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USMNT paired with England, Iran and European playoff winner in World Cup draw

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The U.S. men’s national team will face some familiar World Cup opponents in the 2022 World Cup, including a powerhouse that will present real challenges for Gregg Berhalter’s squad.

The Americans will face England, Iran and the European playoff spot still to be determined between Wales, Ukraine and Scotland.

The USMNT will meet England 12 years after the teams played to a 1-1 draw in South Africa in 2010, with Clint Dempsey’s goal off a Robert Green blunder giving the Americans a point.

The Americans will also face the same Iran team they suffered a 2-1 World Cup loss to in 1998.

Gregg Berhalter’s team will open their tournament against the winner of the Wales/Scotland/Ukraine European playoff spot. Ukraine and Scotland will meet in June, though the exact date has yet to be set, with the winner facing Wales at an as-yet-undetermined date.

The matchup with England could feature Antonee Robinson and Yunus Musah facing the country they could have represented on the international level, and the country where fellow USMNT stars Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen currently play.

Concacaf teams had some mixed results in the draw, with Mexico earning a difficult group after being paired with Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia. Canada was drawn into Group F with Belgium, Croatia and Morocco. Costa Rica still has to win a playoff against New Zealand, with the reward being a place in Group E with Spain, Germany and Japan.

The 2022 World Cup begins on November 21, with the USMNT opener among the first slate of matches, along with Qatar-Ecuador and Senegal-Netherlands.

Here is the USMNT World Cup schedule:

Nov. 21 – USMNT vs. Wales/Ukraine/Scotland

Nov. 25 – USMNT vs. England

Nov. 28 – USMNT vs. Iran


Here are the World Cup groups:

A – Qatar, Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador

B – England, USA, Iran, Wales/Ukraine/Scotland

C – Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

D – France, Denmark, Tunisia, Australia/Saudi Arabia

E – Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica/New Zeland

F – Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada

G – Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameron

H – Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea, Ghana


What do you think of the draw? See the USMNT advancing to the knockout rounds? Think the Americans can win the group?

Comments

  1. Is there a reason why Haji Wright isn’t getting a look? Kid has 7 goals on the season for his Turkish club in the Super League. He is their top scorer on the season and plays striker. He seems to becoming the player we thought he could become. Anyways still think Berhalter needs to look at more options for striker. I say you bring him in for the window in June.

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  2. How much better can we get between now and first game? It’s not this summer so equation change with timing means adjustments for all teams’ preparations, and who is healthy mid season or carrying knocks needs to be somehow accounted for in the depth development seems to me; I just don’t believe we’ll have all our players available so strategy and tactics need to account for it

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  3. Excellent post Ronniet imo

    While I do believe some system tinkering could well be in store, conversion percentage on chances is the key, true for any team but we need to up that number, it’s not good enough right now. I believe that can be done with these young guys growing and maturing together for breakthrough performances on this front.

    On systems, GG’s advantage now is almost all the tape for opponents to study and prepare tactics is of us playing 4 3 3, so tactical adjustments by GG to that reality are very possible imo. Of course the key to those things is not confusing and screwing yourself up in the process more than the opponent

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  4. So after 14 qualifiers, I am sure the US needs to abandon the GGG 4-3-3 to get out of group stage. I know they won’t and with WC in season there will be almost no time to implement new tactics but I can still hope. Here is what I think makes best use of talent including Brooks who would essentially be a sweeper in defense to eliminate poor 1 v 1 defending and marking but get his long ball distribution in attack (3-4-2-1)

    Horvath

    MRob-Brooks-Zimmerman

    Weah/Dest-McKennie-Adams-Aaronson

    Reyna-Pulisic

    Weah/robot I am building in my basement

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    • Not feeling it. Need best XI on the field in a way they know how to play. Also, I think qualifying has shown that we’re a 4-3-3- pressing team. If we can’t win that way, we are unlikely to win at all. Really need a better striker, but, if we were playing Wales/Scot/Ukraine today:

      CP—-Pepi—-Reyna
      Wes–Adams–Musah
      ARob-Brooks-MRob-Dest
      Horvath


      GK
      Turner is my No. 1 if healthy. Steffen’s back and bench time are hampering his play. Not confident, sharp, or healthy. He’s No.3. GGG may disagree, but imo we need keepers with good hands first, good feet second.

      Back line
      Zimm should/will go Qatar. We may need his relative mobility against Iran, but I want Brooks against European teams. We need help on set pieces (apparently) and he can match up a little better with Maguire.

