8. After a performance like on Friday, I think you have to keep the lineup as close to same as possible. I would go with the SBI preferred, Busio has earned a start, and Richards’ speed will be needed. Biggest change for me will be the subs, and this is one where Berhalter is going to have to read the game and make adjustments as they become necessary. We are probably going to start tiring midway thru the second half, so another big test for our manager to recognize who needs out. Need to officially give Berhalter credit for setting up everything right and executing against Mexico, he even had an edge to him that I haven’t seen publically before, I loved it.

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  9. You field the same damn team less McKennie and M. Robinson

    —-Pulisic✅————–Pepi—————Weah———

    –Aaronson⬇️———-Adams————-Musah——–

    A. Robinson—–Zimmerman—-Richards✅——Yedlin

    —————————-Steffen———————————–

    Subs:
    Acosta, Cannon, Ferreira

    Easy simple win. You start throwing in Arriola, Roldan, Sands, Scally etc. and you have problems. KEEP IT SIMPLE

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    • I’d be surprised if Pulisic is ready to start. Leave Aaronson as a W, and slot in Acosta to break up things in MF (and take set pieces).

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      • Acosta has demonstrated he is not an effective 8 for the USMNT. He needs to be limited to a 6 or you can have him as basically a double 6 with Adams when holding a lead late. You cannot use him effectively as a progress that ball forward option,

    • I 100% agree that you go with the same team against Mexico minus the changes that must be made due to suspension. I would put Acosta and Richards in but IF Pulisic is 90 minute fit, he of course gets the nod.

      I would put in Scally over Cannon should, as Ives suggests, Yedlin may not be fit. I think that Sclly’s extensive body and recent body of work in the Bundesliga trumps Cannon’s recent body of work for club and country.

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    • There is no way in hell we’re starting Pulisic, no need to risk further injury and we have more than enough capable backups playing at a high enough level to bring CP off the bench. Busio will get the start as well, and s much as I like Acosta’s grit and athleticism, he’s too akin to that of Adams and I don’t think the two of them play well together, so again Busio gets the start for me because of of his set piece ability and prevalence to push the attack forward quickly. Berhalter also name dropped him as pushing for a starting spot in his post roster release presser.

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  10. Today is likely the only moderately active training day, yesterday was recovery and Monday will be some active rest and tactical work. So today’s training will influence who will start a bit. It could, for instance, move Scally ahead of Cannon or any of Busio, Lledget, Acosta, or Roldan into the midfield mix and move Musah out if he is suffering due to his work on Friday. It is much less likely that Adams will not start no matter how he does in training today.
    At center back, it will probably take a pretty significantly great day for MKenzie to move in front of either Richards or Zimmerman, but it could happen.
    Up front, I don’t see any of the starters from Friday being dropped no matter how the training goes.

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    • Dennis, I’m considering, again, deploying a three center half back line. We could run fresh legs at Jamaica with two new wingbacks. I’m thinking scally on the left and Arriola on the right. We can have two strikers up top in Pepi and weah., and Ferrara can work behind them, or arronson can work in the middle. Strong subs available

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      • Completely change how we play with one training session? Jamaica is going to try to play long balls to their forward(s). The way to stop that is to pressure the back line and deny them through the midfield. You don’t need to change everything around to do that. Play your players in a formation their familiar and comfortable with. Arriola and and Aaronson gave the Jamaicans fits last time, Acosta for McKennie in the first half. Then bring on Pulisic, Weah, and Busio on in the 2nd to carve up the tiring defense.

      • Jr. changing formations does not mean USA changes the way they play, three center half’s better defends a player like Antonio. You posted a week or two ago about the minutes a player was logging at fullback vs wingback, so that player is understanding of the position and the formation. He’s a good choice to start tomorrow night. You said Arriola does well against Jamaica, and he’s a good option to start. Weah was so big on Friday, it’s hard to not give him an encore. The 3-5-2 suits American soccer, and we need to master this formation every bit as much as the 4-3-3. I like the unpredictability of the options. How much 3-5-2 was USA playing before we unleashed the formation in Korea, against Mexico, 20 years ago?

      • It’s not as easy as just playing Scally as a WB instead of a FB though. It changes everything, number one our pressing system. We’ve been very good the last two matches with our 4-3-3, if you switch to a 3-5-2 everyone’s assignments change. On offense who and where you combine changes. Also how Monchengladbach uses their WBs is different from how Barca uses WBs which is different from how DC United or Fulham use WBs. Just because you play in formation for club doesn’t mean you’ll be comfortable in the same formation for country because the tactics are going to be different. I get the coverage for Antonio aspect and I put some thought in a 3 man backline because of him but we just played our most organized and connected match in a long time (maybe ever against a quality opponent), if you bring that against a fairly disjointed team like Jamaica Antonio won’t matter.

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