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USA vs. Jamaica, 2019 friendly: What to watch for

The last match before we learn the Gold Cup roster.

Soccer: 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup -USA at Jamaica Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The United States Men’s National Team begins its preparations for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a tune up match tomorrow against Jamaica in Washington, DC. For the United States, it’s the only match before coach Gregg Berhalter names the 23-man roster that will head on to try and defend the team’s title from 2017. Jamaica is also preparing for the confederation’s biannual tournament and have notoriously been a team that will give you fits with its speed and counter attack. Can the Yanks take care of business on what could be a wet evening in our nation’s capital? Or, will they fall flat against the Reggae Boyz?

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What To Watch For

Defensive shape needs to maintain. Jamaica’s main plan is going to try and sit back and wait for a chance to spring back on the counter. Because of this, the USMNT needs to always be mindful of their defensive shape, particularly when guys press forward. With the hybrid formation that Berhalter uses, there are times where guys are called upon to control massive amounts of space. They’ll need to keep that space covered against Jamaica.

Can the offense open up? It’s time that this team generates some excitement on the offensive end. They’ve so far scored 7 goals in 4 matches under Berhalter, but at times have looked sluggish in the final third. Can they generate some goals in this formation and give the fans something to feel confident about as they move towards the Gold Cup?

Who’s stepping up? This is the final chance players have to show Gregg Berhalter that they should be a part of the 23-man Gold Cup roster. Many of the slots may already be determined in his mind, but the guys who get the chance to play at Audi Field Wednesday night need to leave it on the field. They could be playing for one of those open spots.

Lineup Prediction

Gregg Berhalter could employ a lot of different lineups with the players he called into camp. Because he’s trying to look at different players and evaluate where they could play in his hybrid 4-3-3, he may bring on some new guys to mix with some of the more established players.

Predicted Lineup: USMNT vs. Jamaica

At goal, he will once again go with Zack Steffen, who is the presumed #1 for the team as they enter the Gold Cup. On defense, Nick Lima will one again patrol the hybrid right back/defensive midfield position, while Daniel Lovitz will get the shot on the left. In the middle, Berhalter opts to go with Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga.

In the middle, there’s a few guys who could play on the wings, so he starts with Weston McKennie in the middle. Duane Holmes gets an opportunity at right mid, while Cristian Roldan will be on the left. Those guys will be called upon to handle a lot of the ball and establish the creative portion of the offense. McKennie can also be that box-to-box midfielder that does the dirty work on defense.

Up front, we finally see the return of Jozy Altidore to the lineup. He’ll get a chance to see if his hot start in MLS can translate once again to the national team as it has 41 times before. This will be his first time playing on the national team under Berhalter, so all eyes will be up top to see if he can prosper in this attack. Look for Josh Sargent to replace him in the 2nd half as well. On the wings, Paul Arriola does the hard work that Berhalter requires, and he will track back on defense when the formation shifts. On the left, Jonathan Amon will see a chance to use his speed to wear down the Jamaican defenders and get some chances inside the box.

Match Prediction

This game will probably begin with some rain, and that will slow things down for both teams. However, just after halftime, we’ll see some fireworks. In the end, while it may not be easy for the Americans, they will explode in the 2nd half and leave DC with the 3-1 victory.