      Midfield
      MMA Midfield. I can see a case for starting Aaronson against England in this midfield, for rotation and more effective pressing, and even more so against Iran.

      Forwards
      Pepi’ is in bad form. But so is basically everyone else. I still like Pepi’s movement, potential (potential…) for a special moment, and his presence on set pieces more than Fereira. Bring on Jesus and his movement later in the match. Weah and Aaronson as subs, as needed.

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      • Quaker – I think you are underestimating how good the robot is going to be. Iran and Wales/Scotland/Ukraine are going to bunker. Were you satisfied with the 4-3-3 against bunker/ counter in qualifying? If not, what do you expect to change between now and Qatar in or order to see improvement? I essentially agree with you about best 11 on the field but there are about three players we disagree concernimg best 11; most we agree. Interested to hear your thoughts.

      • We mostly agree, but I don’t think a new formation with little to no prep time will change our team. GGG tried changing formations on the fly. No great success. 4-3-3 provides most great success to glorious nation.
        ——-
        Lucking into a hot striker aside, I think a full squad can score more on set pieces. If McKennie, Brooks, and Zimm/Robinsion bring their B+ game on set pieces, with Reyna providing service, I’m less worried by bunkering teams. We could also cede possession, run a 4-3-3 that plays like a 4-4-2, with Reyna or Aaronson dropping deeper when we don’t have the ball.
        ——-
        Can’t wait to see the robot. Just make sure that all of its parts are made in the US or Japan. If the AI is any good, it may file a one-time switch to Germany before the tournament.

    • The US will have about 3 weeks together in June for NL. Gregg said he is going to bring his full strength squad to prepare for Qatar. Pulisic, Adams, McKennie, Reyna, Musah, Dest, and Robinson have played few minutes with all 7 on the pitch together. So there is time to tinker with the formation and we had worked on 3 man back lines in early 2021 so to experiment with it this Summer might not be bad. I’m not sure on your iteration, you’ve basically got 5 forwards on the field. I don’t mind Weah and Aaronson as MF but WBs? I think a simpler switch would be a 4-2-3-1 with Gio as a 10. Currently we are not getting any build up through the middle. You’d still have to adjust your pressing patterns but not as wholesale changes.

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      • JohnnyR – I know you are against too drastic of a line up change, but Norwich played a 4-1-2-1-2 yesterday. Maybe we switch to a 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1. After all, you can’t get any more vertical than that. Weah is a very good defender so I think he could play that position well. Maybe I just want to see the wimgbacks go away because I think GGG is trying to fit players to his system instead of building a system around his players. To me, it seeems that his entire offense is built around his wingbacks but those aren’t his best offensive players. Pulisic, Reyna, Weah, McKennie, and Aaronson are all better offensive players than Dest and ARob and I think his attack should be based on getting them the ball in dangerous spots insyrad od attack g with the wingbacks every time. Just my opinions.

  5. A little odd that we have recent World Cup history with the two teams we know we’re facing. In terms of difficulty, I think it’s somewhere in between 2010 and 2014. England is so talented and will be expected to beat us, we will have the freedom of underdogs and have a punchers chance against them. We will have to get 4-6 pts from the other two games, but if we can get out of the group, there isn’t a powerhouse in group A, so the first knockout game at least looks winnable…

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  6. The Welch have better grape juice.

    I don’t think you can take much from that friendly.
    If Ukraine get that far they will be tough.

    Iran is the must win game

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  7. I actually see this as a favorable draw.
    England is going to be tough and they’ll be looking for a little redemption from Green’s gaff in 2010, but we actually match up well against their style of play.
    Iran is a bit of an unknown but on paper is a beatable opponent. The political differences does make this a little iffy….but hopefully won’t become too distracting.
    I’d prefer to get Wales or Scotland…but wouldn’t hate the prospect of facing Ukraine. Our players have matured a lot over the past 9 months (mentally & physically), so I expect us to perform better than we did the last time we faced Wales or Scotland.

    Keys for our advancement will be to get healthy and for Gregg to keep things simple. If healthy we have the horse power to get 2 wins in the Group matches.
    If Gregg doesn’t get too cute with his line-up or player selections we should be fine. I just worry that Gregg may pull one of his bone-headed schemes (like he did away to Panama or 1st half against Honduras). If Gregg avoids doing something similarly stupid we should be fine.

