Despite the negativity leading into this international break, the United States men’s national team still controls its own destiny and can advance to the 2020 CONCACAF Nations League Final Championship. Gregg Berhalter’s side took care of business against Canada, winning 4-1, behind goals from Gyasi Zardes (two), Jordan Morris, and Aaron Long. The final hurdle in Group A is a must-win match against Cuba at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands.
The U.S. will once again will be without the services of Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, and Zack Steffen. There should be enough firepower on the field to secure three points, with Zardes continuing to score in bunches and Jordan Morris taking a step forward over the past year. It’s possible Berhalter rotates the starting lineup due to the quick turnaround and opts for a more athletic group of players that will push the pace. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan appears to have secured the primary backup spot over Sean Johnson, a placement that doesn’t appear likely to change in the near future.
Cuba’s first entry into the Nations League has been a challenging affair, surrendering 14 goals and failing to score in three matches. The Leones del Caribe will be relegated to League B for the next edition and have to go through another round of qualification to reach the next Gold Cup. Pablo Elier Sánchez’s squad features striker Luis Paradela (Reno 1868) and midfielder Aricheell Hérnandez (Independiente), but it is unlikely they will be able to muster a counterpunch or play the spoiler.
The four-team field for the inaugural Nations League Final Championship is almost set. Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico have already qualified; with a win, the United States can join that group in June of 2020. While Berhalter’s tenure has been met with criticism as he attempts to “implement a complex tactical system”, the players should be better adjusted to it by next summer. The true value of the Nations League is still being judged, but capturing the championship could instill some level of optimism as the program attempts to move forward.
United States lineup:
How to Watch
Advertised Kick-off Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 4:30 p.m. Pacific
Venue: Truman Bodden Sports Complex — George Town, Cayman Islands
Available TV: Fox Sports 1 (English), TUDN (Spanish), UniMás (Spanish)
Available Streaming: Fox Sports GO (App/Website), TUDN (App/Website), FuboTV (Free Trial)
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