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USA vs. El Salvador, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for

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It’s an opportunity to take care of business as a new window opens.

Mexico v United States: 2022 World Cup Qualifying Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team begins a unique international window by resuming World Cup qualifying against El Salvador tomorrow at Lower.com Field in Columbus. The USMNT enter the match in 2nd place in the Octagonal standings with 3 more points in sight against La Selecta, who sit in 7th place in the table and in desperation mode. For the Americans, it’s a chance to take care of business at home and hopefully making the environment a cold and unwelcoming one for El Salvador. La Selecta is there to spoil the party, and they still are dangerous enough where they can have a moment that allows them to steal a result on the road.

Latest Form

USA

W (1-0) - Bosnia & Herzegovina - Friendly

D (1-1) - Jamaica - World Cup Qualifying

W (2-0) - Mexico - World Cup Qualifying

W (2-1) - Costa Rica - World Cup Qualifying

L (0-1) - Panama World Cup Qualifying

El Salvador

L (0-1) - Chile - Friendly

D (1-1) - Ecuador - Friendly

L (1-2) - Panama - World Cup Qualifying

D (1-1) - Jamaica - World Cup Qualifying

L (0-1) - Bolivia - Friendly

What To Watch For

Embrace the environment. The sooner the team realizes that they have to play in the bitter cold, the better. They have to generate the energy out on the field in a different way, and they have to show they have the advantage early on. Make it a long night for El Salvador by punching them in the mouth with a cold fist from the opening kick.

Play power football. There will likely not be as many opportunities to get creative, and the elements may not allow for it at times. So, the next option is to just push the ball forward. The USMNT should prepare to be physical with El Salvador and use that muscle to get the ball going downfield and towards goal.

The midfield should be the best unit on the field. If the USMNT’s midfield can control the pace and the tempo of the game, the team will be very effective. They have to be the engine and set the tone for everyone on the field.

Lineup Prediction

The USMNT are thin at a couple of positions while loaded at others, so it means that Gregg Berhalter will likely begin with what he thinks is his best lineup. This is what we predict Berhalter will list as his starting XI against El Salvador:

Predicted Lineup vs. El Salvador

When it comes to Zack Steffen’s competition with Matt Turner for starting goalkeeper, Steffen appears to have held onto the #1 job in Berhalter’s eyes. However, since he is listed as day-to-day due to back tightness, it’s Turner that gets the start in Columbus. Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest begin the match at left and right back, but don’t be surprised to see Robinson come off early in an effort to rest him for Canada, while Dest moves to the left side. In the middle, Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson have proved to be a terrific partnership, and they’re the starting centerbacks.

In the middle, It’s M-M-A time, as Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Tyler Adams form that core. Adams will operate more defensively, leaving McKennie and Musah to be able to stretch forward or fall back where needed.

Up front, Christian Pulisic will occupy his normal position of left wing, with Tim Weah back and giving the USMNT some speed on the right wing. Ricardo Pepi gets the start up front, but we should expect to see Brenden Aaronson, Gyasi Zardes, and possibly Paul Arriola to come on as substitutes depending on how the match progresses.

Prediction

It’s a cold night in Columbus, but the team gets to light some fireworks on the field. It’s a 2-0 victory that is hard earned but well deserved.