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    • Greg made those mistakes early in Qualifying and didnt make them again, he actually played the lineups we all wanted the last 2-3 windows, so saying I hope he doesn’t get cute must be some form of ptsd lol. Look, let’s be honest, finishing scoring chances has been our achilles heel for a few years, more so than any lineup narrative fans keep pushing, and if we don’t correct it we’ll be going gome early for sure. We need to hope that our core players, and depth pieces, aren’t cemented to the bench, but are playing consistently and impacting games for their clubs positively

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      • Yes I have ptsd…and I get flashbacks every time a roster comes out and players like Roldan, Lletget, Zardes, and Moore are even part of the conversation.
        I don’t trust or have faith in Gregg as a coach and actually believe that we’ve done well despite his mismanagement of the player pool.

      • “Look, let’s be honest, finishing scoring chances has been our achilles heel for a few years, more so than any lineup narrative fans keep pushing,”

        That’s not true.

        What is of greater concern is they don’t really create a lot of good chances and that’s been true for most of their existence.

  8. Well the whole thing would be unprecedented so you can’t go by precedent. I think it would be fun to play Italy and England. One for Weston, one for Pulisic.

    If it did happen I would think they would want to keep the disruption to one group, Iran’s, rather than disturbing two groups by finding another more suitable landing spot.

    Regardless they need to decide on this quickly.

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  9. Love the this is a great draw talk. Group of death for sure. 5,15,18,21 an average rank of 14.75. Canada’s probably tougher given they are better than their 38 ranking. England Euro Runner-Up, USA GC and NL winners, Iran Asian Cup Semis, won qualifying group., Wales, Ukraine (seems unlikely they even are able to play at this point) Scotland.

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    • JohnnyR – I usually agrre with you, but I think this is a pretty favorable draw. With the pots, a true group of death IMO was elimimated which I think was the intent. England is prob somewhere between 5-7 of the teams in Pot 1. US has better players than all the teams in Pots 3 and 4 (not necessarily a better team). This is a far weaker group than Germany, Portugal, Ghana in 2014 and I would even say England, Slovenia, Algeria in 2010. If you have the second best pool of players in your group, I think it is a good draw.

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      • If you look at all the groups it is the toughest according to FIFA Rankings. I think ELO has Canada’s tougher because it has Canada a little higher and US a few spots lower. The current pot system limits any true group of death as you say. Nations League and countries like Wales scheduling to manipulate the computer rankings in the past also skew things some. This WC will be strange as well with the winter play we’ve got an extra five months for guys to develop or get injured. I do think the “excitement” the group is more related to “historic” perceptions of teams rather than actual assessments of each team. If we don’t find a striker who can score in the next 8 months we aren’t getting out of this group.

    • Ranking means less to me than overall talent gaps and match ups. Still not an easy group even by that measure, but this is NOT the group of death. Spain, Germany, (soon to be) Costa Rica, and Japan is tougher.

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      • Germany and Spain definitely better than US and England because of US but England is better now than those two. Wales, Ukraine and Scotland better than Costa Rica but Navas does effect that. Japan and Iran fairly even. I was surprised Japan and Iran have only played twice since 2005 which surprised me. I don’t see CR or Japan having much chance getting out of the group but Wales certainly does.

    • It’s all relative. Whoever we were going to get from Pot 1 was going to be vicious unless we lucked out and got Qatar. We avoided Brazil. We avoided France. We avoided Belgium. We avoided Argentina. Those teams, honestly, it would have taken a sensational day to compete with. I’d put Italy in a similar category right now, it’s shocking they somehow crashed out. I wouldn’t have been eager to chase the ball against Spain all game either and try to somehow get the ball away from them long enough to score. Our young and often undisciplined team isn’t really cut out for that.

      England takes merely a REALLY GOOD day to compete with. I mean, they’re obviously better than us at the moment and you’d rather be them than us, but I don’t look at them and go “this is gonna be a long night” the way I would most of the others. We also didn’t catch Senegal from Pot 3, and I’m honestly just as glad we didn’t catch Cameroon or Ghana from Pot 4.

      I watched Iran just the other day against #97-in-the-world Lebanon. Meh. Won 2-0, and I definitely got the sense their striker’s dangerous, the rest of the team didn’t overly impress me a ton. They’re definitely going to struggle with our quality and athleticism.

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    • Razor – as you say below the change in how the teams/pots were selected has reduced the chances of a “Group of Death”. That said I feel more comfortable with the teams in our group than if we’d been drawn into Groups E, F, or H.
      You have to look past just the FIFA rankings and take into consideration their style of play, experience of the players, and coaches. The US player pool matches up favorably against all the teams in our group except England. Style/formation wise the matchups favor us as well, since our style of play is heavily influenced by the English & German teams.
      We’ve got a young squad which lacks experience. Besides England the other teams we’ll be facing also lack experience (particularly WC experience). Our players will be closing the gap through their high level club play and hopefully we’ll finally have a chance to get everyone healthy and playing together this summer which should help close the divide.

