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


Gregg Berhalter has watched his roster options for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifying clash against Honduras shrink in recent days, but there will still be some difficult lineup decisions to make as the U.S. men’s national team prepares for a match it desperately needs to win.

Tyler Adams and Chris Richards have been ruled out with injuries, while Walker Zimmerman’s availability will bear watching coming off his absence from Sunday’s loss to Canada with a hamstring issue.

The good news is Tim Weah will be available again after being forced to miss out against Canada due to Covid vaccination requirements, and Gregg Berhalter could

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

Projected USMNT Lineup vs. Honduras

SBI’s Preferred USMNT lineup vs. Honduras


Photo by Doug Zimmerman/ISI Photos

Who will start: Matt Turner

Who should start: Matt Turner

Turner had the worst match of his budding international career on Sunday, but he will have the chance to bounce back. Sean Johnson has the veteran poise to step in if needed, but it’s tough to see Berhalter pulling Turner after one tough match.


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Who will start: Sergiño Dest, Miles Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, Antonee Robinson

Who should start: Sergiño Dest, Miles Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, Antonee Robinson

The fullbacks have started two straight so asking them both to start a third in a row could be pushing it. Honduras has speedy threats on the wing, so a defensive fullback option like Reggie Cannon could make sense, with the fresher of the two between Dest and Antonee Robinson starting at left back.

At centerback, all eyes are on Walker Zimmerman’s hamstring after a slight injury kept him out of the Canada match. Berhalter said on Sunday that Zimmerman would be fine for the Honduras match, but given how cold it will be in Minnesota, could we instead see Mark McKenzie get the nod?

Might we see McKenzie anyway in place of Miles Robinson after Robinson’s shocker against Canada? We shouldn’t rule it out, though you have to like Robinson’s chances of bouncing back and performing better on Wednesday if he starts.


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Who will start: Kellyn Acosta, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah

Who should start: Kellyn Acosta, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah

The Adams injury will break out the MMA midfield for once, and Acosta is the natural fit to step in. McKennie and Musah have been two of the few consistent bright spots for the USMNT this window and should both be among the first names on the lineup card.


Who will start: Tim Weah, Ricardo Pepi, Christian Pulisic

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

Is it time to consider benching Christian Pulisic? He has started two straight matches, been ineffective in both, and is coming off a 90-minute shift in Canada. Meanwhile, Tim Weah is rested after missing the Canada match and Brenden Aaronson has started just once this window, playing 68 minutes.

An Aaronson-Weah wing tandem could give the Americans the hustle and defensive work rate to pressure Honduras into mistakes, while bringing Pulisic off the bench for a change-of-pace could pay of well, as it did against Mexico in September.

Pepi should get the nod at striker, and we need only remember how tore up the Honduras defense in September for evidence of why he could deliver another big performance on Wednesday.

If, for some reason, Berhalter doesn’t believe Pepi is up for a starting role, he could consider deploying Weah as a striker, with Pulisic and Aaronson as his wingers. Pulisic as a false-nine, with Aaronson and Weah on either side of him could also be an option.

A Ferreira return to the lineup can’t be ruled out given how solid a showing he had El Salvador.

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

Share your thoughts below


  1. I was not a big fan of Morris when he left Stanford and sent to Seattle. I thought he was much too one dimensional and I maintained that opinion until after he came back from his first ACL replacement. After that, perhaps because of it, he added more diversity to his play and his speed did not suffer. He is no longer a player who exclusively relies on his speed to make a difference and has grown into one who can bring other players into the game, make assists and score goals in a variety of ways. Berhalter needs to find a way to get him on the field. All of the usual suspects in the front line have spent considerable time playing midfield so any of Pulisic, Morris, Aaronson and Weah could easily fit in there. At some point, McKennie will start to tire and his ability to hustle all over will drop off. I am not against Pepi starting, but that would mean one of the 5 players I mentioned would likely sit unless Berhalter doesn’t start Acosta and uses McKennie as the DM.

  2. With this as a must win game, I wonder if any thought has been given to starting Weah, Pulisic, Aaronson together across the front 3, simply because they are our most talented and proven attacking players at our disposal. I know none are true 9s, but both Weah and Pulisic have some experience centrally and I don’t remember Honduras having physically imposing centerbacks. The rest of the lineup looks correct, except I worry about the guys who have already logged two full games this week. McKennie we have to ride and hope he’s up for it, and same with Musah given Adams is out. There are decent alternatives at outside back. Hoping the manager gets this one right…

    • i am there with you. if i am on the edge of the precipice and struggling, i’m going with talent over specialized. pulisic at 9 and either mckennie or musah at 6. he selected wrong and his specialist options suck. put your best players on the field and run with that. our available “9s” and “6s” are kind of a joke outside of pepi.

      personally i would extend this on out to our obsession with club form as well as the tinkerman tendency to tweak the team constantly for every opponent. talent is talent. ferreira and zardes don’t magically get better than pefok regardless of club situation. and most teams should be adjusting to us and not vice versa.

