The United States men’s national team return to the long and winding path of World Cup qualifying today as it takes on Jamaica in a crucial home match in Austin. While calling a match a must-win this early would be disingenuous, these are the types of results the Americans need to secure in order to book their spot in Qatar.
Gregg Berhalter’s young squad were rudely introduced to the grueling reality of Concacaf qualifiers in the opening three-match window and are still feeling the effects today. The team’s two most high-profile attackers, Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, are missing from this window’s roster because of injuries picked up in that opening stretch. It’s clear that this group of players are as collectively talented as the USMNT has ever had, it’s going to a battle of attrition and the most resilient teams will likely prevail in the end.
Despite the lack of those two world class talents in the attack, there is still plenty of firepower for Berhalter in the final third. All eyes will be on teenage sensation Ricardo Pepi as he looks to follow up his heroic national team debut by cementing his place in the team during this window. His goal and assist in the team’s first qualifying win in Honduras will surely have him in prime position to play an integral part during these three matches. Another big name to watch is Brenden Aaronson. The Medford, NJ native has had a brilliant start to the season with Red Bull Salzburg and will undoubtedly be a key figure in the American’s attacking plans.
The nerves and shock factor of the first window should be well and gone by now. It’s now time for this young team to show what it’s all about. By the end of this next three-match stretch we should know exactly what type of qualifying campaign it’s going to be. If they can settle down and string together some results now, it should make for a much smoother journey down the road. However, if they continue to stumble, it could be another nervy finish.
United States lineup:
Here we go starting XI vs USA:— Simon Preston (@SimeyP93) October 7, 2021
19. Adrian Mariappa
17. Damion Lowe
5. Alvas Powell
20. Kemar Lawrence
15. Jevaughn Watson
22. Devon Williams
9. Jamal Lowe
How to Watch
Advertised Kick-off Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 4:30 p.m. Pacific
Venue: Q2 Stadium; Austin, TX
Available TV: ESPN2, Univision, TUDN
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