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  10. All teams in groups A and B are ones we can beat on a good day. I’m not sure you can say that for all groups. That’s good news.

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  11. There’s another wrinkle.

    It’s unlikely but Iran may get kicked out of the World Cup. They have been banning women from their home games, a very big no-no.

    What’s interesting is guess who replaces Iran if this happens?

    Italy.

    USMNT, England, Italy, and TBD.

    Very interesting group

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      • It’d be risky as sin.

        I mean, Qatar is literally right across the Gulf. And they’d be mighty peeved. And they are one mighty bad actor.

      • Well the whole thing would be unprecedented so you can’t go by precedent. I think it would be fun to play Italy and England. One for Weston, one for Pulisic.

        If it did happen I would think they would want to keep the disruption to one group, Iran’s, rather than disturbing two groups by finding another more suitable landing spot.

        Regardless they need to decide on this quickly.

    • I’d speculate if that happens the replacement would likely come from the Asian Confederation because they’d be one short of their allotment, so whichever team some reasonable calculus would rate as “next up” would probably be the replacement, most likely either Australia or the UAE if neither makes it in via their playoffs.

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    • I absolutely love the game and the idea of World Cup, but the whole organization is irreperably rotten and absurd and full of repugnant hypocrisies- myself included as I consume it. The stadiums / fields the games will be played on are built on the bones and blood of 6,000 dead indentured servants… monuments to ignoring… even promoting ugly truths in the name of profit. As I type this my mind wanders to what time I’ll have to be awake to catch live games in Qatar. And so it goes…..

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  12. Two of the four teams will bunker and counter attack against the US. Uh-oh … Anyone know how to get in touch with GGG and maybe share some ideas on how to play against that; after 14 games of qualifications I think it is safe to say the coaching staff is out of ideas on this. Mine might not be great but at least it might be something else to try when carrying to the end line and crossing to the keeper with one attacker in the box and six defenders proves to be ineffective.

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      • Gary, US played Wales in a friendly in Nov ’20. I watched the game and my recollection is that they bunkered even in the friendly. They were without Bale and US was without Pulisic. I found game summary US had 61% possession and out shot them 7 – 4. I watched Ukraine in Euros and I recall them bunkering a lot (gramted against European competition), but I specifically remember thinking US has way better players than Ukraine. I think all 3 of those teams would bunker against US. I think we agree that we agree that Iran will and that England wont but 3rd game we disagree on.

      • Wales will bunker. Now we played their backups between qualifiers that window, but it is how they play. It likely won’t be Guatemala 10 men in the box, but it will be similar to Canada everyone sit deep, tackle hard and try to hit the counter.

  13. One of our easier draws, equivalent to when we won our group with England in 2010. At the very least we should get 4 points, with maybe goal differential being the determinant to moving on. I think Mexico’s group is very doable for them to make it through, the key being if they can stop Lewandowski. If they hold him to 1 goal, they have a good chance. I think Canada has a pretty tough draw, but other teams may overlook them. Assuming we advance, coming in 2nd, then our likely opponent would be Holland. A tough team, but not as good as in the past, without many of the powerful strikers they have had in the past. I think the keys will be if we can keep our top players uninjured and have a striker develop.

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    • Yup.
      – Scores of dead migrant workers collapsing building stadiums in the middle of desert, Fifa says “meh, nothing to see here. Oh and let’s also do WC in middle of Autumn for the first time ever to accommodate”

      – Also Fifa: “homophobic slur when gk kicks ball is unacceptable and we will suspend countries”

      Good to know they have their priorities straight!

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    • International sports galas are becoming unwatchable to me because they have become showcases for tyrants. Russia 2016 Winter Olympics and 2018 World Cup, China 2020 Winter Olympics and now Qatar 2022. Oh I’ll still watch, but I will need to shower afterwards.

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      • I hear you. I tuned in to watch and got a political side show that I had to keep jumping out of my FOX Sports stream because it became so unbearable to listen to all the bullshit. I even texted my daughter please can we just get to the balls and the pots. Infantino is no different than Sepp. Searching with my good eye closed for FIFA theme song.

