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Weston McKennie headlines USMNT starting lineup to face Uruguay on Sunday

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Weston McKennie is still working his way back to full fitness after recently returning from the broken foot that sidelined him for more than three months, but that won’t keep him from being in the U.S. men’s national team starting lineup for its toughest test in a four-match June stretch.

McKennie is slated to start in the USMNT midfield against Uruguay on Sunday in Kansas City, Kansas, Gregg Berhalter announced on Saturday. Berhalter unveiled his starting lineup a day early, and admitted that he will limit McKennie to a 45-minute appearance as he works his way back to full match fitness after making a 13-minute cameo on Wednesday against Morocco.

McKennie suffered a broken foot in February with Juventus in UEFA Champions League play, and was only able to make one 15-minute cameo in Juve’s season finale before joining the USMNT for its June matches.

Sean Johnson will earn his first start in goal since February 1, 2020, stepping in for Matt Turner, who was outstanding in recording an eight-save shutout in Wednesday’s 3-0 win against Morocco in Cincinnati.

A total of eight members of the starting lineup that faced Morocco will be in the starting lineup on Sunday, including the centerback pairing of Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman.

One question mark in the lineup is at left back, where Antonee Robinson is slated to start again, but he is also battling an illness and if he is unable to play then Joe Scally will start in his place.

DeAndre Yedlin is the other player stepping into the lineup, starting in place of Reggie Cannon as the two jockey for position as the team’s back-up right back behind regular starter Sergiño Dest, who is missing the team’s June friendlies while he recovers from an injury-hit season with FC Barcelona.

The Americans will face a stiff test from an Uruguay side that rolled over Mexico, 3-0, in a friendly on Wednesday. Edinson Cavani scored a pair of goals for the South Americans.

The USMNT will follow up Sunday’s friendly with a pair of Concacaf Nations League matches, on June 10 against Grenada in Austin, Texas, before a road trip to face El Salvador on June 14.

Comments

  1. MMA is going to give Uruguay fits with the athletic & physical style of play. We are in the area of pro soccer/futbol players watching pro basketball players. We have US players who actually execute basketball movement, on the pitch. Ferreira & Musah are the exceptions in this starting XI. If you’re soccer 1st, futbol only fan, you’re going to miss it! I’ve been wanting to say this for years!! I come from a family of basketball players and it’s evident to some about what they’re seeing, on the pitch, when they watch this sport overall but USMNT specifically. This match is a great start!! I encourage anyone to watch this sport with some one who doesn’t like or care about it. Or only watches during WC years. USMNT in KCMo is going to surprise a lot of fans in a positive way!! Uruguay doesn’t stand a chance! If we stink it up vs Uruguay, I’ll admit to being wrong.

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  2. I love McKennie, Musah, and Luca, and I want them all on the plane and they’d all be in my 23 (or 26, if FIFA does indeed allow teams to bring 26 to Qatar), and they’d all see heavy minutes in any team I brought to a tournament or three-game window.

    But I’d start Aaronson over any of them…including McKennie. Which means two of them are going to have to come off the bench, and to me it’s Musah and Luca.

    Aaronson is one of our best 11. Actually I think he’s one of our top 3-4, and if he continues to improve at his present clip he’s going to be our most valuable player…yes, even more so than Pulisic. I think he could become at least close to being as valuable to the USA as Luka Modric is to Croatia.

    You have to start Aaronson, period. I think he’ll establish that this window.

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    • Q- love the enthusiasm for Aaronson but don’t forget that McKennie is the best player on a top team in a top 5 league (my opinion anyway). He’s pretty good. I agree Aaronson probably brings a bit more creativity and touch but there are aspects of McKennie’s game that are above Aaronson. Gregg is back to the 4-3-3 so it will be interesting to see if he tries to base the attack around pulisic and McKennie similar to Morocco instead of the wing backs like in qualifying. I personally hope so; I think the philosophy is more important than the formation. A lineup that includes Aaronson, pulisic, and reyna would have three really good play makers on the field togethor. That would be pretty hard to defend against. It would be fun to see if GGG would give them the freedom to be creative in the attack.

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      • They’re just different, IMHO. Aaronson’s a natural 10, and McKennie’s a natural two-way 8, and they’re both really good in their best spots.

