The United States men’s national team return to World Cup Qualifying tonight to kick off a crucial stretch of three matches that will go a long ways in determining their qualification fate. Beginning with a home match against El Salvador in Columbus, Gregg Berhalter’s side are in prime position to qualify if they take care of business during this awkwardly timed window in January-February.
Entering this window, the prognosis for the player pool is fair. There are still some glaring absences such as Gio Reyna who is still coming back from the injury he suffered two windows ago. However, the squad sees the return of Christian Pulisic and also finds star midfielder Weston McKennie in arguably the best form of his career with Juventus. The Yanks will need McKennie to continue that blinding run of form through the next three qualifiers considering the unideal conditions all three matches will be played in. Set pieces and unattractive soccer will likely be on the menu this window and that’s where McKennie can use his athleticism and technique to thrive in the air or on the ground.
While every Concacaf qualifier is a difficult task, the U.S. will be heavily favored against El Salvador, coming in as the second-ranked team in the Octagonal standings. The visitors are struggling in seventh place and will likely be facing elimination this window.
To achieve their goal of qualifying for Qatar, three points in this one will go a long ways. It’s imperative that there are no slip-ups during this final stretch to avoid another total embarrassment like in 2017.
United States lineup:
El Salvador lineup:
How to Watch
Advertised Kick-off Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Pacific
Venue: Lower.com Field; Columbus, OH
Available TV: ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN
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