The United States Men’s National Team closes out the March FIFA International Window against Chile on March 26th in Houston. Chile lost its last match 3-1 against Mexico on Friday, with Mexico’s three goals came during a 14-minute span in the second half.
Chile is 2-3 in its last five matches. La Roja holds a 5-3-2 all-time record against the USMNT. This Chile side consists of mostly first-choice players, however it is missing star player Alexis Sanchez due to injury.
Goalkeepers (3): Gabriel Arias (Racing/ARG), Brayan Cortes (Colo Colo/CHI), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town/ENG)
Defenders (9): Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahce/TUR), Gonzalo Jara (Estudiantes de La Plata/ARG), Gary Medel (Besiktas J.K/TUR), Eugenio Mena (Racing/ARG), Paulo Diaz (Al-Ahli/SAU), Igor Lichnovsky (Cruz Azul/MEX), Guillermo Maripan (Deportivo Alavés/ESP), Oscar Opazo (Colo Colo/CHI), Sebastian Vegas (Monarcas Morelia/MEX)
Midfielders (8): Arturo Vidal (FC Barcelona/ESP), Pedro Pablo Hernandez (Independiente/ARG), Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Erick Pulgar (Bologna FC/ITA), Diego Valdes (Santos Laguna/MEX), Jimmy Martinez (Universidad de Chile/CHI), Jean Meneses (Leon/MEX), Esteban Pavez (Colo Colo/CHI)
Forwards (4): Nicolas Castillo (América/MEX), Felipe Mora (Pumas UNAM/Mexico), Ivan Morales (Colo Colo/CHI), Diego Rubio (Colorado Rapids/USA)
Head coach Reinaldo Rueda is known to experiment with a variety of formations. On Friday against Mexico, he utilized a 4-1-3-2. I’m expecting him to deploy the same formation as Gregg Berhalter (likely a 4-3-3). La Roja is a physically aggressive team that looks to play quickly.
After a terrible defensive showing against Mexico, I’m expecting Rueda to replace goalkeeper Gabriel Arias with Brayan Cortes. Cortes is an excellent shot stopper, but rarely comes off his line to close down attackers. Look for Paulo Diaz and Gonzalo Jara to feature as centerbacks. Diaz is excellent on the ball (for a centerback) and dominant in the air. However, his tackling is quite poor and he receives far too many cards.
Jara is an even better dribbler and passer than Diaz, but struggles to win aerial battles. He frequently looks to play long balls out of defense.
Mauricio Isla should start at right back. The Fenerbahce man is a good crosser and will look to get involved in the attack. His tackling is quite impressive, but he is an extremely inconsistent player.
Expect Eugenio Mena to get the nod at left back. Like Isla, Mena is an excellent crosser who will also look to join the attack. He is very good at intercepting passes, but his poor tackling results in him giving away too many free kicks.
Erick Pulgar will likely start at central defensive midfield. While he generally struggles to score or create chances during the run of play, Pulgar is an excellent set-piece taker. He seemingly never stops running and has a high soccer IQ. His biggest weakness is his excessive aggression, which leads to him committing far too many fouls.
Arturo Vidal, the team’s star player, is all but certain to start at central midfield. Vidal is a world-class two-way midfielder, but plays a more attacking role for Chile than he does for Barcelona. Vidal is nearly two-footed, has an impressive passing range, and is an excellent tackler. He has few weaknesses.
Look for Diego Valdes to partner Vidal in central midfield. Valdes is excellent at intercepting passes and dribbling, but his passing is surprisingly poor for a central midfielder. He rarely completes passes longer than five yards.
Charles Aranguiz should start on the left-wing. Aranguiz is a playmaker who creates many scoring opportunities for his teammates and scores quite a few goals from distance. However, he probably should score more frequently than he does and is rather slow for a winger.
Expect Felipe Mora to start on the right wing. Mora is a natural striker, and will add an attacking punch to the lineup. He is a classic poacher, whose is surprisingly good in the air despite being 5’9.’’ He also is quite fast. If Mora does feature on the wing, his lack of defensive effort will likely leave Chile exposed.
Diego Rubio seems to have a good chance to be the starting striker. Rubio’s holdup play is very good and he excels at creating just enough separation between him and defenders, so that he can get a clean shot off.
Chile will be desperate to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Mexico and surely will play better against the USMNT. They will provide a much tougher test for the USMNT than Ecuador did, but I’m expecting La Roja to continue to underperform. I believe the match will end in a 1-1 draw.