  3. Keep these scenarios in mind of what’s most likely to happen :

    18 + 3(Honduras) + 3(Panama) = 24

    18 + 3 (Panama) + 3(USA) + 3(Honduras) = 27

    22 + 3 (ES) = 25

    17 + 3(Honduras) + 3(Canada) = 23

    13 + 3(Jamaica) + 3(USA) + 3(ES) = 22

    If Canada keeps it up, they will eliminate Panama, and help CR to 4th place.

  4. If you want to be positive you’ll think that the manager’s statement was standard coachspeak.

    Translation: ” Focus all that negative attention on me and don’t give any negativity to my players who need time to recover and get ready for Honduras.”

    It’s the least he could do for them..

    And they better focus and get a result or they are all in deep kimchee.

    • i did think there was some nobility to it, the problem is that it lines up too well with critical narratives of growing popularity at the moment. this was the week that for the first time i started seeing press articles go from “this [game plan/line] didn’t work” to a more sweeping ideological critique (that a segment of fans has held since 2019), as canada rides off into the sunset. that may speed along his exit when he does hit some decision point, eg, we end up in the playoff, does he go to qatar when we make it, does he get another cycle.

      personally, with this much talent at his disposal, he shouldn’t even get this many Great Escapes. what’re we on, his 3rd “win or get fired” type game? the canada NL home game, and both these honduras games? at a point, that should just say you’re very marginal. and if you think about it, maybe if they’d just taken some sort of action on klinsi when he lost to guatemala, instead of waiting, then the whole thing comes out different. eventually you lose one we can’t undo.

  5. Regardless if we win and Panama loses this game. If we tie Panama and lose to Mexico and Costa Rica net window we would end in 5th place. My faith in this team and GGG is slipping.

  6. weah pulisic dest
    aaronson mckennie morris
    robinson robinson zimmermann cannon

    he really cr@pped the bed with this selection — so many players i want not even on the list.

    it’s pretty simple system wise. the 2018 bunch with weaker players managed a hex leading 17 GF (1.7 per game) from 10 games. this is a much more talented team averaging 1.3 goals a game. we have played the same 10 games to this point. 4 fewer goals. much better talent. canada has the amount of goals we had last time. canada doesn’t take the ball to the flag and cross all day. (to be fair, we are improved on defense, but not as much as canada. i think we could find a couple GA fewer if we committed to the good marking backs instead of playing the “guys who get forward.”)

    go back and watch honduras second half or costa rica friendly. that is what this could look like freed from the system straitjacket. i can’t see this disorganized tentative bunch right now even scoring the 3 goals it did on mexico in the summer.

    • Not only is this team more talented, it is a lot deeper. We have players playing as starters (Brooks, Sargent, e.g.) in top European leagues who aren’t even called in. Other guys in Europe playing in Champions league (Pefok another example) also not being called in. What I find most distressing is that Berhalter seemed satisfied with the US performance in Canada. This team should go into every qualifier expectimg to win and shouldn’t accept anything else.

      • Gary, we can only hope he really doesn’t believe that. 70% possesion with only one legitimate scoring opportunity should be an obvious sign that something is drastically wrong. We can only hope …

      • If you want to be positive you’ll think that the manager’s statement was standard coachspeak.

        Translation: ” Focus all that negative attention on me and don’t give any negativity to my players who need time to recover and get ready for Honduras.”

        It’s the least he could do for them..

        And they better focus and get a result or they are all in deep kimchee.

      • Gary: circa BradleyBall there was a snob response that “I would rather not qualify than play this way.” when the team is making round of 16 there is no market for such arguments. the sales pitch then morphed into “we have plateaued and need this to win.” but when i hear the coach talking up possession over results i start to worry what the priority actually is. to me a system/tactics are something that maximizes results, not an aesthetic choice. if a team that has 1st place talent is 2d and at risk of 3d or 4th, they are not optimizing. and to me it just doesn’t look good. it looks passive and like we never played before. we have athletes just like canada and with rare exceptions (honduras away for one half, the costa rica friendly) we don’t get out and just run much.

        since the sales pitch pivoted from aesthetics to results, i think missionaries should be accountable to results. and watched for whether they are more concerned with some subjective idea of how to play soccer than with results. to me the right way gets results and it’s a little snobbish and insulting to pretend like we didn’t know how to play soccer until this guy came along. we are not some colony that just was presented a round ball.
        his own career should question that. far as i am concerned the colonizers can get back on the boat to europe. we could play a ball on the ground before they came here, but we were more direct.

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