The United States begin their Kickoff Series tomorrow at MetLife Stadium as they take on Brazil. Brazil brings several of their stars from their World Cup team, while the USMNT will once again employ a very young lineup as American interim manager Dave Sarachan continues to evaluate for the future of the team. This is only the 6th match for the USMNT in 2018, but it begins a string of 6 in a row against some very tough opposition. O Pentacampeão (“The 5-Time Champions”) will present an incredible test for Sarachan’s young squad.
D (1-1) - France - Friendly
L (1-2) - Ireland - Friendly
W (3-0) - Bolivia - Friendly
W (1-0) - Paraguay - Friendly
D (0-0) - Bosnia and Herzegovina- Friendly
L (1-2) - Belgium - 2018 World Cup Quarterfinals
W (2-0) - Mexico - 2018 World Cup Round of 16
W (2-0) - Serbia - 2018 World Cup Group E
W (2-0) - Costa Rica - 2018 World Cup Group E
D (1-1) - Switzerland - 2018 World Cup Group E
What To Watch For
Keep the stars at bay. Brazil clearly has a lot of great players that can hurt you at any point: Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, and Willian are among them. The midfield can’t let them get out into open space, and the defense can’t let any of these guys streak past them in the final third. Brazil is a team that thrives off sending numbers forward in a flashy way and looking for the spectacular. Contain their stars, and they’ll have difficulty getting shots off.
Be aggressive on offense. When the attack has opportunities to shoot, they need to take them. The youngsters have been aggressive for the most part this year when they have opportunities, and that should continue against the Brazilians. If there is a weakness on this Brazil squad, it’s on defense, and they can be taken on the dribble and when crashing the net. They’re going to get some chances. Be aggressive, and we will get chances to score.
Who will rise to the challenge? Like the France and Ireland games back in June, this is a prime opportunity for players to show that they deserve to be in the lineup moving forward. All 11 spots on the field are for the taking, so let’s see which players make their mark and can add a great performance to their resume.
Dave Sarachan will likely go for what he thinks is his best possible lineup, and while a couple of guys may also be in the mix to start, here’s what Sarachan might go with:
In net, Zack Steffen is the best of the three goalkeepers in camp and, based on his performance against France, should be the #1. The defense will be anchored by the return of John Brooks to the lineup for the first time in 10 months. He will join Matt Miazga at center back. Antonee Robinson had a few wonderful performances against Bolivia, Ireland, and France, so he gets the nod at left back. DeAndre Yedlin holds it down on the right for the United States.
In the middle, Sarachan can go a few different ways here, but in the end I think he opts to present a more defensive-minded lineup. Wil Trapp will likely be the captain for the team and be the main defensive back, while Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams will be counted on to also provide defensive cover but still have the ability to move forward in the middle.
On the wings, Paul Arriola is versatile enough to provide offensive fire on the right while still tracking back on defense. He’s experimented a few times at right back for D.C. United, so expect to see him back there at times while Yedlin moves forward on a run, and vice versa. On the left, Gyasi Zardes was an option due to how hot he has played this season for Columbus Crew SC, but in the end, Sarachan likely goes with Tim Weah on the left wing. But, it could go either way.
Up front, the lone striker to start is Bobby Wood, but with offensive help coming from the wings and even with McKennie or Adams pressing up behind him, Wood will hopefully have some opportunities to get some shots on net.
Make no mistake, this is a tough test for the Americans. The kids showed well against France, who went on to win the World Cup, so that can only make the team confident they can get a similar result against Brazil. Let’s go out on a limb here: it’s a great night to get a result against Brazil. It’s another 1-1 draw and fans will rave about the performance of the defense as they keep Neymar off the scoresheet.
Give us your predictions for what will happen tomorrow in the comments below.