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USA vs. France, 2018 friendly: What to watch for

The USMNT has a tough task against a stacked Les Bleus squad

France v Italy - International Friendly match
Antoine Griezmann
Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

This may sound a little harsh, but it’s not often that an international soccer match features two teams with such a disparity in talent. EVERY player on the France World Cup squad is probably rated higher than ANY player on the current United States roster, with the possible exception of DeAndre Yedlin, and, if we really reach and hope, Weston McKennie. A quick glance at the players that French national team head coach Didier Deschamps had to pick from makes every United States fan drool.

If that isn’t enough, the game will be played in Lyon (Saturday, June 9th) and is the final sendoff for Les Bleus before before they leave for Russia and World Cup 2018. Yikes!

Recent Form


L (2-1) - Ireland - Friendly

W (3-0) - Bolivia - Friendly

W (1-0) - Paraguay - Friendly

D (0-0) - Bosnia and Herzegovina- Friendly

D (1-1) - Portugal - Friendly


W (3-1) - Italy - Friendly

W (2-0) - Ireland - Friendly

L (3-1) - Russia - Friendly

L (3-2) - Colombia - Friendly

D (2-2) - Germany - Friendly

What To Watch For

Defensive posture: France will be looking to score early and often with a stacked group of strikers and midfielders headlined by Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, and Paul Pogba. Look for a holding midfielder to anchor the defense with two players in the number eight role positioned slightly advanced of the number six. Without a true number ten on the roster the United States will probably play with only three attacking style players and have everybody else focused on staying behind the ball.

Look for the counter: Expect a few chances for the USMNT, especially if they can hold France goalless for the for half. France will not want to be embarrassed at home by an upstart United States squad lacking in star power on the eve of the World Cup. In order to stand a chance the USA must finish the few chances that they will have.

Fantastic atmosphere: Lyon will be rocking, that much is certain. Many of the USMNT players will be living a dream simply by playing in this game against some of the best players in the world. The team must stay focused and not be awestruck by the situation. Easier said than done.

Lineup Prediction

A 4-1-4-1 seems the prudent lineup choice for this game. Defensively strong, with the outside midfielders attacking along one of the two number eights picking their spots to join in. Attempt to clog up the middle of the field while remaining patient and not getting drawn out of position.

Expect a lineup mixed with veterans and youngsters as head coach Dave Sarachan will understand that sending out a lineup full of national team newbies will lead to disaster. The younger players that get the starting nod will have proven themselves to the coach throughout this camp and most will be getting regular minutes with their club teams.

In goal, look for Zack Steffen to get the start, even though the other keepers on the roster have more experience. It appears that Steffen has taken the lead in the “goalkeeper for the future” race and if he performs well here then it will be hard to change that perception.

The right back position is currently a position of strength with DeAndre Yedlin, Eric Lichaj, and Shaq Moore all capable options. I realize that we already know what Yedlin gives the team, but since France is so strong I have him out here as the best of the bunch at the moment. Centerback is kind of a crapshoot. I’m going with Matt Miazga alongside Tim Parker. Miazga needs minutes and was far better than Cameron Carter-Vickers against Ireland. I’ve always been a big fan of Parker’s, we will see if the coaching staff feels the same. At left back I’m giving the nod to Antonee Robinson. Still raw, but along with Yedlin he is one of the fastest players on the roster which could prove helpful.

The trio of central midfielders occupying the middle will be Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams with Wil Trapp sitting slightly behind them. Trapp’s leadership skills will help and he is most comfortable in the number six role. McKennie and Adams are two players that need to learn to play together and they don’t seem to be awed by any situation. Kenny Saief was my original pick to start at left midfield, but he has now been sent home with a right leg injury. The US is a little short on outside midfielders/wingers at the moment so I’m predicting a rare start for Julian Green as Rubio Rubin started the last match. Timothy Weah has been the camp star to this point and gets the nod on the right.

Bobby Wood gets the start up top as I fear it may be a bit too early for Josh Sargent to lead the line at this point in his career in a match of this magnitude, albeit a friendly. Expect to see Sargent off the bench.

Match Prediction

France simply has too much firepower for the United States. The home crowd will be urging their team on and Les Bleus won’t disappoint. 4-0 France. I hope I’m wrong.

Do you agree with my assessment that:

EVERY player on the France World Cup squad is probably rated higher than ANY player on the current United States roster?

And, do you think that the United States can hang in there with France?