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Who can, and who should the USMNT start vs. England on Friday?

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DOHA, Qatar — The U.S. men’s national team’s World Cup-opening match against Wales was a physical battle that could be difficult for some American players to recover from in time for Friday’s match against England, but we should still many of the same starters in Gregg Berhalter’s lineup.

With the possible exceptions of Weston McKennie and Sergiño Dest, who were among the first players substituted against Wales after being question marks to start in the lead-up to the opener, the other nine players who started against Wales should be physically ready to start again on Friday, though some squad rotation could take place as Berhalter weighs up his options.

Gio Reyna wasn’t used against Wales, which came as a major surprise, but the move was apparently more a precaution with an eye toward the rest of the group stage, so we shouldn’t be surprised if Berhalter gives him the starting nod on Friday.

Berhalter will have some decisions to make at striker and right back as well, two spots where there are solid options for the USMNT to rotate even though Josh Sargent performed well against Wales.

Here is a closer look at the starting lineup we could see Berhalter deploy, and the squad SBI would recommend Berhalter consider playing against England on Monday:


Goalkeeper


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos


Who will start: Matt Turner

Who should start: Matt Turner

Matt Turner was solid against Wales, making two saves and putting himself in good spots regularly, save for his late-game foray up the field, which nearly yielded a chance for the Welsh.


Defenders


Who will start: Sergiño Dest, Walker Zimmerman, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson

Who should start: Joe Scally, Tim Ream, Walker Zimmerman, Antonee Robinson

Dest had some good moments against Wales, but didn’t have the impact in the attack you would have hoped for. Gregg Berhalter can choose to go with a more defensively solid option at right back in Shaq Moore to deal with England’s dangerous wing threats.

The option that we can see working well is Joe Scally at right back, where he can partner with former New York City FC academy teammate Gio Reyna on the right flank.

At centerback, Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream should get the nod once again. They partnered to play a solid match against Wales before Zimmerman’s blunder to give up a penalty.

Among the other centerback options, Cameron Carter-Vickers would be an interesting option, and not only because of the subplot of him facing England, where he was born and raised. Carter-Vickers and Aaron Long are more likely to be candidates to face Iran in the final group match.


Midfielders


John Dorton/ISI Photos


Who will start: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah

Who should start: Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, Yunus Musah

Adams was outstanding against Wales and is one of the only players Berhalter is likely to consider for starting roles in all three group matches, and while Musah struggled physically in the second half against Wales, he should get the starting nod once again.

The real question is just how capable is Weston McKennie of starting his second match in four days? He came off early against Wales and appeared to have an issue with his leg. Berhalter is likely to want McKennie’s power in the midfield if he’s healthy, but if he isn’t 100 percent then Brenden Aaronson has to be the players he turns to.

Aaronson’s tenacity and creativity could make him a good option off the bench, like he was against Wales, but the USMNT will be better-suited to deal with England’s dangerous midfield threats if Aaronson is in the starting lineup and buzzing around applying pressure.


Forwards


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos


Who will start: Christian Pulisic, Jesus Ferreira, Gio Reyna

Who should start: Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Gio Reyna

Gio Reyna’s absence on Monday became a major subplot, but Gregg Berhalter’s cautious approach to handling the Borussia Dortmund star should have him ready to face England. He doesn’t provide the speed threat Tim Weah brings to the wing, but his vision and ability to exploit gaps in opposing defenses make him a key to the USMNT’s chances of pulling the upset.

Josh Sargent performed well in the target striker role against Wales, but Berhalter could choose to go with Jesus Ferreira against England, where Ferreira’s quickness and ability to combine make him a viable option. Sargent’s physicality make him well-suited to deal with England’s big defenders and Berhalter could deploy him with an eye toward inserting Ferreira in the second half.

One option for Berhalter to consider is starting Tim Weah at striker, where his speed threat would open spaces for Pulisic and Reyna to exploit. Weah isn’t a traditional target striker, but his pace and well-timed runs could punish the English back-line.


What do you think of the projected USMNT Starting XI vs. England? Would you rather see the SBI Preferred XI?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. iran beat wales so the game today, while emotionally charged, doesn’t really say much if we advance. a good result would help but guarantees nothing. if we win today, iran can still pass us back up H2H the last game with a win. if we tie or lose today, we have to win the last day to pass them on points. so good sense is you rotate today and point to having your first choice for iran, which is effectively a playoff game. if we get a result, great — i’m not saying literally try to lose, i’m instead saying rest players and see what the second string can manage — shift your resources to the “easier” game that actually decides your fate.

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  2. I think we don’t see Reyna tomorrow because his injury has returned and all this has been subterfuge to keep England guessing. It’s either that or Gregg had a mental break and forgot that Reyna is better in basically every aspect of soccer than Morris.