      • Bright side is the next few versions of those events will be in Western countries…but yeah sports washing has been on quite the heater for the last decade. Looking forward to the WC, but also looking forward to having it in the rearview mirror.

  14. Fun group. Challenging, but there are ways out for our best squad on good form.

    Glad the England game is on a 4-day weekend!

    Now, for your entertainment, please welcome the Chicken Littles…

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  15. A lot to like about this draw not just the group but our side of the bracket sets up relatively well for a semifinal run in that I really only see France as the only power house on our side of the bracket. Sure England are really good but they also have plenty of flaws. Argentina and Netherlands are not what they used to be. No buzz saws so long as we can avoid France and manage to get out the group of course which is always easier said than done.

    One concern is with Covid and travel issues related to that that probably gives fanbases closer to Qatar an advantage to attending and traveling to matches. Playing Iran in Qatar seems like almost an away game.

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  16. I like the group. Other than Qatar, England’s as good a draw as we were going to get from Pot 1. Iran’s solid based on results against Asian competition but I question their overall talent…the vast majority of their guys play either domestically or elsewhere in the Islamic world…I see a guy based in a Dubai club, another couple who play in Saudi Arabia. I see another guy who plays in Turkey, which is a higher level. I see a keeper who plays for Boavista in Portugal, a midfielder who plays in Greece. They’ve got a midfielder who features for Feyanoord. Their best player is unquestionably their striker, Sardar Azmoun, who plays for Bayer Leverkusen in the B1, though he’s got just three appearances and zero goals for them this season and was a long-time Russian League player.

    Way, way less, on paper, than what the USA has.

    England is England. They’re on TV every week. Talented squad, doesn’t always equal the sum of its parts.

    That third team…dunno. Wales goes as Gareth Bale goes. Rest of their team is almost all Championship guys. Ditto for Scotland, though they’ve got a solid half-dozen Prem players. Ukraine’s mostly domestic guys though they’ve got those two mids – Yamoleno and Zinchenko – who play for West Ham and Man City who both look pretty good. On paper we thoroughly outmatch those squads. (Though we thoroughly outmatched Costa Rica on paper too.)

    Not easy, and you know Iran is going to play out of their mind because they freaking hate us, but still looks doable.

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    • Thanks for this. We’re going to need to win that first game. England will likely be a loss. Their team is a better, more experienced version of ours, on and off paper. A final game against Iran with knockout-round implications could be epic and come down to squad health.

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  17. All things considered, this draw favorable to the US. The objective is to get out of group play and into knockout rounds, meaning finishing in the top 2. Iran is beatable. The US has beaten Scotland in friendlies, and has tied Wales in Wales in a friendly. Outside of Qatar, England was one of the teams many feel the US can match up and potentially grab at least a point. Of teams below pot 2, we avoided tough group play matchups with Ecuador, Ghana, and Senegal. This is pretty good news.

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    • Went and looked back at that Wales game in Wales. We had a 61-39 edge in possession, 7-4 edge in shots, completed 545 passes (87%) to Wales’ 343 (76%). It was very obvious the Welch were a solid notch below us both in athleticism and quality.

      We did have Reyna, Musah, McKennie, Adams, Jedi, Dest, and Steffen on the field. No Pulisic, no Aaronson, none of our current CB’s – we were starting Brooks and Miazga – and we were starting Sebastian Lletget as our striker. The Welch weren’t playing Gareth Bale.

      We’re better than Wales. We’re definitely better than Ukraine or Scotland.

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      • The Welch have better grape juice.

        I don’t think you can take much from that friendly.
        If Ukraine get that far they will be tough.

        Iran is the must win game

  18. England – US day after Thanksgiving

    Feel like the US got the shaft with a pot 4 group team ranked 18th in the world.

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  19. When I saw Ghana as a team remaining when the draw was happening and thought what are the odds, AGAIN?! Didn’t happen for once….Such an interesting World Cup this will be with players in mid-season form and not end of full season wear and tear form. Main goal, prepare and stay healthy until the big tournament! And of course find that consistent #9 and a #1 goalie. No pressure!

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    • “with players in mid-season form and not end of full season wear and tear form.”

      For the Euros.

      MLS Cup is Nov. 5th Assuming Miles and Walker don’t move to Europe, our starting CB pair ought to be pretty tired by the time the World Cup starts. Then they have to play three very intense games in a row about 4 days apart each. They had some practice doing that in qualifying the difference being none of the WC games will be anywhere near as intense as the World Cup games.

      You will almost certainly see some kind of rotation even before injuries and card trouble.

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