        I prefer to play with a defined 6, 8, and 10…whereas Gregg seems to prefer a 6 and co-8’s, but the problem with that approach, as most who have watched the USA under Gregg have noted, is that means you tend to be not particularly good at passing through the middle and it turns you into a straight flank-and-cross team that’s a whole lot easier to deal with than one that can after you either way. Especially when you lack a dominant central striker who can finish off what gets put into the box.

        The problem Musah’s going to have is while he’s a really, really good 8, I’d put him slightly below McKennie, though he is better with the ball at his feet. But Musah assuredly can play and will play a lot for us, I just don’t think he needs to be an automatic starter. He needs to get more goal-dangerous (he isn’t, at all), and he needs to get better with his head.

  3. We are going to have to have Adams and Mckennie have great games and stop their attacks in midfield or they could score on us like they did versus Mexico. We will get to see if Zimmerman and Long are up to the task.

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    • You just can’t lose track of Cavani. He’s really deceptive and likes to drop deep and make runs from deep and he tends to pop up in areas you don’t expect a big central forward to be popping up in…he kind of reminds me of Zlatan in that. Mexico’s CB’s have been on the struggle bus for awhile now but they looked absolutely lost trying to figure out where Cavani was. He REALLY exposed where Mexico’s primary weakness is at the moment.

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  4. Glad McKennie is going to start vs Uruguay! Anyone else noticed, how Weah was a RW and wingback? And Cannon was RCB and wingback? Vs Morocco? Formation in 2nd half, was part 3-4-3, no right wingback. 3-5-2 with 2 holding midfielders, no right wingback. 4-2-3-1 with Tillman as a 10. The formation changes happened in a span of 25 minutes.

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    • I saw that. I do remember looking out and realizing, hey, Tillman’s basically playing as a second striker or a 10. Before that Aaronson was playing as basically a 10 with Musah and Adams playing as double 6’s.

      Clearly some ‘sperimentin’ going on. Not sure how much any of that is going to make the World Cup but Berhalter’s clearly trying some stuff in the lead-up…which he assuredly should be.

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  5. I really don’t want to see Long. He still has not worked his way back from injury. I have a feeling he will be a turnstile out there against Uruguay. Gregg is playing favorites again. I would also rather see Aaronson than Musah with McKennie. I’m not saying it will work, but we lack creativity with this midfield trio.

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    • I’ve also thought Musah works fine as a starter but may be better coming in late to preserve a lead, or to start against a high pressing opponent.

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  6. Rather see wright get the start or Weah as a false 9. Its great that Ferreirra provides “movement” but he has shown that hes just not a finisher at this level.

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  7. Not bad. Hope to see another round of DLT and BA in the midfield for the second half. Then again, BA is a known quantity, and I suspect GGG will want to see more of Tillman. While he did not look great last time out, I also want to see more Scally at LB. I don’t really see another option as an A Rob backup (at least, not one that GGG will call up), so he should get more experience against World Cup level opposition.

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      • Jonathan Gomez, who imo is at least as good as Bello with more up side, and has Mexico as an option.

      • And no, I don’t rate Bello. Dejuan Jones is another one who deserves consideration. I believe GGG mentioned him but doesn’t think Jones is quite there. Personally, would rather give him minutes with the Nats than Bello.

      • 1) Mighten hasn’t committed to the USMNT.
        2) Mighten is progressing well as an attacking winger with his club and unless they have significant injuries I don’t see them trying him at LB anytime soon.
        3) There are decent options at LB within the current/future USMNT player pool. Jedi, Dest, & Scally are all current capable LB’s who will be around through 2026. Gomez (if he commits), Bello, Jones, Tolkin, are possibilities for the next cycle if they continue developing.

        Imagine the next cycle’s options after another couple years of development & chemistry building….
        Attack: Pepi, Sargent, Malik, Pulisic, Reyna, Weah, Aaronson, Mighten,
        Midfield: Adams, McKennie, Musah, Bello, Booth, Tessmann/Cardoso
        Defense: Richards, Che, Tomkinson, Pierie, Dest, Scally, Jedi, Gomez,
        Keeper: Steffen, Turner, Horvath, Slonina

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