The United States Men’s National Team will seek to rebound from Wednesday’s loss to Jamaica by hosting Venezuela in what will be their final match before the start of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The teams last played a couple years ago just before the start of the 2017 Gold Cup. That seemed like many worlds ago. This time around, the USMNT has some work to do to boost its confidence and that of the fans.
L (0-1) - Jamaica - Friendly
D (1-1) - Chile - Friendly
W (1-0) - Ecuador - Friendly
W (2-0) - Costa Rica - Friendly
W (3-0) - Panama - Friendly
L (1-3) - Mexico - Friendly
D (1-1) - Ecuador - Friendly
L (1-2) - Catalonia - Non-Official Friendly
W (3-1) - Argentina - Friendly
D (1-1) - Iran - Friendly
What To Watch For
Where will the offense come from? The offense only generated one shot on goal against Jamaica Wednesday night, and that just won’t cut it against any team. We’ve long wanted to see how USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter’s hybrid 4-3-3 will generate scoring chances and who on the team can finish those chances. The midfield needs to be ready to work, as Berhalter confirmed today that Christian Pulisic will not play against La Vinotinto. Michael Bradley also will not be available, so the possession has to maintain with the remaining guys and they need to give chances for the attackers to finish. And, the finishing needs to be much better. Let’s see if there is improvement on Sunday.
Will the formation work against Venezuela’s attack? Venezuela has MLS single-season scoring king Josef Martinez up front, and he’s going to pounce on any mistakes made by the American defense. They also have a couple other players that can stretch the defense and test the limits of the 4-3-3. Will the formation hold? Can the back line weather the storm? They failed to do so against Jamaica...let’s see if they can turn it around tomorrow.
Will we see a better effort from the USMNT? There was very little to take away from Wednesday’s overall performance by the team. They weren’t ready to play, and it showed. Against Venezuela, they will get eaten alive if they put up a similar effort. To beat La Vinotinto, the Yanks will need to be much sharper with the ball and concentrate on working hard to creating scoring chances. The fans expect a better effort, and the team needs to give everyone some confidence that they can play like Gold Cup champions.
With Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley out, and with the short turnaround between matches, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter will probably give new players a chance in order to keep guys fresh. Jozy Altidore and Aaron Long are available tomorrow for the Americans, but we likely won’t see anything close to the full starting XI that will take the field for the start of the Gold Cup. Here’s an idea of what Gregg Berhalter may call upon against Venezuela:
In net, Berhalter will once again go with Zack Steffen. Despite a not-so-great performance Wednesday night, Berhalter has the confidence in Steffen to get it right and lock down the net. At right back, Tyler Adams will be once again back there, employing the hybrid position where he will shift into his natural center defense midfield role at times. He will also be responsible for covering a lot of ground. On the left side of the back line, Daniel Lovitz will get a chance to show he should be in the starting XI when the Gold Cup begins. Aaron Long and Matt Miazga will form the centerback pairing. They’re familiar with each other, having played alongside each other on a couple occasions, and this could be Berhalter’s go-to pairing this summer.
In the midfield, expect Wil Trapp to get the start at center midfield, with Weston McKennie and Duane Holmes on the left and right sides. Holmes was the lone bright spot for the Americans Wednesday night, and he’ll get a chance to get more minutes against a tough opponent. McKennie will slot in on the left, but he will also help out the middle as well. Trapp is the center defense midfielder that Berhalter wants in there for possession, so he’s going to get those minutes once again.
Up front, this will likely be the time where we finally see Jozy Altidore’s return to the USMNT starting lineup. He’s going to get a chance to show that he can finish scoring chances where others haven’t, and he’s probably the best forward on the roster who can do that. Tyler Boyd, who has yet to make his USMNT debut after his one-time switch from New Zealand, will get the start on the left side. While Jonathan Lewis will likely get some minutes in a substitute role, expect Jordan Morris to line up on the right wing. Paul Arriola could see some time as well, but after several matches for club and country in the last few weeks, it will not be surprising to see him get some rest tomorrow.
It will be easy to see early on in this match that it will be one that doesn’t have a ton of fireworks. It will take the USMNT a while to get down to business, and Venezuela will score inside the first half hour. However, a USMNT goal in the middle of the 2nd half is what will leave this match as a 1-1 draw.