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    • berhalter likes to “front run” and IMO doesn’t coach like there are two teams out there, at least not for 90′. they did us a favor not having moore out there to start. rectified it at halftime. game changed at that point. he would not have known the changes were coming when he gave his halftime talk. i get the idea he was trying to either catch wales over the top with wright and morris, or to use them as outlet targets. however the team wouldn’t have expected or been instructed this at halftime and their weak groundball passes forward didn’t come across like they had been told how he wanted wright and morris used. if they are just going to continue to be passing robots then reyna is the best choice. it didn’t come across like he told the team otherwise. over the top might even be a decent idea but the team has to have practiced it before or have a clue what you want.

      fwiw maybe this is where it matters these two guys had only so many minutes with the team this year. i might not know exactly what my coach wants on an in game change but i would know what type of passes teammates liked or could be hit.

      teams at this level aren’t usually just improvising as GB’s team seems to do all the time. there is a practiced plan A that works. there are plans B, C, and D that are practiced in friendlies with the same personnel at the tournament. to me they fooled GB at half time, he took about 30 minutes to respond, and when he did, it was in a way the team didn’t seem drilled to execute. he put guys out there with an idea but didn’t seem to tell his team what that idea was. i think he wanted balls over the top but from a team that otherwise seems instructed to build on the ground from the back, which was getting killed in the second half.

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      • I think you’re over complicating a bit. You know their going to change something, you know when available Moore either starts or comes on in the 2nd half (hasn’t been a DNP coaches decision since 2019). They can’t just continue to sit back and lose. You should know the game is going to open up. The US actually wasn’t in terrible shape they had opportunities in transition when Wales pushed forward but couldn’t pick out an unlocking pass. As for Wright everyone knows why he’s there. Gregg stated in his press conferences he’s brought in to be the physical forward to win balls in the air. Second he came in with two other subs between the three of them they should’ve been able to communicate any tactical changes to the other players on the field. If there wasn’t a plan B then he brings Pepi to just be a fresher Sargent/Ferreira.

      • JR: no, i think he put on two physical running Fs to either post up or go over the top but the team didn’t seem to be in on the idea. if they aren’t in the loop he might as well put in reyna, aaronson, and perhaps LDLT to try and clean up the technical midfield mess of connecting passes in their “system” through a more pushed up wales.

        i agree we can’t just sit back and lose but you can have plans for how to break out, that you have practiced, or know what your teammates want as service, or you can just try and improvise. i thought it looked slapped together. i do agree the game at the very end opened up and reyna would have been great then. but i don’t think that was planned, either, it just seemed to be 2 tired teams going end to end. i think at both the beginning and the end having some sort of a plan helps. like historically it was “cross to mcbride” or “feed it to dempsey’s feet.” i don’t see what our plan is.

      • I have concluded that it doesn’t really matter who we play at CF because whoever it is gets little to no service. We score so little because we shoot so little. We shoot so little because of our offensive approach gives us few opportunities and we rarely try to take advantage of those opportunities that we get. One good thing about Pulisic is that if he sees any opening, he doesn’t hesitate to shoot. At least then there is a small chance for a rebound or deflected shot that can lead to a score. Other than that, it is mostly passing from wings to top of the box, then back, then start all over again and the CF is mostly a spectator.

    • JR – to me, the Morris sub made sense. I don’t think you can use Reyna as 5th sub because if he gets hurt, which is always a worry, you have to play with 10. Now, he could have used him as one of the four earlier subs. Getting a point was critical in that 1st game. With Wales losing to Itan, it is likely to come down to beating Iran. Losing by less than 3 with no cards puts the teamS destiny entirely in their own hands.

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    • Oops! I don’t think what I said is correct. If Wales beats England and US beats Iran, the US does not control their own destiny. Too many permissions for my small brain.

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  3. i have decided we should scoreboard watch. wales-iran is 9 hours before we play, i think. wales’ last game is england which i think maxes out at a tie and is probably an england win. if iran beats or ties wales then they are actually thebigger points danger but we would take second with an iran W. you play the second string, see if they can pull a result, but rest the starters, because you are now more concerned with beating iran BY ANY SCORE third game. because iran would have 2-3, wales would max out at 1-2, 4 gets you 2nd.

    if wales beats iran then the second group slot is coming down to us and wales. both teams then max at around 4, 5 if they steal something from england. the focus then shifts to trying to keep the england score down for differential purposes, ideally a tie, but as low as possible, then chase goals on iran.

    i say this because if iran wins with wales i don’t think the england result or margin matters much, short of a tie, and i would run out second string and rest my first choice for a showdown with iran. if iran loses to wales then goal difference matters and i would park the bus tomorrow and save the offensive players for iran where you will be looking to pad goal difference. to me the 3rd game team is more balanced if we only need a win. if we need goals you sell out on players with attacking skills. i would literally run out a bunch of our best stay at home defenders if our GD with england matters. because the goal is a shutout to help with iran GD. if it doesn’t, who cares, run out the subs.

    i don’t expect us to do anything of the sort because this is GB and he runs out lineups according to the ill educated fanboy notion of earnestly trying to win everything with your perceived first choice.. in that sense he’s like his mentor arena who exhausted his first choice blowing out panama when trinidad was the decider. i don’t think it’s in our best interests to waste 90′ of reyna or some of the other stars if iran means more to advancement.

