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USA vs. Wales, 2020 friendly: What to watch for

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We preview the first USMNT match in 10 months!

USA v Japan - FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team, after a 286-day layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be back in action tomorrow when they take on Wales at Liberty Stadium in Swansea. The USMNT will be looking to close out a weird 2020 the way it started: with a win. The 22nd ranked team in the FIFA World Rankings will look to play well on the road behind closed doors at the home of a Welsh team that’s ranked 20th in the world and looking to sharpen up before they finish UEFA Nations League play.

2020 Form

USA

W (1-0) - Costa Rica - Friendly

Wales

W (1-0) - Bulgaria - UEFA Nations League

D (0-0) - Ireland - UEFA Nations League

W (1-0) - Bulgaria - UEFA Nations League

W (1-0) - Finland - UEFA Nations League

What To Watch For

Control the middle of the field: This is the battle to be most excited about when the two teams hit the field. Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in the middle trying to control possession and advance the ball forward? Dream status. This is where the biggest battle will be. If the USMNT can control possession in the midfield, they will have a great chance to keep the Welsh at bay and have some opportunities to score.

Create attack through the middle: We’re all highly anticipating to see the attack go through Gio Reyna, but the young wings coach Gregg Berhalter has at his disposal will also be fun to watch. We have some speed, so look for the young’uns to exploit that on the flanks. Because of that speed, they hopefully will be able to get behind the Cymru defense and create some chances to score. That possession will help, and remaining in control in the final third is going to be essential.

Play like there’s no tomorrow: The coronavirus pandemic has proven to us all: you don’t know when your next match will come. The intensity and grit that has defined the USMNT over much of the 2010s has been absent lately. There’s no better time than now to reclaim that mantra. We can’t assume the Panama match will be played as scheduled because so much can happen between Thursday and Monday. So, the players should try to win the intensity battle. Play like there’s no match on Monday or for the foreseeable future, and just go for it.

Enjoy it: A bonus 4th item: let’s all have fun with this! It’s our first USMNT match in 10 months! It’s great to see the team get back together and for us to reunite and talk about the team and its direction. We’re excited to see the new players and some of the young stars combine to give us some thrills. So, let’s enjoy that tomorrow. We’re certainly going to overanalyze performances in what has been a messed up year, but one thing is for sure: the boys are back!

Lineup Prediction

The USMNT has a ridiculously young roster, with 10 players having never stepped onto the field in the red, white, and blue. Because of that, it can be an interesting lineup choice for Gregg Berhalter, but in the end, this is what we could see on the field:

Projected USMNT Starting XI

Zack Steffen’s the #1 goalkeeper, and he’s going to get the start in this first game. Because it’s a friendly, don’t be surprised to see Ethan Horvath enter in the second half, but chances are Steffen gets the full match. On the back line, Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest are the fullbacks, and John Brooks and Matt Miazga the centerback pairing. Richards could be an interesting plug in here in place of Miazga, but against Wales Berhalter opts for the player with a little more experience.

In the midfield, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie link up, with Adams serving as the defensive midfielder and McKennie going box to box. Ahead of them, Gio Reyna is in the middle to serve up the attack, with Konrad de la Fuente and Tim Weah on the wings to provide speed and creative options. Expect Yunus Musah to get some playing time as well.

Up top, Sebastian Soto could get the nod here, but Berhalter looks to give an immediate debut to one of his new dual nationals, and Nicholas Gioacchini gets the start.

Prediction

This is an intriguing matchup, the first time the two teams have stepped on the field together in 17 years. However, because it’s a friendly, it’s going to be a struggle for both teams to get into it early on. It will pick up around the 30 minute mark as both teams begin to relax a bit and play ball. There will be some chances, but not a lot of scoring. Nicholas Gioacchini scores the lone goal for the United States, the first given up by Wales this year. However, a penalty is hammered home by Gareth Bale in the 2nd half, and it ends in a 1-1 draw.