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Who should the USMNT start vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina?

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The U.S. men’s national team’s final match of 2021 doesn’t have much riding on the line compared to long list of official competitive matches it played this year, but Saturday’s meeting with Bosnia and Herzegovina will still have plenty of value.

For one, it is a chance for some veterans to work their way back into the mix after injuries, with Jordan Morris, Aaron Long and Gyasi Zardes all vying to be part of Gregg Berhalter’s plans when World Cup qualifying resumes in January.

Secondly, the December camp has been a chance for several youngsters to make good first impressions, and we should see one or two of them in the starting lineup.

Lastly, Saturday’s friendly is one more chance for veterans such as Cristian Roldan and Kellyn Acosta to bolster their case to maintain their roles in Behalter’s depth chart, and potentially earn more minutes when the next round of qualifiers comes around.

Here is the starting lineup we could see take the field for the USMNT vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday:


Projected USMNT XI vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina



Goalkeeper


Who should start: Matt Turner

Who will start: Matt Turner

Matt Turner should start ahead of the two youngsters in camp, but you wonder if Gregg Berhalter might have Gabriel Slonina make a substitute’s appearance for his USMNT debut.


Defenders


Who should start: Brooks Lennon, Walker Zimmerman, Auston Trusty, George Bello

Who will start: Bryan Reynolds, Walker Zimmerman, Henry Kessler, George Bello

Zimmerman is the one safe bet to start out of the crop of defenders, leaving some major question marks in the other spots. Right back is particularly interesting because Bryan Reynolds was a late arrival in camp and Brooks Lennon is someone Berhalter has wanted to take a closer look at for some time.

At left back, George Bello should get the call, but a Jonathan Gomez appearance off the bench makes sense for the future Real Sociedad fullback.

As far as left centerback, Auston Trusty is naturally left-footed and coming off a breakout season with Colorado, but he has no prior USMNT caps and Berhalter could go with Henry Kessler. Aaron Long is still working his way back from the torn Achilles that sidelined him half the year, so it’s tough to see him starting, though a cameo would make sense as another step in his recovery.


Midfielders


Who should start: Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan, Taylor Booth

Who will start: Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan, Cole Bassett

Acosta and Roldan are the veterans who should slot into the starting lineup, but the third spot in central midfield is very much up for grabs. Yueill has the most experience of the remaining midfield options, but Berhalter could be tempted by the chance to take a closer look at either Taylor Booth or Johnny Cardoso in a starting role.

It could come down to where Acosta lines up. If he deploys as a defensive midfielder, then Booth or Cole Bassett would be likely to partner with Roldan, but if Berhalter plays Acosta in a more box-to-box role and chooses a more traditional defensive midfielder to slide in behind the veterans then Cardoso and Yueill are your candidates.

Taylor Booth is a real wild card. He has impressed in camp, and has been playing in a box-to-box roll, so Berhalter could give him a look since this might be the only time to see him in USMNT action for some time.


Forwards


Who should start: Jordan Morris, Ricardo Pepi, Cade Cowell

Who will start: Jordan Morris, Ricardo Pepi, Gyasi Zardes

Pepi is the one lock in the bunch, but if Morris is fully fit then you have to think he also gets the call for his first USMNT start in two years, operating on the wing.

The other wing role is a bit tricker to project. Zardes has played in a wide role before, and if he has fully recovered from the injury that cut short the end of his MLS season, then you have to think he gets the nod.

There is also Jesus Ferreira, who has been deployed more as a false nine than in a wide role, which might not make him ideally-suited to play as a wide player.


What do you think of this projected lineup? Who would you like to see start?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. This is not a first team B-H team. The need for veteran presence is minimal. I expect both teams to play with some youthful exuberance so that the game is at first pretty tight as players try to swarm the ball. Later it will get stretched as the guys who need to score goals to advance their prospects will try to take up attacking spots and fail to defend adequately.
    Some veterans who can avoid getting sucked in and who can help keep some organization in the defensive shape will be important. So I expect Zimmerman, Acosta and Morris or Zardes will start and that Long will get a decent amount of time as a sub.
    That leaves plenty of room to get some of the newer call-ups significant time. I would like to see Cardosa, but GB’s failure to mention him does not bode well for that. Clark can be an exciting player and he does help defend, getting him some significant minutes will be important.

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  2. The fact that Roldan is in both the “who should start” and “who will start” apparently based on his “Veteran” status is disappointing. Roldan has been given multiple opportunities and have proven time and again that his is incapable of contributing at the international level. If Acosta is used at the 6 than I’d prefer Booth & Bassett play the duel 8’s. If Acosta is used as an 8 than i’d like Cardoso at the 6…not Yueill. Jackson like Roldan has proven he’s not capable at this level.

    I’d like to see Zimmerman & Che as the CB pairing, as I don’t really rate Kessler. Bello Vs. Gomez is a coin toss IMO. Bello is more experienced and has played with some of these guys before, but Gomez is the greater talent. Given Gomez the start could help sway his decision on choosing the US over Mexico.

    At the attacking positions I’d prefer to see the “Who Should Start” trio. Primarily because I don’t see the point of Zardes getting another start, and Cowell being another duel national we’re trying to secure it makes more since. Besides Dike should have been in camp ahead of Zardes, who’s time with the USMNT should have expired by now.

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    • Didn’t Gregg say Dike basically asked not to be included. Maybe I misread that somewhere. I’m not sure why Roldan is here, he came off the bench in the last MLS camp and used been used almost exclusively off the bench this year so I’d be a little surprised to see him start. I’d like to see Ferreira as an 8 but I don’t think that’s happening but maybe Luchi has been convincing Gregg that Jesus is not a 9. Gomez was allegedly going to leave before the game but perhaps the fact he’s still there shows he will start.

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      • Gregg’s comments when the roster was being released was that Dike needed time to recover after a long season where he had some knocks. However there was an article/interview about the Dike situation (ESPN) where he was “using the snub for fuel”. That tells me that the decision to exclude Dike & bring Zardes was purely a decision made by Gregg.
        I hadn’t heard Gomez was going to leave before the game….If this is actually happening we’ll only have Bello remaining since the guy from DC has already departed. I personally don’t see the point of giving Lennon the start. At his age there’s not much potential for the future….and he’s so far down the current pecking order he’s basically a waste.

      • I hadn’t read the ESPN article. Dike also said he did need the rest in another part. I think it depends on if Gregg is being 100% honest when he says we’ll see him in January. If it’s then in January he’s not here because he’s been inactive then yes it’s a snub.

  3. Hopefully we get to see more fresh faces than the projection. I understand starting a couple of veterans in the middle, say Zimmerman and Acosta, but do not see the point of also starting Roldan, Zardes, Bello, Morris, etc. These are known quantities that likely aren’t in the top 23, and what do we learn? It’s a meaningless friendly, and the opponent is bringing a B/C squad, lets give the time to young players who haven’t had the chance yet. Play Morris in the second half to see where he’s at, but surely there will never be a better opportunity to give 60 minutes to young MLS talent.

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