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    • iran would have 1-3 pts if they got a result i mean.

      since the games are staggered by several hours you would know how the other game went hours before we suited up. if iran wins and it’s a de facto playoff expending any effort on england is stupid. if wales gets a win then you know it’s coming down to GD and your focus should be on holding england down more so than tiring out attackers who you would need to try to run up an iran score for a tiebreaker.

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    • if you’re like, but you have to prepare for something, you prepare the team for the seemingly more likely wales win scenario, which to me is bunker and counter against england. if iran somehow gets the upset you call the audible, when the reality is the amount of “prep” for england doesn’t matter, you just send out a second team, because iran becomes loser goes home. tournament rules are usually submit a dress roster 24 hrs out submit lineup card 1 hr ahead. teams usually save the lineup card until pregame anyway in case someone wakes up with an issue or pulls a muscle getting off the bus.

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      • Imperative, now with Iran winning it doesn’t matter if the US gets clobbered in the England game or not. Even if they were to tie or win today, they would still need a result against Iran. I would not risk playing our best players that received a yellow card in the Wales game. It’s too risky. Save them for a tired Iranian side that’s the oldest side at this WC

    • Agree with this logic but not sure switching lineups at the last minute is good for team morale. I would tend to rotate heavily for England, assuming we will need our best team against Iran to have a chance at advancing, and we don’t want to have our best 7 or 8 guys having to play that game on heavy legs. If Iran manages to get a result against Wales, then all the better.

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      • even if wales wins, that’s ok, but you then need england to do their job on wales, and you can’t exhaust your offense fighting uphill in game 2 if what really matters is how many we score on iran game 3.

  4. Berhalter saying Reyna was precaution but Reyna says he is 100 % fine. That gives me anxiety because someone is lying and that is confusion we don’t need going into the game. We need positive vibes and attitudes. Same formation as last time, but give me CCV instead of Zimmerman.

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    • I hear you Striker. Gio gave a second statement that there was some tightness, but we will never know how bad this tightness was or is. If he were 100% for real, he would have been starting. But since he wasn’t 100%, we were expecting him to get in as a sub. It could have been for 15 minutes or 10 minutes. So, the question is how bad was the tightness? Do you risk it or do you not risk it? This first game of the WC was crucial and many fans think that it was a must win. We will have to see if this is true. If GB just wanted to save Gio no matter what for England, then he blew it big time. I understand that the US was up 1-0; but then, GB needs to make the correct adjustments and subs and not wait too long to do so.

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      • Why do you think that if he was 100% he would be starting? Haven’t you been paying attention to GB’s personnel moves the last 2 years. A lot of his choices/moves defy logic to us fans. Maybe there are things going on that we don'[t know about, but even a Reyna at 75% or 80% is better than Morris for the last 20 minutes or so of the Wales game. If we had beaten Wales, the England game isn’t that important.

    • Striker, someone was not honest and it was GB. GB has not been transparent for a long time with respect to why or why not he calls in players, but this takes the cake. He stated that he did not put in Gio for tactical reasons. GB is so inept, it reeks of humor. How the heck do you put in Morris instead of Gio? Or for that matter, not start Gio for tactical reasons in the first Game of the WC.

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      • Thanks Peter P, I agree GB is saving face and it’s annoying. I hope Reyna gets playing time and shows why he is our best player by scoring and assisting.

  5. I think Aaronson should start over McKennie. The current McKennie is a shell of itself.

    I would double pivot Adams and Musah and have Aaronson in front of them.
    I would start the same front 3.

    I’m not sure this is the game for Dest to start. Yedlin should start, but he looks weak in ball possession. I don’t think GB will start Scally even though he is better than Yedlin.

    Everyone else should start.

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    • At least Yedlin has the experience of playing in the EPL for a number of years and is probably acquainted with some of their players. Not sure I favor him at this point, but he does have that in his favor.

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      • I like Yedlin but he offered absolutely nothing . He was brought in for defense; and even when Yedlin was good, he never was a defensive guy.
        “Why do you think that if he was 100% he would be starting? ” Maybe I think this because Gio is one or our best players and because even GB isn’t that flawed. Other than that, I agree with you.

  6. Happy thanksgiving!

    If Berhalter insists playing a 4-3-3 then this is how I would start.

    Reyna—-Weah——Pulisic
    —————-Aaronson————-
    —-Musah———-Adams——-
    Jedi—-Ream—-Z-Man——Scally
    —————-Turner———-

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    • Not bad. Have a great Thanksgiving. If Scally does’t start, I’d like to see him as a sub this time. And, please, no more Morris or Yedlin.

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    • Yes. Although my daughter’s stuffed animals always agree with me, they don’t really contribute much to the conversation and my wife’s only interest seems to be coming up with nicknames like hamburger helper for Tim Howard and lightbulb for Michael Bradley. She just cuts me off now and says “Pulisic” if I bring up soccer now. Doh!!

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    • No place I frequent more!! JR! Happy Thanksgiving!! Enjoy the matches today. (These draws in the 1st week of matches are getting annoying. Portugal & Ghana are at halftime, moment of post.)

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