The United States Men’s National Team resume their Kickoff Series tomorrow in Tampa when they face Colombia (7:30pm ET, FS1). It comes at a time where several players are playing well for their club teams, but also when several of the young midfield stars will be missing due to injury. There will be no Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, or Tyler Adams in the lineup, which creates opportunities for others to step up and show that they should be a part of the conversation moving forward. For Colombia, it’s back to the grind after a World Cup Round of 16 defeat, and they are also trying to establish their core for the next World Cup cycle.
W (1-0) - Mexico - Friendly
L (0-2) - Brazil - Friendly
D (1-1) - France - Friendly
L (1-2) - Ireland - Friendly
W (3-0) - Bolivia - Friendly
D (0-0) - Argentina - Friendly
W (2-1) - Venezuela - Friendly
D (1-1) - England - 2018 World Cup Round of 16*
W (1-0) - Senegal - 2018 World Cup Group H
W (3-0) - Poland - 2018 World Cup Group H
*Lost 4-3 on penalties
What To Watch For
Who will win the midfield? The USMNT midfield, as mentioned, is a bit thin with some notable absences. Meanwhile, James Rodriguez and Colombia will look to make it a long night in the middle. Whose midfield will control possession and the match? Who will press the issue on the attack? That will be the singular key to victory, so the USMNT should focus on winning that battle.
Can the forwards finish their chances? Last month, the USMNT only scored 1 goal. Of course, it was against Mexico and it was for a win, and that’s always wonderful. Still, the forwards need a spark and should concentrate on finishing inside the box. Josh Sargent, Bobby Wood, and Andrija Novakovich have been scoring for club lately. Now, they need to translate it to the international stage.
Who will take control? There is a few opportunities for players to establish themselves and enter the conversation of being a part of the core of the team going forward. Who will take advantage of that opportunity? Who will put the team on their back and carry them? We need at least one player to take on that responsibility.
Because of the thin lineup, there is one player that American interim manager Dave Sarachan will likely call on to start that people aren’t going to appreciate, so let’s just get this out of the way: expect Michael Bradley to start in the midfield and wear the armband for the USMNT.
As for the rest, the starting back line and goalkeeper is an easy prediction at this point. Zack Steffen is the #1 between the posts, and Antonee Robinson, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, and DeAndre Yedlin have been the best at their positions. Hopefully, this means more consistency as they build continuity with each other. That can be a great thing to have and test against the Colombians.
In the middle, Sarachan likes to have 2 defensive midfielders, so it’s Bradley and Wil Trapp. On the wings, he could go for some speed, so Tim Weah and Julian Green would be guys he can call on to provide that pace. Jonathan Amon should make his debut as a substitute in this match.
Up front, Bobby Wood and Josh Sargent will probably get the nod. Novakovich could come on late as a tall presence for corner kicks and to also defend a bit as well should Colombia press for an equalizer or the win.
This is going to be a wet, messy night for both teams, and it will make for sluggish play. I do think both teams will put one on the board, and it will end in a 1-1 draw.
What are your thoughts? Who do you think Dave Sarachan will put in the starting XI? Hit the comments and let us know.